It was a good year. 

It was a year in which VADA could have their show again, and Solstice could still bring everyone back to the old digs to build some art and be together.

In which the Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Dance, which just never stopped, wouldn’t stop, doing their work at the CAW even in the hangest-dog-days of the pandemic, were able to come soaring back with more classes, more participants than ever before, flying almost right out the doors. 

Images in order: 1) VADA Program Director Daniel Barnett helping a student at intake. 2) Solstice at the CAW in 2021. 3) SBCAD's end of term show in March 2021, the first public performance at the CAW in many months at the time. 

A year in which D.J. Javier, hometown artist, hosted a sold-out cafeteria tray artwork show and made everybody know, if they didn't know already, there was something special happening in town post-pandemic. 

In which the Pianos went back to State, and in which actually, the D.J. Javier show was just one example of all the awesome art pop-ups that happened this year, including Elisa Ortega Montilla and Madeline Ignon, the Santa Barbara Studio Artists show, the Go Figure show, the Remedy show, and the Santa Barbara Printmakers show.

Someone told me the best part of the Santa Barbara Printmaker show was not the busy times but the quiet times when mostly it was just the Printmakers hanging out together talking shop. Many of them hadn’t seen each other in a year.

Visitors to D.J. Javier's show at the CAW in August 2021.

We had all these great classes from all these great local entrepreneurs figuring out how to make their programs work in new circumstances, people like Emily Summers, Kathy Leader, Ruth Ellen Hoag, and Kristin Frascella, and workshops like the AHA Peace Builder Gathering and Training

We even got some construction done. A big chunk of the Summer Solstice Gate got built, we did the underground work for a sprinkler system, and we renovated the Community Room into what will be a lovely small gallery space starting next year (keep an eye out for more photos of that one). 

Images in order: 1) AHA Peace Builder Gathering and Training at the CAW in November 2021. (Photos courtesy of AHA.) 2) Matt Metcalfe of Upton Construction at work on the new sprinkler system. 3) David Shelton putting the finishing touches on the CAW Beacon. (Photo credit: Nell Campbell.)

And of course Ready to Hang. 352 pieces of art from 217 local artists, each one of them unique, a testament to human creativity and spirit. 

Ready to Hang 2021. Photo credit: Sasha Huckoby.

And the pop-up markets! So many wonderful pop-up art and artisan markets, a community's-worth of creativity.

Images in order: 1&2) Vendors and patrons at the Youth Makers Market. 3) The CAW courtyard at a Vanae Rivera-organized pop-up in July.

I say it's been a good year in full consciousness of the fact that it's also been a difficult year. Confusing, full of ups and downs. I called a show "post-pandemic" above because at the time it seemed that way, but of course we're not post-pandemic are we? 

It looks pretty dry in the hills above Santa Barbara most of the year. Pretty harsh. Pretty dark and overwhelming out in the world, uncertain. It can be hard, especially for artists, and by that I mean anyone striving to be sensitive and truthful and brave, to feel confident that the truth will out, that the bills will get paid, that the lights will stay on.

But then somebody puts up a show and brings everyone together, and things looks brighter, and warmer, and more possible. The rains do come to our hills.

As long as it’s in our power, we’ll keep the lights on for you here, for all the artists and dreamers and makers in this town, and anyone else who needs it. We don’t have any heat yet—still fundraising for that—but we stay pretty warm together. 

I don’t think there’s any better proof of that than the Youth Makers Market. Kids and teens and parents coming together to make work and show work and support creative work, work they made in-between Zoom classes, because of free time they had from staying home so much. They all wish you a happy holidays. So do we. 

Youth Makers Market entrepreneurs. Click the image for a short video.

If you’d like to help us keep the lights lit here for artists in Santa Barbara, you can make a donation at the link below. And thank you so much for being a part of this community.

Happy holidays everyone.
Casey Caldwell, SBAC Managing Director

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Some of the Things We're Working On:

  1. Completing the CAW Capital Campaign

    1. $500,000 of work left to go to renovate the roof, add heating and cooling, better lighting and electrical, landscaping, better parking and a new entranceway, and more!

  2. Building the CAW Use Subsidy Fund

  3. Pianos on State 2022

  4. Ready to Hang 2022... and Much More to Come

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