CA Conservation Group Circles Back With Fundraiser

“Cliffs,” by Ann Sanders, pastel

The Oak Group is one of the oldest conservation group featuring artists, and this year, it’s participating in a fundraiser that seeks to add $8 million worth of land to an existing parcel of conserved land along the Santa Barbara coast.

The group formed around Ray Strong and Arturo Tello in 1986, with just seven total artists in attendance. By 1998 the Oak Group was helping the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County buy 52 acres of the Carpinteria Bluffs along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. A benefit show opening on March 1 at Faulkner Gallery in Santa Barbara seeks to raise the money to buy an additional 21 acres adjacent to the earlier purchase.

“Dos Pueblos Canyon,” by Chris Chapman, pastel, 18 x 24 in.
“Dos Pueblos Canyon,” by Chris Chapman, pastel, 18 x 24 in.

The subject matter in the show’s paintings depicts a variety of scenes within Santa Barbara County. Members of the Oak Group are featured, along with some guest artists. All are united in the interest of preserving open spaces along the coast.

“It’s going back to the same areas that we had worked to save originally,” says Chris Chapman, one of the organizers of the show. “It is going back to an area that has always been important to us.”

by Jeremy Harper
by Jeremy Harper

Chapman says Oak Group members are heartened to see other painters’ groups spring up all across the United States. The connection between plein air painters and the land is a wholly expected and natural one, and we are witnessing artists increasingly help conservation efforts by raising public awareness and contributing funds.

 “Squally,” by William Mitchell, oil, 8 x 10 in.
“Squally,” by William Mitchell, oil, 8 x 10 in.

“I’ve seen a lot more artist groups doing this and becoming a real movement in the art world,” says Chapman. “There are so many more plein air painters and so many more great artists than I ever knew were out there.”

“Rookery, Carpinteria,” by Nicole Strasburg, oil on birch panel, 20 x 30 in.
“Rookery, Carpinteria,” by Nicole Strasburg, oil on birch panel, 20 x 30 in.

The Land Trust of Santa Barbara County and Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs hope that the Oak Group and other community sources can contribute $2.5 million to the effort. Forty-five percent of the sales will go to the land purchase. The exhibition is on view through March 30. Click here for more information.