With 16,000 species of fish to choose from, writer-artist Hillary Hauser figures she'll never run short on subjects for her acrylic paintings.
Hauser has written about marine life in her own books and in various periodicals for about 30 years. It wasn't until last year, though, that she decided to paint marine life as well.
Her work will be on display at the Sea Center in Santa Barbara in the exhibit "Fantastic Fishes." The show opens Sunday and runs through June 12.
"It really came about sort of as a lark," said Hauser, a resident of Summerland. "I had a book come out in April and it had 500-some odd pages and I had typed every bit of it myself. I needed to really get away from sitting at my desk. I started painting a reef scene to go over my bed."
Hauser attempted to get the painting framed, but the material was too flimsy. Instead she laid it on the floor at home. "While it was there a lot of people reacted to it," she said. "They'd say, 'Ooh, aah. Where'd you get the painting?' "
Considering the response, Hauser tried another painting--of a trumpet fish--and sold it. She did two more and they sold too. Then Hauser brought some artworks to the Sea Center and, given two hours to exhibit them, she sold six pieces. All that selling sold Hauser on the idea of painting.
"With my writing, I've been describing fish in minute detail--their scales, what they do and what they eat," she said. "My paintings aren't as scientific, but they're real decorative, real fun."
And accurate. Hauser said she paints the fish doing what they really would be doing underwater. "If they huddle in caves, I have them huddling in caves," she said. "If they sit on rocks, they're sitting on rocks."
Hauser said her paintings elicit a more immediate reaction than does her writing.
"Most people looking at these pieces say, 'Wow,' " Hauser said. "For some reason they see things they haven't seen before, the wildness of the fish."
The Sea Center is at 211 Stearns Wharf. Hours are weekdays noon to 5 p.m., weekends 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
On Friday night the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara will open a three-week run of "The Granny," an Argentine work by Roberto M. Cossa. It's the Ensemble's first South American production.
"The Granny" debuted in 1977 as an allegorical statement against the Argentine government. It's the story of a 104-year-old grandmother who lives with a struggling lower middle-class family and literally eats them out of house and home.
Eventually the family members decide that they can't feed granny any longer and try to get rid of her. Their efforts fail and instead they all end up leaving the home or dying. In the end the grandmother is left alone--still eating.
"It's very funny. These people are just trying to survive," said Robert G. Weiss, the company's artistic director. "It's black humor, true, but it is humorous."
Weiss said the character of "granny" was designed as a metaphor for the government. "What happened in the regimes of the '70s is people were put into terrible economic hardship by the opportunistic governments in Argentina," he said. "Granny is played by a man traditionally, so audiences don't confuse the fact that this is supposed to be a representative figure."
The show will run through April 20 at the Alhecama Theater, 914 Santa Barbara St. For time and ticket information call the box office at 962-8606.
Ready for a Pied Piper experience? On Wednesday, Margaret Eissler, a flutist for the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra, will lead a walk across the grounds of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, with its creek, oaks and sycamore trees. She will stop periodically to play her flute and to recite poetry and readings from works of nature-oriented authors. The walk will begin at 3:30 p.m. For information call 682-4711.
Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera's production of "Singin' in the Rain" wraps up its five-week run at the Lobero Theatre on Sunday. Next on the schedule is "A Chorus Line," the company's fourth and final production of the season, scheduled to begin May 9. For tickets to "Singin' in the Rain" call 963-0761.