Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum Rebrands as Museum of Contemporary Art


As part of a master plan to broadly expand its audience and sphere of influence, the West coast alternative arts space previously known as Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (CAF) is launching a new identity Monday as the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCA Santa Barbara) with a string of inaugural exhibitions slated to open in July.

The decision to rebrand the space came about after receiving a $250,000 Arts Regional Initiative Grant, according to MCA Santa Barbara’s executive director Miki Garcia. “After an exhaustive and thorough two year process, the Board of Trustees created a strategic plan that would address visibility and awareness, programmatic and facilities upgrades, and broadening and diversifying of our audience,” Garcia told ARTINFO.

That plan involves going after accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and expecting a greater financial commitment from trustees, who will be expected to designate more resources to projects and initiatives. The museum, however, has no plans to start a permanent collection and will continue to operate as a kunsthalle-style non-profit institution.

Garcia identifies the space as “the only contemporary arts institution between Los Angeles and San Francisco” and hopes the rebranding will bring in “broader and diverse audiences that might not be inclined to visit an alternative arts space.” In its 37-year history, the CAF presented exhibitions by John Baldessari, Ann Hamilton, Ed and Nancy Kienholz, and Wayne Thiebaud.

The museum will celebrate its new identity with an inaugural exhibition of work by New York-based artist Dasha Shishkin, who was selected to participate in MoMA PS1’s “Greater New York” exhibition in 2010, and newly commissioned sculptures by Mexico City-based Edgar Orlaineta, which both debut on July 6.

The museum is also planning a group exhibition called “Requiem for the Bibliophile,” which features Carlos Garaicoa, Jorge Mendez Blake, Xaviera Simmons, and others in the next year. Garcia told ARTINFO that the museum would “love to work with artists such as Marinella Senatore and Assume Vivid Astro Focus” in the future.

— Ashton Cooper

(Photo courtesy the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara.)