Down on the farm

Part of the charm of San Luis Obispo County is its rural areas dotted with many ranches, farms and fields. This ambience includes buildings that are a reminder of the past: old barns.

Barns are a subject that many artists can’t resist, and the weathered structures have become the focus of an exhibit currently on display at the Ocean Art Gallery in Cayucos.

The exhibit ranges from black-and-white photos to colorful acrylic, watercolor and oil renditions of barns.

Amy Veltman, who opened the gallery in 2004 with her husband, Peter, is surprised by the response to the show. "I didn’t realize it would be so well received," she says.

The exhibit fits right in with Ocean Art’s location along the historical wooden boardwalk of the western town by the beach.

The gallery keeps its own stable of artists, for three or six-month periods, mostly locals with a few visiting artists, such as Pat Hunter of Fresno.

For the current exhibit, Hunter captured a fading red barn in Harmony. Another of her watercolors, "Rural Barn Scene," shows a string of outbuildings, including what appears to be a pump house and a chicken coop.

Atascadero’s Doug Howard has shot a number of the ramshackle buildings; for some, he roamed up Santa Rita Road, a curvy back way that isn’t well traveled except by the ranchers and other folks who prefer living away from the hustle and bustle. It runs from Atascadero and hitches up with Old Creek Road near Cayucos.

Johnny Butler of Paso Robles also painted a structure on a meandering creek byway, Santa Rosa Creek Road, which intersects with Highway 46 near the top of the Santa

Lucia mountain range and winds through to Cambria.

Nico Vandenheuvel has plenty of opportunities to observe barns, as he lives on a ranch he owns in Cayucos. Vandenheuvel has explored a plethora of media in his lifetime as an artist.

And, while clients browse the gallery, they’ll see work by another Cayucos artist, Marsha Rebstock, who chose to do a watercolor abstract not of a barn but of a barnyard scene: a pig.

If you go ...

What: "Coastal Barns"

Where: Ocean Art Gallery, 148 N. Ocean Ave., Cayucos

When: Through Feb. 15

Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m.

to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday

Information: 995-0234 or