by Hillary Dole Klein
Wine Country magazine, summer edition, 2006
Mary Heebner and Macduff Everton have successful, greatly admired careers in art, photography, and writing. But one of their most inspiring collaborations is their dynamic, colorful Santa Barbara lifestyle. Both have deep roots in Santa Barbara and great stories to tell. In college at UCSB, Mary lived in a Chevy Nova station wagon, where the tailgate was her first studio. As A young man, Macduff worked in a traveling circus in the Yucatan, billed as "the grandson of Buffalo Bill, and the commandante of the frog unit that rescued the Apollo capsule out of the ocean."
Since their wedding in 1989, they have worked and traveled constantly, following their muses together and separately. A bright light among Santa Barbara artists, Mary's abstract paintings and artist's books have been acquired bv major collections and exhibited in numerous galleries and museums. Macduff's evocative, mesmerizing photographs make you grapple for words beyond "awe inspiring." Shown all over the world, they have appeared, sometimes in tandem with Mary's writing, in hundreds of magazines and books. Their latest collaboration, "Mani Wall and A Sacred Geography," an installation of Mary's paintings, along with an artist's book by Mary and her daughter, Sienna Craig, and photography by Macduff, opened at UCLA'S Fowler Museum on June 11.
Over the years, their house, built in the '50s, has been embellished with gardens and art. "As artists, we work all the time," says Mary. "The problem is to figure out when to have time to live. So living, for us, tends to take place when we entertain." Their schedules are also dictated by calls from editors. "When the assignment happens, you have to go. Often our best parties have been impromptu, planning ahead is impossible, something comes together, the combination of good company and good food and drink is always magical."
Recently they gathered friends together under the garden pergola for a luncheon alfresco and a chance to hear about travels to Patagonia, the Yucatan, Peru, and Chile, and their sequential exhibitions at Ro Snell Gallery.
"It's always a seat-of-my-pants menu." says Mary, "It's partly what occurs to me while trolling the markets and partly what is already in the fridge or the garden. I cook like I paint — I see what’s there in front of me as materials and play with them until it works. For the luncheon, she improvised an entrée by tearing king trumpet mushrooms and sautéing them in butter, green onions and white whine. After grilling fish ahi tuna, she covered it with basil leaves and then poured the ht mushroom broth over and around it.
Mary also cooks by color. "I made the salad because we had these pretty beets and orange tomatoes," she says. She added kumquats, avocado, and lettuce, all from their garden, sculpted them into multicolored stacks on a base of garlic crostini and topped them with chevre.
Every year the couple buys their home a New Year's present. On the picnic table, cloth and napkins came from Russia, silverware from Thailand, napkin rings from China, and the bread tray from Papua New Guinea. They didn't have to travel far for the fine local wines, however. "I love coming back to Santa Barbara," sayd Mary. "It's home. It's so beautiful. We've been so many places, but this place just sings."
— BY HILARY DOLE KLEIN