It’s been a busy summer for Galley 479 — located in the Red Barn building on campus — which currently plays host to UCSB’s Summer Projects, a series of creative events put on by dedicated students in the Art Department. The projects began at the beginning of summer, boasting a full schedule of workshops, potlucks, performances and displays of artwork.

Something unique about Summer Projects, however, is its encouraged freedom and interactivity. Gallery 479 is used during the year mostly for art students or displays of work from classes, generally open to the public only for looking and not participating. But this summer, Summer Projects has turned Gallery 479 into an open space for everyone to use. Students and non-students, artists and non-artists are encouraged to come together and use the gallery to create personal projects, hang their work, critique the work of others, or just relax with fellow art enthusiasts. Additionally, anyone who brings in his or her artwork will have it photographed, written about and critically discussed in a gallery setting.

So far, the Summer Projects experiment has been a big hit with the local community. On Tuesday, Aug. 7, Workshop Coordinator and fourth-year honors art student Raymond Douglas hosted a “Glue-less Bookbinding Workshop,” where students put together their own notebooks using a few classic methods. “I showed two methods of glueless book binding … eight fold and traditional Japanese stab binding,” Raymond said. Students used a cordless drill and string to bind pages together instead of the customary adhesive method. The workshop had a great turnout and final product for participants to take home. According to Raymond, “It was a tremendous success.”

The following week, second-year MFA candidate and Session B’s gallery curator, Bog led an event where students created “Action Mail Postcard Kits.” Participants were asked to bring a piece of cardboard and ten addresses (of friends or family members) that they would write on the postcards provided. The cards would be addressed and then randomly mixed up. The idea is to take cards with the addresses of people you don’t know and find something to anonymously write, find a connection. At the event, everyone gathered around a table in the center of the gallery, with half-finished art projects scattered around, and enjoyed the fresh-baked bread and good conversation while crafting. In the end, each participant walked away with ten blank postcards, stamped and addressed to random people. The rest of the project was up to them.

Another important event at Summer Projects is “Open Crit,” a forum for free and public critique of student artwork that happens every Wednesday night. Open to art and non-art students alike, Bog says these events are full of “honest, intelligent and b.s.-free critique” to truly help students improve their work. Last week, Gallery 479 put on a “Failure Show” with the same intent, to allow individuals to share their art without the pressure of perfection. The show was actually a resounding success, and much of the art was rearranged or improved and is still on display in the gallery today.

In its final few weeks, Summer Projects will continue to provide a welcoming space for students and community members to converge over art. Upcoming events include a Tuesday “Mindfulness Workshop” and field trip to the Museum of Natural History for a BBQ in place of the usual Thursday potluck. Today through this Friday, Summer Projects will also be hosting events outside the gallery. Today, students can check out the South Coast Railroad Museum, Thursday will be a “SB Hidden Gems” tour around the city, and Friday is a Coal Oil Point Reserve walking tour. All trips leave from Gallery 479 at noon.

There is really no better way to spend that abundant free time this summer than enjoying good culture in good company at Gallery 479. Starting at 6 p.m., the Summer Projects hosts an interactive workshop every Tuesday, Open Crit on Wednesdays, and a potluck with free food and music on Thursdays. The Gallery is also free and open to the public every weekday from noon to 6 p.m. Check out the Summer Projects Facebook page for updated information and event invites!