Unveiling memories through art

Olivia Palmer, Olivia Palmer, and Olivia Palmer

On a new journey or path of self-discovery, one must find outlets to express and uncover the depth of their personal world, in order to achieve a higher sense of understanding and meaning.

This is exactly what City College adult education student, printmaker and painter Bob Mask has been working towards over the past 15 years through his art.

Born in Wisconsin, Mask’s paintings are based on photographs from his quirky upbringing complete with chickens, guns, and ideas of Catholicism.

“He is not cynical; there is no sarcasm in his work. You believe that the artist was compassionate and attentive to the art,” said Dane Goodman, director of the Atkinson Gallery.

Mask moved from Wisconsin to California 20 years ago after graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in math and physics.

He began taking figure drawing classes at the Schott Center, and 10 years later began taking classes at City College.

He worked for a computer company for five years, and when he ended there he took the opportunity to seriously pursue art, as “his own personal dream.”

Mask’s art began with the concept of discovering more about himself and finding his place in the world. For Mask, “the excitement is learning, experiencing, and showing these ideas I’ve created. The pieces have life and it is for me to do what I can with them. ”

Mask brings an inventive approach to modern day art, which easily compliments the innovative work of younger artists, exhibited alongside him at the Contemporary Arts Forum in downtown Santa Barbara.

Raised in a Catholic family, Mask attributes the struggle for children to understand the world in a right and wrong way, trying to comply with church.

In his piece “The Family Trio at Grade School Recital (in Front of God and All the People),” he, his brother and sister are shown looking very sheepish before a piano recital.

The children were so fearful and nervous, they couldn’t enjoy the moment. Mask believes that this is how many live their life, and that this fear should be transcended as people get older.

“For Christmas, Boys Got Guns, Girls Got Dolls” and “Tension at the Chicken Ranch” depict life in the Midwest and create a contrast with the typical Californian upbringing.

His philosophy on art: “It is to find out who you are. To see what you have and develop it, and to learn about yourself.”