The Santa Barbara Mesa Neighborhood
A Haven for Fine Artists for Nearly a Century
For nearly 20 years, the members of the Mesa Artists Studio Tour have earned a reputation for fine art and hospitality. Their annual autumn weekend event welcomes the public at no charge to home studios tucked into side-street bungalows, or perched on airy slopes, or down shady byways.
Santa Barbara’s greater Mesa Neighborhood was once steep slopes, a few flatland farms and nurseries, oil wells, quarries and even a landfill. But by mid-20th century, hillside or coastal terrace homes replaced the old industries. The landfill became Elings Park, and a defunct nursery became the Douglas Family Preserve’s oceanside trails. Both spaces are now city treasures.
The “Mesa” area evolved into a California rarity - a neighborhood of largely middle-class families between downtown and the Pacific Coast. With its distinctly laid-back vibe that extends inland to highway 101, and gorgeous views of ocean, harbor, coast, islands, mountains and picturesque downtown, the area naturally drew artists.
One of the first was Carol Oscar Borg, the renowned Western American painter, whose mesa home still stands amid its gardens. Today, the members of the Annual Mesa Artists Studio Tour are selected by their peers to share their art and their unique neighborhood with the public for two days every November.
Simply visiting each studio in turn is fun - up forested hillside lanes and down ocean-view avenues. All are close enough to visit every site in a day. The artists make sure visitors get a peek into their working world. Their fine art originals on display are for sale. Works range from traditional to modern paintings, metal sculpture, photography, multi-media hangings, woven works, wood-block prints and more.