Thought Process

Kyle Calbreath, Kyle Calbreath, and Kyle Calbreath

To create art is to convey a message. Big, small, pointless or meaningful, a story is told through brush strokes, photo images, and imagination. For City College student Matt Woodford, making art is personal, and has a strong, sometimes brutally unique message.

“The worst thing for me is to have someone look at my art and not have a reaction,” Woodford said.

Though he primarily grew up in Los Angeles, at ages six and 16 Woodford spent some time learning and growing in England. While living there he took an interest in art, and his overseas art teacher gave him the confidence to further pursue his passion.

In 1992, after achieving a bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts from Cal State Fullerton, he parlayed his artistic talents into the creation of his own company. The company is called The Trillium Creation, and it specializes in event design and production. Widely successful and well known, the company has had big name clients such as Intel and Microsoft, and has offices in L.A., New York, and Orange County. A job last summer for The Wall Street Journal brought together software giants Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Yet with all the success of his company, art is his true passion.

“I’m focusing a lot more on painting,” said Woodford. “I’m seeing where that can take me.”

And take him places it has. Currently he has an exhibit at the Atkinson Annex, which runs through Dec. 2, and he has also had paintings shown in City College’s student art show. Woodford was also part of the mural project that is now on the back of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, alongside his art professor Rafael Perea De La Cabada.

Whether you glance at his mural or study his paintings: his work is striking. Bright and arresting, he uses words in his pieces to further illustrate points. His installation in the Atkinson Annex uses large blue letters spelling out ‘solitude’. Another spells ‘no bravery’ depicting a battered person and a snarling dog. The art is unforgiving and different, and breaks any and all norms. He creates intensity and awareness of his surroundings and his life. These works deserve full attention.

“Lots of people like to paint pretty,” said Kelly Wheeler, Atkinson Gallery intern and curator for Woodford’s exhibit in the Atkinson Annex. “He likes to stir things up.”

Woodford says that his art isn’t supposed to be political but makes a statement on a more human level. The words and commentary come through as a reflection of the happenings in society.

“Matt’s paintings are gutsy and truthful, because through his painting he articulates what people would like to forget about,” said Rita Ferri, visual arts coordinator for the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission. “He paints what people don’t want to admit they feel.”

His message is less than simple, his art unusual, and that’s what makes it more than just beautiful. He has something to say, and he puts it out there in an astounding way.

“I just want to make people think,” said Woodford. “I want to make people look around a little bit.”