Ojai’s must-see art scene

By Amelia Fleetwood

The Ojai Valley has long been known as an inspiring place for artists of all genres to settle and work. It’s not surprising that with the artists comes a multitude of diverse gallery styles. In Ojai you’ll find galleries hosting collectives, monthly shows, and even artist-owned galleries. Each gives local and out-of-town artists a platform to show their work and interact with the community at large.

1. Porch Gallery

310 E. Matilija Avenue

Located in a historic building, Porch Gallery sits just one block behind downtown Ojai.

The curators and owners of the Porch Gallery, Lisa Casoni and Heather Stobo, are L.A. transplants who came to Ojai — like so many others — to find a more balanced lifestyle. Ojai resonated with the pair; they were especially attracted by the town’s commitment to the environment, the arts, and the community.

Lisa shares, “Heather and I define the success of the gallery not just by our exhibitions, but also by the way that the community interacts with those exhibitions.” The Porch Gallery, with its openings that inspire Ojai residents and visitors alike, is known for its tasteful contemporary work, providing a unique, high-quality exhibition space that helps promote and place 
artists’s work.

Contemporary art adorns the walls of Porch Gallery, blending with echoes of its past life as a home built in the 19th century.

“We were voted ‘best art gallery’ in Ojai,” Lisa adds. “I would venture to say that happened not only because of the quality of our exhibitions, but because of our inclusive nature. We strive to give back to our town and have hosted many events and fundraisers since the beginning.”
Located in a historic home built in 1874, the Porch Gallery and its owners are adding to its legacy.
Exhibitions coming to the Porch Gallery:

– Sept. 5 to Dec. 1: Beatrice Wood, Bed Stories and More
– Dec. 5 to 22: Ojai Studio Artists, Small Works

For more: porchgalleryojai.com; (805) 620-7589


2. Basic Premise

918 E. Ojai Avenue

The poster for Basic Premise’s next exhibit, “The Oxnard Plain.”

Basic Premise is the brain child of Ojai locals Matt Henriksen and Ted Nava. Their goal is to keep young artists showing locally by giving them a place to call home. Matt explains: “Selling art is the best way to support the artists, so even though we are moving away from a more established type of environment, we give the younger generation an exceptional opportunity to express themselves and also maintain a career, without having to look further afield.” Focusing on installations and residencies, Matt and Ted draw on their deep Ojai roots to make this gallery an exciting and vibrant place to experience bold and strong art.
Exhibitions coming to Basic Premise:

– September: The Oxnard Plain a collaboration with 
Oxnard Collective
– October: Vanessa Wallace-Gonzales

For more: thebasicpremisegallery.com


3. Brittany Davis Gallery

214 E. Ojai Avenue

The Brittany Davis Gallery is located in Ojai’s downtown Arcade, in the space past Ojai visitors will remember as the Primavera Gallery.

Brittany Davis began her eponymous, self-described “classical fine art gallery with a twist” in the spring of 2019. She cites the need for a change of pace, after a stint running several popular galleries in Los Angeles. Her motto: “Fall in love with art.”

Brittany’s Ojai Gallery showcases monthly, rotating solo shows as well as group-curated exhibitions by artists from all over the world, including Ojai. Her gallery consists of dedicated areas and installation rooms, where she hosts a wide variety of contemporary painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, and jewelry. “I love meeting new artists. Each individual artist has so much to offer the world,” Brittany says. “I am constantly inspired by the artists I show, and really enjoy watching their craft change and evolve over the years.”
Exhibitions coming to Brittany Davis Gallery:

– Sept. 21: Interlace ~ Art Exhibit, featuring artists Glenn Wagner, Rhonda Burton, Eris Sharon, and Dave Reeser.

For more: brittanydavisgallery.com; (714) 369-9869


4. OVA Arts

238 E. Ojai Avenue

OVA Arts is a collective featuring works by local artists, including jewelry maker Patty McFall.

“We try to keep it local,” explains OVA Arts gallery co-owner Julie Wellings. She began the OVA Arts collective with six fellow artists in 2013 as a way to support local artists from neighboring Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Their collective now includes about 45 artists who participate regularly in the gallery space. Look out for their live music celebrations every third Friday of the month, when they feature a new artist as part of the downtown area’s monthly Third Friday events. OVA also uses their space for special events as well as classes. They feature an eclectic mixture of wall art, pedestal art, and often include jewelry in their exhibitions.

For more: ojaivalleyartists.com; (805) 646-5682


5. Firestick Pottery

1804 E. Ojai Avenue

A place for professionals and novices alike, Firestick Pottery combines gallery space with ceramics studio.

Come and play with clay. Robin Nahan, owner of Firestick Pottery, takes pride in the fact that her studio is the primary ceramic studio in the city of Ojai, and where many of the town’s master potters and ceramic artists come to do their firing. “It all revolves around my high-fire studio, our seven kilns, and the 50 different glazes that we offer,” Robin explains. Firestick Studio isn’t just for professionals; it’s also for members and visitors alike. Every day of the week, workshops are offered for anyone to drop in. Firestick Pottery is home to more than 30 members, whose artwork is also on display — making this a great spot to both look and learn.

For more: (805) 272-8760


6. Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation

248 S. Montgomery St, Unit A

This mixed media piece by Kelly Akashi is among the offerings at the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation.

The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation was founded in 2015 as a way to commemorate the legacy of Carolyn Glasoe Bailey, an esteemed art dealer, after her death. The Foundation is committed to supporting the arts, and inaugurated a series of artist residencies which culminate in in-depth shows. These residencies always include collaborations with the community to maintain an inclusiveness with the town.

Run by executive director Frederik Janka, previously the director of development at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara, artists develop new bodies of work during their stay in Ojai. Frederik, whose extensive experience in the arts ensures museum-quality exhibitions, has championed many under-recognized artists from California and beyond. This gallery will not disappoint.
Exhibitions coming to the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation:

Natural light drenches the gallery space at the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation.

– Sept. 23: Kelly Akashi, L.A.-based artist and recipient of the 2019 Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation Art Prize.
– Oct. 5 to Nov. 2: Annual exhibition of works by student artists throughout the Ojai Valley. The exhibition marks the beginning of a year long program called the Student Artist Mentorship for New Art Leaders, a professional development and leadership program that offers students hands-on learning in a museum gallery environment.
– Nov. 16 through February 2020: Cole M James

For more: carolynglasoebaileyfoundation.org; (805) 633-9188


7. canvas and paper

311 N. Montgomery Street

canvas and paper isn’t your average gallery. More museum than shop, it doesn’t have show openings — and the art isn’t for sale —but its exhibits are no less compelling.

canvas and paper takes simplicity seriously. It is a small museum in a gallery setting. The art is not for sale, there are no openings or fanfare, just new art every three months. Located in a small, California-style bungalow with a pared-down style, canvas and paper is an appealingly neutral space in which the art is easy to absorb. This peaceful and calm gallery was founded by owner and longtime art collector, Neil Kreitman. His deep love of art prompted him to create this gift to Ojai. canvas and paper shows paintings and drawings from Neil’s personal collection of modern 20th century and earlier art, in both thematic and single artist exhibits.
Exhibitions coming to canvas and paper:

– December: paintings by William Scott (British, 1913-1989)

For more: canvasandpaper.org; 
(805) 798-9301


8. Dan Schultz Fine Art

106 N. Signal Street

Dan Schultz opened the doors to his exclusive, one-man gallery and work space in 2011, after a lengthy, statewide search for the perfect place to call his own.

“My wife and I picked Ojai,” Dan shares. 
“It is such an incredible place to paint because of the natural landscapes.” Dan focuses on impressionistic realism. “I love painting the Ojai Meadows Preserve, as well as the orchards on the East End of town.” Dan’s award-winning paintings of 
the bucolic countryside sum up the feeling of Ojai. You can find him painting in his studio area inside the gallery, located in 
the heart of Ojai.

For more: danschultzfineart.com; 
(805) 317-9634


9. Poppies Art and Gifts

323 E. Matilija Street

Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Peggie Williamson moved to Ojai 11 years ago. An artist herself, known for her traditional weavings, Peggie opened the doors to Poppies Art and Gifts this spring to give local artists and artisans a platform to show and sell their work. Peggie was one of the original owners at OVA Arts, and she used the idea of their collective to inspire her own endeavor. Poppies Art and Gifts houses cutting boards, paintings, pastels, story boxes as well as many other hand-crafted items. Peggie shares, “We’ve become a real community hang-out, with our opening receptions and art markets every third Friday and second Sunday. We even have a book club and a home-grown vegetable exchange!” When asked if she shows her weavings, Peggie laughs, “I can’t — there’s no room left on the walls!” The gallery/store 
is located just behind 
Ojai’s downtown Arcade, where they also offer monthly art classes.

For more: poppiesartandgifts.com; (805) 798-0033