FAST FORWARD 2009: Selections from The Berkus Family Collection
FEBRUARY 2 - JUNE 19, 2009
Channing Peake Gallery
ARTISTS: Lawrence Argent, Sky Bergman, Ginny Brush, Jeff Brouws, Dan Connally, Sam Erenberg, Rollin Fortier, Timothy Hearsum, Ken Hendrickson, Dimitri Kozyrev, and Harry Reese.
Heather Jeno Silva, curator, revisits a selection of contemporary artists in the County's Berkus and Family Collection, in honor of Gail Berkus. The exhibition features current works juxtaposed with earlier works from the collection to reveal surprising insights about the process of artistic evolution.
Barry Berkus Donates Art Collection To County
MORGAN GREEN, NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
DECEMBER 7, 2005
In memory of his late wife, noted Santa Barbara architect, philanthropist and art collector Barry Berkus has given the county a 43-work collection framing the evolution of the local contemporary art scene over the past three decades.
The county Board of Supervisors formally accepted the unique collection at its Tuesday session. The art, valued at more than $250,000, represents more than 40 artists who worked in and around Santa Barbara.
"This is exciting," said Patrick Davis, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, a group appointed by the supervisors to foster public art countywide. The panel will be responsible for the collection. "We've never had the funding to make these kinds of purchases," said Mr. Davis.
"This collection gives us visibility nationally that we never had as an arts community."
Mr. Berkus' gift includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, mixed-media works, prints, collages, ceramics and digital media art that he and his wife Gail purchased from local and regional artists starting in the 1970s. Mr. Berkus donated the art with one string attached -- some portion of the collection must be exhibited to the public at least every other year.
The first exhibition will be in March at the Channing Peake Gallery, the ground floor reception hall of the downtown Santa Barbara county building. "We'll also be promoting the collection to other exhibition spaces in the country to demonstrate the strength of the arts community here," said Mr. Davis.
Known locally for his enthusiasm as well as his philanthropy, Mr. Berkus said he will be making additional "large scale" donations of art. But he sees beyond that. "My hope is to find a really nice gallery we can get the Arts Commission tied into so there's a rotating exhibit place the county can use for not only this art, but other shows. I want to make that happen."
The new public collection is likely the first such gathering of Santa Barbara artists, said Mr. Berkus. "As far as contemporary Santa Barbara artists, I'm sure it is," he said, adding "it is long overdue" for the art to be available to the public.
Besides donating the art, Mr. Berkus is renovating a room beneath the county Courthouse to store it, including climate-control and security systems, Mr. Davis said. That project amounts to a donation of at least $10,000.
Mr. and Mrs. Berkus have been recognized by Art News magazine as among the world's top 200 art collectors, whose large modern and contemporary collection is noted for its diversity. Besides obtaining works from icons such as Andy Warhol, the couple regularly patronized local artists who specialized in interpretive, or abstract, work as opposed to traditional Santa Barbara figures and landscapes.
Most of the new county collection is non-literal, said Mr. Berkus. "The artists use a brand new vocabulary that is rewritten every day" to express their time, place and environment.
Mr. Berkus said he and his wife, who died in 2000, began collecting art by buying from students while he was studying at USC in the 1950s. He recalled purchasing a mobile from pioneering contemporary artist Alexander Calder for $50 a month.
"That began our addiction."
Local artists, and former local artists whose work is in the collection include MacDuff Everton, Rick Stich, Kim Yasuda, Richard Ross, Rafael Perea de Cabada, Lucy Brown, Lawrence Gipe and Marge Dunlap.
| DID YOU KNOW?
The Santa Barbara County Arts Commission accepts art collection donations. To learn more, please contact us via phone or email
Ken Hendrickson, Manic's Harbor Depression's
Dimitri Kozyrev, All is Well