Airport gallery

Santa Barbara Municipal Airport Public Art Plan

Continuing Historic Traditions

From the early native Chumash weavings, to the birth of the modern motion picture industry, to the western and regional art schools of the 1920’s and 30’s, to the eclectic mix of modern avant-garde’ and traditional scenic paintings, Santa Barbara has had a continuing active contribution to the regional, national, and international visual arts world.

For presents challenges to the viewer, yet, adds to our quality of life immeasurably

The Passenger Experience at SBA

The passenger experience is the primary consideration for the Public Art Program though other users, such as passengers’ friends and family and airport employees, are also part of the overall audience. Santa Barbara Airport is an origin and destination airport.  Most passengers are flying less than two hours and either begin or end their trip at SBA. 

Art will enhance and distinguish the airport’s identity. Public art at SBA began in 1990s through the generosity of the David Bermant Foundation who, on a long-term loan, provided SBA two pieces of kinetic art. The Goodtime Clock, a ball rolling piece by George Rhoades, and The Albatross, a golden glider by Dustin Shuler, delight passengers, visitors, and employees alike. Santa Barbara County residents can have a sense of pride that their airport represents and reflects their community. 


Art can function in many capacities within the airport environment.  An overview of these possibilities can help guide the Airport Public Art Program to make the most of many opportunities that the Airline Terminal Project offers. The context of the airport provides information for artists to consider in creating commissioned work. Many of the functional requirements of the airport can be furthered by art. Other requirements, perhaps of a symbolic or psychological nature, can also find expression through art. Defining expectations and roles for art lays the groundwork for examining specific opportunities. Among the more essential roles that art can take are the following:

·         Image and Identity

·         Communication and Information

·         Landmarking

·         Pathways and Orientation

·         Architectural Enhancement

·         Entertainment and calming effects during travel

Image and Identity

Airports are one of the primary gateways to communities. Today more than 850,000 passengers arrive and depart at SBA.  Passenger use is forecasted to grow about 2.5% annually over the next decade. The Airport is also the site for over 1,500 employees, 400 of which work at the Airline Terminal facilities. SBA is an important economic asset of the City of Santa Barbara and has a half billion dollar economic impact on the region. 

SBA is distinguished from other airports by its special sense of place in history, architecture, and charm and size. When SBA’s Airline Terminal Project is completed, an arts program will communicate to arriving passengers the unique nature of our region’s assets, attractions and amenities.