ArtSEE 2020 goes virtual
Many people can appreciate the beauty and originality of abstract art, but not everybody can see it for themselves.
The Abstract Art Collective’s annual ArtSEE Fundraiser went virtual this year in order to keep on the tradition of selling artwork to give the gift of sight to uninsured individuals.
SEE International (Surgical Eye Expeditions) is the only nonprofit in Santa Barbara County that provides free eye care to those who may not have access to vision care, serving approximately 1,400 members each year.
In partnership with AAC, which is a community-based group of artists, the ArtSEE Fundraiser offers original, abstract 10×10 inch art panels for sale at $100 each.
All of the proceeds go to SEE International, where it costs $50 for a 30-minute cataract surgery to restore sight to an individual who is completely blind.
Therefore, every panel sold restores sight to at least two individuals, according to Rachel Tennant, the vice president of development at SEE International.
“With everything that has been going on this year, the fact we re-engineered our traditional in-person art gallery into a virtual one is already a huge accomplishment,” she said. “Every year, we hope that people can witness the beauty and meaning behind each of the panels. Not only do local talented artists donate their time to create impactful works of art, but their art is ultimately helping two individuals each with the gift of sight.”
Ms. Tennant said she hopes to sell all 81 panels in the fundraiser this year, restoring sight to 162 people.
Since the first ArtSEE event in 2014, the opening and closing receptions are typically hosted at the Jewish Community Center, where the art is put on display. This year, because of COVID-19, they hosted a Zoom event for the grand opening instead.
SEE International then uploaded an online store where panels can be purchased, creating a sort of online gallery.
“This (partnership gives) members an opportunity to paint for an important cause,” Ms. Tennant said of AAC members. “Art and eyesight are such a natural pairing.”
The fundraiser runs from July 15 to September 15, 2020.
Marlene Struss is a painter from Santa Barbara and also a member of AAC. She’s been painting her whole life, but started painting abstractly around 10 years ago.
She said when it comes to her style of art, she never really starts with an idea. She just picks a few colors and starts filling a panel with them in various ways.
In addition, she said she only owns a handful of actual paint brushes. Instead, she uses tools such as yarn, sponges, rags, pieces of wood and even windshield wipers from cars.
“All my work is nature-derived. Whatever nature comes up with, I’ll take it,” the painter said. “I want things to be balanced. I want the colors to be compatible. I want to create motion and movement but also calm at the same time.”
She said most of her work is based on her personal philosophy, that “everything in the world is alive.” She believes humans have the capacity to be “compatible with everything.”
The lifelong artist has two pieces in the exhibition, one called “Taming the Earth” and one called “Curtains.”
They reflect her focus on nature and vibrant, dynamic life.
“‘Taming the Earth’ is probably my favorite painting that I’ve ever done,” Mrs. Struss said. “The thing I love about it is that it’s so active and there’s just so much energy in the painting.”
To browse the artwork or purchase a panel, visit http://seeintl.square.site/.
To learn more about SEE International, visit seeintl.org.