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UC Santa Barbara Creative Studies Art Instructor Hank Pitcher Paints a Cycle of Seasons at Coal Oil Point Reserve

originaly posted on The UC Santa Barbara Current by Sonia Fernandez
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Brush With Preservation

When Hank Pitcher first set out decades ago to paint Coal Oil Point, one of his favorite subjects, he was doing it to memorialize a place he thought was going to disappear forever.

“I grew up in a time when Isla Vista went from about a hundred families, and cattle, and bean farms, and fields of wildflowers from Abrego Road to the freeway, to one of the most densely populated areas in the world, just during my lifetime,” said Pitcher, who teaches art at UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies. A residential project was once slated for construction at the Point, with high-end homes and a marina replacing the gently rolling dunes. Manicured landscapes were to replace the windswept grasses and coastal scrub.

Fortunately for Pitcher, and, really, anyone who loves Coal Oil Point, the place became a reserve, established by UCSB in 1970 with the intention of restoring and preserving it for research. Instead of continuing the downward trajectory of deterioration that came with years of people using the area as a party place, or the destruction of the surf and natural coastal landscape that development would have caused, years of restoration work brought back the vegetation and the habitat, and preserved the surf and beaches that Pitcher sought to commemorate.

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Photo Credit: Sonia Fernandez

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