Providence Launches Innovative Design Program 

Christian College Prep Prepares Students for Fine Art and Digital Careers 

Providence Design Program, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Providence Design Program, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

As digital design becomes a more and more prevalent part of our society, Providence School is developing programs to help students interact with that burgeoning industry. This fall, the Christian college preparatory school’s faculty members James Daly and Maxwell Beers launched Providence Studio, which is equipping students to be competent and ethical content creators. 

The response so far has been overwhelming, reported Daly and Beers. “Classes are full, and students are enthusiastic!” they wrote. “The Studio opens doors of opportunity and growth for students interested in a wide variety of fields, from photojournalism to filmmaking and graphic design.” 

The Providence Studio offer three academic tracks: Fine Arts, Digital Media, and a Fine Arts/Digital Media hybrid. The “Fine Arts” track is built upon the classical and academic models of art education. “I didn’t even realize the potential I had, or that I was that good at drawing, until Mr. Daly helped bring it out,” said sophomore Liza Coffin. “I am so excited to see how much more I will grow in my artistic expression with him teaching me through my time in the studio.” 

The “Digital Media” track includes working with Photoshop and learning to ethically create and edit images in a world where image manipulation is prolific. “We’ve been talking about how to use our technology responsibly and carefully and still effectively,” said senior Cameron Bleeker. 

It also includes an introduction to the skills and techniques of contemporary photojournalism. “I get to write articles as well as do the artistic elements, so it’s really combining a bunch of different classes that I enjoy,” said senior Alena Zeni. 

There’s also an introduction to the film and video production process. “I want to be a film major, so I feel like I can use what I’m learning here in the studio to direct my choices and my career,” said senior Eric Smith. 

Some of the “Hybrid” projects include: digital painting alongside classical painting; taking the techniques of drawing with pencil and applying them in the Adobe Illustrator application on a Wacom digital tablet; and starting with an 18th-century etching, students draw in pencil, then take creative liberties to paint, scan, trace in Illustrator, and make a vector-based design that can then be 3D printed. 

“Ultimately, the goal for our students is to build a broad, foundational skill set that they can take into any vocation and across all fields,” explained the teachers. “The ability to translate abstract concepts to the canvas or screen is no easy task; however, it is essential, even expected, in both expressions of media. As a result, each track emphasizes skill-based methods tailored to equip students to move into whichever field students choose.” 

What excites them the most about the Providence Studio is that “the students who go through the program will become influencers, storytellers, and content creators with a strong desire for integrity and truth to guide the work they create.” 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

A Sculptor’s Tribute

Photo by Gary Moss, 805 Living Magazine.

Before creating his full-size sculptures in tribute to the victims of last year’s mass
shooting at Thousand Oaks’ Borderline Bar & Grill, Ali Alinejad perfected his
designs with these miniature prototypes. Photo by Gary Moss, 805 Living Magazine.

The grieving process continues for the 12 people who lost their lives in the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks on November 7, 2018.

“There was so much emotion and so much grief in this community after this happened, people didn’t have a place to go,” says Thousand Oaks–based sculptor Ali Alinejad. “Creating that place is what inspired me,” he says of the ceramic memorials he sculpted to honor each of the victims.

With the support of the community, Alinejad built an 8- to 12-foot totem for each victim, stacking the letters of their first names, which he sculpted from clay, and inscribing special memories on the back. The colorful, joyful sculptures are currently displayed throughout Alinejad’s neighborhood, which is also home to his business, Clay Studio + Gallery (claystudioandgallery.com). He hopes to find a permanent home for the sculptures and to create a memorial with benches that can be used as a site for contemplation.

For more information, visit the project’s GoFundMe page: gofundme.com/f/sculpure-memorial-for-the-12-victims-at-borderline.      —Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living Magazine, November 2019.

805 Living Magazine, November 2019.

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, November 2019 805 Living Magazine November 2019.

LEVI GILBERT | Art Meets Action

Levi Gilbert interview from 805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Falling down stairs, crashing motorcycles, and taking death-defying leaps off the sides of cliffs are all in a day’s work for Levi Gilbert, a 2017 Santa Barbara High School graduate who got his first Hollywood stunt job as soon as he turned 18 and was legally allowed to perform. This might seem like a crazy career choice to some, but stunt performing is in Gilbert’s blood. His grandfather Mickey Gilbert’s career dates back to the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and his father, Lance Gilbert, was Mel Gibson’s personal stuntman.

“I got started doing stunt work with the guidance of my dad,” says the 20-year-old Gilbert, who has already appeared in TV series such as 9-1-1, 13 Reasons Why, Ballers, Daybreak, Silicon Valley, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as the upcoming Ford v Ferrari film, which is generating Oscar buzz. “He has always helped me by giving me every opportunity to learn something new and expand my skill sets.

“Directors know exactly what they want from the stunt performers, but it’s up to you to make it happen safely,” says the youngest of the Gilbert family stunt artists. “The most dangerous stunts I have done so far in my career would probably be stair falls.” He starred as a young naval lieutenant who fell to a dramatic death in an NCIS: New Orleans episode this year.

“Difficulty and danger often go hand in hand,” he says. “But for me the hardest stunt isn’t a stunt at all—it’s acting—which is something I am working on and trying to understand the art of.”

Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, October 2019. 805 Living Oct 2019 The 805’s Got Talent

Getting Schooled in Museum Education

student interns strike a pose. Courtesy UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Art, Design & Architecture Museum student interns strike a pose. Courtesy UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Interns at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum earn academic credit and valuable experience

By Leslie Dinaberg
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 – 06:00 Santa Barbara, CA

When this year’s cohort of interns take their place at UC Santa Barbara’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum (AD&A Museum), they’ll have the opportunity not only to add valuable skills to their own resumes, but also serve to the University and the broader Santa Barbara community.

“We are contributing to the development of the museum field by fostering future professionals,” said Elyse Gonzales, AD&A Museum’s acting director. “I also see the internship program, and all of our efforts really, as a means of developing future museum visitors, members, and donors for our museum and all museums in general. Our goals for the undergraduate internship program at the AD&A Museum are quite ambitious.”

Internships for academic credit are offered in the curatorial, collections management, archival management, programs/events, education outreach and public relations departments of the AD&A Museum. The museum also offers collaborative internships with the University Library’s special collections department; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where interns serve as gallery guides for students in grades six through 12; and with online platform impactmania — in collaboration with the Neuroscience Research Institute, Department of Religious Studies and global partners — where interns work to deliver a suite of interviews, interactive presentations, and events related to the topic “Human Mind and Migration.”

“I approach all of our UCSB students — really all students — who come to the museum the same way, with a warm welcome, emphasizing that the museum is for them,” Gonzales said. “If we can get them to visit while they are at UCSB, give them a positive experience and help them understand that the museum is not an intimidating place — this is not a place that is about exclusion, it’s about inclusion — then you’ve hooked a museum-goer for the rest of their life.

The more we can reach out to and engage younger generations, the better we are going to be in the long run. And when I say ‘we’ I mean the AD&A Museum, but also museums in general.”

Gonzales credits much of the vision for the internship program to Bruce Robertson, the recently retired museum director. “Studies reveal that most museum professionals and others in the arts became interested in these fields because they had a pivotal moment with an object or a formative creative experience. Knowing that, and with education as the imperative of the entire university, we immediately understood that we could make a significant contribution to our field,” Gonzales said. “But, also the reality of our situation is that we have a lot of tasks, projects, and events that need to be executed and managed and loads of ambitions to do even more. Knowing this, it became clear that working with students would not only help them but help us achieve our goals and mission.”

Focused on professional development, the resulting program pairs students with employees at the museum.

“The students have been great to work with — they are excited to learn new things, go ‘behind the scenes’ at the museum, and are able to explore possible career paths,” said Architecture and Design Collection Reference Archivist Julia Larson. “The students are eager to come in for their intern shifts because they are working on concrete projects — putting materials in folders, organizing and labelling collections, assisting with cataloging which they can cite as examples of work projects for future jobs or grad school. They also ask a lot of good questions and force me to think through my work and how best to explain things.

“The students learn how to process archival collections,” she added, “which is very hands-on work.”

Said Susan Lucke, collections manager and registrar, “We rely on our interns so much. They’re just not doing entry-level work. They actually get to do work that I would do. We need the help, and they gain a lot of experience and that’s so useful when they start to look for a job.

“I think it’s helpful for kids to look at all their options in school and this is a really a good program,” Lucke continued. “It’s not like sitting in a classroom with 300 other kids. It’s more of an intimate experience, and students get a lot of one-on-one attention plus it enables them to look at another side of life.”

AD&A Museum interns have gone on to graduate school; the Peace Corps; and to careers at many different kinds of museums, including the Smithsonian, the Peterson Automotive Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara, among others.

For-credit internships are open to undergraduates in all majors. “We find that many of our interns love art and architecture but also feel like they need to have a degree in something else, something they perceive as being more stable,” said Gonzales.

“The impetus behind this internship program is primarily to help give students professional experiences but also to help alleviate student and parental concerns about future career opportunities,” she added. “In addition, one of my goals is to help reflect the diversity of our campus and to create opportunities to diversify the field for future museum leadership.”

What she feels most proud about the internship program is that when students leave, they have concrete real- world experiences they can put on a resume and several individuals willing to give them a great reference. “A really smart and committed intern can do wonders,” Gonzales noted. “We should know, our museum wouldn’t function half so well without their terrific help.”

Originally published in The Current (UCSB) on August 28, 2019.

Body-Mind Connection

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

BMCA somatic movement conference focuses on embodiment and brain research, with an indigenous education element

By Leslie Dinaberg

Monday, August 5, 2019 – 10:15

Santa Barbara, CA

Bringing together more than 70 presenters from around the world, the Body-Mind Centering Association (BMCA) presents its 34th annual interdisciplinary laboratory, research and workshop conference at UC Santa Barbara August 6-11.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

Hosted by brooke smiley, a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance, this somatic movement conference features an array of workshops, panel discussions, presentations and performances. The theme, “Self and Other,” reflects the conference emphasis on the evolving indigenous embodiment in relation to dance, song and land.

“I wanted to create a focus on what it means to value our differences and also bring focus to our interconnectedness,” said smiley.

She anticipates approximately 130 participants at the conference, which is open to the public. “It’s interesting because we have a lot of people from different realms: science, dance, academia, choreographers, dancers, therapists and infant movement development specialists,” smiley said. “Movement research takes a lot of different forms out in the world. As host, I’ve been able to be supported in bringing a focus to an indigenous educational awareness about the land here, specifically before UC Santa Barbara was here, and the dances and the songs that came from the bodies in relationship to this land.”

With that awareness in mind, the Friday, Aug. 9 plenary session led by smiley, titled “Embodying Land in Dance and Song: Addressing Decolonization in Indigenous Ceremony and Performance,” includes a panel from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. An indigenous dance artist herself, smiley was recently named a 2019/2020 Advancing Indigenous Performers Fellow by the Western Arts Alliance, a program made possible by a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Among the conference highlights:

• A two-part presentation by BMCA founder and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. “Engaging Self and Other through Embodiment, Part I” will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Part II will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

• 2019 Guggenheim Scholar Ann Cooper Albright’s two-part “Cultivating the 3R’s: Responsiveness, Resistance, Resilience” (Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. and Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. ). Cooper is professor and chair of dance at Oberlin College.

• Two evenings of dance performances (Aug. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.) in 1151 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Admission is free.

Founded in 1985, the BMCA is a professional organization dedicated to exploring, sharing and expanding body-mind centering work. Members reside around the world, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Additional conference details and registration information is available at https://bmcassociation.org/conferences/2019-bmca-conference. A complete schedule of events can be found at https://bit.ly/2JHR7YJ.

Originally published in The Current (UCSB) on August 5, 2019.

Art on Deck

Click here to see the story:

805 Living Pulse Jun 2019

Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Inga Guzyte, courtesy photo.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Inga Guzyte, courtesy photo.

Using recycled skateboard decks as her medium, Inga Guzyte (ingaguzyte.com) transforms her passion for skateboarding into sculptural art. Her new #RebelWomen series spotlights women from around the globe—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Malala Yousafzai, Frida Kahlo—emphasizing their strength, courage, fearlessness and wit.

“I am hoping to share rebellious and empowering stories,” says the 34-year-old artist, who lines her Santa Barbara studio with floor-to-ceiling stacks of skateboard decks (recycled from the nearby Lighthouse Skateshop) and waits for the right colors to show up before creating her sculptures. Born in Lithuania, and raised in Germany, she came to Santa Barbara at age 21 to learn English and immerse herself in the California skateboarding culture. Making her way into the male-dominated sport influenced her work.

Inga Guzyte self portrait, courtesy photo.

Inga Guzyte self portrait, courtesy photo.

“Inga’s work is an exciting combination of vision, originality and high craft,” says Nathan Vonk, owner of Sullivan Goss Gallery (sullivangoss.com) in Santa Barbara, where a solo show of Guzyte’s work appears from June 1 through July 23. “While her pieces are made from brutal, broken materials, the finished products are both sophisticated and delicate,” he says. “With her #RebelWomen series, she has added to that appeal by including a message that is powerful, important and uplifting.”  

Originally published in the June 2019 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

 

Dance Drives Dialogue

International colloquium in dance and performance studies addresses issues of race and racism in American classical ballet

The beauty and artistry of ballet can belie the sometimes painful truths that exist behind the dance.

Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan in George Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957), Vail International Dance Festival 2018. Restaged by Heather Watts. Photo by Eric Baiano.

Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan in George Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957), Vail International Dance Festival 2018. Restaged by Heather Watts. Photo by Eric Baiano.

“Those dances by George Balanchine and other 20th-century neoclassical choreographers reveal how the idiom of classical ballet has institutionalized and subverted American racism,” said Ninotchka D. Bennahum, a professor of dance and performance studies at UC Santa Barbara.

These ballets — such as the iconic, Civil Rights-era Balanchine ballet “Agon” from 1957 — reveal the complex relationship ballet and preeminent cultural institutions share with racial consciousness in the United States before and after World War II, she added. “Dance artists asked to undertake these roles have the capacity, the moral responsibility to shift our consciousness or to raise our consciousness. No work of art belongs solely to its time,” Bennahum said.

These topics and others will be considered when distinguished scholars and world-class performers gather Monday, April 29 in UC Santa Barbara’s ballet studio for the colloquium “Race, Ballet, American Dance,” a day of discussion and demonstration. Co-curated by Bennahum and Stephanie Batiste, an associate professor of English and of Black studies, the conference is the inaugural event of the International Colloquium for the Study of Dance and Performance Studies.

“We will pose the question, ‘What is the value of these actual works of ballet as historical archive?”

Combining elements of live performance and music, discussion and filmography, the multidisciplinary colloquium — which is free and open to the public — will explore the critical role of art in capturing and commenting on American history, specifically examining how racism has been institutionalized in American classical ballet.

“The history of the civil rights movement is written by ballet choreographers and modern choreographers,” said Bennahum. “Dancing bodies play a vital role in getting audiences, in raising public awareness to issues of injustice, to issues of joy and love and sexuality, and things that are not so easy to articulate with words.

“But these are not happenstance dances, these are dances that happened in very particular moments of time,” she added. “The relationship between African American vernacular dance, African American choreographed ballet and Russian, British, American ballet, really became a symbol of race relations in the United States.”

Participants will enter the event through a lobby exhibition featuring an archival collection of photographs curated by Bennahum from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library, the largest and most comprehensive archive in the world devoted to the documentation of dance.

“I really feel that it’s very important for students that we show them dancing bodies they cannot see in Santa Barbara,” Bennahum said. “The gravitational center of dance in the world is New York and I just felt we had to bring it to them, and we had to bring it in the form of performance and in the form of art exhibit, images on the walls, so they see that this is an intellectual, academic subject they can study. But it cannot happen without performance because without that the archive is missing. You have to have a sense of the geography of the stage. For these kids learning to dance, to know and feel their way through history, kinesthetic awareness is really significant.”

Further to that end, the colloquium’s featured guests include Heather Watts, former principal dancer of New York City Ballet and a distinguished lecturer, who will present and stage two seminal works: George Balanchine’s “Agon,” with music by Igor Stravinsky, and Jerome Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun,” with music by Claude Debussy. The pieces will be danced by Calvin Royal III (principal dancer, American Ballet Theatre) and Unity Phelan (soloist, New York City Ballet), accompanied by New York City Ballet Orchestra pianist Cameron Grant.

“In different ways, at their premieres both Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957) and Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun” (1953) addressed issues of race,” said Watts. “I’m looking forward to sharing and examining these works at the colloquium, focusing on their impact felt not only in the mid-century civil rights era in which they were created, but also today as they live on through new generations of dancers.”

Also performing is Alicia Graf Mack, chair of dance at The Juilliard School and former principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Alonzo King/LINES. Her piece will be followed by a conversation with Lynn Garafola, professor emerita of dance at Barnard College, Columbia University and “preeminent ballet scholar in the United States who, with her husband (American historian Eric Foner of Columbia University) is a really important race scholar,” noted Bennahum. Garafola also will lecture on the African American Presence in Postwar American Dance.

An artists’ roundtable early in the day will provide insight direct from dancers themselves, while a later artist-scholar discussion will offer a multi-pronged analysis of what has taken place during the conference.

“My research on Black dance often has a lot to do with analysis of form and in terms of movement and repertoire,” Batiste said. “Dancers often think about dance in ways that are really different from how scholars think about dance. Those two approaches to how the body makes meaning together in one space show the value of what scholars bring and what dancers bring to same work of art.”

Batiste gave much of the credit to Bennahum for putting together the colloquium, while Bennahum extended credit to Watts, to donors John and Jody Arnhold and to Majewski. “Dance is very expensive,” said Bennahum. “Classical ballet is very expensive and they have made this possible for the university, and believed that UC Santa Barbara, above every other place in the country, was the place to create a laboratory, a think tank, about race and ballet.

“We’re at a very tense moment in history,” she concluded. “Art plays a significant role in that conversation in these moments in time.”

Originally published in The Current (UCSB) on April 23, 2019.

Celebrating 60 Years

Six decades strong, Arts & Lectures keeps education at the core of its mission

Ma’s visit to Santa Barbara — which includes a free, open-to-the-public, master class with UC Santa Barbara students, and the above-mentioned lecture, “Culture, Understanding and Survival” — marks a high point for the program.

“Our relationship with Yo-Yo is very special,” said Celesta M. Billeci, A&L’s Miller McCune Executive Director. “I think it’s unique to any program in the country, and I can say with confidence he has a very special relationship with us.” That relationship, she added, extends to Chancellor Henry T. Yang and his wife, Dilling.

This season, A&L has also co-commissioned a project with the Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble, founded by Ma in 1998. The genre-defying global musicians will perform the world premiere of “Take Their Stands” Friday, April 26, at the Granada.

“This is really research in action in the arts,” Billeci said. “We gave the money to this ensemble to create new work. They’ve created five new pieces they will premiere and will tour all over the world. And we did this here at UCSB. So that’s a real testament to the quality of this program and to being a leader in the arts.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Yannick Lebrun and Sarah Daley. Photo Credit: ANDREW ECCLES.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Yannick Lebrun and Sarah Daley. Photo Credit: ANDREW ECCLES.

During the week prior to their performance, the musicians will be on campus working with students in the music, dance and religious studies departments and in the Givertz School of Education.

For example, Silkroad members Haruka Fuji and Sandeep Das will conduct a lecture/demonstration and Kayhan Kalhor will conduct a Dastgah practicum in world music; Kojiro Umezaki and Cristina Pato will hold a workshop with Gevirtz School of Education student teachers; Ahmad Sadri and Wu Tong will lead a meet-the-artist conversation on Asian religious traditions; and Aparna Ramaswamy will share Bharatnatyam dance traditions with students in the theater and dance department.

Education, Billeci stressed, is at the heart of A&L’s programming. “Its purpose is to really be intertwined with the academic program and be a supplement for the academic experience of students on this campus,” she said. “It’s not peripheral; it’s definitely to the core of the academic mission.”

To that end, Billeci, Associate Director Roman Baratiak and their team, particularly program manager Heather Silva, work closely with academic departments and individual faculty members to set priorities for the types of lectures and performances they bring to campus. “The speakers and artists we bring are not just coming here and doing their public presentation,” explained Caitlin O’Hara, A&L writer and publicist. “They’re going to campus for class events or master classes. They’re very heavily enmeshed in the campus as part of their stay.”

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s recent visit is a prime example. Prior to her public lecture she met with honors students from the College of Letters and Science. “Frankly, I think some of our speakers are shocked at how much we expect them to do,” Baratiak quipped.

“We also present a lot of free events for students,” added Billeci, noting the recent concert with ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro in Storke Plaza. “This is the second time we’ve had him do that. He did it before and the students went nuts for him. They just love him. And he just loves them. He’s a great ambassador for our program and for music overall.”

Plans to bring performers to A&L are often in the works years ahead of time. With the dance series, for instance, Billeci meets with faculty members several times throughout the year to understand who they are interested in having come to campus. Professors and lecturers often build class visits into their curricula, and when these companies perform, hundreds of students are in the audience.

“On our lecture side, our education coordinator will reach out to academic departments and individual faculty members and say, ‘Here’s an opportunity,’” explained Baratiak. They can elect to send their students to an event or, if time can be spared in the performer’s or presenter’s schedule, he or she might meet with students. “We have collaborations with the College of Creative Studies, the writing program, pretty much most departments,” he added.

“I think we’ve got one of the most exciting and interesting public lecture programs in the country,” said Baratiak, whose 40-year tenure with the program began when he was a student at UC Santa Barbara. “So it’s obviously something that I think all of us are proud of here at A&L.”

Baratiak is particularly enthusiastic, he added, about the annual free summer film series presented at the Santa Barbara Courthouse in collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture.

The truth is, over the last 60 years, A&L has enabled Santa Barbara audiences to spend time with some incredible individuals and performers: Upton Sinclair, Robert Oppenheimer, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Allen Ginsberg and The Dalai Lama (on three separate occasions), to name a few.

In addition to Yo-Yo Ma, A&L has more recently brought to the local stage Joan Baez, Trevor Noah, Laurie Anderson, Gloria Steinem, Bill T. Jones, the NYC Ballet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Sonny Rollins and Twyla Tharp.

A&L also presented talks by Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai (“We were the only university in the country that got that date,” Billeci pointed out) and comedian Jon Stewart (“We presented him to 5,000 students in the Thunderdome”), and a concert by alumnus Jack Johnson, who performed at Harder Stadium.

The talk by former vice president Joe Biden at the Arlington Theater also stands out. “We were doing a free simulcast for students on the campus, and as soon as it ended he jumped in the car and came to campus to meet with the students who’d watched the simulcast,” recalled O’Hara. “He sat and talked with them. I’ve had so many students talk to me and say how impactful that was.”

Similarly, a recent — and free — lecture by Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo Movement, also was a high point for students, according to O’Hara. So many students wanted to hear her talk that simulcasts to overflow rooms were required to accommodate them.

“If you go back 60 years,” Billeci remarked, “this program is really really amazing.”

On the community outreach side, the A&L initiative dearest to Billeci’s heart is ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! The program offers free performances and educational activities to students, at-risk youth and families in Santa Barbara County. “We have made the long-term commitment to bring high quality arts — not average or mediocre — the very best in music and dance to these communities and to the folks who live there,” Billeci said.

Putting on more than 100 events every year is a team effort, and Billeci is quick to credit the contributions of A&L staff, which includes roughly 75 work-study students. “Often Roman and I get a lot of credit, but this does not work without the amazing group of people that make this machine move,” she said. “For the size of this program — a nationally respected, top-five program in the country — this group of people is so dedicated and so hard working and it’s my privilege and my pleasure to work with them every day.”

More information about A&L, including and a schedule of events, is available at www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

Originally published in The Current (UCSB) on April 19, 2019.

Local Lowdown: Shop Youth Interactive’s State Gallery

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Pairing student work with local, national and international artists, the nonprofit Youth Interactive’s new Downtown Santa Barbara Gallery is a dynamic new space for the grassroots after school Entrepreneurial Arts Academy students to showcase and sell their work alongside an impressive array of professional artists.  

You’ll find contemporary work in various mediums, from works on paper, sculpture and assemblage to painting, photography and new media. Everything in the store is artisanal and handmade and the proceeds go back to support the youth and the arts in our community. 

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Home of the original State Theatre and more recently the Unity Shoppe, the large open space celebrates Poetry Month in April with Word Up!, a fundraiser led by Santa Barbara Middle College students during First Thursday Art Walk from 5 – 8 p.m. on April 4. The gallery also showcases the work of Santa Barbara printmaker Bay Hallowell in an exhibition called Truth be Told, showcasing a compilation of works combining art and text. 

Later in April comes an exhibition titled Grounded, a group exhibition of painting, photography and sculpture connecting us to the ground we walk on and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with works by artists Cynthia James, Ryuijie and Luis Velasquez.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Among the youth-led business with their work consistently on view in the gallery are: Infinite Treasures, students create handmade jewelry while learning valuable business skills; Pier Pressure Designs, a team of teens makes beautiful bags out of recycled sails donated by SB Yacht Club, and fabric donated by Patagonia and others; Havok, a group of young entrepreneurs who design original works of art on T-shirts; RBY (Resurrected by Youth), a team of high school kids learning carpentry, business, marketing and general entrepreneurship skills; and The Creative Studio Team, which creates and sells art while managing the gallery. 

Youth Interactive’s State Gallery (1219 State St., Santa Barbara, youthinteractive.us) is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays, with extended hours during exhibit openings and special events. 

—Leslie Dinaberg

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

 

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz, courtesy photo.

Annie Leibovitz, courtesy photo.

Legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz is coming to Santa Barbara on February 28, in what’s sure to be a fascinating evening presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Annie Leibovitz delivers an hour-long illustrated lecture followed by a Q&A with Pico Iyer. A “Library of Congress Living Legend,” Leibovitz’s body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time, with subjects including actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes and political and business figures, as well as fashion photographs and more.

Brooke Shields "Got Milk" campaign photo by Annie Leibovitz.

Brooke Shields “Got Milk” campaign photo by Annie Leibovitz.

“Whether she’s photographing the famous and powerful—or simply the woman next door—Annie always captures something unexpected and deeply personal,” says Oprah Winfrey.  

This event takes place on Thurs., Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 26, 2019.