The Golden Artichoke
November 8, 2009
Is it an artichoke? When first looking at this decorative wall sconce, which is located on the newly renovated sign of Santa Barbara Bank and Trust at Anacapa and Carrillo Streets, I thought it was a gilded pinecone. Ed soon straightened me out, informing me that surely the object in question was a golden artichoke.
I love artichokes, but I like them in green, not gold, preferably roasted on the grill with chipotle mayo on the side, the way they serve them down at the Brewhouse on Montecito Street. Taking a bite out of this decorative artichoke would surely crack your teeth … or break your fingernail if you tried to pull off one of its leaves. In fact, it is made of iron. With a heart of gold? The gold is probably just on the exterior, in fact, it looks like the paint is already chipping a little. Kind of like Santa Barbara Bank and Trust. Lots of nice offices all over the county with a $47 million loss in the third quarter. Ouch.
The maker of the sconce was revealed by randomly googling the terms "Santa Barbara artichoke sconce," which resulted in the website for Ironcad LTD. Crossing my fingers and throwing caution into the chipotle sauce, I sent them an email to ask if they had made the sconce. Two days later I got a call back from Jeff, who informed me that in fact they had made the sconces and he would be happy to answer any questions I had about them.
Now this was getting interesting! I couldn't wait to ask him about where the inspiration for the artichoke came from, how it was made, and whether it was gilded in real gold. (And whether that gold could be melted down to pay off SBBT's mounting debts.) Sadly, Jeff never returned my phone call a second time. I'm still hoping I'll hear back from him. In the meantime I'm consoling myself by looking for other golden vegetables and fruits around town. There are the cobs of corn down under the Milpas underpass, denoting the historic presence of a mill in the area. Can you think of any others?
Ironcad makes some pretty cool stuff, although I didn't see any artichoke-themed creations on their website, they do offer to make just about anything on special order. It would be interesting to know the story behind the art or whether the artichokes just looked great as bookends for the sign.
And as for the future of SBBT, it seems doubtful that the FDIC takes golden artichokes as, well, golden parachutes. But these days, you never know.
Three Edhat subscribers -- Annmarie582, Behunt, and gBob --- found the gold at the end of the contest rainbow. The Edhat Dog was presented with three gold-colored treats, each assigned to a winner. Treat number three was eaten first, signifying gBob as this week's t-shirt winner.
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