About Rick Garcia

Rick Garcia, an award winning Santa Barbara based oil painter has been painting the California central coast since the mid 1990’s but his inspiration harkens back to a much earlier time. Born in 1953, he spent his early years soaking up the beauty of the back country near his grandparent’s ranch in Sebastapol California. The memory of those undeveloped vistas is still a strong influence in his work. Relying on his love of nature, his interest in the California Plein Air movement as well as his many years in commercial art Rick has created a blend that his is own unique vision.

He graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in 1977 and received his formal art training at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland Ca. (1979-1982). For 15 years Rick had been a nationally renowned illustrator and art director during which he and his design firm Garcia, Bickmore and Brown were winners of over 20 addy awards. In the late 1990’s he started the transition to a full time career as a painter, the culmination of years of work in the arts.

University of California at Berkeley, 1973 to 1977. Bachelor of Arts Degree
California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland California, 1979 to 1981 design / illustration and painting.

Teaching Experience
University of California at Santa Barbara, 1989 to 1994. Graphic Design Instructor in Extention Program.
Arts Fund Mentorship Program Santa Barbara California 2003
S.C.A.P.E. (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) 2009 taught workshop on glazing techniques.
1983-2000,Owner and partner in three different design/advertising firms specializing in custom design/illustration work. Clients included Clarke American, Disney, Budwieser, American Express. Won best of show 1989 AAF amongst numerous other awards.
- Art Director for Territory Ahead Clothing Co. 1988-1990
- Art Director for Big Dog Sportswear 1994-2000

Exhibit History
1998-1999, Windwood Galleries, Vail Colorado.
1999-2000, Snowy Mountain Gallery, Buena Vista, Colorado.
1999, Honorable Mention, “Fine Art Santa Barbara”, Santa Barbara, California.
2000, (April to October), Group show at Caruso/Woods Fine Arts.
2000 (October), 3rd place Beverly Hills Affaire in the Gardens Art Show.
2000 (October), “Museum Director’s Award” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Art Walk.
2000 (October to Present), Exhibiting at Pascucci Restaurant, Santa Barbara California.
2001 (June), Winner of the 2001 Individual Artist Award in painting, Santa Barbara Arts Fund.
2001 - 2003, Maureen Murphy Fine Arts, Montecito, California.
2002 - 2006, Delphine Gallery, Santa Barbara, California.
2002 - 2009, Park Gallery, Carmel, California.
2003 to Present, Young’s Gallery, Los Olivos, California.
2003 (August), One person show, Delphine Gallery, Santa Barbara, California.
2003 (September), “1st Place Painting Award” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Art Walk.
2004 (September), “2nd Place Painting Award” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Art Walk.
2006 (October), “3rd Place Painting Award” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Art Walk.
2006 (October), “Honorable Mention”  Museum of Natural History Art Walk Outdoor Show.
2006 (November), One person show at Santa Barbara Architectural Foundation.
2006 to present, Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, California.
2007 (October), Lead artist, concept creator and curator of “El Camino Realism” Indoor main exhibit, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History “Artwalk”.
2008 (August), One person show at Santa Barbara Architectural Foundation.
2008, ”Great American Landscape Show”, Group Exhibit, Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara CA.
2008 - present, Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara CA.
2009 (October), Lead artist, concept creator and curator of “California Landscape~ Realism to Abstaction” Indoor main exhibit Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History “Artwalk”.
2010 Guest artist in EDC Oak Group Show.
2010 Selected artist in “Glenna Hartmann Memorial Exhibit”, “Exhibit by California’s top 50 Landscape Artists” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
2011 One Person Show Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA.
2012 “Artists of Distinction” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
2012 Five paintings commissioned for a wing of Cottage Hospital, Santa Barbara, CA.
2012 “Ralph, Ray and Rick” 3 person show at Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA.
2013 Two person show at Santa Barbara Architectural Foundation.
2014 “Artists of Distinction” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
2014 “Art at the Casa”, Casa del Herrero, Montecito, CA.
2015 “Artists of Distinction” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
2016 "Reflections in Water" California Art Club, Saint Mary's College Museum of Art Moraga, CA.
2016 “Artists of Distinction” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
2017"Quintessential California"  California Art Club, Alta Dena Town and Country Club, Alta Dena, CA.

California Art Club - Associate Member
OAK Group
Santa Barbara Studio Artists
S.C.A.P.E Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment



ART REVIEW: Art in a Doubly Natural Setting

Artwalk features the respected painter coalition known as The Oak Group

By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent

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September 22, 2017 7:08 AM

       In terms of important Santa Barbara-based arts enterprises born in the 1980s, stars are aligning at the Museum of Natural History this weekend. It's that time, as autumn falls, when the annual ArtWalk takes over the grounds and halls of the museum property, and as the event celebrates its 29th year in existence, the mighty landscape painter coalition known as the Oak Group is in the midst of toasting its 30th anniversary year.
       The two entities are happily converging this weekend, as the Oak Group — recognized beyond the area for its significance, and who were part of the ArtWalk experience in the past but have been absent for the past several years — are given a special showcase in the large indoor space of the Fleischmann Auditorium this year.
But ArtWalk is about more than the keynote indoor exhibition in the Fleischmann. Outdoor vendors from arts, crafts and other concerns set up shop on both sides of the creek, musicians perform in the mini-amphitheater, and a not-to-miss Children's ArtWalk showcases the creative output of more than 200 children from local schools.
       One of the steady artistic presences at ArtWalk for many years now is painter Rick Garcia, a well-known artist on the local scene going back to the '80s who has had a booth across the creek for years. He first got involved in ArtWalk back in 2002, explaining, "I was just starting to spread my wings in the fine arts after years as a commercial artist, and decided to enter a few pieces into the juried exhibit in the back half of the Fleischmann Auditorium as part of the indoor show. In that show and for the following few years I was lucky enough to win multiple awards."
       He went on to curate several theme-cased exhibitions, starting with a show called "El Camino Realism," "comprised of imagery and vistas up and down the El Camino Highway" (aka the 101). For the past five years, the indoor group exhibition has been organized by Diane Waterhouse, from the Waterhouse Gallery, which also shows Mr. Garcia's work. He comments that "she has, over the years, put together very impressive shows comprised of many of the top artists on the West Coast. This year, however, The Oak Group is back."
        He recently discussed his work, and his long, ongoing connection with ArtWalk.
         News-Press: How have you seen the event evolve over the years, and are there features of this year's event which distinguish it from others in the recent past? I know the Oak Group has a strong role in the exhibition.
          Rick Garcia: The ArtWalk is normally more than just the Fleischmann indoor show. It has always had an outdoor show as well where juried artists and crafts people set up booths to show their work. This year will be somewhat abbreviated, however, due to a construction project at the Museum of Natural History. There will be a small group of previous award winners (about 10 including myself) in the front areas around the outside of the auditorium. In some ways it's a good thing, as it will allow us to revamp and reenergize this part of the ArtWalk so that next year it will be better than ever.
          NP: To trace your own story as a painter, where did your love of art, and awareness that you wanted to make that your life and livelihood enter your life?
          RG: As far as my own artistic path is concerned my 15-plus years as an illustrator/ designer served as a great springboard for my current career as a fine artist. It allowed me time to build up my skill and confidence level to a place where I felt good about pursuing my own artistic vision.
          NP: You have a very strong and distinctive style as a plein air painter, and an especially bold way with evocative paintings of palm trees, I've noticed. Was there a certain point or inspiration which drew you into the landscape direction in art, versus figurative or abstract art?
           RG: I am technically not a plein air painter, although the style, look and subjects of my paintings are reminiscent of that movement. Most of my paintings are carefully composed and painted in my studio as opposed to painted on site. That being said, it is my personal experience at a particular location or with a particular subject that governs how I paint it. I remember traveling up to a spot in Big Sur three times just to experience and document the light at a specific time of day for a commissioned painting — a lot of driving just to be there for 10 minutes' worth of light.
           In art school, I focused on scientific illustration, which really fed into my propensity for detail. But it was a show that I saw with one of my best friends (who has also gone on to be a professional fine artist) back in 1972 at the DeYoung Museum in SF that really cemented not only my artistic future but also my perception of realism. The artist was Joseph Raffael (not the Renaissance painter but a contemporary painter) and he had filled multiple rooms in the museum with giant paintings that from a distance were almost photo realistic depictions of moving water and other subjects of nature. Yet when viewed closely they seemed very abstract, where brush strokes and paint drips took on a life of their own.
          When we left that show, we both knew what we wanted to do. I believe that show subconsciously affects how I see and paint my botanical subjects to this day, even though the abstract part escapes me. Only one other show ever moved me like that and that was one of Bjorn Rye's (one of the early Oak Group members) final shows at the Easton Gallery, shortly before his passing.
           NP: As a longtime Santa Barbaran, are there factors you can identify about being in this place — with its natural beauty as well as its artistic energies — that make it unique, and a compelling place for you to live and work?
           RG: Santa Barbara is an amazing petri dish for artistic growth and there is understandably a flourishing art community here. The proximity of the city to the ocean and the mountains as well as the Mediterranean-like light are unique to the entire 12 and can't help but inspire everyone let alone artists.
I believe that is why events like the ArtWalk have continued to thrive. It's an event that allows both artists and viewers alike a chance to celebrate that inspiration. For me the ArtWalk is like going to the church of art once a year; it is inspiring and reaffirming.
           NP: Generally, is this a good and productive period in your life as an artist?
           RG: As far as my productivity is concerned, there are always ebbs and flows and right now I'm experiencing a flow, but ask me again tomorrow.



Capturing the Beautiful and Unspoiled

By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent

Rick Garcia has been around Santa Barbara for many years now, displaying his conspicuous artistic skill in commercial and fine art contexts, with paintings popping up in group shows more regularly of late.
What we find in his wonderful one-person show at the Delphine Gallery is a painter with a refined and mature idea about what he's up to. Part of that agenda is explained by the exhibition's title "Santa Barbara Sky." While the paintings reveal that Garcia is busily admiring the idyllic indigenous Santa Barbara surroundings - like the OAK Group painters, nonaffiliated landscape painters and you and I - he expresses that admiration in his own particular way, basking in the light properties emanating from the sky, or generally looking upward or inward as much as straight ahead.
With his sure-handed painterly style, Garcia applies a living, unsparing gaze at specific features of palm trees, for instance. Palm trees seem to loom with a quiet heroism in some of the best paintings in the show. "Evening Fog Over Canary Palms" takes in the tops of palms, in the dramatizing light of afternoon yielding to evening, framed against gently stormy skies. It's difficult not to read the vertically pitched painting
"Las Positas Kings" as a cross between arboreal realism and portraiture, the essence of these two tall and hairy specimens suggesting a pair of lived-in lovers.
Going more macroscopic, Garcia also tightens up for the ultra close-up views of the strange, quasi-mystical agave plant, it's branches cryptically gobbling up the compositional space. "Agave Dreamscape #9" finds the plant cropped as if in a detail from a larger floral view. By it's elliptical logical, what we don't see enlivens what we do.
Whether ironically or not , Garcia pulls back for longer views of landscapes, but on smaller canvases. In these more panoramic visions, his interest is keyed into the sensuous qualities of light almost more than the terrain, however inherently beautiful and unspoiled. "Afternoon Fog" is a wide small canvas in which the gradated effect of fog burning off imparts a glowing tension in the composition.
Better yet "Jalama Light" is one of the finest pieces in the room. In a manner reminiscent of 19th century European landscape painting more than current local fashion or anything you might expect from the famed surf spot of Jalama, Garcia's painting is a moody wallflower in the show. It's a muted depiction of a patch of oak filled land, subtly punctuated by marching fence posts and rendered celestial through the careful consideration of atmospheric daylight. Nature and sentient paintings are in sync, in the painting, and the show generally. Garcia is someone to watch out for.