According to the Santa Barbara Visual Art Alliance, the area’s art scene consists of over 100 museums, galleries and studios, among other associations. With exhibits opening and closing every day, it’s almost impossible to keep track of what’s showing where – not to mention deciding what’s actually worth seeing in person.

Of course, like any medium-sized metropolis, Santa Barbara has its major museums. Between the University Art Museum, the Santa Barbara Contemporary Art Forum and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the area’s art aficionados have a tantalizing trifecta of major venues to visit.

So, whether your taste runs toward cutting-edge contemporary installations or classical compositions, chances are there will be a local institution capable of pleasing your palate. And, this fall, as the temperatures drop and the beach becomes less and less inviting, the major local museums are making sure that local residents have plenty of pretty things to look at – even when they’re forced to stay indoors.

On our very own UCSB campus, the University Art Museum is transporting patrons to the foggy streets of London town with its new exhibit, “Gritty Brits: New London Architecture.” The exhibit features images representing the work of London-based architectural firms Adjaye/Associates, Caruso St John Architects, Fashion Architecture Taste, Níall McLaughlin Architects, muf and Sergison Bates architects in London’s post-industrial East End.

In a press release, Carnegie Museum of Art curator of architecture and exhibit organizer Raymun Ryan said “Gritty Brits” is unique because it examines the intersection between the stark reality of London street culture, the contemporary character of the city’s urban environs and the aesthetics of some of the world’s leading young architects.

“The collective result of the architects’ creations is that, as new social groups and situations emerge, new juxtapositions and cultural layers manifest themselves within the city,” Ryan said. “These new architects allow the city and its architecture to inform one another, and their projects analyze and reinforce the urban experience through use of color, light, texture and ornament.”

The exhibit premieres Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. to noon on Nov. 2. Ryan himself will lead a walkthrough of the museum, which is the sole West Coast space to host the show. For more information about the museum’s hours and its upcoming events, go to

At the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, located in the Paseo Nuevo mall downtown, early November marks the end of a showcase of work by local artists entitled “True Métier,” which means vocation or true calling. The showcase features work by Christine Gray, Bob Mask, Team Hyperbole (Steven Soria and Keil Johnson) and Ethan Turpin, whose work was chosen from a pool of over 100 local talents.

According to a press release from the forum, all four featured artists “pursue contemporary issues and experiments utilizing various media including painting, sculpture, installation and video. Gray and Mask, both painters, use the medium to explore nostalgia and the tensions of past and future. … Ethan Turpin and Team Hyperbole explore the many facets of multi-media installation, blurring the lines between high- and low-tech as well as contemporary and archaic technology.”

The exhibit includes installations, both sculptural and graphic, as well as more traditional paintings and prints and closes Nov. 4. More information about the forum and the exhibit is available at

Finally, there’s the proverbial gem of Santa Barbara spaces, the jewel in both the local classic and contemporary art scenes, the museum which needs no name other than the most simple indication of what exactly is housed within the four walls of its impressive Spanish-tiled exterior. Of course, it’s the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and it, too, has an autumnal offering guaranteed to titillate even the most particular art aficionado. For a full listing of the museum’s events, check out

Until Jan. 13, the museum is hosting “Oliver Gagliani: Scores of Abstraction.” This exhibit of approximately 25 prints showcases the titular California-based photographer’s uniquely abstract aesthetic. With simple shapes, stark contrasts and dramatic lighting, Gagliani helped lead the photography revolution of the ’60s and ’70s.

According to the museum’s website, “often Gagliani’s works seem to represent a theatrical stage. At other times, they offer entry into a dense, tonally nuanced spirit world of indeterminate geography highlighting small fragments of the world – stains, scraps, peeling paint and patchwork – all isolated and contemplated, then interpreted through exposure and printing. Ansel Adams once said of Gagliani’s work, ‘[His] photography is both thoughtful and lyrical and personally perceptive. … His work is a most refreshing reminder of the inherent beauty of the world and the continuing miracle of creative vision.'”

Indeed, if there is anything the myriad of museum exhibits going on this fall prove, it’s the variety and viability of that complex little thing called creativity. And, from architecture to archival photography, there’s something in Santa Barbara to awe every aesthetic this autumn.