On Oct. 29, the University of Art Museum here at UCSB opened its doors on its most recent exhibition, California Biennal 2008, which will run through Mar. 1, 2009. The exhibition was mounted by the Orange County Museum of Art, which aims to present new developments in California art, and features works by three Los Angeles-based artists, Shana Lutker, Anna Sew Hoy and Brenna Youngblood for this off-site collaboration.

The California Biennial features works from over 50 artists of different media, but the UAM exhibition, organized by Elyse Gonzales, focuses on the three aforementioned artists for their innovative, ingenious skill and thought-provoking conceptual standpoints.

New York-born artist Shana Lutker received her MFA from UCLA in 2005 and works with different media, but experiments in and derives most of her work from her drawing and photography. Lutker’s work is seemingly minimalist and simple, but is heavily rooted in psychology, and often offers an alternative perception or view of reality. Her clean, architectural style focuses on geometric shapes and structures, and is undeniably striking and interesting to look at, as there is something very definitive and compelling about what is being conveyed beyond the first look.

In addition to the UAM exhibition, Lutker will also showcase a series of one-night performances at the Contemporary Arts Forum in downtown Santa Barbara, called “Hear it Here,” which starts Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. This performance, as well as the work in her exhibition, is largely inspired by recent presidential campaign speeches and debates.

Anna Sew Hoy, who was born in Auckland, New Zealand, received her undergraduate degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York and is working on her MFA at Bard College this year. She is also a sculptor, and creates her work through combinations of ceramics and found material. Her work is fundamentally influenced by art history, pop culture and music, and revolves around issues of texture and surface. Hoy’s sculptures are absolutely stunning, intricate pieces that often reveal personal facets of her private life and foreground issues of memory, experience and emotion from a highly relatable, touching perspective.

Brenna Youngblood, another UCLA MFA graduate, started out as a photographer and combines painting and photography into collages that explore the relationship between the two art forms, which result in densely layered, often mystifying detail. Her art centers around issues of environment and community, and has a distinct, interesting aesthetic, with standout elements being rhythm, color, texture and movement. Youngblood’s collages are mesmerizing, as they are essentially reassembled versions of her photographs in dynamic, fragmented mosaics that result in a sometimes-humorous, sometimes-ominous commentary on political, social and cultural life.

Each artist had a singular, idiosyncratic vision and style, and fascinating things to convey, and there is certainly something to be gained from the experience. Regardless of what you get out of it, you are guaranteed to see something different, unexpected, or unusual – or at least encouraged to think in a different, unexpected and unusual way.