Saturday’s SP Art & Photography reception marks 75th Annual Show

March 23, 2012
Santa Paula News

The headline in the August 6, 1937 Santa Paula Daily Chronicle noted “29 Paintings Survive Jury Selection” for the first competition organized by noted local artists.

It was a statement that now could be closer to 400, the approximate number of artworks in the 75th Annual Santa Paula Art & Photography Show. 

According to Santa Paula Society of the Arts Historian Virginia Gunderson, acclaimed artist Ralph Holmes was an original judge for the first show, and the Chamber of Commerce waited for the announcement of the People’s Choice Award to make their purchase. Such purchases were the beginnings of the Santa Paula Collection, as well as the annual art show celebrating it’s 75th Diamond Anniversary Saturday with the Artists Reception and Awards at Blanchard Community Library.

Organized and hosted by the Santa Paula Society of the Arts, the 75th Annual Santa Paula Art & Photography Show will be exhibited through April 4. On Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. will be the gala free Awards Reception, where art lovers can meet those who created their favorite work and learn who is taking home top prizes in various categories, including Peoples Choice, Best of Show and Jury of Your Peers.

The library, located at 119 N. 8th St., is filled with hundreds of works of art ranging from oil/acrylics and watercolors to pastel, mixed media/graphics and photography. “The show looks amazing... there’s some really beautiful work in it this year,” and come the opening reception Santa Paula Society of the Arts President Lynda Gruber said the society is “looking forward to the crowd of art lovers we always get!”

The show was founded in 1937 when acclaimed artists Jessie Arms Botke, Cornelis Botke and Douglas Shively and friends decided to stage an art competition for subjects painting within an eight-mile radius of the city. Those works - and that first purchase by the Chamber of Commerce - became the genesis of the famed Santa Paula Collection: generations of show winning art donated to public entities, a grouping that includes more than 400 works. 

Saturday’s reception will be the last time for art lovers to vote for the Peoples Choice. Balloting will end promptly at 5 p.m.

All exhibited artworks are available for purchase, and the Santa Paula Society of the Arts receives a commission for each sale. Last year, said Gruber, many works were sold.

The 75th anniversary is the basis for numerous exhibits in Santa Paula: a special retrospective of the life and works of Douglas Shively is featured at the Santa Paula Art Museum. Also featured at the Museum is “Then and Now,” a look back at that first show recreated by contemporary artists who limited their subject matter to within an eight-mile radius of Santa Paula.  

The free reception will feature refreshments and entertainment by harpist Xavier “Big X” Montes. 

Blanchard Community Library is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about the Santa Paula Society of the Arts visit

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