Museum Exhibits Contemporary Collection

Alison Saar's "Inheritance," bronze and cotton, 2009, Westmont acquisition

Alison Saar’s “Inheritance,” bronze and cotton, 2009, Westmont acquisition

The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art highlights works donated to or purchased for to the museum. “Selections from the Permanent Collection of Contemporary Art” will run from January 14-March 27, 2021. The exhibition will be available online at

The exhibition features pieces from two major private collectors who have helped shape the museum’s collection: Barry Berkus and his son, Jeff; and Arnold and Marie Forde.

“They were private collectors willing and eager to donate parts of their collections to museums, so everyone could enjoy the art,” says Judy L. Larson, Askew professor of art history and museum director.

The Berkus collection includes John Walker’s “The Centre, #2,” Kiki Smith’s “Kneeling Woman with Rabbit” and Los Carpinteros’ “Tanque le Aqua.” The exhibition will include works by Alison Saar, Andrea Bowers, Marie Schoeff and a piece by Karen Kilimnick, generously donated by the Fordes. Noteworthy donations from artists include works by Connie Connally and Ken Jewesson.

John Walker's "The Centre, #2," oil on canvas, 1985, gift of Berkus Family Collection

John Walker’s “The Centre, #2,” oil on canvas, 1985, gift of Berkus Family Collection

“The art of our time requires thoughtful consideration,” Larson says. “The work may not speak to you at first, but we invite you to spend some time with each piece, approaching each with a creative and open mind.”

The past exhibition and auction, “5X5: Celebrating 10 Years,” sold more than 600 pieces with bidders in both the U.S. and Australia, and raised more than $36,000 for arts programming at the museum. The top grossing art pieces were by Kenton Nelson, Kenny Scharf, Billy Al Bengston and “Shag” Josh Agle.

“The 5×5 exhibition was such a success and lots of fun too,” Larson says. “Our thanks to all the artists who participated, more artists than any other 5×5 fundraiser. Many Santa Barbara artists donated art, but we also had artists represented from 36 states.”

Larson is thankful for the work of Chris Rupp, curator and collections manager, who organized the exhibition and auction, and Tamara Vaughan, education and outreach coordinator, who oversaw logistics.

“We are also appreciative of everyone who bought art works,” Larson says. “These small works make powerful statements.”