Funk Zone gallery features fine art suitable for Christmas gifts
Ruth Ellen Hoag Fine Art at GraySpace, a studio for Ms. Hoag and a gallery for local artists, launched a special show after Thanksgiving: “Magic of the Holidays.”
It features a variety of pieces suitable as gifts at the studio/gallery at 219 Gray Ave. in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.
Anthony Askew, Charlene Broudy, Joan Rosenberg-Dent, Pamela Enticknap, Rod Lathim, Christopher Rupp and Ms. Hoag herself are featured in the exhibit. She curated many smaller format pieces, including lots of pottery, so customers can do their holiday shopping in the gallery.
“It’s still fun art, it’s giftable. And the three dimensional aspect of it makes it more implied,” she said.
Pieces start at $40 for a mug or small dish made by Christopher Rupp, who is also a Westmont College art instructor and collections manager of the Westmont Museum of Art.
For a larger investment, the show features a few custom-made rugs designed by Charlene Broudy. The large, textural pieces have vibrant colors and designs indicative of renowned artists like Picasso. They stand out hung on the stark white walls of the gallery.
Ms. Hoag relaunched her website in the spring, hoping to provide a way for people to safely see the art, but she said it’s not like viewing the pieces in person.
She hasn’t had nearly as many people circulate through the gallery since the original shutdown in March, but the customers that come in are more intentional.
“I think people are home, and they’re looking at their four walls,” Ms. Hoag said. “Given the number of people that have come to the gallery, our sales per capita, we’ve done really well. So people are looking to change their atmosphere.”
When the gallery reopened and launched a show in May, around 40 customers visited the first day, all dressed up like it was an event.
“It made it feel like it was fun to just even have 40 people on the opening of the show, that it was an occasion,” she said. “It’s something to look forward to now. Normally people are always in their pajamas practically and got to go back to the sofa when they go home.”
The “Magic of the Holidays” show sold well on its first weekend. But last weekend, few people visited the gallery, perhaps in anticipation of the stay-at-home order that went into effect Monday. (Under the order, retail businesses can remain open but must be at no more than 20 percent of capacity.)
“I think people are looking to support local businesses right now,” Ms. Hoag said. “So we’re hoping for the next couple of weeks to be good.”
The show is set to run until Dec. 22, but she may expand it into January. The gallery will be open for walk-ins on the weekends and by appointment during the week.
Ms. Hoag planned the current exhibition after the Funk Zone stopped its bimonthly art walks. She wanted a way for artists to present their work, even if the regular events were canceled.
“Artists don’t stop working, so we have to show it,” she said.
Ms. Hoag has finished a lot of paintings during the pandemic, using the extra free time to enjoy her studio.
“I have so many neighbors out taking a walk that say, ‘Oh, I can’t wait for this to be over. I’m so bored.’
“I said, ‘Oh, I wish I could get bored, and I wish I had nothing else to do.’ ”
Ms. Hoag paints every day, something that’s hard to do while also running a gallery
“You go far, far away in your mind when you’re painting. A whole day feels like it’s an hour,” she said.
Lately, Ms. Hoag has been teaching art classes through Zoom and enjoys being able to teach a larger number of students.
Customers can buy classes as gifts, and Ms. Hoag is currently running a special for $50 off lessons when purchased by the end of the year.
She enjoys painting and likes curating collections.
“This show is about more than holidays,”Ms. Hoag said. “It was also just playing with paint.”
For more information on the gallery, visit grayspaceart.com.