Ranchos: The Oak Group Paints the Santa Barbara Countryside
leaving a very changed landscape. A large Barn owl looked down at me from the rafters of the barn as Bill Dewey and I explored and took photographs. Later, we watched from the Indian burial ground as the late summer shadows spread across the rugged Caliente Range--then we made our camp for the night. It was incredibly dark. We were astonished by the extraordinary display of stars above us. Michael Drury was up before dawn and at work on his painting ot the early light on the Caliente Hills. We spoke of the quiet of the early morning, the stillness, the beauty, and how spending the night had made us appreciate even more keenly this wild and empty land. It reminded us of Ray Strong's saying, "If you want to get to know the land, go and sleep with it."
This project would not have been possible without the cooperation of ranch owners such as Hub Russell. Always interested in what we were trying to accomplish, they seemed genuinely pleased to share their property and its history with us. We met Clare Bettencourt, who shared her family albums of the old College Ranch. Ernie Righetti drove us to the top of the hills of Punta de La Laguna to show us the spectacular view across the Santa Maria Valley.
One hot summer afternoon, Bill Luton took us on a tour or La Laguna, including the ruins of the old asphaltum
From top to bottom: Richard Schloss, Santa Ynez River, 12 x 18 inches, oil on canvas, private collection; Larry Iwerks, Cattle Gate, 20 x 24 inches, oil on panel, collection of the artist; John Iwerks, Hayfield, 8 x 10 inches, oil on canvas, collection of Arturo Tello.
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