Monday, June 18, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on July 3rd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 17

Back with a vision

The Santa Barbara County Arts Commission's newly renovated Betteravia Gallery North gives community and fine art a home in Santa Maria


Housing masterpieces
The gallery is also showing 10 original paintings by Channing Peake that were donated to the county by Anne and Walon Green.

The Santa Barbara County Arts Commission has been patiently waiting—for more than a year—for completed renovations at the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Center, location of the Betteravia Gallery. The update to the facility afforded much more room for the government programs that make use of the space, including the art gallery.

“An ‘art drought’ is not necessarily a bad thing,” commission visual arts coordinator Rita Ferri explained via e-mail. “Several employees came up to me while we were installing the art and said they couldn’t wait for the art to be back on the walls!”

While the Betteravia Gallery itself didn’t receive a large renovation, the room had been used to store construction equipment, so the safety of the art was compromised, Ferri explained. Now, with more available room thanks to a hearing room and overflow area, the gallery is split in two, with the previous location titled Betteravia Gallery North, and a portion of the hearing room overflow area dubbed Betteravia Gallery South.

“The newer gallery is smaller and different in its configuration,” Ferri said, “however both exist to provide even more exhibition opportunities for north county artists to exhibit and the public to view new exhibitions.”

The Betteravia Gallery started more than 15 years ago, providing a venue for local artists, groups, and special exhibits the commission would rotate between Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. The two new exhibits showing in the galleries reflect the dual nature the gallery provides, housing art made by community members, as well as fine art donated or loaned to the county.

The two exhibits—“Town Center Moves North: Town Center Gallery Artists” and “The Anne and Walon Green Collection: The Paintings of Channing Peake”—are currently on view at the gallery, and will remain there through most of September. The Town Center Gallery is a coalition of local artists who operated a kind of co-op gallery at Santa Maria Town Center East before budget constraints forced them to close the doors. Besides a few glass display cases and the walls at the Santa Maria Public Airport, the group has been without a venue.

“I had heard of the recent loss of the mall gallery by the Town Center artists, and our County Art in Public Places committee and I felt their group would be perfect to feature for the first exhibition,” Ferri said. “Fortunately, they felt equally excited by the possibility.”

Mix it up
Betteravia Gallery North is currently featuring an exhibition of Town Center Artists’ work, including a piece by Patricia Stalter (pictured).

Ferri acted as curator for the exhibit, choosing from many members’ artwork in several media, including watercolors, silk paintings, oil paintings, photography, and mixed media.

“The offerings are as diverse as the residents of North County,” Ferri said. “I believe it is a show that will have something for everyone, from delicate pastel colorations to bold graphics.”

The other exhibit is truly special. Made up of a donation of 10 original paintings by Channing Peake, the exhibit features a selection of the artist’s abstract paintings.

“The generous donors of this collection, Anne and Walon Green, fell in love with Channing’s work early on,” Ferri said. “They didn’t know him personally, but when I met them, their excitement was palpable as they talked about each painting and what they liked about them.”

Peake was an artist who rubbed shoulders with such peers as Pablo Picasso, Rico Lebrun, Man Ray, and Diego Rivera. He lived in Santa Ynez for many years and served on the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission from 1979 to 1989. He was also one of the founding members of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

View the new
Betteravia Gallery North currently shows two exhibits. “Town Center Moves North: Town Center Gallery Artists” hangs through Sept. 27. “The Anne and Walon Green Collection: the Paintings of Channing Peake” shows through Sept. 18. The Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Center is at 511 E. Lakeside in Santa Maria. More info: 568-3994,, or

“This magnificent gift is significant to the county, not only because the Channing Peake Gallery bears his name, but because Peake is a living link to the golden days of Santa Barbara,” Ferri said. “Currently the public is now able to see Peake’s work at the Santa Barbara airport and the downtown Santa Barbara Public Library mural painted by Channing Peake and Howard Warshaw.”

The expanded room afforded to Betteravia Gallery North ensures that dual exhibits can have plenty of space in which to be enjoyed. While the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission isn’t partnered with any other local arts organizations, it’s always willing to extend an invitation to a community artist or group, such as the Town Center Gallery.

“Arts and culture represent the best of what our society has to offer to its citizens,” Ferri said. “The representation of all artists in all cities and towns, big and small, is important.”

Sign up for the commission’s weekly “e-blast” by e-mailing Ferri at More information is available at the commission’s website at

Arts Editor Joe Payne celebrates any and all local art venues. Contact him at

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