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Virtual Arts Opens Door for Creativity & Employment for Artists with Disabilities

By Rae van Seenus on Sep 30, 2020 at 06:06 PM
Virtual Arts Opens Door for Creativity & Employment for Artists with Disabilities

Santa Barbara Art Works studio-gallery provides a unique opportunity for 20 local artists with developmental disabilities to show and sell their work, learn how to run a retail business, and most importantly, earn a meaningful income.  But due to the global pandemic, the gallery has been closed since March 13, 2020, forcing cancellation of all studio classes and artists’ participation in community exhibitions.  Returning to normalcy or business as usual will take a very long time and any revenue generating opportunities for the gallery may take months to resume.


To keep its students engaged and programs viable, Santa Barbara Art Works made immediate modifications to its service model so that arts instructors could safely teach drawing, painting, and watercolor classes to its 20 students in a virtual format.


Abstract painting by artist Erin Ziegler

“COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on all of our lives, but it has especially impacted our community members with developmental disabilities who are waiting for an opportunity to return to their regular lives,” shares UCP WORK, Inc. Executive Director, Judy Linares.  “Our priorities right now are to provide full accessibility to remote learning, art education, and sustain opportunities to earn an income.”

Starting October 1st, 2020, the community is invited to shop unique artwork at Santa Barbara Art Works’ Fall Virtual Artist Exhibition, titled “Juxtapose”.  The virtual show runs October 1 – 22, 2020, and features abstract works of art focused on the principles and elements of design. Viewers will experience contemporary artwork created with juxtaposed patterns, contrasting lines, shapes and textures.  Original artwork is available in many mediums including printmaking, acrylic on canvas, and watercolor, and is available for local residents to pick-up at 28 E. Victoria Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. 

Watercolor painting of a wave by artist Nelson Riveria

Proceeds from online sales support the gallery’s COVID-19 response fund which helps to sustain art supplies and advance technology for remote art classes. 

“Students in the program created art together for years before COVID-19, so it’s important that we build a sense of normalcy for them while sheltering at home and continue to help them make and sell their art.  The Virtual Artist Exhibition allows people from all around the world to view our artists work,” shares Jacob Allio, Studio Manager and Painting Art Instructor.  

Watercolor abstract painting by artist Ryan Sebits

View “Juxtapose” starting Thursday, October 1, 2020 at

Abstract painting by artist Brian Raleigh

About Santa Barbara Art Works

Santa Barbara Art Works is under the family of services of UCP WORK, Inc.  The mission of Santa Barbara Art Works is encouraging creativity and professional growth for aspiring artists with disabilities.  We are an inclusive studio-gallery for people to express themselves, collaborate as a community, and exhibit diverse works of art.  For more information about Santa Barbara Art Works, visit or follow at