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Santa Barbara News-Press : Pictures at an Exhibition in a Harbor : Painter Lizabeth Madal's easy-on-the-eyes series of paintings take on extra meaning and veracity, hanging as they are upstairs in the Maritime Museum

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Pictures at an Exhibition in a Harbor : Painter Lizabeth Madal's easy-on-the-eyes series of paintings take on extra meaning and veracity, hanging as they are upstairs in the Maritime Museum

     


December 31, 2010 10:50 AM

In any other gallery, Lizabeth Madal's genially painted scenes in her show "Harbor Town" would have been a pleasant enough view of days in the life of the microcosmic "town" that is Santa Barbara's harbor. But the canvases takes on extra relevance and substance in their current home, upstairs in the harbor-based Maritime Museum's newly dedicated art exhibition area.

As we gander at the small show, we're struck by the reality just outside the museum's doors being channeled into paint on canvas. With these friendly images of the world, literally, directly outside the gallery, Madal maintains a mostly soft-edged realist approach in her work, but veers into some alternate expressive directions on occasion.

"Sunset Sails" is the largest painting of the group, with a dramatically reddened twilight aura hovering over the sailboat-flecked ocean scenery, while "Mist & Moon" is the closest thing in the show to a neo-impressionist vision. In this painting, delineations between sea and sky are melted around the edges, in a misty-eyed integration of visual sensation.

More down the middle, expressively speaking, are paintings such as "Kayaks for Rent" and "The Fisherman," more picturesque - and picaresque - illustrative images of our own special harbor life. Underlying Madal's handfuls of pleasing paintings here, the show manages to convey the idea that ours is a postcard-scenic harbor, but also a working junction with the sea, catering to the fishing trade as much as the tourist trade.

Adjacent to Madal's painting show is "Postcards from Paradise," a fascinating exhibition showing enlargements of select postcard images from Peter Jordano's extensive collection. The focus of the vintage views seen here, fittingly, is on the Santa Barbara waterfront, making for a ripe "back when" perspective, in counterpoint but also in collusion with Madal's modern-day harbor musings.

Much of the historical vantage in this selection of images is on the turn of the 20th century and Cabrillo Blvd. life pre-1926 earthquake. That quake infamously ravaged the existing Santa Barbara cityscape and made for a forcibly neat distinguishing point between epochs in town.

What we see from the Jordano collection are impressive and imposing waterfront structures now swept into the tide of history, including the large Potter Hotel, the now-destroyed Castle Rock and the original, larger and covered Los Ba˝osbath house, circa 1901. Somewhat poignantly in retrospect, we take in these visions of old with a slightly detached admiration, given the radical changes where Cabrillo meets the Pacific, post-quake.

But if these views of old school Cabrillo Boulevard, with its Plaza del Mar promenade, can be both exotic and a bit alienating, one reassuring structural sign of life seen in hand-tinted photographic postcard form in this exhibition is the Cabrillo Pavilion. That impressive building still stands in all its antiqued - if post-quake - glory on East Beach, available to all 21st-century beachgoers and leisuretime revelers.

ART REVIEW

LIZABETH MADAL, 'HARBOR TOWN'

When: through May, 2011

Where: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,

every day except Wednesday

Information: 962-8404, sbmm.org

 


 









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