Streaming Culture

Originally published in the November 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Necessity is certainly the mother of invention these days, and performing arts organizations are pivoting in creative ways to bring entertainment directly to home audiences.

“Music is the common denominator that brings humans together, no matter the time or the place in history,” says New West Symphony (newwestsymphony.org/2020-
21-virtual-season) CEO Natalia Staneva.

With that in mind, Staneva and the symphony’s artistic and music director, Michael Christie, have developed Global Sounds, eight mini music concerts and festivals inspired by cultures from around the world and presented virtually through June 2021.

“We discovered that our community contains a variety of cultures with vibrant musical traditions that have inspired and influenced classical music composers for generations,” says Christie. “And thus was born the concept of turning each concert experience into a mini cultural festival.”

Along with the orchestra performing symphonic works, each concert week will feature in-depth interviews with cultural experts and solo and ensemble performances of orchestra members and guest artists. Visit the website for tickets and more details.

UCSB Arts & Lectures (artsandlectures.ucsb.edu) brings cultural events home with House Calls, an interactive, online series of concerts, conversations, and question-and-answer sessions with musicians like Danish String Quartet and Rhiannon Giddens and authors such as Anne Lamott and Cheryl Strayed.

“House Calls is one way that Arts & Lectures is serving our community during a time when people are craving connection,” says Celesta M. Billeci, UCSB Arts & Lectures Miller McCune executive director, “to each other as well as to the major issues our nation and our world is facing right now.” For more information about individual events or to purchase tickets, visit the website or call 805-893-3535.

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

2020 Best of Santa Barbara

From Santa Barbara Independent, Best Of Issue cover, October 15, 2020.

From Santa Barbara Independent, Best Of Issue cover, October 15, 2020.

I had the honor of writing the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa Barbara winners once again this year. It was a huge, fun project, and a little easier the second time around.  Even (or maybe especially) in this weird year, people were so happy to hear from me and so excited to have won! You can read the whole thing by clicking here, or on the PDFs below.

Introduction + Eating 770 10-15-20_Part1

Eating 770 10-15-20_Part2

Eating, Drink, Out & About + Romance 770 10-15-20_Part3

Romance 770 10-15-20_Part4

Romance, Looking Good, Living Well, Sporting Life, Little Creatures, Housing + Driving 770 10-15-20_Part5

Driving + Media 770 10-15-20_Part6

Wishful Weaving

See fiber artist Regina Vorgang’s handwoven table runners in A Time to Gather at Studio Channel Islands through November 25. Photo by W. Scott Miles, the Scientific Photographer, THESCIENTIFICPHOTOGRAPHER.COM.

See fiber artist Regina Vorgang’s handwoven table runners in A Time to Gather at Studio Channel Islands through November 25. Photo by W. Scott Miles, the Scientific Photographer, THESCIENTIFICPHOTOGRAPHER.COM.

Folks are spending more time than ever in their homes these days, and with that in mind, fiber artist Regina Vorgang has turned her talents to creating functional pieces of art for the table—handwoven table runners. “I’ve been thinking a lot about family gatherings,” says Vorgang, whose Regina Design (reginadesign.com) studio is based in Camarillo. “I’m trying to focus on what can be for the end of this year, in the hope that we can gather without too much worry.”

Vorgang started her career as a graphic designer before her desire to do something more tactile led her to begin creating handwoven tapestries and rugs. “I’m inspired by nature or designs that come into my head,” she says. Her table runners are on display through November 25 in A Time to Gather, an exhibit at Studio Channel Islands (studiochannelislands.org), a former elementary school housing 40 artists’ studios and a gallery. To schedule a private viewing visit studiochannelislands.org/visit.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Epistolary Art

805 Living September 2020, Epistolary Art, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Epistolary Art, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Spanish guitars, surf boards, beach balls, hula hoops, balloons, cascarones, and the fans of flamenco dancers are among the vibrant imagery found in Love Letters, a new public art collaboration between Ojai artist Cassandra C. Jones (cassandracjones.com), Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (mcasantabarbara.org), and Paseo Nuevo (paseonuevoshopping.com).

An eye-catching 600-tile mural inspired by Santa Barbara’s Talavera tiles and Jones’ experiences, the installation spans two walls in Paseo Nuevo’s lower north court entrance, combining classic tile designs with contemporary digital photography that nods to both the past and the present.

“From day one, I called the piece a ‘love letter,’ even before I thought of it as a title,” says Jones. “I like to say that the mural keeps on giving and that there is something new to discover every time one passes by the space.”

On view indefinitely, Love Letters is one of many public art initiatives planned for Paseo Nuevo’s current $20 million redevelopment project.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Sip Trip: Tri-Cities, Washington

Sip Trip: Tri-Cities, Washington, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

Explore the Heart of Washington Wine Country

A sojourn to the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland) is an excellent way to savor the heart of Washington Wine Country and experience a winning combination of sun, water and wine. Whether you want to tour wine country, play outdoors, feast on the local culinary bounty or enjoy a wide variety of cultural pursuits, the Tri-Cities has it all!

DAY 1

10 a.m. Start in Benton City with Washington’s hottest AVA, Red Mountain. Encompassing about 4,000 acres of vineyards, Red Mountain provides grapes to over 175 wineries throughout the Pacific Northwest, consistently earning critical acclaim. With 11 on-mountain wineries and tasting rooms to choose from, you’ll enjoy meeting with vintners during this hands-on experience. For an even more intimate exploration of the Red Mountain Trails, ride from winery to winery on horseback or take a horse-drawn  wagon ride. Redmountainava.com | redmountaintrails.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Get outside and breathe some fresh air along the sparkling Columbia River. There are fun, outdoor recreation activities for everyone, with stand up paddle board yoga, bike rentals, kayaking and more available. greenielife.comnorthwestpaddleboarding.com

11 a.m. Visit Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village in historic downtown Kennewick for an urban tasting experience at their boutique tasting rooms and wine production facilities.

12:30 p.m. Choose from one of the three charming wineries on Tulip Lane in Richland —J. Bookwalter, Barnard Griffin and Tagaris — for cuisine that’s expertly paired with their wines. bookwalterwines.combarnardgriffin.com | tagariswines.com

3:30 p.m. Indulge in a bit more tasting, with a number of excellent wineries to choose from in Richland and Kennewick, including Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard & Winery, Longship Cellars, Badger Mountain Vineyard & Powers Winery, Kitzke Cellars, Farmhand Winery and Market Vineyards. gooseridge.com | longshipcellars.combadgermtnvineyard.comkitzkecellars.com | farmhandwinery.commarketvineyards.com

6 p.m. Revel in a stunning sunset and a gourmet dinner, as well as all of the luxuries of a 96-foot yacht, on a Water2Wine Cruise along the Columbia River. water2winecruises.com

DAY 3

10 a.m. Enjoy the short drive from the urban Tri-Cities to the small, agricultural community of Prosser. Often recognized as the “Birthplace of Washington Wine,” Prosser has a variety of wineries to visit at the Prosser Wine & Food Park. Vintner’s Village has over 12 wineries, as well as the Winemaker’s Loft, a winery incubator that houses a half-dozen wineries and tasting rooms. gotastewine.com/prosservintners-village.php

2 p.m. Don’t miss the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. Named after Washington wine pioneer Dr. Walter Clore, the Clore Center is a unique wine tasting and education destination that showcases Washington wine’s quality and diversity by offering an in-depth taste of each wine region. theclorecenter.org

There are always loads of special events going on in the Tri-Cities, with entertainment for all ages and interests. May’s Cinco de Mayo celebration is a true cultural experience with traditional music, amazing Mexican cuisine, horse dancing and more. June’s Cool Desert Nights takes car-lovers throughout the Tri-Cities. Every July brings the three-day Tri-City Water Follies boat racing tournament. Labor Day weekend is the Tumbleweed Music Festival, with more than 100 talented performers participating in three days of amazing concerts and events, many of which are free. Check out visittri-cities.com/events to stay up-to-date on all of the local happenings.

VisitTri-Cities.com

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Santa Barbara’s Rugged Beauty: Photographer George Rose Turns His Lens to Wine Country

Santa Barbara’s Rugged Beauty: Photographer George Rose Turns His Lens to Wine Country, from the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting.

One of the things about Santa Barbara County’s wine country that is so unique is the western feeling, says George Rose, whose new large format photography coffee table book, “Wine Country Santa Barbara County,” showcases this bewitching California coastal wine landscape to perfection.

A longtime wine and travel photojournalist, Rose, whose most recent coffee table book was “Vineyard Sonoma County,” has photographed the Santa Barbara region for decades.

“When you get over into the Santa Ynez Valley where the grapes are grown in Santa Barbara County, the mood is very western and in the summertime it’s a little dusty and considerably warmer than on the coast. I just love the attitude, from Santa Maria barbecue to all of the crazy Danish memorabilia and architecture in Solvang,” Rose says. “It’s a lot of fun and I think it comes through in the book, which I divided up by trails or regions of the county.”

Also unique to the region: just about every wine grape variety known to the modern American consumer is grown in Santa Barbara County. A veteran photographer whose work has been featured in Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone, as well as throughout the wine and travel world, Rose captures Santa Barbara’s beauty with sections on the various AVAs and wine trails, as well as chapters that spotlight people enjoying the wines in urban tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbara and Solvang, and the all-important harvest.

“These people who toil out in the vineyards all year long really are the key and the linchpin of this whole business,” says Rose, who explains that his approach was kind of “National Geographic-style photojournalism.”

Indeed, the sumptuous landscapes and the intimate lifestyle shots are both truly a work of art — and an eight-year labor of love to compile and shoot. The book is handcrafted, hand stitched and each sheet was hand fed into a Heidelberg press, says Rose.

“Wine Country Santa Barbara County” is available at featured wineries, as well as georgerose.com.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

THE BUZZ | DESIGN DESTINATION: RH Yountville

RH Yountville, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

An enchanting, elegant and extremely upscale amalgamation of food, wine, art and design, RH Yountville showcases a dazzling new experience in the heart of Napa Valley.

The five-building compound features a chic indoor-outdoor restaurant where guests dine to the sounds of water trickling from dramatic seven-foot fountains under a towering glass roof, surrounded by 100-year-old heritage olive trees and sparkling crystal chandeliers.

Previously known as Restoration Hardware, parent company RH launched this flagship project in 2019, marking Chairman and CEO Gary Friedman’s ongoing collaboration with celebrated restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff and award-winning design architect James Gillam of Backen & Gillam (recognized as one of Architectural Digest’s Top 100 architecture and design firms in the world, including more than a dozen top estate winery projects).

“RH Yountville reflects our vision for creating inspiring spaces and authentic experiences that respect and amplify the local culture. This is an inherently personal project given our nearby headquarters in Marin County,” said Friedman.

In addition to RH Restaurant, featuring an ingredient-driven menu with elevated interpretations of timeless classics like ribeye steaks, lobster rolls and housemade pastas, as well as an extensive brunch menu, RH Yountville also includes a two-story stone Wine Vault at the historic Ma(i)sonry building.

Originally home to one of Napa’s first vintners in the early 20th century, the landmark building has been transformed with a 24-foot cedar ceiling, rough-cut fieldstone walls, luxe lounge seating and a monumental limestone bar. Visitors can discover a curated selection of rare, limited-production wines from some of the valley’s top small producers, as well as classic champagnes.

Adjacent to The Wine Vault is an outdoor Wine and Barista Bar serving craft espresso, teas, fresh cold-pressed juices and wines by the glass. Also on the property are two boutique design galleries, featuring globally sourced antiques and inspired objects — all connected by lush garden courtyards with granite and bluestone walking paths and outdoor living room areas that can be reserved for wine tastings.

For more information, visit restorationhardware.com/content/ category.jsp?context=Restaurant_YV.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

When the Sun Goes Down, Paso Comes Alive With Light

When the Sun Goes Down, Paso Comes Alive With Light, originally published in Touring & Tasting, Spring/Summer 2020.

PASO ROBLES HAS ITS VERY OWN FIELD OF DREAMS

Strolling along the stunning, 15-acre outdoor art exhibit “Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio” is a mesmerizing experience that defies description.

Designed to enhance the natural topography of the rolling hills with a colorful array of almost 60,000 stemmed spheres lit by fiber optics that gently illuminate the landscape, guests stroll through property accompanied by live music and surrounded by blooms of morphing color.

A nighttime-only attraction, which comes alive when the sun goes down, visitors from 41 countries have come to experience Field of Light, says Sensorio Executive Director Tracy Strann of the installation, which has attracted worldwide press and acclaim, and significantly exceeded attendance expectations. Because of the high demand, the immersive exhibit’s run has been extended through June 30.

This solar powered artwork has attracted more than 110,000 visitors to date, according to Strann.

Munro, a London-born artist, is best known for large-scale light-based artworks that have been exhibited around the world.

Along with its beauty, the Paso Robles, California spot has also become known as a romantic setting for popping the question, with Sensorio staff reporting at least six marriage proposals on the grounds to date. Guests can toast their good wishes with a glass of wine, as on-site amenities include food and alcoholic beverages, as well as a special VIP terrace option offering a more extensive dining experience with a breathtaking seated view of the exhibit.

Tickets are available for Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio Thursdays through Sundays through June 30. For more information, visit SensorioPaso.com or call 805/226-4287.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Chef Ink

Chef Ink Cover, SB Independent January 2, 2020

Chef Ink Cover, SB Independent January 2, 2020

Talking Tattoos With Decorated Chefs From Los Alamos to Coast Village Road

It was so much fun to interview local culinary wizards and talk tats. Check out this week’s cover story in the Santa Barbara Independent, or click below to see the PDF.

Chef Ink

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on January 2, 2020.

Faces in the Crowd: Michael Christie

Faces In the Crowd: Michael Christie, photo by Gary Moss. This story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

Faces In the Crowd: Michael Christie, photo by Gary Moss. This story appeared in 805 Living, December 2019.

THE NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR OF NEW WEST SYMPHONY BRINGS HIS GRAMMY AWARD–WINNING TALENT TO THE VENTURA COUNTY ENSEMBLE’S 25TH SEASON.

After winning the 2019 Best Opera Recording Grammy Award for The (R)evolution of Steve JobsNew West Symphony’s (newwestsymphony.org) new music director Michael Christie is bringing his own kind of (r)evolution to the West Coast.

“We threw a lot at the audience,” Christie says of his first concerts in his new role with the Thousand Oaks–based symphony this past October. “Our concert format is slightly tweaked,” he says, “and we had our new venue [Rancho Campana Performing Arts Center in Camarillo], so people had a fair amount to take in.”

Patrons were treated to a Gershwin concerto, Corigliano’s “Salute” with kazoos, and a “Scheherazade” performance that Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed praised as, “supplying far and away the most spectacular playing from what should no longer be considered a regional symphony.”

“The biggest difference,” says Christie, “is that we are using intermission as an opportunity for people to experience some new things if they choose.” This includes a question-and-answer session with the guest artist and an entr’acte. Up next is the global celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday on January 25 and 26, featuring the Eroica Trio, whom Christie calls, “three very vibrant, genius women who are just amazing [with] the energy that they bring.”

Christie has led top orchestras all over the world and served as music director for Minnesota Opera, The Phoenix Symphony, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic (now defunct). He now lives part-time in Ventura County, while his wife, Alexis, who is a physician, and their two children are in Minneapolis.

Much of the life of a musician-conductor is spent on the road, says Christie, a trumpeter, who first conducted when his middle school band director let him give it a try back in Buffalo, New York. “I was never sure how one became a conductor,” he says. “I just knew I wanted to know more about it. People were very generous with their time and always willing to answer questions.”

In February he’ll pay it forward with a one-month teaching and conducting stint at Indiana University. Christie is eager to communicate with students about the duties of an American music director, which he says, “are very specific to our particular situation of creating artistic vision and raising lots of money. It’s very particular to our country. I feel a great sense of responsibility for helping to convey that information, having lived it for the last 25 years. It’s fun to be asked to help the next generation start to figure that out.

“We [music directors] are the face of the organization in many ways,” Christie says. “We should be viewed by our audience as open, friendly, fun, and adventurous but also sensible, engaging, and concerned for our community, what it’s going through, and what it’s aspiring to be. And none of those words really say Mozart or Gershwin,” he says, laughing. “It’s all kind of wrapped together.”

Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living cover Dec. 2019Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, December 2019 805 Living Faces in the Crowd Dec 2019