‘I Can See Your Tag: Portraits’ exhibit on display through Feb. 10 at the Betteravia Government Center
“Jon's Place,” by Jessica Lah is on display through Feb. 10. //Contributed

The art exhibit “I Can See Your Tag: Portraits” opened with a reception at the Betteravia Gallery Wednesday. The County Arts Commission show was coordinated by Hancock instructor John Hood.

“This title, ‘I Can See Your Tag,’ proposed an ‘inside-out’ concept,” John said. “It suggests that wearing some outer layer, i.e. ‘clothing,’ can actually reveal what’s inside. The theme conjures up many associations of personal space, intimacy, the body, being viewed, being hidden, and showing your inside ... or not. It is my hope that we can present this portraits exhibition to the public to help showcase art of the Santa Barbara County and set a precedent for quality viewing of fine art.”

Connie Rohde, director of the C Gallery in Los Alamos, is the curator. She and John selected 42 portraits out of more than 100 submitted.

“Being a faculty member has given me the opportunity to be in contact with many talented artists over the years,” John said. “I have many artists who are committed to showing their works here on the Central Coast, most of whom are willing to organize and hang the shows. Having Connie Rohde as the curator has been inspirational. Her keen eye has brought together a strong variety of artworks that both provoke and touch on intimacy.”

I have an image in this show, my first to be accepted into a juried exhibit. It is called “Peruvian Police Guard the Train.” I took it while traveling in Peru in the 1990s just after the Shining Path insurgents had been mostly subdued. Since there were still pockets of insurgency, state police were ever present seeking to maintain peace. I believe the men guarding the train were part of that effort. I had been warned not to take pictures of the police or the institutions they were guarding, so when one turned and looked at me as I snapped his picture from the train next to his, I quickly faded into the background.

There are a wide variety of images on display at the Betteravia Government Center, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway. They can be viewed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Feb. 10.

The County Arts Commission and County Park Foundation have just released their Park Foundation 2011 Calendar featuring images of county parks, many of which are on display at the Peake Gallery in Santa Barbara.

The calendar is $10 and benefits the County Park Foundation.

For more information, contact Erik Axelson at axelson@co.santa-barbara.ca.us. (I must disclose that I also have an image in this calendar. Yippee!)

Jeanne Sparks is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. For information, call 739-1836; e-mail Jeanne@JeanneSparks.com; visit www.JeanneSparks.com; or write to her at P.O. Box 6437, Santa Maria, CA 93456-6437.