Santa Barbara residents who attended Wednesday night’s opening reception at the fourth annual “Reflections of Poverty in Santa Barbara County” art show were treated to a compelling look at the lives of the county’s less fortunate residents.

The art show, hosted by the Community Action Commission (CAC) of Santa Barbara at the Faulkner Gallery downtown, offered awards and prizes for works by county artists young and old. The opening ceremony featured a presentation on global poverty and its connection to Santa Barbara by photojournalist and filmmaker Kevin McKiernan. The art show includes paintings and photos of low-income residents and their housing, as well as sculptures and etchings depicting the themes of the show. The first-, second- and third-place artists in the contest will receive prizes of $1000, $500 and $250, respectively, and three prizes of $100 will be awarded to artists age 18 and under.

Lisa Lane, coordinator for the event, said the show highlights the often hidden problem of poverty.

“Sometimes people overlook the fact that this county has people living in it that are in poverty,” Lane said.

The call for entries was extended to local art associations, schools and the general public through newspaper advertisements.

“This year we had over 100 entries, including 27 from youth,” Lane said. “Our first year we had about 65 entries, and the number of entries has been growing every year.”

Lane said this year the CAC worked with local schools, which helped produce an unusually high number of youth entries.

Fran Forman, executive director for the CAC, said the event is a good opportunity for younger artists to display their art to the public.

“Since the arts in schools have been so diminished – our top prize this year is from a junior high [student] – this is an opportunity to promote student art and get students involved with the art community,” Forman said.

Forman said the show is an unusual event for the CAC because the main function of the organization is to provide services to low-income area residents, aspiring to create a place where normal families can support themselves.

“Usually we are in conferences or in work mode, and being able to do something like this gets diverse communities of people together,” Forman said. “This brings awareness to groups that we do not normally deal with.”

Forman said she hopes the art show will help to publicize the CAC’s efforts to help to make local youth, teens, adults and seniors more self-sufficient.

Local residents Margaret and Dick Fuller, who attended the opening, said the show is a good way to draw attention to the effects of poverty in Santa Barbara.

“The show is very poignant. It points out issues that you don’t see, as opposed to the regular methods of receiving information,” Margaret Fuller said.

Carol Carbine, a painter from Buellton, said this is the second year that she has entered the contest. By having local artists enter the show and pay the entrance fee, Carbine said she feels that the artist community is showing its interest and support for the CAC’s mission.

“These little entrance fees add up and can really count,” Carbine said. “In this society you have the haves and the have-nots, and if you have, you should share what you can with others.”

Carbine said her entry, “War Veteran with His Demons,” portrays the difficulties many war veterans experience in their attempts to rejoin society.

“I have a kind heart for those who are homeless, and as a society I feel we need to help them with this cause,” Carbine said.

The show runs through April 29 at the Faulkner Gallery inside the Santa Barbara Library at 40 E. Anapamu St. More information about the CAC can be found at