On April 3, 1967, James Armstrong, Douglass Parshall, Ray Strong, John Gorham, and Joseph Knowles opened the Santa Barbara Fine Art Center. The five artists wished to create an institution where students could learn the visual arts through a hands-on approach. They were first located at 2020 Alameda Padre Serra, on the Riviera of Santa Barbara, next to the famous Brooks Institute. The Santa Barbara Fine Art Center originally offered courses in oil and watercolor painting, life drawing, landscape, still life, design, and head drawing and painting. After having a successful first year, and with more students enrolling each quarter, the founders were approached by Ernest Brooks Sr. of the Brooks Institute about a possible merger. He wanted to combine Brooks Institute’s school of photography with the fine art program. The five men agreed to the merger, thus renaming themselves Brooks Institute School of Fine Art. Now, the school was able to gain more students and faculty. They were also able to offer more courses and make a bigger name for themselves in the art community. After three years, Brooks Institute and the Fine Art Center began to clash. Faculty disagreed on the curriculum, teaching methods, and even dress codes. In 1971, the faculty decided to separate themselves from the Brooks Institute, renaming themselves the Santa Barbara Art Institute. No longer being supported by Brooks, the Art Institute had to dramatically reduce their budget, causing them to move location to 14 State Street. Even with the move and reduced salaries, the Santa Barbara Art Institute still suffered financially. Students, faculty, and people in the community came together to try to raise funds, but it was not enough to save the school. In 1975, after eight years, the Santa Barbara Art Institute closed down.
Faculty: James Armstrong (Painting), Joseph Barrett (Drawing), Priscilla Bender-Shore (Drawing), Jerry Braude (Graphic Communications / Design), Robert Carty (Art History), Alice Carr de Creeft (Sculpture), John Caruthers (Graphic Communication / Design), Gary Cetti (Ceramics), Margaret Dunlap (Design and Painting), John Gorham (Drawing and Painting), Ralph Gorley (Materials and Processes), William Hesthal (Art History / Appreciation), Forrest Hibbits (Painting), James Jarvaise (Painting), Kenneth Jewesson (Printmaking, Drawing, and Contemporary Art), Mike Kanemitsu (Painting), Joseph Knowles (Design), Duane Loppnow (Sculpture), James Maher (Librarian), Duane McCue (Design), Douglass Parshall (Painting), Ronald Robertson (Printmaking), Ray Strong (Painting), George van Duinwyk (Jewelry Design), Arnold Wasserman (Graphic Communication / Design), Joseph Young (Architectural Arts)
- "New Fine Art Center Finds Warm Welcome In Santa Barbara," Santa Barbara News-Press, June 25, 1967
- "Famed artist Parshall dies at 91," Santa Barbara News-Press, August, 29, 1990
- (California Watercolors)
- “Artist John Gorham dies; co-founded Art Institute,” McClatchy News Service, 1985
- “The Brooks Institute Story,” Westart, November 21, 1969