Pointers on Point Conception

By Steven Libowitz   |   January 28, 2021

Barely 50 miles from downtown Santa Barbara is one of the most fascinating and important parts of the California coastline. Point Conception is the headland where the coast transitions between north-south and east-west orientation, a very rare delineation that works as a natural division between Southern and Northern California. It also marks the location of the treacherous waters where the Santa Barbara Channel and Pacific Ocean meet on the western edge of Santa Barbara County, long a dangerous zone for mariners, leading to its nickname as The Cape Horn of California. 

Sailors have had an easier time, of course, since February 1, 1856, when the Point Conception Lighthouse was first lit on the land, which was considered sacred ground by the Chumash. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum Executive Director Greg Gorga will talk about the unique importance of the lighthouse and the original 165-year-old First Order Fresnel Lens that now resides at the museum. Attendees will learn about the history of Fresnel technology, the lives of the keepers who lived in the desolate lighthouse location and hear a first-hand account of all that was involved in relocating the 18-foot tall, 6,000-pound lens from Pt. Conception to SBMM in 2013. Gorga will also talk about “lampists,” the work required to reinforce the Waterfront Building to house the lens, the stages of the lens travel from crane to helicopter to truck, and the cleaning and reassembly of the lens to its current appearance. The presentation by Gorga – who has served as the museum’s ED for more than 12 years – will also include mention of Julia Williams and the Santa Barbara Lighthouse located on the Mesa. 

Visit https://sbmm.org for more details and to register for the Zoom presentation.

Art and Shutdown

New York art critic Lauren O’Neill-Butler reflects on the highs and lows as well as the lessons she learned while writing art criticism during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. An independent writer, editor, educator, and a cofounder of November magazine, O’Neill-Butler’s writing has appeared in publications ranging from Art Journal to The New York Times. From 2008 to 2019, she worked as an editor at Artforum and last year received a Warhol Foundation Art Writers Grant. A book of her collected interviews with women-identified artists will be published later this year by KARMA. Reserve tickets for the free talk, which is part of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Zoom lecture series on a wide variety of art-related topics, online at www.sbma.net. 


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