As an art lover and now Angelino, I am constantly trying to explore local art scenes. Last week I took advantage of my day off to escape the heat and day trip it to Santa Barbara. Located in their adorable downtown area, the SBMA (Santa Barbara Museum of Art) was a fun solo trip. Their museum is rather small in comparison to my neighborhood museum LACMA (Los Angeles County Miseum of Art), but it still has several little treasures of time. I think I was most impressed by their top floor, the Asian art collection. Asian Art, and the religious beliefs behind it, always seem to be a favorite of mine. They have a number of Chinese, Japanese and Indian pieces. From pottery and painting to textiles and stone sculptures, this floor was by far my favorite (not to undermine the beauty of the other sections). One of my favorite pieces was this incredible Tibeten bronze sculpture.
Titled “Yamantaka ‘Terminator of Death’ Embracing Concort” this incredibly detailed piece depicts just that. At first glance you probably thought it was just one well-ornamented figure, but look closely and you can see the passionate “embrace” (I’ll keep it G rated and lead you to make your own conclusions) of two lovers. The larger and more prominent figure is Yamantaka, a sixteen legged, twenty-four armed, and nine-faced Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Yes, he has a buffalo head, who wouldn’t fall in love with that? At their feet lie smaller details of figures and he is adorned with layers of skulls and jewelry. According to the museum’s description, “The embracing deities personify the path to enlightenment-a state that is only achieved when the duality of ‘wisdom’ (female) and ‘method’ (male) unite.” The story behind this piece adds to the beautiful imagery. Standing at what appeared to be less than a foot tall, I still can not believe how intricate this 15th century masterpiece is.
Overall the SBMA was a great experience. They have a great collection with a variety of styles of art and with easy parking (only cost me $1.50) and a student discount ($6 with a student ID) plus tons of amazing shops/cafes/beaches close by what art lover wouldn’t want to visit?