Art in the Garden

October 19, 2021 § Leave a comment

A redwood grove in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

IT WAS A PERFECT PAIRING: an afternoon touring the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and viewing an exhibition of paintings created by the garden’s first artist-in-residence. Organized by the art committee of Santa Barbara Newcomers — a group of recent arrivals — the afternoon began with an enlightening tour of the garden led by Education Director Scot Pipkin, who emphasized the garden’s focus on native California plants. Santa Barbara painter Libby Holland, the debut artist-in-residence, joined the tour and gave a talk about the paintings her residency inspired, which are now exhibited in the garden’s Conservation Center gallery.

In Charlotte’s web

September 21, 2021 § Leave a comment

Tea with Charlotte, July 2021

FIRST PERSON | THOMAS REYNOLDS

CHARLOTTE KARP was always enthusiastic and encouraging, and she let you love her back, too. No one could resist her warm embrace, but she pulled no punches once you got to know her. I got lucky the day she and my fellow Florida expat Swan Brown walked into the gallery and adopted me into their unlikely urban family.

Charlotte grew up on a Texas ranch, later was a first class flight attendant for Continental Airlines, then married and raised three children in Chicago. Along the way, her family bought a winter home in Florida that had been previously owned by Swan Brown. She sought him out, and he agreed to help with the garden he’d planted, along with those in the grand Palm Beach estates he designed and superintended. They became fast friends. Later Swan and Jim Bolin, Swan’s partner after his married life ended in the early ’60s, bought a cabin at Lake Tahoe, where Jim liked to ski. Ultimately they moved down to San Francisco, and by then Charlotte and her family had moved here as well.

Then Charlotte’s husband left her for another woman — a very wealthy woman. Charlotte refused to be separated from her family, inviting the new wife in, and sometimes accepting invitations to travel extravagantly together. How she could embrace such a situation was miraculous. She would say simply, “I won’t break up my family.”

And she didn’t. Her daughter and two sons were beside her in her elegant flat on Washington Street, between Bloomers florist and the Swedenborgian Church, when she died yesterday morning, two days after beginning hospice care. Her daughter emailed: “Charlotte passed away peacefully this a.m. 9/20/21. She was so loved, lucid, grateful and unafraid.”

MORE: “A visit with ChaCha

With Swan, Charlotte and Jim at Via Veneto on Fillmore Street.

Wear your good shoes

September 1, 2021 § Leave a comment

Folk art: a vintage shoeshine stand

THE FIRST THURSDAY art walk returns to downtown Santa Barbara on September 2, from 5 to 8 p.m., and the Thomas Reynolds Gallery, at 1331 State Street, is offering something special: a free shoeshine on a vintage shine stand. Master shine man Domingo Lopez — who manned the shine stand in the shoe department at Nordstrom in Santa Barbara for 26 years — will be present.

Flowers for Santa Barbara

July 19, 2021 § Leave a comment

GARY BUKOVNIK, one of the nation’s most respected contemporary watercolor painters, is presenting an exhibition of recent florals at the new Thomas Reynolds Gallery at 1331 State Street, near the historic Arlington Theater, in Santa Barbara.

The exhibition, “Gary Bukovnik: Watercolors,” opens with a public reception — the gallery’s first since moving from San Francisco to Santa Barbara earlier this year — on Friday evening, July 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25, from 10 a.m. to noon, Bukovnik will paint on location at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The painting demonstration will be live-streamed by the Botanic Garden. In addition, Bukovnik’s work will be included in the Lotusland Celebrates auction on July 24.

“Flowers chose me,” says Bukovnik. “I tried for years to escape. But flowers are the vocabulary of the language that I speak.” While his paintings are realistic and painted from life, he says: “Botanical accuracy is not my goal. Color is not even a concern. More and more I think of flowers as form. The structure comes from nature, but the rest comes from me.”

Bukovnik paints exclusively in watercolor, often on a large scale. “Watercolor has light — light is a positive force,” says Bukovnik. “I am a positive, optimistic person, so light — that is for me. I also like watercolor’s reductive nature, its spare and limpid qualities, and careful use of negative space, which is as important as any objects. And I like that there must be thought and study before taking action.”

Bukovnik has a long history with the Thomas Reynolds Gallery, having presented a number of exhibitions of his work at the gallery’s San Francisco location. The gallery was founded in 1994 and became a fixture in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, presenting historic and contemporary California art and artists.

A visit with ChaCha

July 15, 2021 § 3 Comments

Charlotte Karp with roses and a Peggi Kroll Roberts butter painting.

FIRST PERSON | THOMAS REYNOLDS

ONE OF THE greatest pleasures of owning a gallery for all these years is meeting so many wonderful people. For the most part, the people moved to walk into an art gallery are a kind and interesting lot. Some are special. And that includes Charlotte Karp, a very fine watercolorist and collector.

Charlotte was an early encourager of my gallery in San Francisco. She lived in the neighborhood, and frequently stopped by after lunch on Fillmore Street with her friend Swan Brown, a Florida expat like me, and also an art enthusiast. They both became close friends — “like family, without the baggage,” as another neighbor and great friend said. We often had lunch, and celebrated many birthdays together.

On a recent return to our longtime neighborhood — my first since the pandemic and a move to Santa Barbara — I wrote to Charlotte to ask if I could come by for tea. Her ebullience is now reduced to a whisper, but she welcomed a visit. Her flat’s a short walk away, and I stopped as I passed Bloomers, everybody’s favorite florist, to get flowers. The shop was still closed to the public, but a sign in the window gave the email and phone number. So I called, and owner Patric Powell answered. I asked if I might get a handful of something nice to take to a friend up the street. “Just give me a minute,” he said. Soon he opened the door with an armful of beautiful pink roses and asked, “Will these do?” They certainly would. I handed him my credit card, but he refused it. “Welcome home,” he said.

MORE: “In Charlotte’s web

Charlotte Karp | Watermelon

Seeing the light

June 27, 2021 § Leave a comment

Rod Lathim | Electric Spray

“I CREATE one-of-a-kind neon sculptures,” says Santa Barbara artist Rod Lathim. “The art of neon has been around since the time of Tesla and Edison. But it is becoming a lost art.”

Lathim is a fifth generation Santa Barbaran. He was an assemblage artist for 16 years before beginning to work with neon. He is also widely known as a director-producer-playwright who ran his own theater company for two decades and is president emeritus of Santa Barbara’s Marjorie Luke Theater.

“I enjoy creating pieces that evoke stories from viewers — or simply offer a taste of whimsy, color and light,” he says. “My career has been built around creating and telling stories of the human condition, hope, spiritual journeys, redemption and triumph. I like to think that this same spirit lives in my visual art.”

Lathim began working with neon a few years ago when his creative energy began generating images for sculptural pieces that had neon in them. “But I knew nothing about neon,” he says. So he began researching and learning. He collaborates with a glass blower who bends pieces to his designs, and sometimes with Los Angeles artist George V. Wolf, adding neon to Wolf’s paintings. In some works he incorporates vintage objects.

“I use real old-school neon — glass tubes that are pumped with various gasses including neon, argon and krypton,” Lathim says, “and I use colors not traditionally seen in neon pieces.” His work uses solid neon and sometimes beaded neon, a rarely seen type of neon that makes a chain of tiny beads of light that travel through the glass tubes.

“I am drawn to the ethereal essence of the light created by neon,” he says. “It is really pure energy, created by gas combusting with electrical current — the closest semblance to spiritual energy in the physical world.”

A new destination

April 21, 2021 § 2 Comments

By CHARLES DONELAN
Santa Barbara Independent

In the downtown Santa Barbara Arts District anchored by the Arlington, the Granada, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the newest destination on the map, the Thomas Reynolds Gallery at 1331 State Street, arrives by way of San Francisco.

Reynolds is an experienced dealer specializing in California artists who inhabit the border between representational and abstract work. Equipped with a comprehensive knowledge of California realism and an impeccable pedigree of success in the Bay Area, Reynolds fills an important niche in our art ecosystem.

Reynolds bears personal knowledge of the history of art in California with wit and grace. He’s sure to be a major resource for those seeking to better understand what forces have shaped our common aesthetic.

Read more: “Santa Barbara Galleries Ascendant

Back to the boardwalk

April 2, 2021 § Leave a comment

THE Thomas Reynolds Gallery — Santa Barbara’s newest fine art gallery, located at 1331 State Street — is pleased to present “Francis Livingston: On the Waterfront,” a series of paintings of California’s seaside amusement parks.

Livingston is one of the premier figurative painters working today. In Santa Monica and Santa Cruz — known for their turn-of-the-20th century amusement parks and beaches — Livingston has found a wealth of subject matter.

The artist, who now lives and works in Sun Valley, Idaho, honed his skills in California, where he absorbed the Bay Area look — bold and free impressionistic brushstrokes, emphasis on shape rather than on line, and an abstract approach to realism.

VIEW THE EXHIBITION

7 secrets of collecting art

March 25, 2021 § Leave a comment

Mac Harshberger | The Tennis Set (circa 1928)

By LYNDA MILLNER
Montecito Journal

There’s something new at 1331 State Street: the Thomas Reynolds Gallery, near the Arlington Theater. The gallery was founded in 1994 in San Francisco in the Pacific Heights neighborhood and was known for contemporary California art and artists. I met with Thomas Reynolds the other day and he shared some of his knowledge about how to become a collector on all sizes of budgets — or, as he calls it, “passing through the post-poster phase into the promised land of original art.” 

Read more: “A new gallery opens in Santa Barbara

Thomas Moran lived here

January 20, 2021 § Leave a comment

Thomas Moran painting.

By BETSY J. GREEN

A number of homes and estates in the Santa Barbara area have names. Some are fairly well known, such as Bellosguardo or Casa de la Guerra. Other names are less familiar. But the house at 1821 Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara has a name that no one — including the present owner — seemed to be aware of: Rosemary Cottage.

In 1919, the home’s most distinguished resident moved in — the landscape artist Thomas Moran and his daughter, Ruth. Moran’s main home was in East Hampton, New York, and is a National Historic Landmark. Starting about 1916-17, the 80-year-old Moran and his daughter began spending their winters in Santa Barbara. The first couple of years, they stayed at the Potter Hotel and other places. But about 1919, they bought the home at 1821 Anacapa Street and began spending every winter in Rosemary Cottage.

Moran was famous enough that the local newspaper published an article in 1917 titled, “Noted Painter of Big Views Arrives; Thomas Moran is Famous for His Canvases of Western Outdoor Wonders.” The article ended with a quote from Moran: “Santa Barbara is the most beautiful city, with its environs, I have seen in all California.” 

Read more: “Rediscovering Rosemary Cottage