The Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show

Art and inspiration on the beach

Photos and Story by Misty Hall

Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara is about as close to “iconic California” as you can get. Running parallel to the beach, it boasts palm trees and Pacific on one side, and on the other, hotels, restaurants, and shops in Spanish revival-style architecture. The weather is amazing here year-round, and the views from every direction are stunning. If you find yourself in town on a Sunday, make time for a stroll through the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show. Its 150 artists line Cabrillo in pop-up fashion from 10 am to dusk each Sunday throughout the year (and on Saturdays, too, during holiday weekends). You’ll find art of every kind — paintings, jewelry, clothing, pottery, toys, sculptures, photography, and more —all totally handmade by Santa Barbara artists.

It’s among the oldest shows of its kind in America. Dating back to the mid-1960s, it was inspired by the sidewalk shows of Europe and Mexico City.

The eclectic mix of art and the idyllic setting are lovely, but perhaps the greatest thing about this free weekly show is the fact that visitors can engage with the artists directly. What tools and techniques do they use? How long does it take to make each piece? How the heck did they get into this business, anyway? These sorts of fun, intimate exchanges create much more than just a nice way to work off your lunch. The culmination of it all has given the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show some serious staying power, in one of the Central Coast’s most beautiful cities. Palm trees line Cabrillo Boulevard, giving the whole experience a classic California feel.

One of the best things about the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show: you can bring your friends, spouses, children, and fur-children!

Textures and vibrant colors bring Chuck Walters’s glass wave sculptures to life, especially when viewed in the sun. His work is inspired by the sea and includes fish, paperweights, vases, and more


Jewelry uses beads and clay to create one-off earrings.


“Whimsical” is the word that comes to mind when viewing Cris Hamilton’s art. Her delightful women, fairies, and monsters can be found on cards and small pieces, but her specialties are tiny drawings no larger than a dime. There’s a surprising level of detail in her little critters!


Michael Beickel has been drawing quick caricatures on the beach for years. Give him five minutes, and he’ll give you a completely unique portrait!


Nadereh and David Sugich’s glass kaleidoscopes are beautiful when laying on display, but pick them up and you’ll find a whole universe inside.

Leigh Sparks’s family has been in the Santa Barbara area for generations. Her plein air works highlight the iconic California coastline that has shaped her as a person and as an artist. “I paint to preserve the legacy of this area,” she says. If you miss her on Sundays, check out her work at the Linden Studio in Carpinteria


Deirdre Stietzel’s graphic drawings — and the poetry that accompanies each piece — are inspired by her meditations. Her metallic pens create shimmering lines that illuminate as the light changes. “They change energy as you move through the day,” she says. Her pieces, and the poetry she includes with each piece, is meant to inspire others’ meditations, healing, and manifestations, and to “open portals to other dimensions.”