Art on Deck

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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 UCSB Current 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 UCSB Current on April 19, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Fess Parker Winery’s 30th Anniversary

Rodney's Vineyard at Fess Parker Winery. Photo courtesy of the Parker Family.

Rodney’s Vineyard at Fess Parker Winery. Photo courtesy of the Parker Family.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Marking the 30th anniversary of Fess Parker Winery, Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort honors the Parker Family-owned winery’s big milestone with an exclusive dinner, the “Fess Parker Wine Journey,” from 6 – 10 p.m. on Friday, March, 22 in the resort’s Reagan Ballroom.

It’s going to be a fun—and delicious—evening, kicking off with a video presentation and a Q&A with the Parker Family, hosted by yours truly. Since their first vineyard planting in 1987, the Fess Parker family has enjoyed a long, successful history in Santa Barbara County, helping to pioneer the region’s reputation as an international destination for wine, hospitality and discovery, as well as developing many of the county’s prestigious vineyards.

Marcy and Fess Parker. Photo courtesy of the Parker family

Marcy and Fess Parker. Photo courtesy of the Parker family

The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now owns and farms more than 125 acres and works with more than 700 acres in Santa Barbara County, focusing on the grape varieties best suited to the region’s unique growing conditions—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Rhone wines—with its vintages consistently earning 90+ point ratings from top critics around the world.

Eli Parker—a founding family member and former head winemaker reflects on the occasion: “Our greatest hope is that people who have enjoyed our wines over the last 30 years will continue to enjoy them as part of their own family traditions and celebrations. Even more so, we hope that people just discovering Fess Parker wines will appreciate them as the finest expression of the beauty and bounty of Santa Barbara wine country. Continuing to work together toward this objective as a family is a real privilege.”

“We mark this anniversary with equal parts pride and gratitude – pride for the quality we have achieved with our wines in national and international markets and gratitude for the opportunity to grow our business while remaining family held. By playing to our strengths and focusing on working with the Rhône and Burgundian varietals that grow so well here, hopefully we have set ourselves up well for the next 30 years. We are fortunate to have a tremendous winemaking team under the direction of Head Winemaker, Blair Fox, who celebrates his 15th anniversary with the winery this year as well,” says winery President Tim Snider.

From coonskin cap to coonskin cap in one decade is the career of Fess Parker, shown in his costume as "Daniel Boone," March 26, 1964. Ten years ago he played Davy Crockett in a series by the same name. (AP Photo)

From coonskin cap to coonskin cap in one decade is the career of Fess Parker, shown in his costume as “Daniel Boone,” March 26, 1964. Ten years ago he played Davy Crockett in a series by the same name. (AP Photo)

Both Eli Parker and Tim Snider will be on hand at the event, along with winery co-owner Ashley Parker Snider and their daughter Greer Shull, who does marketing for the brand, which also includes the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, as well as the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos, which also houses The Bear and Star restaurant, featuring refined ranch-to-table cuisine from Chef/Partner John Cox.

“Our team is honored to host a wine and culinary celebration for Fess Parker Winery’s 30-year anniversary,” says Hilton Santa Barbara General Manager Chris Inman. “Our goal is to create a memorable evening that speaks to seasoned Fess Parker Winery fans as well as a new generation of wine lovers.”

Hilton Santa Barbara Executive Chef Mossin Sugich and his culinary team will prepare a fresh and delicious culinary adventure paired with the Fess Parker’s signature wines. The five-course wine pairing dinner menu includes:

Cocktail Hour Canapes

Poached fingerling potato, caviar and crème fraiche

Foie Gras, Brioche, Fig Jam

Beef Tartare, crostini

Amuse bouche

Black Mission Fig, Mascarpone, jamon de Parma, Sicilian pistachio

Fess Parker Rodney’s Dry Riesling 2016 and Epiphany Grenache Blanc 2017

To Begin

Spring Bounty Dégustation

Spring Onion Flan, pickled ramp, English pea puree, green garlic chips, pea tendril, black olive dirt

lemon oil

Viogner, Rodney’s Vineyard 2017

To Appreciate

Channel Islands Treasures

Spot Prawns & sea urchins, morel mushroom crème, crispy cauliflower, lemon, Tarragon

Chardonnay, Ashley’s 2016

To Continue

State Bird Roulade

Mushroom stuffed Quail, celeriac puree, celery and apple salad, almond oil

Sour Port reduction

Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills 2017

To Indulge

California Spring Lamb

Grilled fat on lamb loin, Pine nut coulis, minted & pickled green strawberries

morel mushroom, fava beans, lamb jus

Syrah, Santa Barbara County

To Conclude

Harrys Berries Strawberry Panna Cotta

Meyer lemon granita, fresh Harry’s Berries

Late Harvest Semillon 2009

All menu items are locally sourced and subject to change based on seasonal quality and product availability.

I hope some of you will join us on March 22 for this very special night honoring the Parker Family and Fess Parker’s legacy.

“Knowing that a career in Hollywood wasn’t necessarily a long-term proposition, creating a family business that all of us could participate in for generations was important to my dad,” says Ashley Parker Snider. “Before he passed in 2010, he was incredibly proud of how far we had come.”

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort is located at 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara. For more information or to purchase a ticket, please call 805/884-8518 or email SBAFP_SpecialEvents@hilton.com.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life!

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 1, 2019.

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.

New York Polyphony

New York Polyphony, photo by Chris Owyoung.

New York Polyphony, photo by Chris Owyoung.

The New Yorker calls them, “Singers of superb musicianship and vocal allure.” National Public Radio praises New York Polyphony for a “rich, natural sound that’s larger and more complex than the sum of its parts.”

Hear them for yourself when UCSB Arts & Lectures presents the two-time Grammy Award-nominated vocal chamber ensemble New York Polyphony in its Santa Barbara debut on Wednesday, February 20 at 7 p.m. at Music Academy of the West’s Hahn Hall (1070 Fairway Rd., Santa Barbara).

The provocative program Faith and Reason includes Thomas Tallis’ Mass for Four Voices and Gregory Brown’s Missa Charles Darwin—the inspiration behind his brother Dan Brown’s latest Da Vinci Code novel—which honors the conventions of its musical antecedents but replaces sacred texts with excerpts from Darwin’s writings. Of special note, this performance marks the return of Music Academy of the West alumnus Christopher Dylan Herbert, the group’s baritone, to his alma mater.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 19, 2019.

SBIFF 3rd Weekend: Free Films at the Riviera

Students attend Mike's Field Trip To The Movies during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on January 31, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF).

Students attend Mike’s Field Trip To The Movies during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on January 31, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF).

As a way to thank everyone who supported and made the Film Festival possible, Santa Barbara International Film Festival will once again be showing select award winning films from the 2019 SBIFF during the 3RD WEEKEND!

“As a thank you to our community, films we will be shown for FREE! No tickets necessary, seating will be on a first come first served basis at SBIFF’s Riviera Theatre,” according to the organizers.

Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story

Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story

Friday, February 15 – 7:30 p.m.
Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story – Winner Best Documentary Award sponsored by SEE International

In the world of professional sports, no athlete ever came back from a mental health disorder—until Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace.

In Love and War

In Love and War

Saturday, February 16 – 7:30 p.m.
In Love and War (I krig & kærlighed) – Winner Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent

When Esben flees the trenches of WWI after three years at the front, it’s so he can return to his beloved wife Kirstine and son Karl. But everything at home has changed.

Babysplitters

Babysplitters

Sunday, February 17 – 7:30 p.m.
Babysplitters – Winner Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema

When two couples with mixed feelings about having kids hatch a plan to have and share one baby, it seems like the perfect compromise—until things spiral out of control.

The Riviera Theatre is located at 2044 Alameda Padre Serra, Santa Barbara.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 12, 2019.

SBIFF Photo Gallery: Melissa McCarthy Receives the Montecito Award

Melissa McCarthy attends the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy attends the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy received the Montecito Award for Can You Ever Forgive Me? on Sunday at The 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF).

An excited, sold out crowd greeted Melissa McCarthy as she entered the stage to sit in conversation with IndieWire Editor at Large, Anne Thompson, to discuss her beginnings on stage, what she learned from her time at the Groundlings, and her future behind the camera.

Discussing her early days doing stand-up comedy, McCarthy says one of the reasons she didn’t do it for long was that she “never walked into a room where a guy didn’t tell me, ‘Take your shirt off!’ and they are just yelling at you. They would keep yelling until you have to embarrass them, but then you spend four of your five minutes eviscerating them.”

Melissa McCarthy speaks onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy speaks onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

She confided that her actress friend Jennifer Coolidge  (perhaps best known for playing Stifler’s Mom in American Pie) made a call to a casting agent, which ultimately earned McCarthy her first movie role, in the 1999 Doug Liman directed film, Go. Her first big television role, as “Sookie” on Gilmore Girls was originally to be played by Alex Borstein (currently co-starring in the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) who was contractually obligated to MadTV at the time. McCarthy is still stunned that her first job on Gilmore Girls lasted for seven years.

On her memorable scene in the pawn shop in The Hangover—where she ignores Bradley Cooper to flirt with Zach Galifianakis—McCarthy says, “I thought, I wonder if anyone has ever just shunned Bradley off like this. I thought, this is probably good for him.”

Melissa McCarthy attends the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy attends the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

As for her future projects, McCarthy says, “I am ready to direct. I did some Mike and Molly’s and I did a short for the Oscars and I loved it. I would like to not be in it. I just want to be there and concentrate on the people in it.”

McCarthy’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? co-star Richard E. Grant presented the award and began his presentation with a google translation of the meaning of McCarthy, “loving.” Grant says, “I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have loving words to say about her.” McCarthy accepted her award giving thanks to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for “shining a light on these types of movies.”

Melissa McCarthy speaks onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy speaks onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy attends the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy attends the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy speaks onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy speaks onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Anne Thompson, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant pose backstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Anne Thompson, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant pose backstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

SBIFF Director Roger Durling, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant pose backstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

SBIFF Director Roger Durling, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant pose backstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy speaks onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy speaks onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant speak onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant speak onstage at the Montecito Award honoring Melissa McCarthy during the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 3, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 8, 2019.

Lara Favaretto at MCASB

Lara Favaretto, Coppie Semplici (Simple Couples) , 2009, Installation view at Sharjah Biennial, UAE, 2009, Courtesy the Artist and Galleria Franco Noero.

Lara Favaretto, Coppie Semplici (Simple Couples) , 2009, Installation view at Sharjah Biennial, UAE, 2009, Courtesy the Artist and Galleria Franco Noero.

First solo U.S. West Coast exhibition for Turin, Italy-based artist + first exhibit fully conceived under the direction of MCASB’s new Chief Curator Abaseh Mirvali.

“It was important that I begin my tenure at MCASB by providing a platform for an artist whose work while conceptually impeccable, so poignantly examines the human condition. I wanted to honor what moved me and share her work with the community here,” says Abaseh Mirvali, MCASB’s recently appointed Executive Director and Chief Curator.

Opening on Tuesday, February 12 (with a public reception from 6-8 p.m.) is Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara’s (MCASB) newest contemporary art exhibition, a solo show featuring works spanning Artist Lara Favaretto‘s more than 20-year career. Presented in collaboration with Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada, this exhibition marks Favaretto’s solo U.S. West Coast institutional debut, as well as the first show initiated under the direction of Mirvali.

On view through April 28, the exhibition’s execution reflects many of the core values that Mirvali has brought to MCASB after a well-established career in the global arts circuit. “I have been following Rennie Collection for man years now since we share a similar artistic philosophy as well as social responsibility,” says Mirvali.

According to statement from MCASB, “Throughout Favaretto’s work, the artist incorporates found materials. Trash may be recycled, while lost and discarded items are re-purposed. Her installations and sculptures often show the artist’s interest for the past, the forgotten, the disregarded. Yet, Favaretto’s overall oeuvre also questions why certain objects survive over others, contemplating their legitimacy in relation to the forgotten, while exposing their inevitable destiny: wear, corrosion, erosion, and breakage. Favaretto could be regarded as the continuation of a series of 20th-century artists whose major concern was questioning the meaning of art, sometimes through play and dark humor.”

“… (Favaretto’s) artistic production—however colored by notes of Abstract Art, Arte Povera, Kinetic Art, Land Art, or Minimal Art—is composed of aspects that in addition to questioning the intellectual status of a piece of art, are also interrelated to our humaneness. Her work is ephemeral, transient, spontaneous, unpredictable, changing, and even vulnerable, like us,” says Mirvali.

Lara Favaretto, Lost & Found, 1998, Courtesy the Artist; Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada; and Galleria Franco Noero, Turin, Italy, Photo by Blaine Campbell.

Lara Favaretto, Lost & Found, 1998, Courtesy the Artist; Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada; and Galleria Franco Noero, Turin, Italy, Photo by Blaine Campbell.

The exhibition will be shown across four different exhibition sites, including:

  1. MCASB’s main space, showing Favaretto’s installation Coppie Semplici (Simple Couples), comprised of moving car wash brushes that alternate between high-speed mechanical rotations and stagnation. Removed from their original context, the brushes spin aimlessly as they deteriorate over time. Also on exhibit in the Museum’s main space will be a work from Favaretto’s ongoing series of collected suitcases, Lost & Found. After obtaining a forgotten suitcase—found at state-run auctions of lost and found items from the Italian railway system, flea-markets, and dumps—Favaretto combines the existing contents with new, unknown items, then locks the case and throws the key away, never allowing the contents to be revealed.
  2. On view in a downtown storefront (907 State St.) from Feb. 12-Apr. 28 is Tutti giù per terra (We All Fall Down), one installation of a number of works by Favaretto that follow a consistent form: sealed rooms within rooms containing industrial fans that flush tons (literally) of confetti around the space progressively. Through its materiality—or lack of it—this piece embraces a plethora of dichotomies which speak to our human  condition and exemplify our binary nature: perpetuity/impermanence, noise/silence, creation/destruction, growth/decay.

  3. The Glass Box Gallery at UCSB will have two concrete works from Rennie Collection on view from Feb. 13-22 opening a dialogue between activity and passivity, movement and stasis, anger and boredom. Fisting and Boring are part of a series in which Favaretto uses her body to imprint a particular action in a block of recently-poured concrete. As intended by the artist, over time the blocks are subject to wear from exposure to sunlight and air. The title of each work—always a human action—captures the individual state of mind or gesture that has been performed by Favaretto. Glass Box Gallery is the UCSB Art Department’s student-run exhibition space in Building 534 (Space 1328).
  4. In the Santa Barbara Funk Zone district, Favaretto will place a glossy plaque reading “Defense D’entrer,” or “Do Not Enter,” at the Museum’s future location (35 Anacapa St.), forbidding visitors to pass over the plaque. By restricting the entrance to the land, the artist raises questions regarding private property and the need to safeguard an empty lot. MCASB will announce future events to take place there over the duration of the exhibition.

Lara Favaretto, Simple Couples, 2009, Car wash brushes, iron slabs, motors, electrical boxes, wires, site specific installation, Courtesy Rennie Collection, Vancouver. Photo: Blaine Campbell.

Lara Favaretto, Simple Couples, 2009, Car wash brushes, iron slabs, motors, electrical boxes, wires, site specific installation, Courtesy Rennie Collection, Vancouver. Photo: Blaine Campbell.

Favaretto’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Mainz, Mainz, Germany (2018); Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2017); Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada (2015); MoMA PS1, New York, USA (2012); Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE (2012); Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy (2005); and the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bergamo, Italy (2002). Group exhibitions include Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA (2018); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA (2017); Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK (2016); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA (2005); and the Venetian Pavilion, 51st Venice Biennale, Italy (2005).

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara is located at 653 Paseo Nuevo. For more information, visit mcasantabarbara.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 7, 2019.

Andrew Roy: Visions from Beyond

Andrew Roy, "Meetings."

Andrew Roy, “Meetings.”

Award winning young Santa Barbara artist Andrew Roy displays 26 stunning works in a solo show at Elsie’s (117 W. De La Guerra St., Santa Barbara). Titled “Visions From Beyond,” the show opens on Thursday, February 7, with a First Thursday Artist’s Reception from 6-8:30 p.m. The exhibit remains on view through March 5.

Andrew Roy, “Monarch.”

Andrew Roy, “Monarch.”

A member of both the Abstract Art Collective and the Santa Barbara Art Association, Roy’s works are in private collections throughout the United States. Born and raised in Alaska, Roy made Santa Barbara his home in 2012. Working with oil pastels on paper and also with acrylics on large canvases, his art has been shown in numerous galleries and shows, including Sullivan Goss, Gallery 113, CASA, the Santa Barbara Tennis Club, Channing Peake Gallery, ArtSEE/JCC and the Faulkner Gallery West. 

Andrew Roy, “Beyond.”

Andrew Roy, “Beyond.”

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 4, 2019.