The Wonder of Whales: Two Artists’ Perspectives

COST: [Free with museum admission]
Organizer: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

As part of its multi-faceted celebration of whales this spring and summer, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum announces the April 14 opening of its newest art exhibit, The Wonder of Whales: Two Artists’ Perspectives, which features whale paintings by two local artists, John Baran and Kelly Clause. Thanks to the generous support of Chevron, Dreier Family, Emmett Foundation, Mimi Michaelis, Hank and Mari Mitchel, June G. Outhwaite Foundation, and Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, the exhibit will be open to the public from April 14-July 31, 2022. Although their subjects are often similar, each artist brings his or her unique perspective, technique, style, and medium to the work in this exhibit.



John Baran


John started his art career painting abstracts. Eventually an obsession with photography, in particular, wildlife photography, fostered a new path. His abstract style influenced a transition into creating whimsical and unique wildlife art. He has spent countless hours on land and in the sea photographing and sketching sea turtles, tiger sharks, orcas, manatees, lions, bears, herds of elephants and more. His photography has taken him around the world to places like Africa, French Polynesia and Alaska. All of his wildlife art is inspired by his own photography and his art can be found in galleries in Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, and the Hawaiian Islands.

John has said about his whale paintings, “In my lifetime I have been fortunate to have been in close quarters with an abundance of sea life, none more memorable than the largest creatures on earth, the whale. I have spent hours in the water with humpback whales, and a fleeting 10 seconds with a pod of orca. Floating at the surface while watching a 45-foot humpback whale move towards you ever so gracefully, then turn to its side to get a glimpse of you is something I obviously will never forget.”

On a different note, he added, “Our oceans are vital to the survival of whales, but too often neglected. I have traveled the world in search of inspiration, and many times I have been on boats that had to stop every ten minutes to scoop up a mylar balloon or discarded fishing line. I have seen raw sewage traveling directly into the sea. It doesn’t matter where—Mexico, Hawaii, Tahiti, Alaska and our own Santa Barbara Channel—I have witnessed this kind of pollution in all of these amazing locations.

My hope is that by representing whales in many different mediums, this whale exhibit will encourage the viewer to take even closer notice of these magnificent creatures and acknowledge their importance to the survival of the oceans, and in turn, the effects global warming.” More of John’s art is available at:


Kelly Clause


Born in Santa Barbara, California, into a family of naturalists, fishermen, and marine biologists, Kelly Clause was raised to love and appreciate the outdoors.  Her images are unique and clearly demonstrate her spontaneity, style and whimsy. Spanning land, sea, and air, Kelly’s work features cards, prints, paintings, and murals of all sizes. She depicts marine life—whales, turtles, fish, dolphins, lobsters and more—and plant life, including palms, kelp, and flowers. With  landscapes, seascapes, animals, and boats as subject matter, her work has broad appeal for all viewers.

All Clause’s featured pieces are done in watercolor on cold-pressed paper. She believes watercolor as a medium allows the fluidity of the sea to be reflected in the beautiful play between controlled complexity and spontaneous whimsy. Kelly’s work spills from her insatiable fascination with nature, and a desire to inspire a similar curiosity and awe in her viewers.

According to Kelly, as she has talked about her work and her vision, “Nature cannot be contained, captured, or defined, yet I always find myself wanting to touch it, hold it, recreate it. Saltwater swells and living creatures alike contain a sort of wild mystery that I believe all humanity cravesWith spontaneous but deliberate brushstrokes, I endeavor to reflect a balance of wild whimsy and intentional design with my art. My work spills from my insatiable fascination with the natural world, and a desire to inspire a similar curiosity and awe in my viewers.” More about Kelly and her work is available at:

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