Nell Campbell: Portrait of Cuba

Fisherman on the Malecon, Havana 2002, 40 x 40 archival pigment print, by Nell Campbell.

Fisherman on the Malecon, Havana 2002, 40 x 40 archival pigment print, by Nell Campbell.

Don’t miss Nell Campbell‘s collection of photographs from her travels to Cuba. The exhibition, Nell Campbell: Portrait of Cuba, is on view at wall space at the Waterline Shops (120 Santa Barbara St., Santa Barbara) through August 31.

There will be an artist’s reception on Wednesday, August 22, from 6-8 p.m. at the gallery. wall space at the Waterline Shops is open Sunday-Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 21, 2018.

INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons by Brett Leigh Dicks

Port Arthur, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Port Arthur, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

“Empty prisons are eerie places where the walls do speak. Etched into the stone is the passing of successive generations of inmates all with their own stories. Each prison has its own history, character, and tales to tell and so too does every cell. But old prisons are not just a reminder of the past—they also help guide the future,” says Photographer Brett Leigh Dicks.

Opening on May 18, INSIDE: Photographs of Australian Decommissioned Prisons by Brett Leigh Dicks is an exhibition at the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara of compelling, black and white images documenting Australian prison facilities that have surpassed their use-by dates.

Parramatta, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Parramatta, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Dicks, a Santa Barbara-based writer/photographer has spent the past 30 years photographing various natural and urban landscapes etched with traces of human history.

His work has been exhibited in Australia, Europe and the United States and hung beside photographers as diverse as Ansel Adams, Jeff Bridges, Max Dupain, Lewis Morley, Yoko Ono and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Dicks’ prison photographs currently sees him as a finalist in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards. He is also a prolific writer and his work has appeared in publications around the world, including in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Old Melbourne, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Old Melbourne, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

For the past five years he has turned his photographic scrutiny upon closed-down jails, prisons and penitentiaries throughout Australia, Europe and United States. He returned last year to his Australian homeland, where he undertook the first comprehensive documentation of decommissioned prisons and jails.

“I have been photographing abandoned prisons across the United States for the past decade,” Dicks explains. “In 2016 that work was exhibited at Fremantle Prison where I asked about Australian prisons. Nobody had previously done a comprehensive study of old Australian prisons so last summer I set off with my camera and photographed closed –down facilities all across Australia.”

Maitland, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Maitland, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

He continues, “I was given access Parramatta Correctional Center where operations were suspended only a few years ago, traipsed around the infamous Port Arthur Historic Site in the midst of a bitter Tasmanian winter and even managed to talk my way into an old jail that’s now an outback police station.”

The exhibition includes both historic and contemporary Australian sites including Adelaide Gaol, Fremantle Prison, J Ward Ararat, Maitland Gaol, Old Melbourne Gaol, Parramatta Correctional Center, Port Arthur Historic Site, Trial Bay Gaol and the Wilcannia Police Station. The subject matter ranges from the empty quietness of once bustling cellblocks and common areas to more abstract contemplations of the interaction between barred windows with the morning light and the poetic twisting of coils of barbed wire.

Fremantle, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Fremantle, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

While Port Arthur closed in 1877, Parramatta Correctional Center housed prisoners until 2011. Dicks says photographing the two locations offered two very contrasting experiences. “There were still books and televisions and personal items in the cells at Parramatta—the ins and out of prison life remained very apparent whereas Port Arthur featured the haunting remnants of rustic metal and stone. The prisoner experience was obviously very different at each of those locations and so too were the resulting photographs.

Regarding the role photography can play in the afterlife of prisons, Dicks says that every society’s approach to punishment and incarceration should be something that is constantly being reassessed. “As society changes so too does its values. Prisons used to be a place of punishment and repentance, but in the lifespan of some of these prisons they were transformed into places of reform and rehabilitation. Justice and the form it takes should be an ongoing conversation in every community and I think there is a place for photography to illuminate that.

Ararat, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Ararat, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

INSIDE: Photographs of Australian Decommissioned Prisons by Brett Leigh Dicks is on view at the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara, 229 E. Victoria St., Santa Barbara, from May 18 – July 12, with an opening reception on May 18 from 5-7 p.m.

Regular gallery hours are Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. and by appointment (please contact Rocio Iribe at 805/965-6307).

Adelaide, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Adelaide, part of INSIDE: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Prisons, by Brett Leigh Dicks.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on May 15, 2018.

The Invisible Hand

Ensemble Theatre's production of The Invisible Hand, April 12-29. Courtesy photo.

Ensemble Theatre’s production of The Invisible Hand, April 12-29. Courtesy photo.

Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) (in a co-production with the English Theatre Frankfurt) presents a witty and provocative new thriller, The Invisible Hand, written by Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) and directed by Jonathan Fox. The Invisible Hand begins previews on Thursday, April 12, opens on Saturday, April 14, and runs through Sunday, April 29 at The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St. in Santa Barbara. The production will then transfer to the English Theatre Frankfurt on May 9.

Set in Pakistan, American investment banker Nick Bright is kidnapped by an extremist organization and held for a $10 million ransom. When his company refuses to meet the terrorists’ demands, Bright convinces his captors that he can manipulate the stock market to meet his own ransom. Capitalism intersects with Islamic fanaticism in a race against time in this heart-pounding thriller by the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Akhtar.

John Tufts and Mujahid Abdul-Rashid in ETC's production of "The Invisible Hand," photo by David Bazemore.

John Tufts and Mujahid Abdul-Rashid in ETC’s production of “The Invisible Hand,” photo by David Bazemore.

“Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar is one of the most compelling writers working today and we are so fortunate to be presenting this high-voltage thriller,” says Ensemble Theatre Company Artistic Director Jonathan Fox. “Our subscribers and audiences are in for quite the ride as money and religious devotion collide with devastating consequences.  We’re delighted that it brings a great cast to Santa Barbara, and to once again partner with the English Theatre of Frankfurt.”

John Tufts, who wowed area audiences in ETC’s 2016 production of I Am My Own Wife (a production that transferred to Laguna Playhouse), returns to Santa Barbara to play the role of Nick Bright. He recently played multiple roles in an acclaimed New York production of Pride and Prejudice. Jameal Ali, who plays the volatile Pakistani kidnapper Bashir, starred in the original New York production.  Rounding out the cast are Mujahid Abdul-Rashid and Sarang Sharma.

There are several special events and promotions associated with the production:

  • Book Club, April 18, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.: Scripts are now available for checkout at the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St. Join other theatre-goers for a lively discussion about the play from a literary and dramatic perspective. FREE! 
  • Pre-Show Talk, April 18 & 25,  at 7:15 p.m.: Join guests in the courtyard of The New Vic for an informative and insightful discussion about the play before you see it, sure to enhance your theatrical experience.
  • Martini Night, April  20, at 7:15 p.m., performance at 8 p.m.: Free to ticket holders. Come early to enjoy a complimentary martini and mingle before the show.
  • Talk Back, April 26: Meet the cast after the show and discuss the production.

Tickets are available here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 11, 2018.

An Evening with Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Condoleezza Rice, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents An Evening with Condoleezza Rice on Thursday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St.

As secretary of state and national security advisor, Rice pioneered a policy of transformational diplomacy and heralded the formation of new global governments based on democratic principles. Her most recent book, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom (2017), offers a sweeping look at the global struggle for democracy. Dr. Rice will share her unparalleled expertise on global affairs, national security and education.

“Rice as Secretary of State in the second Bush term emerged as the single most influential voice shaping foreign policy,” according to the The New York Times. The Washington Post called Rice, “One of the most powerful individuals on the world stage.”

From January 2005-2009, Rice served as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States, the second woman and first African American woman to hold the post. Rice also served as President George W. Bush’s assistant to the President for national security affairs (National Security Advisor) from January 2001-2005, the first woman to hold the position

Rice is currently the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson senior fellow on public policy at the Hoover Institution; and a professor of Political Science at Stanford University.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 23, 2018.

RFK, California 1968: Never Before Published Photographs by Jesse Alexander

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

Renowned photographer Jesse Alexander says he didn’t even have a press pass when he took a pilgrimage to Delano to see young Robert F. Kennedy on the campaign trail. “I was really a fan of RFK and was very aware of his interest in farm workers and his work with Cesar Chavez,” says Alexander. These never-before publically viewed images were taken on the campaign trail in San Francisco and the Central Valley in California a short time before Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles.

Alexander, a legendary motorsports photographer since the early 1950s when he covered the original Mexican Road Race, says that no matter what his subject, a passion for beauty and an interest in people consistently drive his work. “It doesn’t really matter what you’re shooting,” says the 88-year-old. “I’m just a happy snapper.”

Alexander will share these historic images for the first time in an exhibition from Aug. 19-Sept. 16 at Patricia Clarke Studio, 410 Palm Ave. A-18, Carpinteria. Fifty percent of all sale proceeds benefit The Fund for Santa Barbara. In addition, Alexander will give a free artist talk with Clarke at the studio on Sept. 9 from 4-5 p.m.

—Leslie Dinaberg

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

 

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

 

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

 

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

 

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

 

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

 

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

RFK, California 1968. Photograph by Jesse Alexander.

Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Local Lowdown: Beyond Borders

Image from UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum "The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement," the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. Photo by Suzanne Lacy.

Image from UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum “The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement,” the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. Photo by Suzanne Lacy.

The Latin America-Southern California Connection: Pacific Standard Time

By Leslie Dinaberg

An ambitious artistic celebration of the vibrant cultural linkages between Southern California and Latin America takes place across the state this fall, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, Santa Monica, Palm Springs and beyond.

Backed by more than $16 million in grants from the Getty Foundation, the series of thematically linked exhibitions—Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA—spans more than 70 institutions, including local exhibitions at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Historical Museum and UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

“We’re proud that the Getty is once again making it possible for institutions across Southern California to do justice to a vast and complex subject, with this exploration of the vital traditions of Latin American and Latino art,” says Jim Cuno, president of J. Paul Getty Trust, referring to the 2011-2012 iteration of Pacific Standard Time, a Southern California collaboration that focused on art in Los Angeles from 1945-1980. He continues, “Working together, as we did in the first Pacific Standard Time initiative, can we begin to encompass the richness and dynamism of an art created in multiple countries and on two continents.”

Valeska Soares, Any Moment Now… (Spring), 2014, courtesy Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo, on view at Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Among the local Pacific Standard Time highlights is “Valeska Soares: Any Moment Now,” a survey of the New York-based Brazilian artist’s work comprised of unique environmental installations combining sculptures, photography, video, and performances at Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Sept. 17-Dec. 17).

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara breaks new ground with “Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art from 1960-Present,” the first survey of modern and contemporary art from Guatemala, exploring a previously unexamined rich period of artistic production that began during the “long civil war” of the late 1950s and extends to the present day. The three-part exhibition is presented at MCASB’s galleries, Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop (SBCAW) and Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art at Westmont College (Sept. 17-Dec. 17).

Darío Escobar, Untitled, 1998, Cardboard, plastic, gold leaf, and pigments, 7.875 x 3.5in, Courtesy the Artist. On view as part of "Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960 - Present" at MCA Santa Barbara.

Darío Escobar, Untitled, 1998, Cardboard, plastic, gold leaf, and pigments, 7.875
x 3.5in, Courtesy the Artist. On view as part of “Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960 – Present” at MCA Santa Barbara.

Sacred Art in the Age of Contact at Santa Barbara Historical Museum brings together, for the first time, a diverse body of objects from Santa Barbara-area collections exploring the relationship between art and spirituality in both Chumash and Spanish traditions. Also presented at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum, “Sacred Art” highlights the themes of sacred geography, language, materiality and resistance. It also investigates the mutually transformative interaction between these traditions, which have immediate implications on the ways in which the cultural dynamics of Santa Barbara County are understood today (Sept. 15-Jan. 14).

Also on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum is “The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement,” the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. This exhibition pairs for the first time the work of two leading practitioners of the Social Practice Movement, an art medium that focuses on engagement through human interaction and social discourse. This exhibition juxtaposes key examples of the artists’ works and incorporates installations, photography, drawing and performance, alongside archival documentation that serves to highlight overlapping themes, including immigration, race and social organizing (Sept. 16-Dec. 8).

For more information and a complete list of events and exhibits visit pacificstandardtime.org.

Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

J. Wilkes Wines Served to Global Leaders at the U.S. Department of State

J. Wilkes Wines were served a recent State Department Dinner. Photo courtesy J. Wilkes Wines Facebook Page.

J. Wilkes Wines were served a recent State Department Dinner. Photo courtesy J. Wilkes Wines Facebook Page.

It’s always exciting to hear about a local winery’s success. Santa Barbara County wines are definitely being served in high places.

For the second time this year, Santa Maria Valley’s J.Wilkes wines were selected to be served at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.  Last month Nordic Leaders from five countries enjoyed J. Wilkes wines at a luncheon hosted by Secretary John Kerry and then proceeded to a meeting with President Barack Obama.

State Department Executive Chef Jason Larkin chose the J.Wilkes 2014 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Blanc and the 2012 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir to serve with a Nordic-themed menu, prepared by Larkin and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, an Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef and restaurateur who appears regularly on Top Chef, Chopped and over food-oriented television shows. Guests enjoyed a Spring Salad including pickled shrimp and cured char, followed by a Bourbon Beet-Glazed Salmon.

J. Wilkes winemaker Wes Hagen was there.  “Seeing the leaders of the five Nordic countries toasting peace, the environment and friendship with the wines I represent was a humbling moment for me,” he says.  “Wine was instrumental in the development of Democracy in the ancient Athenian ‘symposia’, and it is still strongly a positive element in diplomacy and open dialog in a free and democratic world.”

J. Wilkes Wines were served a recent State Department Dinner. Photo courtesy J. Wilkes Wines Facebook Page.

J. Wilkes Wines were served a recent State Department Dinner. Photo courtesy J. Wilkes Wines Facebook Page.

A week before, the J. Wilkes 2012 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and 2012 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir were served at a luncheon on the occasion of the U.S.-Caribbean-Central American Energy Summit, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and attended by Secretary of State John Kerry. 

The wines were thoroughly enjoyed, so much so that Chef Larkin was inspired to serve them again, according to the J. Wilkes team.   

Hagen says the crew at J. Wilkes is thrilled about this newly established relationship with the U.S. Department of State and Chef Larkin.  “Working with Chef Jason Larkin and his team at the State Department to pair three J. Wilkes Wines in two separate events … has been one of the true pleasures of my 22 years in fine wine,” says Hagen.  “I have confidence that our wines will continue to be used at State functions, and I also expect interest in J. Wilkes Wines to peak as a result.”

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on June 18, 2016.

Editor’s Pick: Bill Maher

Politically incorrect, consistently funny and thought provoking, Bill Maher has long been a groundbreaker in bringing funny political talk to television. Now he takes his signature winning combination of unflinching honesty and big laughs to the Arlington Theatre on March 14. 1317 State St., 8 p.m. 806/963-4408, thearlingtontheatre.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.

Editor’s Pick: Desert Dancer

SBS_BlogPost_Desert Dance

Desert Dancer is the opening night film for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Desert Dancer Productions

Desert Dancer

Opening night of the 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival brings the U.S. premiere of the powerful and true story of a self-taught dancer pursuing a dream in the suppressed society of Iran during the volatile climate of the 2009 presidential election. Forming an underground dance company, the dancers learn, through banned online videos, from timeless legends like Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Jan. 27, 8 p.m. Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St. sbiff.org

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Winter 2014/15.

Gored by the Truth

Al and Tipper Gore's wedding day, May 19, 1970, at the Washington National Cathedral, courtesy

Al and Tipper Gore’s wedding day, May 19, 1970, at the Washington National Cathedral, courtesy Wikipedia.

“Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.”

— Erma Bombeck

I was shocked and sad when I heard about the toppling of Tipper and Al Gore‘s marriage. Talk about an inconvenient truth.

With all of the fawning and fanning and cyber-ink devoted to Barack and Michelle Obama’s wedded bliss, I thought crowning them the king and queen of Washington couples so early in their residency was a bit premature. Al and Tipper, on the other hand, seemed to have gone the distance and come out smiling and holding hands. They had even bought a sunny, retirement estate in Montecito, for gosh sakes.

What could possibly have gone wrong?

After so many years in the political hot seat of D.C., I thought they’d be sailing into the Santa Barbara sunset for their golden years. Getting over the painful loss to George Bush, the Gores seemed to be on a roll. Al won a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar in 2007, and seemed to be well on his way toward distancing himself from his formerly wooden political punch line persona. And Tipper always seemed to be smiling by his side, happy with the role of helpmate.

Of course the news of the Gore’s separation brought back memories of their famous kiss at the 2000 Democratic Convention. Sure, some found it a bit painful to watch, but don’t forget, back in those days it seemed like the sight of a happy political couple was an oxymoron.

Even now, despite the Obamas’ seemingly solid partnership, there aren’t many examples of long-married-happily-married couples in what one astute Washington Post reader called our “national neighborhood,” so any tension in the ranks can make other married couples feel a little nervous. Instead of that momentary feeling of, “Wow, if they’re still happily married, there must be some hope for the rest of us,” like we did after the convention, Al and Tipper’s breakup feels like, “Huh, if these two people can’t make a go of it, what hope do the rest of us have?”

Not that my faith in marriage or your faith in marriage or anyone else’s faith in marriage-except possibly the Gores’ daughter Karenna who announced she was splitting from her husband of 13 years just a week after her parents announced their separation after 40 years of marriage-should have anything to do with anyone else’s wedded bliss. But still, “it’s more threatening to us if we see a couple we thought were happy just drift apart,” as sociologist Andrew Cherlin told the Post. “If even well-behaved people get divorced after 40 years, then some of us will worry about what our own marriages will be like later in life.”

Thankfully, I have yet to experience one of those, “If those two can split up then is the earth still round and will the sun still rise?” uncouplings among my close circle of friends. Still, I’ve experienced enough vicarious break-ups to know one inconvenient truth-you can never really know or understand what’s really going on in another person’s relationship.

Email Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com with your vote on which Gore should get the Santa Barbara mansion if they divorce. For more columns visit www.LeslieDinaberg.com. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on June 11, 2010.