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Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara

AFSB Gallery

Exceptional Art & Design

The Gallery/Conference Room of the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara is a dynamic space within a historic setting for curated exhibitions of contemporary art, photography and design. Four solo exhibitions and one group exhibition are presented annually. 

Local artists, architects, photographers, and designers are invited to submit work created in a wide range of content, mediums, and styles. Drawings of local landmarks from the Kids Draw Architecture (KDA) program are featured in December.

Our Friday evening Opening Receptions with the artists are open to all.  On Saturday afternoons, the Gallery is open for visitors to contemplate exhibitions at their leisure.  Throughout the year, we offer Artist Workshops with our featured artists and Art Talks with artists, gallery owners and curators, critics and art historians designed to foster creativity and community dialogue.

Through this lively exhibition and education program, the AFSB Gallery provides a unique forum for emerging and established artists, collectors, and art aficionados from the tri-county area.  

For information on how to apply for an exhibition, please read our Mission & Guidelines or contact us.

Current Exhibition - A Natural Curiosity by Nadya Brown

June 3, 2023 – August 12, 2023

Reception: June 2, 2023

The Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara is pleased to present  the exhibition, A Natural Curiosity, a solo exhibition of oil paintings by Nadya Brown.

In this series of lush paintings, Nadya Brown creates illusory, imaginary three-dimensional spaces that entice viewers to enter, explore, and examine closely. Through realistic drawing and highly saturated colors, these highly original depictions of decorative objects, flowers, birds, domestic spaces, and landscapes (often combined in a single painting) evoke time, light, and memory in a slightly surreal manner. Brown’s travels in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Mexico, plus living and working in different cultures provided much of the inspiration.

“As subject matter, I often use objects that I own, that I have seen in museums and on my travels or photographs I have taken for specific information. This information is imported and combined in my paintings to create geometrical and aesthetic compositions.”

Brown’s work is both a celebration of nature and of civilization. An example is her large triptych, Simonetta’s Library: A Brief History of Nature, a project completed over a year’s time during the pandemic. Brown states her concerns: “As questions arise about climate change, and consequently drastic changes to our land and marine environment, I focus on nature as subject matter and what it has to offer, and also how it is abused; these are issues that have gradually entered into my work.”

While an homage to the natural world, Simonetta’s Library features gracefully drooping tulips, leafy plants, shells, and exotic birds which occupy a crowded interior filled with books, elegant furniture, refined ceramics, and intriguingly, a pair of old-fashioned spectacles carefully placed near a shawl and evening gloves. Nature and civilization seem to co-exist beautifully in this painting, but perhaps those drooping tulips are silently asking us, for how long?

Nadya Brown was born and raised in England. She has since lived in Italy and Spain and now, Santa Barbara, California. After studies in Painting and Printmaking at Goldsmiths College, University of London, she received her MFA from Ohio University. She has exhibited her work extensively in solo and group shows both in the United States and the UK and she has taught at numerous universities and colleges in the U.S..

Gallery hours are Saturdays 1:00 – 4:00 pm and weekdays by appointment.


Simonetta’s Library: A Brief History of Nature 48×72″ Oil on canvas

View of the Mountain with Tulips, Oaxaca 20×30″ Oil on canvas