For seventeen years, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper has celebrated the Santa Barbara Channel’s natural beauty and raised awareness about protecting its local ecosystem with its annual Student Art Show based around one consistent theme, “What the Channel Means to Me.”
After considering this, high school students between Carpinteria and Goleta submitted to this year’s event over 300 pieces of artwork, which local plein air painter Jeremy Harper whittled down to 50 works to be displayed in the show at the Jodi House Gallery on March 5.
Of those 50, a lucky few will be called to accept prizes at the show’s award ceremony, during which Senator Hannah Beth Jackson will present $200 for the first place winner, $125 for second, $75 for third, and $25 for the juror’s choice and honorable mention awards. A $100 prize will also be given to the winner of the show’s Environmental Ethic award, which according to a press release is given to the piece that best depicts the moral and ethical relationship between humans and the environment.
Speaking to the News-Press just after he had juried the hundreds of submissions and selected which sixth of them was worthy by the criteria of creativity, technical skill, sense of style, and interpretation of the theme, Mr. Harper said the selection process was anything but easy.
“They were all beautiful, all worthy of the show. It’s too bad there wasn’t more room. It was hard to accept some and to omit others,” he said.
Although he had already determined which submission will receive the first place during the award ceremony, the artist confessed that it was hard to even determine which high school students should be placed in the top three.
“There were about fifteen pieces of artwork from sculpture, to photography, to painting, to woodcuts that could have easily gotten first, second or third,” Mr. Harper said.
Whoever the top prize ends up going to, Channelkeeper education and community outreach director Penny Owens remarked that getting chosen as one of the show’s fifty participants is in itself a significant accomplishment.
“It’s an honor just to be selected to be in the show,” she said.
This year’s art show is the second for 16-year-old San Marcos High School junior Aliza Neal, who last year submitted a sculpture of a school of fish. Ms. Neal told the News-Press that she wanted to submit her work to Santa Barbara Channelkeeper again as it gave her the opportunity to represent the kind of wildlife that she sees near her house through art and in doing so, express the need for humans to protect the environment. As Ms. Neal is a volunteer for Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, animals have a special place in her heart and are once again the subject of her art show submission, an acrylic painting of an American coot. They are one of her primary artistic subjects even when she isn’t painting for the Channelkeeper Student Art Show, so when it comes time to submit, she doesn’t even think twice about what she should do.
“Whenever I get the chance to make an art piece for the Channelkeeper, I always try to do it of an animal because I think it’s at the center of what we should be trying to protect in the ecosystem around us,” she said.
The Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s Student Art Show will run between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Jodi House Gallery, located at 625 Chapala St.