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Preserving A Legacy: Ray Strong and The Oak Group

 Oak Group Retreat, Goleta Beach, September 8, 2015. Back Row Left to Right: Ann Sanders, Thomas Van Stein, Jeremy Harper & Luna, Sarah Vedder, John Iwerks, Michael Drury, Rick Schloss, Bill Dewey. Front: Arturo Tello, Ray Hunter, Mike Enriquez, Bill Mitchell, Marcia Burtt, Chris Chapman, Meredith Abbott, Manny Lopez.

Oak Group Retreat, Goleta Beach, September 8, 2015. Back Row Left to Right: Ann Sanders, Thomas Van Stein, Jeremy Harper & Luna, Sarah Vedder, John Iwerks, Michael Drury, Rick Schloss, Bill Dewey. Front: Arturo Tello, Ray Hunter, Mike Enriquez, Bill Mitchell, Marcia Burtt, Chris Chapman, Meredith Abbott, Manny Lopez.

The Oak Group was first inspired by conversations between Arturo Tello and Ray Strong back in December, 1985, after they read "Depths of Glory," a historical novel about Pissarro and his painting comrades. The two friends said, "Why couldn't we have such a group?" "Well, why not!"  That was the start. Using the example of the Canadian Group of Seven, the O.A.K. Group began with seven members, with O.A.K. standing for "Open Airing Club."

The first meeting was held January 29, 1986. That same year the group had their first three exhibitions in Santa Barbara, adding seven more members.  Santa Barbara, with its physical beauty and enlightened population, has a long tradition of attracting and supporting landscape painters. It is this shared spirit of love and concern for the land that gives meaning and purpose to the work of The Oak Group and our role as artists in the community.

After three decades, The Oak Group now has twenty-five active members, with over 100 exhibitions that have benefited twenty non-profit conservation organizations.