“In Wildness” panel brings Oak Group Artists to City College

From+left%2C+Public+Lands+Advocate+for+Los+Padres+ForrestWatch+Rebecca+August+sits+among+Oak+Group+artists+Kevin+Gleason%2C+Marcia+Burtt%2C+Arturo+Tello+and+Atkinson+Gallery+Director+Sarah+Cunningham+for+the+%E2%80%9CIn+Wilderness%E2%80%9D+artist+panel+discussion+on+Wednesday%2C+Feb.+27%2C+2019%2C+in+the+Humanities+Building+auditorium+at+City+College+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.+The+artists+involved+discussed+their+relationships+to+painting+and+California+landscapes.
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“In Wildness” panel brings Oak Group Artists to City College

From left, Public Lands Advocate for Los Padres ForrestWatch Rebecca August sits among Oak Group artists Kevin Gleason, Marcia Burtt, Arturo Tello and Atkinson Gallery Director Sarah Cunningham for the “In Wilderness” artist panel discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in the Humanities Building auditorium at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The artists involved discussed their relationships to painting and California landscapes.

From left, Public Lands Advocate for Los Padres ForrestWatch Rebecca August sits among Oak Group artists Kevin Gleason, Marcia Burtt, Arturo Tello and Atkinson Gallery Director Sarah Cunningham for the “In Wilderness” artist panel discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in the Humanities Building auditorium at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The artists involved discussed their relationships to painting and California landscapes.

Nate Stephenson

From left, Public Lands Advocate for Los Padres ForrestWatch Rebecca August sits among Oak Group artists Kevin Gleason, Marcia Burtt, Arturo Tello and Atkinson Gallery Director Sarah Cunningham for the “In Wilderness” artist panel discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in the Humanities Building auditorium at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The artists involved discussed their relationships to painting and California landscapes.

Nate Stephenson

Nate Stephenson

From left, Public Lands Advocate for Los Padres ForrestWatch Rebecca August sits among Oak Group artists Kevin Gleason, Marcia Burtt, Arturo Tello and Atkinson Gallery Director Sarah Cunningham for the “In Wilderness” artist panel discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in the Humanities Building auditorium at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The artists involved discussed their relationships to painting and California landscapes.

Sierra Shelton, Staff Writer

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Artists from The Oak Group collaborated with the Los Padres ForestWatch to raise awareness for the San Rafael Wilderness’ 50th anniversary at a panel discussion Wednesday evening.

The Oak Group, a collective of artists whose mission is “preserving local lands for wildlife, recreation, ranching, and farming,” brought attention to a suffering region with their paintings.

The panel talked about the art of landscape painting, the importance of mediums and using contrasting colors.

Capturing the essence of the San Rafael Wilderness with their paint brushes, The Oak Group works hard to preserve the Santa Barbara backcountry while also preserving the legacy of co-founder Ray Strong.

Strong, who holds dioramas in the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, named the group after the strength of the oak tree.

“He was more than a leader for us, more like a spiritual father,” said Oak Group Artist Arturo Tello, who met Strong in 1991. Tello and fellow artist Marcia Burtt carried on Strong’s practices after his passing in 2006.

Sarah Cunningham, director of the Atkinson Art Gallery at City College, engaged with the panel of four. Los Padres ForestWatch Public Lands Advocate Rebecca August, alongside Oak Group members Kevin Gleason, Marcia Burtt, and Arturo Tello elaborated on the motive behind the exhibit “In Wildness.”

In addition to being Strong’s mentee, founding member Arturo Tello had a head start to art when his mother held him in her arms as she painted. Versatile in the style he paints, Tello tries to be as true to the landscape as possible. Born in Santa Barbara, Tello has a concentrated knowledge of the local wilderness.

Paintings of Tello’s like “West Big Pine” and “Ray Day Visitor” utilize aerial perspectives to convey the mountain peaks from the San Rafael Wilderness to East Camino Cielo.

“For me, landscape painting is a form of concentrating the land. It’s a way of saying yes, this land is sacred,” said Tello.

Originally from Lake Tahoe, the group’s newest member Kevin Gleason teaches high school students as well as illustrates areas of the woods in the Los Padres National Forest.

Gleason credits being out in nature as healing, saying he’s always been comfortable being outdoors and creating on sight paintings in the wilderness.

Gleason’s “Suncatcher” and “The Alcove” illustrate the Los Padres Forest area with speckles of fairytale-like pinks, yellows, and greens that were achieved with the versatility of oil paint.

“You can keep doing it your whole life and it’s always a challenge,” said Gleason.

Panel member Marcia Burtt took on landscape painting in a time when abstract and pop art was popular among the masses. After taking a figure drawing class, Burtt discovered her passion for on sight painting.

“We knew we were recording how it was before,” said Burtt.

The panel also touched on the financial benefits of their conservation efforts. A portion of each sale made from the paintings currently hanging in the Atkinson Gallery will go to the Los Padres ForestWatch to support and protect the area.

Sponsored by the Santa Barbara City College Foundation, “In Wildness” by the Oak Group is open in the Atkinson Art Gallery until March 22.

 

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