Four UCSB alumni hosted the grand opening of their collaborative art space “Uppur Bunk” in Goleta on Thursday night, showcasing works from several local artists.
Cassidy Anton, Samantha Fretwell, Katy McCarthy and Patrick Melroy founded the venue, which gives members the opportunity to display their artwork in a community-oriented space, just north of the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport on Aero Camino. Uppur Bunk’s grand opening included several interactive art demonstrations including leather belt making, Contour Blind sketches and 12-foot inflatable vinyl figures to entertain approximately 30 student and faculty attendees.
According to McCarthy, the displays at the gallery’s opening encouraged the audience to join in various activities, such as reaching through the “Contour Blind” curtain to produce a sketch, which aimed to quell their inhibitions and encourage participation.
“We want to be the kind of place that I would have loved to go when I was in school here,” McCarthy said. “Especially as a young artist, we try to make art a casual part of the community.”
Melroy, who received his master’s degree in fine arts from UCSB last year and currently teaches sculpture, photography and spatial studies courses at his alma mater, said the studio will draw upon talent from the Isla Vista and UCSB communities.
“We wanted to be close to UCSB, but we also wanted to be in a public place where our public can access us,” Melroy said. “UCSB and Isla Vista have 21,000 young people who are energetic and enthusiastic about where their lives are at, and that’s a really great moment to insert our ideas of art, creativity and fun.”
Leo Mora, a UCSB alumnus who attended the grand opening, said the studio gallery provides an inspiring ambience for both established and aspiring artists.
“I think it’s a great space for people to come and express ideas related to art,” Mora said. “It’s a really good place for people around the community to come and feed off of each other’s energy and creativity.”
In 2010, McCarthy and Fretwell teamed up to create the local interactive art series “Del Playa Projects.” The 75-foot red carpet event on Del Playa Drive served as a lighthearted ridicule of the area’s weekend revelry, according to Fretwell.
“As pedestrians would walk down the street, all you had to do was put some lights on them and change what they were walking on and it completely changed the scene,” Fretwell said. “People were prancing up and down the carpet as both a celebration and a playful critique of the drunken party-walking that happens there.”
According to third-year College of Creative Studies student Jessica Schlobohm, Uppur Bunk helps incorporate the area’s expansive community of artists into a casual, collaborative atmosphere.
“Getting to see how other artists work and set up their spaces is really helpful,” Schlobohm said. “Art is usually a solitary thing, so having a space to share ideas is a great opportunity.”
On Feb. 24, Uppur Bunk will host the UCSB Department of Art Faculty Show featuring works in various mediums from approximately 10 faculty members. In addition to exhibitions, the venue organizers plan to hold “argument nights” to create an outlet conducive to debates on social issues.
Anton said the gallery has received many positive responses from attendees so far.
“There’s a lot of great energy in a beautiful place like this, but not a lot of spaces to show it,” Anton said. “Having a venue for local work is not very common, so it’s really encouraging that people want to be a part of this.”
For more information visit www.uppurbunk.com.