Meandering the Edges by Nathan Huff

Exhibition Dates: March 13 – May 6, 2020
Opening Reception with the Artist: Friday, March 13, 5-7 pm
Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara Gallery

The Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara is pleased to announce the opening of Meandering the Edges, an installation of works on paper and sculpture by Nathan Huff. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held at the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara on Friday, March 13, from 5 to 7 pm. All are welcome.

Meandering the Edges examines ways in which we inhabit homes and move through domestic spaces based on memory and emotion. Installed in unconventional ways on the walls, floor, and corners of the AFSB’s meeting space/gallery, Huff’s paintings on paper of furniture, wood floors, tables, and shovels are meant to draw attention to the space itself as an important part of the narrative. The Architectural Foundation is housed in a historic Victorian Italianate style home designed and built in 1904 by James J. Acheson. The Acheson House was a residence prior to hosting the offices of several non-profit organizations including the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Chapter of the AIA, and the Junior League of Santa Barbara.

This unique exhibition encourages viewers to muse and meander their way through an ordinary environment transformed by art, inviting them to imagine scenarios and summon lost memories as they go. Huff comments, “As someone fascinated by the stories that reside in our memories and are imbedded in the built environment, I believe that the designed aesthetic of architectural space has a powerful impact on our home life and community structures.” His poetic, provocative images and sculpture are rarely straightforward.  Viewers will experience a range of surrealistic styles and installation techniques that slide between the almost comprehensible to the absurd. 

“I hope that this imagined excavation of home invites viewers towards attentive looking at built environments in new ways, charging them with a range of narrative potential and drawing out latent emotion.”

Huff earned an MFA in Drawing and Painting from California State University Long Beach, a BA in art education from Azusa Pacific University, and has also studied art in Italy, France, the UK, and Spain. Huff’s installations have been featured in solo exhibitions at Sullivan Goss Gallery (Santa Barbara), UCR Culver Museum and Sweeney Galleries (Riverside), Los Angeles at D.E.N. Contemporary (West Hollywood), Minthorne Gallery, (Oregon), Gallerie View (Salambo, Tunisa), group exhibitions at JK Gallery (Culver City), Lotus Land (Santa Barbara), and the Westmont Ridley Tree Museum of Art (Santa Barbara.)  Nathan has taught art at CSU Long Beach, LA Southwest College, Biola University, and Azusa Pacific University as an adjunct lecturer. Currently, he is an associate professor of art at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

Graves and Gambling in Gaviota State Park

Memory and tragedy converge in the layered history of Gaviota State Park, where ghosts of different eras remain...

In the early 1800s, a great battle was said to have taken place in Gaviota between the Native Americans of the area and Spanish soldiers. Although the Native Americans had already marked the graves of their fallen with Indian totems, seashells, etc, Spanish priests later replaced these “headstones” with Christian crosses, granted supposedly out of respect and reverence for the deceased. With more than 100 graves marked thus, the area became known as Las Cruces or The Crosses.


Around 1850, with the area now belonging to California and the United States, the crosses were sadly removed and the area became a stage coach stop. The stage coach stop eventually became a hotel and saloon before becoming a notorious gambling hall and brothel. Over the years, the graves of over 100 Native Americans were lost, now lying unmarked. When the stage coach line closed in 1901, along with the recent railroad expansion in the area, Las Cruces began to decline. It operated briefly as a roadside cafe and gas station in the twenties, but eventually was abandoned, before becoming part of Gaviota State Park in 1967.



Very little now remains, basically the remnants of one structure, massively dilapidated, but still barely standing, holding on to what Las Cruces use to be. But ghosts still linger.

The apparitions of three prostitutes still ply their trade in the ruins of the old adobe. According to legend, two of them were strangled by an insane customer and the third committed suicide. They appear standing inside the building, oblivious to its current state, apparently still believing the building is a standing brothel. Another ghost, one wearing a knee length black coat and a wide brimmed hat, is said to have been a gunfighter who died in a gun fight on the premises. And, of course, at night the structure is surrounded and haunted by the restless spirits of the Native Americans whose graves still lie unmarked, now strangled with weeds. It is said that ghosts still dwell at this coach stop. Three of them being unsettled prostitutes. According to legend, two were strangled to death by an insane customer and one took her own life.