SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara community is mourning the loss of a beloved artist.
Chris Potter, whose colorful landscapes hang in many homes and businesses around town, has died.
Longtime friends have reminisced about how Potter was often spotted perched with an easel up in the hills or along the shore, working on one of his scenic masterpieces.
Skin Deep off upper State Street has served as a gallery, of sorts, for Potter's artwork for decades thanks to former owners and sisters, Tina Hasche and Nina Meyer.
The new owners, Lauren and Torben von Staden -- whose daughter is friends with the Potter's daughter -- hope to carry on the previous owners' tradition.
"I think we can all say that just to have known Chris, he always greeted you with a hug, a smile and something funny to say," said Lauren von Staden.
Lauren credited the young girls' friendship for her first introduction to Skin Deep, years ago. At the time, Potter's daughter wanted Lauren to see her father's artwork, hanging on the walls of the boutique. Lauren said she fell in love with the shop and, she and her husband fell in love with Potter's artwork.
"We really actually feel like Chris' paintings brought us here," said Lauren.
"I think his spirit will continue through his paintings, through all the friends, through the community, through his family, through everything," said Torben. "I hope that Julie (his widow) will continue to produce the prints and we will continue to carry them to spread his spirit everywhere we can."
The von Staden's said the phone at the shop has been ringing off the hook with customers inquiring about Potter's paintings, which sell in the range of $500 to $800.
von Staden said the majority of Potter's prints (and an original) sold within hours.