Considered one of the finest California painters, the late Channing Peake lived and painted in the Santa Ynez Valley for decades.
Channing Peake, 1910-1989, a well-known Santa Barbara County artist, lived for many years in the Santa Ynez Valley, where he raised Quarter Horses and created spectacular paintings and drawings of the world around him.
During his career Peake worked with Edward Borein, Diego Rivera and Rico Lebrun. He spent several years living and working in New York, San Francisco, France and Mexico, but most of his adult life he lived in Santa Barbara County. He is considered one of the finest California painters ever to chronicle the West.
Born in Marshall, Colorado, in 1910, Channing Peake moved with his family to California, settling in the San Fernando Valley. His artistic talent was evident from a young age and with the assistance of his high school art teacher, the photographer Barbara Morgan, Peake won a scholarship to the California School of Arts and Crafts in 1928.
Three years later Peake came to Santa Barbara to attend the Santa Barbara School of Fine Arts. During this time he also assisted Western artist Edward Borein on a painting for El Paseo, where Peake would later paint his own mural in the 1980s.
Captivated by the medium of the fresco mural, Peake next traveled to Mexico where he spent a year traveling and documenting many aspects of Mexican life. As an apprentice to Diego Rivera, he worked on the murals at the National Palace in Mexico City.
Returning to the U.S. Peake moved to New York City where he continued his studies at the Art Students League. Commissions for murals during this period included two major projects for the WPA. Peake executed many other important murals, assisting Rico Lebrun on a mural for the Pennsylvania Station in New York City and Lewis Rubenstein on a mural in the Germanic Museum at Harvard University. In our area, Peake painted the Don Quixote mural for the Santa Barbara Public Library (1959), the Santa Barbara Biltmore mural (1978-79), and the Santa Barbara El Paseo mural (1984-85).
In the 1940s, Peake came back to Santa Barbara to paint and for the next two decades he maintained a studio on a working ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley. He later traveled and painted extensively in Europe, then returned once more to Santa Barbara, where he continued to play a vital role in shaping the cultural life of the city.
He was a founding member of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and a gallery named in his honor is located in the lobby of the Santa Barbara County Administration Building.