GET IMMERSED IN A BOOK

Book face photos by Erik Mendez, Santa Barbara Public Library.

Bringing book covers to life scores volumes on social media via #BookfaceFridays on the
Santa Barbara Public Library Instagram account (@sbplibrary). A popular meme in the
book-loving community for quite some time, Bookface photos—images in which a person
is strategically lined up with a book cover so that life and art appear to meld—are a great
way to showcase literature from the library’s collections, according to library marketing
specialist Erick Mendez.

“We get a lot of positive feedback and a lot of reposts,” says Mendez. “It’s great to see the
community of books and libraries sharing and getting inspiration from one another. It’s
never about competing to see who can do the best one, it’s always about showcasing books we love and finding a way to promote literature through covers.”

Originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine. Cover photo by Gary Moss. To see the story as it originally appeared click here.

UCSB Arts & Lectures Patron Spotlight: Audrey & Timothy O. Fisher

Event sponsors and A&L Council member Tim & Audrey Fisher with Joe Biden. Photo: UCSB Arts & Lectures.

For a town of its size, the cultural life of Santa Barbara is impressively full, say patrons Tim and Audrey Fisher. The couple have been involved with UCSB Arts & Lectures (A&L) since they bought a home in Montecito in 2000, and attended their first performance at Campbell Hall shortly afterward.

Miller McCune Executive Director Celesta Billeci and her team introduced themselves at intermission and the rest, as they say, is history. “We’ve been great friends ever since – we just love them,” says Audrey, a fashion designer and the retired president of a custom couture clothing business.

Tim was part of the creation of the Arts & Lectures Council in 2013. “We raised 25 million over three years and that really financially created a much better environment for A&L,” said the longtime businessman and philanthropist, who recently retired after more than 45 years of leadership in The Hillman Company. As a Council member, Tim guided the establishment of A&L’s legacy giving program and advocated enthusiastically for planned giving.

Audrey is a big fan of A&L’s expansive dance programs, as well as “the variety and the fact that they bring in just about every student, all ages. I like the educational aspect of it and exposing these kids to absolutely world-renowned performers and having it be a part of their everyday lives. … The cultural life is so enriched here.”

As for Tim’s favorite A&L memories, he says, “There have been so many over the years, but I would say most recently Joe Biden was really outstanding. He was very generous with his time and he did a Q&A and interacted with the students. I think it was really special.”

The Fishers recently made a generous donation to the endowment fund, which is important for arts funding, as Tim explains. “The reason nonprofits are called nonprofits is they don’t make money. What an endowment does is it creates a strong capital base. For instance, during this shutdown period A&L would really be struggling financially without the resources of the endowment. Endowments provide financial stability and they are also important because you don’t want the executive directors of nonprofits spending all their time raising money.”

Adds Audrey, “One reason that my foundation decided to support the endowment is because it’s the least appealing gift option for many contributors. It’s the hardest money to raise because people traditionally want to see what they are paying for. While we enjoy sponsoring performances, which we do every year, I think the endowments are kind of a lonely lost child in the family (laughs) and they really need support. I think when people become educated about their merits they do support endowments because there is a security factor.”

Supporting A&L is a family affair for the Fishers. As chair and a trustee of the Audrey Hillman Fisher Foundation, Audrey has given generously to A&L. Their son Matthew has sponsored musical performances and Tim and Audrey have supported a variety of events over the years, ranging from Joe Biden to the Vienna Philharmonic.

The Fisher family also sponsored the Forces of Nature environmental series in 2019-2020, in memory of their son Brooks, who was very good friends with filmmaker and environmentalist James Balog. “They used to go on these incredible exploits together,” says Audrey. Tim adds, “He was a friend of our son, who was an ardent conservationist. I think that for A&L cleaning up the environment is such a strong theme as it is in this country and globally. It’s a very worthy cause to support.”

The Fishers split their time between Santa Barbara and their hometown of Pittsburgh, and the cultural offerings of A&L make it easier for them to go from a bigger place to a smaller place. “In the early ’70s Jack Heinz created the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust which is a really big arts organization. Their budget is over 50 million and they have five theaters and they own a lot of downtown real estate. It’s a big operation, but I would say that we probably attend more events per year in Santa Barbara,” says Tim. “The cultural life here is every bit as full, in large part thanks to A&L.”

This story was originally published by UCSB Arts & Lectures. To see it as it originally appeared, please click here.

Overarching Principals

From 805 Living Magazine's Pulse section, winter 2021.

From 805 Living Magazine’s Pulse section, winter 2021.

The global pandemic may have made it difficult to hang out with neighbors, but Spotify has made it easy to plug in and connect.

The new Archewell Audio podcast series (sptfy.com/5nto) from Montecito residents Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, launched in December with a holiday gathering of inspiring guests from around the world.

Joining the royals to reflect on the challenges of the past year and offer hopeful toasts to 2021 were former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés, University of Houston research professor and best-selling author Brené Brown, self-help guru Deepak Chopra, CBS’s The Late Late Show host James
Corden, music icon Elton John, three-time tennis Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, and entertainment mogul Tyler Perry, among others. The series continues this year.

Click here to see this story as it originally appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Take Part in Art

Take Part in Art, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Take Part in Art, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

At a time when people are thirsting for new activities they can do safely, the new Museum of Sensory & Movement Experiences (MSME, pronounced miss me; seehearmove.com) in Santa Barbara is a welcome addition to the cultural scene.

The exhibits are all interactive and primarily hands-free, “as a way for people to still feel connected even during this time of social distancing,” explains executive director Marco Pinter.

Pinter hopes in particular to attract visually savvy teens and young adults with extended evening hours, which he suggests are “great for date nights,” and interactive experiences that are sure to be great fodder for Instagram. Each visitor is an energy source that fuels
the results, so as they engage with the artworks, what they see responds in new and unexpected ways.

Pinter is himself an established media artist as well as a prolific inventor with more than 70 patents in the categories of live video technology, robotics, interactivity, and telepresence. Six of his installations are on view at MSME. Among other artists featured are Ethan Turpin, Alan Macy, Elisa Ortega Montilla, and Douglas Lochner.

Cover of 805 Living December 2020 Click here to see this story as it originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

A Fashion Line for a Lifeline

Morgan Lexi Mitchell (top, right) donates half of the profits from her Only Kid fashions and accessories to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Looking to combine her artistic expression with suicide awareness and prevention, 17-year-old Westlake High School junior Morgan Lexi Mitchell designed the Only Kid (only-kid.com) fashion line. “I wanted to find a way to support National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” says the Assisteens of Conejo Valley volunteer, who donates 50 percent of the profits from the sales of her colorful stickers, iPhone cases, hoodies, and beanies.

“I had been playing around with the idea of Only Kid for some time,” Mitchell says. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had a lot of time on my hands, and that idea became a reality. Quarantine gave me the time I needed to develop designs and products.

“I wanted to make a difference in a way that personally relates to me,” she explains. “I have struggled with depression, and I wanted to showcase my art in a way that would raise awareness for suicide prevention, which is often a silent struggle.”

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.

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

How FLIR Steals Moments in Spotlight

FLIR's technology used in the 2018 film Rampage, courtesy photo.

FLIR’s technology used in the 2018 film Rampage, courtesy photo.

With appearances in Sicario, Ozark, Silicon Valley, The Haunting of Hill House, Transformers: The Last Knight, Speechless, and Extinct or Alive, among others, FLIR is more than familiar with the on-screen close-up.

The thermal imaging tech company, which employs approximately 450 of its 3,000 employees in Goleta, uses product placement as an important part of its marketing strategy. “We really approach placement in a collaborative way,” said Vatche Arabian, director of content marketing. “While some companies may actually go out and buy a placement on a show, we don’t typically do that. Often, it’s cases where folks want to achieve something unique, and we partner with them to help them do that.”

Of course, sometimes opportunity just knocks. “The crazy, last minute ones are the ones that we seem to get the biggest lift out of,” said Arabian, referring to the 2017 VMA performance of 30 Seconds to Mars, in which actor/musician Jared Leto wanted to do the thing with thermal cameras. “We had maybe a week-and-a-half notice for that one. Trying to realize what they were trying to do and find the best way to do that was terrifying, but then the end result was amazing.”

FLIR cameras were also used on the two Sicario movies. “In the tunnel, when it’s in thermal vision, we worked with Roger Deakins to have him use the FLIR science camera, and he couldn’t have told that story without it,” said Stacy Jones, CEO and founder of Hollywood

Branded, the marketing agency that works with FLIR. “They were in a pitch-black tunnel, and he was trying to actually show what it is like for the military and for those people who were running from across the border.”

In the movie Rampage, FLIR provided a pilot and its plane, fully kitted out with all the FLIR technology, usually reserved for large-scale demonstrations of their product line to military or government buyers.

“There was a fictional big quarry scene,” said Jones. “It existed, but they made it look way bigger than it was through movie magic. And they had the plane sweeping over it, filming in thermal and feeding a livestream down to the director at the same time, so they could get the vision and the day scenes and the night scenes and the thermal all captured while the big ravaging beast that they put in later on was able to storm in with special effects.”

Product placement works best on-screen when it’s helping to tell the story, said Jones, who founded her agency in 2007, with BlackBerry as her first client. “Technology is something that is a great storyteller when it’s contributing to who the character is, to driving a story element, and contributing to making that scene more real,” she explained.

flir.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

Catch the Short Shorts Wave

805 Living Summer 2020, Catch the Short Shorts Wave, story by Leslie Dinaberg. Hammies photos, clockwise from top, by Annabelle Sadler, Grant Nestor and Tony Kozusko.

805 Living Summer 2020, Catch the Short Shorts Wave, story by Leslie Dinaberg. Hammies photos, clockwise from top, by Annabelle Sadler, Grant Nestor and Tony Kozusko.

The rad, retro beachy spirit of the 1970s and ’80s lives on in Hammies Shorts (hammiesshorts.com). Named after Hammond’s Beach, a favorite Montecito surf spot of co-owner Grant Nestor during his formative years, the Santa Barbara-based brand is inspired by the era’s classic OP corduroy shorts, which Nestor wore long after they stopped being manufactured in the 1980s.

For years, he says, he thought, “If somebody doesn’t start making these shorts again then I’m going to have to.” He and his wife Sarah Kozusko started Hammies to bring the retro style back, and their timing turned out to be right on trend, with short shorts coming back in a big way.

Hammies are available at Coco Cabana in Montecito and Canyon Supply in Ojai, as well as online.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

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

 

Discoveries: Napa Valley Wine Train

A Taste of Mystery Along the Rail

A nice glass of Napa red enhances just about any experience, including the twists, turns and whodunits you’ll find aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train’s exclusive murder mystery dining experiences. These stunningly preserved antique rail cars have plenty of stories to tell, with a cast of characters fueled by deadly secrets, and plenty of intrigue — in addition to a sumptuously prepared three-course meal!

The 2020 playbill features an intriguing new series of immersive, themed murder mystery experiences on board the dinner train. Thrilling themes such as Crime and Punishment; Death of a Gangster; Dance with Death; Totally 80’s; Midnight at the Masquerade; Wizards and Witches; Now You See It, Now You Don’t; Till Death Do Us Part and The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year take center stage, and guests are encouraged to dress up accordingly for each incredible evening.

This unforgettable, three-hour journey evokes the romance and adventurous spirit of opulent rail travel at the beginning of the 20th century. The Wine Train is also an incredible way to experience the beauty of Napa Valley Wine Country.

The Murder Mystery adventures are not the only way to enjoy a Napa Valley Wine Train journey aboard this elegant train. You can choose from a variety of lunch, dinner, romance, mystery and exclusive private tours — all of which feature fresh, gourmet California cuisine as the lush vineyards of the Napa Valley landscape pass you by. The leisurely pace of the train evokes a more relaxed and reflective era, and allows you to really take in the vineyards and majestic mountain views.

The Napa Valley Wine Train truly is the ride of a lifetime.

For info., visit winetrain.com

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