Art For Art’s Sake

The Art Foundation of Santa Barbara, founded two years ago, was created so people could donate locally produced art to be displayed at public venues. The Foundation’s mission is to acquaint and educate the public of Santa Barbara in the art of the area both past and present. Starting with just one showroom in the town’s historic Santa Barbara Club, the Foundation has quickly filled the walls with artwork and is now hoping to showcase pieces in local facilities to ensure the most public exposure.

The Santa Barbara Club began as the Art Foundation’s first gallery, due to the club’s historical connection with local art. The Club has been in existence since 1892, claiming itself to be the oldest club in the city. Over the years the building has been used for much of the planning and development of the City of Santa Barbara such as the construction of the water system and construction of the Gibraltar Dam. Many famous guests also resided there such as Andrew Carnegie and Frederick Remington. Remington even donated a piece of art of his own creation. Although current Vice President of the Art Foundation, Robert V. Meghreblian, likes to joke that “Remington gave the painting in order to pay for his bar bill,” the gift created a lasting connection between local artisans and the club itself.

According to Mr. Meghreblian, “People at [The Santa Barbara Club] had been talking for years about a tax-deductible way to make contributions to the club itself.” This is how and why the Art Foundation began. Now this tax-exempt organization has expanded to display its art throughout the Santa Barbara community.

The Foundation hopes to showcase its donated pieces to local venues such as banks and libraries. Meghreblian says the Foundation’s goal is to “benefit the community and at the same time provide opportunities for the general public to contribute.” Compared to other organizations or galleries that a person could donate artwork to, the Art Foundation of Santa Barbara’s goal is unique in that it is determined to provide public exposure to every work of art. According to Meghreblian, this promise differs from that of local museums, such as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which is “well endowed with artwork, often stores art, and only occasionally rotates pieces throughout the museum.”

Artwork the Foundation has obtained since its inception are a Meredith Abbott piece entitled “Rincon Mountain,” a Glena Hartmann pastel of The Arlington Theatre, and the most recent addition, a collection of ten etchings of California Missions created by Leonardo Nunez. Local art gallery owner Maureen Murphy donated the Glena Hartmann pastel to the Foundation’s collection and according to her mother, Dolores Murphy, did so “because she likes to support the local organizations and wishes them great success.”

Though there is no preference to the theme of the artwork donated to the Art Foundation, according to Meghreblian, most art is naturally of a Santa Barbara focus, which is not unusual considering where the artists live.

Anyone interested in donating time or artwork to the Art Foundation of Santa Barbara can contact Robert V. Meghreblian at 805-969-9306.