A Day in Santa Barbara

Underwhelming might best describe our journey to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Had we known it was basically shut down for renovation we probably would not have attended.

As we walked into the first of but two galleries, we were chilled by the “Let it Snow” installation – certainly NOT an anticipated event for a Midwestern boy attempting to escape that very deed in an all too soon Indiana winter.

Although a few paintings were outstanding in technique and mood, we also learned a few little-known facts:

Grandma Moses: The Hunters
Grandma Moses: The Hunters
  1. Grandma Moses had been knighted, for on the exhibition tag it proudly proclaimed “Robertson (her real sir name) was in her seventies…”
  2. George Bellows was certainly a most capable artist, as I was totally unable to discern just where he had painted the “incipit” (the first few words of a text, according to the dictionary) in his animated scene of a startled horse reeling from a cloud of subway steam – or should I say from the “incipient” violence about to occur in this lively scene.

The second gallery, containing the “Highlights of the Permanent Collection,” featured an impressive Helen Frankenthaler, a large 1960s Hans Hofman (although I would have preferred an earlier palette) and a small Van Gogh.

It was one painting’s description, however, which most garnered our collective interest. I noticed that “the fashionably attired MR. Newton” was subsequently addressed as the correct “her” in the next sentence. Obviously not transgender, this typo, omitting the “S” in Mrs., was yet another egregious example of failed proofreading. It was friend Deborah who discovered that said Mrs. Newton had “died sadly in 1892.” Poor dear – we know not what she was mourning, although may I suggest the museum’s reliance on a spell checker and/or the death of proofreading.

In a tiny enclosure the third “exhibit,” grandly titled “Fauvism to Fascism,” contained works by Maurice de Vlaminck and Andre Derain. As I remember there may have been at most ten artworks.

That the Nazis scorned the Fauves, and that in order to survive, these avant-garde artists then painted in a conventional style, was the moral of the story. “Masterful,” “earth-shaking,” and “stunning scholarship” were words that did NOT escape my lips.

As my companions were trying to decide where to luncheon, I realized how eerily perfect the weather was…average temperature, blue skies, and NO humidity (NONE!!!) – an absolutely perfect day. There MAY be three days in Indiana that might fit this description, and here I was encountering the norm in California. I really did have to pinch myself.

From there our travels took us to the Santa Barbara Rose Garden, where Hybrid teas mingle with Florabundas and . . . floozies?

A popular place for picnics and weddings, my companions were appalled at the five-inch heels and dresses slit up to their hoo-haws on what were formerly referred to as “strumpets” and now known as “bridesmaids.”

…and back to the roses, I must say the array from the turn of the last century to the present are most impressive.

Returning once more to Nipomo, we were enthusiastically greeted by Charlotte’s three dogs:

Cer (otherwise known as Oona) a Chihuahua/wire-haired Jack Russell terrier mix who looks like Jabba the Hut’s sidekick;

Ber (alias Tobey) a Chihuahua/Pug mix; and

Us (excuse me, Gus, nee Li’l Gus) a tiny, toothless Chihuahua

…which I collectively dub Cer-ber-us, as their ferocious barking unites this trio into one menacing “Hound of Hell.”

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