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.

UCSB Arts Walk

UCSB’s Department of MusicDepartment of Theater and DanceDepartment of ArtCollege of Creative StudiesArt, Design & Architecture MuseumMultiCultural Center and Library to host an open house of visual & performing arts

UCSB presents the inaugural UCSB Arts Walk on Wednesday, April 11, from 4:30-8 p.m. at various locations across the campus. The event gives students, faculty, staff and community members the opportunity to visit galleries and studios, watch preview performances and behind-the-scenes rehearsals, and participate in programming designed to highlight the artistic creativity and talent of the UCSB community. Best of all, everything is free of charge.

The Art, Design, & Architecture Museum has several exhibitions on display, including Chiura Obata: An American Modern, UCSB Campus Architecture: Design and Social Change, Jane Gottlieb Photographs France, and Keith Puccinelli. In addition, the museum hosts a Kitchell Architecture and Design lecture at 6 p.m., featuring UCSB Associate Campus Architect, Dennis Whelan. Whelan recounts the history of UC Santa Barbara campus planning and design, in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibition.

Image by Jane Gottlieb, currently on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Image by Jane Gottlieb, currently on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Highlights from the Department of Music include an open rehearsal of a faculty duet featuring cellist Jennifer Kloetzel and pianist Robert Koenig, plus performances by members of the Chamber Choir, Music of India Ensemble, Flute Choir, Jazz Combos, Middle East Ensemble, Chamber Players, Clarinet Choir, Gamelan Ensemble, and more. Guests can interact directly with performers during Q&A sessions following several of the events, such as a performance of scenes from UCSB Opera Theatre’s February production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and composition graduate student Brandon J. Rolle’s electro-acoustic music exhibition.

The Department of Theater and Dance also presents a wide variety of performances, open rehearsals, and exhibitions, including an open rehearsal for the department’s upcoming production of Cabaret (May 25-June 3), as well as performances by UCSB Dance BFA students in outdoor spaces surrounding the Theater and Dance buildings. The UCSB Dance Company and Freshmen Dance Company presents a special concert in the Old Ballet Studio (HSSB), while exhibitions showcasing puppets and work by UCSB Design students are also on display. Interactive playwright showcase stations will give guests the unique opportunity to work with student playwrights to compose novelty pieces on the spot.

On view from the Department of Art are multiple exhibitions of student work in the Art Building #534 and at the Red Barn Project Space in the Old Gym, Building #479, (near the bus loop by the Pollock Theater). Highlights include an exhibit of senior artwork in the GlassBox Gallery in Arts 1328, and from 7 p.m. on, Windows—a sampler of videos from Maya Gurantz’s “Intermediate Digital Video” class projected from the second story windows of Arts 2220, overlooking the bike path. In the Red Barn Project Space, UCSB Womanhouse Collective presents SHE-DEN, an intersectional, multi-media group exhibit exploring the place of women in contemporary art and culture.

The MultiCultural Center’s lounge features an exhibition by UCSB graduate student Andrew Morrison, entitled “Indian Heritage,” a Native American art exhibition that compliments his film, Great Walls of Indian Heritage. This exhibit speaks to all walks of life, its genesis is from the red road, and the American Indian Student Association inspires its vitality. The exhibit is on display in the MultiCultural Center Lounge through June 15, with an opening reception on April 12 at 6 p.m.

The College of Creative Studies (CCS), which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary during the current academic year, offers a glimpse into the work of the College’s Art, Music Composition, and Writing and Literature students in the CCS Gallery and the Old Little Theater. An exhibition of student artwork fills the CCS Gallery, while the Old Little Theater’s programming includes performances of Music Composition students’ original pieces as well as readings from Writing & Literature students and faculty.

Event link: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/artswalk

Directions and parking information: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/directions-parking

Campus map: http://www.aw.id.ucsb.edu/maps/ucsbmap.html

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 9, 2018.

 

Phoebe Brunner: Breathe

Phoebe Brunner, "Silver Threads," oil on canvas, 30 x 54."

Phoebe Brunner, “Silver Threads,” oil on canvas, 30 x 54.”

Sullivan Goss Gallery presents new work by acclaimed local artist Phoebe Brunner in her second solo exhibition for the gallery, titled “Breathe.” The show opens April 5, with a 1st Thursday reception from 5-8 p.m.

The gallery describes Brunner’s latest body of vibrant work as “connecting to the earth around us as it regenerates from a long lack of rain. Poppies explode, scattering their seeds to the wind for the next season of flowers. Roads lead through winding hills verdant with fresh grass. Clouds settle in to canyons to coat the hills with moisture. While her views are primarily imaginative, we are drawn to them by sense of memory for a place we have visited or more accurately, the familiarity of worlds we have wandered in our dreams. This remarkable group of paintings reminds us to take a collective breath. Spring is coming, bringing regeneration and a continuation of nature’s endless cycle.”

Phoebe Brunner, "Rain, Happy Hour," oil on canvas, 30 x 22."

Phoebe Brunner, “Rain, Happy Hour,” oil on canvas, 30 x 22.”

Brunner earned a BFA from UCSB and trained at Otis Art Institute, Chouinard Art Institute and the University of Guadalajara. She has been exhibiting in the Santa Barbara area for 40 years and brings a local’s knowledge of the terrain together with a visionary artist’s sense of interpretation.

The exhibition remains on view at Sullivan Goss Gallery, 11 E. Anapamu St., through June 3. For more information, visit www.sullivangoss.com or www.facebook.com/sullivan.goss or call 805/730-1460.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 4, 2018.

Local Lowdown: Flip Your Disk at Cachuma Lake

Cachuma Lake disk golf is fun for all ages. Photo courtesy County of Santa Barbara.

Cachuma Lake disk golf is fun for all ages. Photo courtesy County of Santa Barbara.

Add flipping frisbees to the long list of fun recreational activities of­fered at Cachuma Lake, which now has an 18-hole championship level disc golf course! The 2.25-mile course is designed to challenge both newbies and experts, with multiple basket positions available to make the course different each time you play.

This rapidly growing sport—disc golf is the 4th fastest-growing sport in United States, behind MMA, Roller Derby and Parkour, according to parkeddiscgolf.org—has rules that are similar to golf, with a set course and baskets set up as targets. Players seek to complete the course—which begins and ends in front of Cachuma Store—in the lowest number of total throws.

Play is free with a $10 parking fee. Cachuma Lake is located off scenic Hwy. 154 in Santa Barbara County.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit countyofsb.org/parks/cachuma.sbc.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the spring 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Local Lowdown: Rock N Roll Tequila

Courtesy Rock N Roll Tequila.

Courtesy Rock N Roll Tequila.

The handcrafted glass guitar bottles are eye-catching, but it’s the crisp distinct taste of Rock N Roll’s three premium tequilas that will really knock your socks off.

The company was founded by Santa Barbara local Andy Herbst, an entrepreneur, surfer and soccer player, who came to the U.S. in the 1960s from South Africa and went to Santa Barbara High School and Santa Barbara City College, where he says he majored in surfing. After a successful career as a music promoter, Herbst traveled to the highlands of Mexico, where he was introduced to the smoothest, purest blue agave and soon turned his passion for tequila into creating his own label. His partners in the venture, which launched in 2017, include businessman Scott Woolley and NFL great Dan Marino, who played quarter­back for the Miami Dolphins and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“After tasting Rock N Roll Tequila, I knew it was a quality spirit, and I wanted to be a member of the team,” says Marino. “It is great to be associated with a high-quality prod­uct at a reasonable price, and it doesn’t hurt to have an iconic name like Rock N Roll!”

Amped Mojito with Cristalino, courtesy Rock N Roll Tequila.

Amped Mojito with Cristalino, courtesy Rock N Roll Tequila.

Crafted by Master Distiller Jose Aceves, a third-generation tequila producer, Rock N Roll’s 100% pure blue agave comes from deep in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The bottles, which feature a unique patented top known as the “roadie,” provide the consumer a complimentary two shots of Platinum Te­quila that come in three varieties:

Platinum: Hand crafted, triple distilled, made with 100% pure highlands blue agave, giving it a delicious, smooth taste.

Mango: Double distilled with 100% pure highlands blue agave and the highest-quality natural mango flavor, giving it sweet citrus notes and a super smooth finish.

Cristalino: This Añejo Tequila is barrel-aged for two–three years and filtered to perfection, making it cleaner and healthier. Cristalino is also made with 100% pure highlands blue agave, featuring classic notes of French oak and vanilla.

At press time, Rock N Roll Tequila is served in Santa Barbara at Viva Modern Mexican (1114 State St., 805/965-4770), Foxtail Kitchen & Bar (14 E. Cota St., 805/845-6226) and O’Malley’s (523 State St., 805/564-8904) and sold at Santa Barbara Liquor and Crafts (501 Anacapa St., 805/966-6716), as well as additional venues throughout the Central Coast.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit rocknrolltequila.com.

Rock N Roll Recipes:

FOR WEB EXCLUSIVE COCKTAIL RECIPES, CLICK HERE.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the spring 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Visions of the Gaviota Coast

Beach Shack by Kevin Gleason. Image courtesy SCAPE.

Beach Shack by Kevin Gleason. Image courtesy SCAPE.

Enjoy beautiful art and support a good cause at “Visions of the Gaviota Coast,” the Sixth Annual SCAPE Art Benefit for Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Naples Coalition. Held at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort and Spa (8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta), the art sale goes from Friday, March 30 at 2 p.m. through Saturday, March 31 at 5 p.m. The two-day exhibit features a reception on Friday (5-8 p.m.) with live music, silent auction, appetizers and wine with donation.

More than 150 Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment (SCAPE) artists and fine art photographer Reeve Woolpert will participate in this benefit art exhibition showcasing the stunning Gaviota Coast. Painter and exhibit juror Richard Schloss has many years of collaboration with the renowned Oak Group artists. The funds raised will assist Gaviota Coast Conservancy and the Naples Coalition in continuing their successful efforts to protect this majestic 72 miles of open coastline, providing a pristine habitat for over 1,400 species, including the endangered snowy plover. Forty percent of all art sales will benefit the two nonprofit organizations.

Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Naples Coalition have recently achieved big victories towards the protection and preservation of the Gaviota Coast. Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort and Spa is hosting the event, and donating an overnight stay and spa treatment for the raffle (no need to be present to win). “We consider it an honor to call the Gaviota Coast our home,” says Shashi Poudyal, general manager. “Bacara will continue to partner with the Gaviota Coast Conservancy to be a great steward of this land.”

Free parking is provided (follow the signs), or you can valet park.

To donate directly to the Gaviota Coast Conservancy: http://gaviotacoastconservancy.org/donate

To donate to Naples Coalition: http://www.savenaples.org/donate

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 28, 2018.

Local Lowdown: The River’s Journey

Paintings in the Wildling Museum show The River’s Journey: One Year, Six Artists, 92 Miles include work by (clockwise from top left): Holli Harmon, Pamela Zwehl-Burke, Nicole Strasburg, Nina Warner, Connie Connally and Libby Smith.

Paintings in the Wildling Museum show The River’s Journey: One Year, Six Artists, 92 Miles include work by (clockwise from top left): Holli Harmon, Pamela Zwehl-Burke, Nicole Strasburg, Nina Warner, Connie Connally and Libby Smith.

ONE YEAR, SIX ARTISTS, 92 MILES

By Leslie Dinaberg

SIX LOCAL ARTISTS have pooled their talents around one very big idea—our communal connection to and responsibility for our water resources—uniting their unique points of view in a new exhibit, The River’s Journey: One Year, Six Artists, 92 Miles, on view at the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature through July 9.

Initially joining together to experiment with the lesser-known medium of gouache (an opaque watercolor paint), the group— which includes Connie Connally, Holli Harmon, Libby Smith, Nicole Strasburg, Nina Warner and Pamela Zwehl-Burke—is united in a quest to use their art to inform the public about how the Santa Ynez River and the watershed functions and our indi­vidual responsibility to protect its viability.

Rose Compass artists (L-R): Nicole Strasburg, Connie Connally, Libby Smith, Holli Harmon, Pamela Zwehl-Burke and Nina Warner. After the exhibition ends in July, it will travel later in 2018 to Santa Barbara City Hall and Sullivan Goss Gallery. Photo by Monica Wiesblott.

Rose Compass artists (L-R): Nicole Strasburg, Connie Connally, Libby Smith, Holli Harmon, Pamela Zwehl-Burke and Nina Warner. After the exhibition ends in July, it will travel later in 2018 to Santa Barbara City Hall and Sullivan Goss Gallery. Photo by Monica Wiesblott.

“Originally, I was just enthralled with the medium of gouache,” says Strasburg, who saw the potential through the work of artist Thomas Paquette, who had a wilderness-themed show at the Wildling and also has some paintings in The River’s Journey. As Strasburg dug deeper into the subject matter of the watershed, “it became about so much more than painting the landscape.…I just keep reading and researching and discovering new connections.”

The group, now known as Rose Compass (named for the flower-shaped figure on a map and “like the compass rose, our work reflects our individual points of view”), is very dedi­cated to the project. “The three devoted plein air artists have gone out every single Monday for the past two years to paint the water in the area,” says Strasburg.

Libby Smith, Measuring Stick, Alder Creek.

Libby Smith, Measuring Stick, Alder Creek.

They routinely post their musings and progress on the project on the website (rose-compass.com) and are working to secure additional venues to showcase the breadth and depth of their work on The River’s Journey, which visually brings to the forefront questions of stewardship, preservation and conservation.

“Art starts the conversation while providing education and information that can change behavior and expectations at a pivotal moment in our new paradigm of water resource management,” says their collective artist statement. “When artists, scientists and water managers work together, we create a powerful and compelling message that moves the community to make better ecological and civic choices. Awareness, conservation, stewardship and collaboration will all be key to the new paradigm of protecting this resource and ensuring the longevity and viability of our entire community.”

Wildling Museum of Art & Nature is located at 1511-B Mission Dr., Solvang. For more information, call 805/688-1082 or visit wildlingmuseum.org.

Connie Connally, Turkey Vultures.

Connie Connally, Turkey Vultures.

Nicole Strasburg, River Path, Santa Ynez.

Nicole Strasburg, River Path, Santa Ynez.

Holli Harmon, Yellow Kayak.

Holli Harmon, Yellow Kayak.

Nina Warner, Gibralter Dam.

Nina Warner, Gibralter Dam.

Pamela Zwehl-Burke, White Rock.

Pamela Zwehl-Burke, White Rock.

This story was originally published in the spring 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Local Dish: Islands Restaurants Sails to Santa Barbara

Islands Hawaiian Burger, courtesy photo.

Islands Hawaiian Burger, courtesy photo.

Family-friendly and surf-inspired, the new Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks is a great fit for La Cumbre Plaza (3825 State St.). Probably best known for specialty burgers, fresh cut fries and tropical drinks, we tried Islands out recently and it didn’t disappoint.

The 4,900 square-foot restaurant (formerly occupied by Marmalade) features an open layout, beach-vibe décor, including surfboard-inspired booths, and a large outdoor patio area, equipped with heaters and a cozy communal fire table.

The expansive menu emphasizes burgers, including the classic Big Wave (your basic burger ingredients), the Hawaiian (topped with fresh grilled pineapple, teriyaki sauce and Swiss cheese), and the spicy Kilauea (a Jalapeño & black pepper crusted burger with pepper jack cheese, chipotle aioli, lettuce, tomato and Island Reds, which are fried onion strings), among others, along with tacos, bowls, fresh salads and fresh-cut Island Fries.

Islands Big Wave, courtesy photo.

Islands Big Wave, courtesy photo.

In the mood for something sweet? Don’t miss the Kona Pie, made with mocha almond fudge ice cream & cookie crust topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, roasted almonds and a cherry on top!

Islands Kona Pie, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Islands Kona Pie, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I can also vouch for the tropical drink selection. Mojitos, Mai Tai’s, Long Island Ice Tea’s, Margaritas, they’ve got it all, as well as locally sourced wine and beer. They have happy hour weekdays from 3-6:30 p.m., with discounted offers on sliders, nachos, beer, wine and cocktails, as well  an all-day happy hour in the bar area as part of March Madness basketball games, in addition to all-day happy hour for Women’s NCAA games for the Final Four (March 30 & April 1). 

Islands Mojito, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Islands Mojito, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

“We’re incredibly proud to open our first restaurant in Santa Barbara, an iconic beach city that resonates with our own coastal culture and origins,” says Michael Smith, president of Islands Restaurants. “We look forward to being a part of this close knit community and offering a spot for visitors to grab great food and drinks with family and friends.”

It’s right in our neighborhood. Perhaps we’ll see you there.

Islands Taco and Onion Rings, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Islands Taco and Onion Rings, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Photo courtesy Islands.

Photo courtesy Islands.

Islands Cheddar Fries, courtesy photo.

Islands Cheddar Fries, courtesy photo.

Islands Hula Burger with Island Reds, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Islands Hula Burger with Island Reds, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 22, 2018.

Poetry Benefit for La Casa de Maria

To benefit restoration efforts at La Casa de Maria following the Thomas Mudslide, Poets Enid Osborn, Paul WillisDavid StarkeyChryss Yost, Sojourner Kincaid RollePerie LongoLaure-Anne Bosselaar, Gudrun BortmanLois Brown KleinJohn Ridland, Christopher Buckley and Nancy Lee will read.

Bob Sedivy will play Japanese flute.

The event takes place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 18, at Unitarian Society, 1535 Santa Barbara St. 

Leslie Dinaberg 

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

Delineations at MichaelKate Interiors & Art Gallery

Charlie Patton, “The Woman and The Veil,” oil on canvas.

Charlie Patton, “The Woman and The Veil,” oil on canvas.

Opening March 16, DELINEATIONS at MichaelKate Interiors & Art Gallery (132 Santa Barbara St.) features four Santa Barbara based artists: Jo Merit, Douglas Dafoe, Katarzyna Kociomyk and Charlie Patton and is curated by Jan Ziegler. 

“The delineated characteristics of Jo Merit’s paintings and the fine craftmanship of Douglas Dafoe’s geometric wood wall sculptures drive the title of the show,” writes Ziegler. “Complementing their precise line work, we have Katarzyna Kociomyk’s lush boats at rest on the water and Charlie Patton’s large and small expressive paintings.”

Join the artists for the reception on Friday, March 16, from 5-8 p.m. The artists will speak about their work at 6 p.m.

The show remains on view through May 13. 

—Leslie Dinaberg

Charlie Patton, “Misty Copeland Two Slippers,” oil on canvas.

Charlie Patton, “Misty Copeland Two Slippers,” oil on canvas.

Jo Merit, “At The Dark End Of The Street,” acrylic on canvas.

Jo Merit, “At The Dark End Of The Street,” acrylic on canvas.

Katarzyna Kociomyk, “Cast In Bronze,” oil on canvas.

Katarzyna Kociomyk, “Cast In Bronze,” oil on canvas.

Douglas Dafoe, “untitled,” wood with copper paint.

Douglas Dafoe, “untitled,” wood with copper paint.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 16, 2018.