Santa Barbara Chick Art: Interviewing local artists at the weekly Arts & Crafts Show
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Walking along East Beach on Sundays, there are a variety of art displays ranging from gorgeous snapshots of iconic points around the world to stunning hand-painted masterpieces. One display that is sure to catch attention is Peggy Buchanan’s “Chick Art” exhibit.
Buchanan, a Santa Barbara local since 1971, has spent the past three years making and selling unique chicken paintings by the Santa Barbara Pier. Originally from Newport Beach, she moved to Santa Barbara to teach jazzercise classes for women. Buchanan taught at all three local high schools and worked as a track and field coach for several years.
Her love for art began when she won the fourth grade watercolor division with a painting of a seagull. Now, all of her artwork centers on anthropomorphized chickens dressed up in different poses. Buchanan’s fascination with chickens started when she was younger.
“I grew up with chickens, I’ve raised chickens, and I think chickens are funny,” said Buchanan. “They are a great character to work with as an artist.”
Buchanan also found a punny connection between her chicken art and her all-women jazzercise classes: “I have worked with women all my life and I find the term ‘chicks’ a fun play on words,” said Buchanan. “So that’s sort of where the idea of ‘Santa Barbara Chick Art’ came from.”
Each painting that Buchanan creates is customized to what the customer wants. She was recently working on a painting she calls “Dancing Chicks,” in which there is a line of chickens dressed in western attire, line dancing. People come from all over to get a custom-made chick painting from Buchanan. Cruise ships bring in tourists that take chick paintings all over the country.
Over the summer, the USS Ronald Reagan brought many tourists ashore who purchased an array of patriotic chicks. Buchanan says that painting all of “those patriotic chicks” was the highlight of her summer.
She explains that having a business where the customer can choose what they want and then take it home is the best part of her art form.
“Knowing that my chicks are flying internationally is kind of a neat thing,” said Buchanan.
One of Buchanan’s all-time favorite pieces is called “Scuba Chicks.” A family sent Buchanan a picture of themselves scuba diving with octopuses and sea turtles. he responded by painting three chickens with scuba gear on.
Buchanan participates at the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show every Sunday, and has yet to turn down a customer’s request for unusual types of chicken paintings.