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Chromatic Gate Art  in Santa Barbara, California

Chromatic Gate - Across from 633 East Cabrillo Blvd.,  Santa Barbara, CA
 Height: 21 feet;  weight: 12.5 tons



"Chromatic Gate"  by Herbert Bayer pays tribute to art and artists who make the city unique. Santa Barbara is home to the fine arts, offering one of the best museums for a city its size, the must see Santa Barbara Art Museum.


One of the most pleasing rainbow displays in a structural piece that embodies a walk-through gate mounted on cement in a public park, Chromatic Gate is framed by mountains one direction and beaches and ocean the other way.  You cannot miss the striking piece as you pass along the Cabrillo Boulevard that runs along the Pacific Ocean and Santa Barbara beaches.


The artist who created Chromatic Gate, Herbert Bayer, spent the last 10 years of his life in Santa Barbara, though he traveled the globe and found inspiration in his decades of experience studying under the likes of Kandinsky. Bayer's Chromatic Gate is 21 feet high, weighs 12.5 tons, was erected in 1991, and stands in an area called Arco Circle after the company who donated money for its construction. Bayer lived from 1900 to 1985. Before he died, he resided in Montecito, near Santa Barbara. 


Chromatic Gate installation was brought to Santa Barbara's East Beach by another art visionary, Paul Mills, the longest-serving art director at Santa Barbara Museum of Art.


Standing on the beach, you can look across Cabrillo Street to see Fess Parker Doubletree Resort, framed by the stunning Santa Barbara hills.  There's an electric bus driving by that guests can  catch for a ride downtown or to the nearby Santa Barbara Zoo.  And right next door to the hotel in beautiful Cabrillo Park is this incredibly, colorful archway of vibrant hues.  

Santa Barbara is the only city we know of in California where you can consistently view and purchase great works every weekend, right at the beach. These juried art exhibits along the oceanfront provide an opportunity to buy works directly from known artists rather than buy through their dealers.

About Herbert Bayer


Note: Herbert Bayer photos obtained from public sources - upper left and bottom right are Herbert Bayer self-portraits

When you study the bio of this Austrian-born artist, one thing stands out. Herbert Bayer was a master of form. From his early studies in the prestigious Bauhaus under art master Wassily Kandinsky, to his photographic mastery and inventions, art and architecture, Bayer was versatile and excelled in many media. The graphic designer, painter, photographer and architect was first recognized for his development of an all-lowercase and sans serif typeface for all Bauhaus publications. Bayer is also credited with designing the custom geometric sans-serif font, universal.

Artist George Schmidthammer in Linz took Bayer under his wings. Bayer left to pursue experiences in the Viennese Darmstadt Artists Colony. He then studied under such teachers as Wassily Kandinsky and László Moholy-Nagy at the Bauhaus where he was appointed  director of printing and advertising.

In 1928, a 28-year old Bayer left the Bauhaus and the fine arts community to become art director of Vogue magazine's Berlin office. This sort of commercial departure from fine arts provided him exposure and experience many fine artists never obtain.  Always on a learning path, Bayer worked there 10 years and then headed for New York. At 38, he was now exposed to American culture.

In 1946 Bayer was hired by industrialist and visionary Walter Paepcke to come to Aspen, Colorado. Bayer co-designed the Aspen Institute and helped restore Wheeler Opera House. He worked in Aspen until the mid-1970s and was honored by Denver Art Museum, which named a gallery for him.  During this era, Bayer took on commissioned public art projects. He designed tapestries, wall hangings and carpets for Atlantic Richfield offices in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. In 1973 he designed the sculpture Double Ascension at ARCO Plaza, Los Angeles.


In 1975 Bayer moved to Montecito, the tucked away city near Santa Barbara where huge estates and ranches are hidden from public eye in a dense thicket, behind tall brick gates and often overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Montecito is the most under-reported home to the rich and famous. It is where Opera built a mansion. It is where Bayer lived his last 10 years is a beautiful climate. By no means did Bayer rest on his laurels during this time. He continued design consulting with Atlantic Richfield, worked on paintings and environmental projects, created Articulated Wall constructed in Denver, Colorado and after his death even, was remembered with the Chromatic Gate, installed in 1991 in Santa Barbara near his Montecito home.