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An Interview with Santa Barbara Voice Magazine

How did the partnership between SB Art Works and UCP Work, Inc. come about?

Santa Barbara Art Works is a partner/business venture of UCP WORK, Inc., a nonprofit which has been serving residents with disabilities living in Santa Barbara County for the past 50 years. Ultimately, it is the mission of the organization to support people with developmental and intellectual disabilities so that they may live as independently as possible in the community of their choice. The organization operates multiple programs that support job placement and employment, with the goal of placing people in jobs where they may earn a meaningful income. Several years ago, UCP WORK, Inc. began to serve people who were interested in starting small micro-businesses. At the time, these participants would meet at the UCP WORK, Inc. Applied Abilities Program located in Santa Barbara and there they would be supported by coaches who helped them develop their business and sell their merchandise. As it turned out, having art under the roof of the day program peeked the interest of other UCP WORK, Inc. participants, and slowly they too, were wanting to create art for sale. With multiple artists, UCP WORK, Inc. opened a small art studio off Milpas Street in 2010 and named it Sundial Studios. In 2017, Manager, Jacob Allio, and Executive Director of UCP WORK, Inc., Kathy Webb, found a new studio space located in the downtown Arts District, and moved to a location where the artists could be more visible and integrated into the community.

Why is it especially important to have a space for artists of all abilities?

It’s important to the Santa Barbara Art Works team to provide an inclusive space where people are welcomed regardless of their ability. At Santa Barbara Art Works, we are a community space that adapts to the needs of each artist in terms of their individual physical and intellectual understanding of creating art, and then work with that individual to create art according to their skill level and growth. We use the term “all abilities”, because we are not only a place for artists with disabilities, but we welcome all people who desire to make art, share the same values, and who are interested in being a part of a creative community space.

Santa Barbara Art Works also plans to provide studio membership/rental space for artists in the local area. The membership plan supports our vision of inclusion, as resident artists will share space and hopefully collaborate on artwork with members of the community.

Why did you choose "Self-portraits" as the theme for the Grand Opening exhibition?

We chose “Self Portraits” as the name of the Opening Art Reception because the goal is to introduce our resident artists at Santa Barbara Art Works to the community. It’s also a sneak peek into some of the upcoming solo art shows we have planned throughout the year. “Self Portraits” can be be a broad theme, featuring much more than the physical features of a person’s face. In this exhibit, you will find an expression of how the artists' view themselves or how they see the world. There is a variety of subject matter, including, landscapes, still life, portraits, visual poetry, and much more. The artwork is also created in a variety of mediums, including, watercolor, acrylic painting, printmaking, sketching, charcoal, ceramics, jewelry, and mixed media.

What can a self-portrait reveal about the artist?

A self-portrait can be a simple drawing, painting, or photograph of a person. It can describe an individual’s personality, hopes, dreams, desires, history, family, culture, their failures, struggles, triumphs, and tragedies, or simply their expression of creativity. A self-portrait can be a person’s story and a powerful way for an individual to express who they are. It is not created from the perspective of another person's opinion, which can vary, but is more of a reflection of oneself. At times, this can be the truest, or in some cases, the most distorted representation of who that person really is.

To view the full article in Santa Barbara Voice Magazine, visit:

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