Pianos Jazz Up State Street

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

State Street’s got some rhythm in its soul this month with the annual Pianos on State interactive musical exhibit on display throughout October.

In its 9th year, the exhibition will extend from October 2-24,  and feature pianos painted by Santa Barbara-based artists—all of which are available for community exploration, impromptu play and group performances.

This year’s panel received a record number of submissions, according to organizers from Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture. The selected artists include Aviel Hyman, Mahina Martinson, Ariana Meyers, Jack Mohr, Amanda Phillips, Melody Rose, Sheryl Schroeder, Lanny Sherwin and Richard Stokes. Additional community partners working with local students and artists to design pianos include Art From Scrap, the Santa Barbara Public Library Central Branch, The Arts Fund and Youth Interactive.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Helmed by the Santa Barbara Bowl, this program represents a unique collaboration that aims to provide arts exposure for residents and visitors of all ages. “The pianos are a beloved tradition that enhances the cultural vibrancy of Santa Barbara and the downtown corridor. It is a way to engage the community by inviting participants of all ages and backgrounds to experience performing arts in a public space,” says Kai Tepper, Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach Program Manager. Additional producing partners include the City of Santa Barbara, Office of Arts and Culture, The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation and New Noise SB. Many local sponsors and businesses also help sponsor and underwrite costs.

Isaac Hernandez. Untitled. Acrylic paint on piano. Exhibited outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. November 7, 2010. ©2010 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com.

Isaac Hernandez. Untitled. Acrylic paint on piano. Exhibited outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. November 7, 2010. ©2010 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com.

An opening celebration takes place on 1st Thursday, October 4, from 5-8 p.m. as artists traverse the pianos and the Piano Boys perform at the Library’s piano at the intersection of State and Anapamu Streets.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 3, 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.

Celebrate Kids Helping Kids’ 10th Anniversary

NeedtoBreathe (l) and Andy Grammer return to perform at the 10th Annual Kids Helping Kids benefit concert. Courtesy photos.

NeedtoBreathe (l) and Andy Grammer return to perform at the 10th Annual Kids Helping Kids benefit concert. Courtesy photos.

Kids Helping Kids celebrates its 10th Anniversary at the beautiful Granada Theatre (1214 State St.) January 12-13 with performances by NeedtoBreathe and Andy Grammer.

Andy Grammer performs a benefit show for Kids Helping Kids on Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo.

Andy Grammer performs a benefit show for Kids Helping Kids on Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo.

Kids Helping Kids is an entirely student-run nonprofit organization lead by the students in the Advanced Placement Economics classes at San Marcos High School. The group works  to help children in need both locally and globally and has raised an amazing $2.5 million to date.

NeedtoBreathe performs a benefit show for Kids Helping Kids on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo.

NeedtoBreathe performs a benefit show for Kids Helping Kids on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Granada Theatre. Courtesy photo.

The annual benefit concert looks back on the legacy built by the students of San Marcos and the support of our community, bringing back two of the past favorite performers, Andy Grammer (Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.) and NeedtoBreathe (Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.).

Past artists who have performed at Kids Helping Kids benefit concerts include:

  • Toad the Wet Sprocket and Tyrone Wells (2009),
  • Five for Fighting (2010),
  • Mat Kearney and Tyrone Wells (2011),
  • Sara Bareilles and Tyrone Wells (2012),
  • Switchfoot and Brad Corrigan from Dispatch (2013),
  • Andy Grammer and Tim Lopez from Plain White T’s (2014),
  • Ingrid Michaelson and Jon McLaughlin (2015),
  • NeedtoBreathe and Johnnyswim (2016),
  • and Gavin DeGraw and Parachute (2017).

In addition to the local chapter, the Kids Helping Kids model to is now in place at two other high schools in Sacramento and Dana Hills, California.

For more information click here, and to purchase tickets, visit the Granada website.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 6, 2018.

Eyvind Earle | Winter at Elverhøj Museum

Eyvind Earle, "Winter Barns," courtesy Elverhøj Museum of History & Art.

Eyvind Earle, “Winter Barns,” courtesy Elverhøj Museum of History & Art.

Winter arrives before Thanksgiving at Elverhøj Museum of History & Art in Solvang (1624 Elverhoy Way) with the debut of the holiday exhibition, “Eyvind Earle│Winter.” 

Noted for his landscape painting and contributions to the background illustration and styling of classic Disney animated films like Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the TrampEyvind Earle is also famous for his Christmas and holiday greeting cards, creating over 800 designs between 1938 and 1995.

The Elverhoj exhibition showcases serigraphs and paintings that are the basis of Earle’s famous greeting cards. This is a special opportunity for collectors as limited edition serigraphs will be available for purchase.

“I never planned to be involved with Christmas card designing,” said Earle. “It simply happened as a means of survival. To me, every day is Christmas. Every creation is divine. Cover the ugliest run-down shack with snow, and it becomes a magic vision of purity.”

For a ten year period between 1968-1978 Earle resided in Solvang. “The imagery derived from themes of the Santa Ynez Valley are unmistakable in many of Earle’s paintings and serigraphs,” says Elverhoj Executive Director Esther Jacobsen Bates. “He found inspiration in the natural beauty of the CA Central Coast.”

Elverhøj Museum of History & Art is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no charge for admission; suggested donation is $5. More information can be found at www.elverhoj.org or by calling 805/686-1211.

 The Eyvind Earle exhibition  is on view from November 18 through January 28.

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 19, 2017.

SB County Food Action Plan Meeting

Come to a free community listening and activation session on Wednesday, October 25 from 6-8 p.m. at the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library (40 E. Anapamu St.) where participants will explore the vision, progress and next steps planned for the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan. This is a great opportunity to share what your neighborhood, business, or organization is doing, and connect with others engaged in making a secure food system for our county.

Come learn about the goals of the plan and hear about successes from the organizations and individuals actively pursuing these goals. Attendees, including individuals, businesses, schools, and organizations of all types, will also be encouraged to inform the process by sharing about their own regional work to create a more secure, sustainable food system. A networking session will provide time to seek out new partnerships and opportunities to support each other.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 24, 2017.


House of Clues is a Great Escape From the Ordinary

The Escape Room's Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The Escape Room’s Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

Escape room games are super popular and Santa Barbara finally has its own one-of-a-kind venue: the House of Clues, 629 N. Salsipuedes St., 805/229-9179, TheHouseofClues.net.

Co-owners Assel Abdrakhmanova and Oscar Zevalos (they also have a third partner, Whitman Heining) were designing props and sets for themed events and escape rooms for outside clients when they decided to create their own, custom, one-of-a-kind attraction.

“We knew we could do a better job and make it even better and more challenging,” says Zevalos.

Their goal is eventually to franchise their concepts, with Santa Barbara as the first location, and I think they’ve got a winner. Not only was our “Pirate Ghost Ship” game well designed and challenging, it truly was exciting and fun for our entire group—which included my college age niece and her boyfriend, as well as my husband and I, and my sister and brother-in-law.

The author and her family, having barely escaped the Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The author and her family, having barely escaped the Pirate Ghost Ship, courtesy photo.

The “fun for all ages” claim seems truly legit as evidenced by the enthusiastic group of 13-year-old boys who went before us. This would also be a great team building activity for companies, students, group of friends, date nights and other group events.

The way that escape rooms work is they combine mental puzzles with physical challenges and a beat-the-clock element keeps things moving along quickly. With 45 minutes to escape from a given room (which is actually a series of rooms), you are under constant video and audio surveillance and can communicate with the game master at any time, as well as receive clues when needed. Every move counts, and nothing is as it seems. The game was much more challenging than any of us were expecting and we needed a few helpful tips from Assel to move us along in places.

In addition to the “Pirate Ghost Ship,” the House of Clues also has a “Psycho Dentist” game on the menu with another theme on the way soon.

Currently operating Mon.-Thurs. from 5-10 p.m., Fri. from noon- 11.30 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. from 10a.m.-11:30 p.m., the House of Clues is a great new addition to the local scene. Cost is $35 per person, children must be at least eight years old to play, and an adult must accompany those under age 15. For more information, visit TheHouseofClues.net.

Leslie Dinaberg                

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 28, 2017.                                         

Cocktail Corner: Brave & Maiden Tasting Room Breaks Ground

Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Brave & Maiden Estate recently broke ground on its new winery and tasting room, which will be located on the winery’s 60-acre estate along Refugio Road in Santa Ynez. The sustainably farmed vineyard takes its name from the “Legend of Nojoqui” (pronounced Naw-ho-wee), an indigenous incarnation of Romeo & Juliet. Set at the nearby Nojoqui Falls, the legend recounts the story of star-crossed lovers who choose death over separation.

The new facility and tasting room has been in the works for many years. Brave & Maiden Estate was established in 2011 and occupies the land they purchased in 2010. Planted to 46 acres of vineyards—including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, and Sauvignon Blanc—Brave & Maiden’s wine program, led by winemaker Paul Hobbs, has found success in both restaurants and bottle shops throughout Southern and Central California, earning accolades for their single-vineyard estate wines and red blends.

Entrance to Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

Entrance to Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

The new facility will offer an entirely new tasting experience, along with a production facility for up to 8,000 cases. “We are thrilled to see the project get underway,” says Jason Djang, Managing Director. “The plans have been in the works for some time, so we’re excited to finally see earth moving and our vision coming to fruition.”

The project is designed by renowned wine country architect group Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, known for projects such as Harlan Estate Winery, Larkmead Winery and Meadowood Napa Valley, among others. The space is Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects’ first project on the Central Coast, and is designed to prominently showcase views of the picturesque vineyard overlooking the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Brave & Maiden winemaker Paul Hobbs, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden winemaker Paul Hobbs, courtesy photo.

 “At Brave & Maiden, our goal is to not only be great vintners, but gracious hosts as well,” states Djang. “Hospitality will be central to our DNA as we create a unique and unforgettable experience with our wines, and the estate.” 

The winery and tasting room will open its doors by appointment the second half of 2018—a milestone the Brave & Maiden team feels will expand their goals as a brand.

“Santa Barbara County truly is a world-class wine region and I welcome the opportunity to be involved as the area embraces growth,” says Hobbs.

 “We were humbled by the market’s reception of the brand in 2014, selling out of our first two vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon,” says Djang. “Now, with construction of our new winery underway, we’re eager to open our own doors for guests to experience our wines first-hand. Obviously, we believe in the greatness of Santa Barbara County as a wine region and have invested accordingly.”

Brave & Maiden vineyard, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden vineyard, courtesy photo.

For more information, visit braveandmaiden.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 considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on July 28, 2017.

Library Book: Writers on Libraries

The venerable Downtown Santa Barbara Central Library (40 E. Anapamu St.)  is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and writers are celebrating this centennial milestone as well, with a heartwarming anthology of stories, essays, and poems written by over 80 authors about their library experiences and the glories of the public library.

Edited by local writer Steven Gilbar, Library Book: Writers on Libraries, brings an impressive group of scribes together, ranging from huge literary names like Ray Bradbury, Fannie Flagg, Sue Grafton, Pico IyerNeil Gaiman and Ursula K. LeGuin, to loads of local writers including all of the living Santa Barbara poets laureate, Hilary Dole Klein, D. J. Palladino, Ashleigh Brilliant, Erin Graffy de Garcia, Beverley Jackson, Marcia Meier, Grace Rachow, Joan Tapper and many more (including yours truly.)

With a forward by local resident T.C. Boyle and all royalties going to the nonprofit Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library, this is a book purchase that any word loving reader can feel good about making. Library Book: Writers on Libraries is available at The Book Den (15 E. Anapamu St.), Chaucers Books (3321 State St.), Mesa Books (1838 Cliff Dr.), Tecolote Book Shop (1470 East Valley Rd.) and Upstairs at Pierre La Fond (516 San Ysidro Rd.), as well as on Amazon.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 21, 2017.

Dreaming Big: Congregation B’nai B’rith’s 90 Year Celebration

Images from Congregation B'nai B'rith Dreamers Ball. Photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

Images from Congregation B’nai B’rith Dreamers Ball. Photos by Leslie Dinaberg.

Honoring yesterday, today and tomorrow, supporters of Congregation B’nai B’rith (CBB) recently gathered at Bacara Resort & Spa in tribute to the founding families who had the vision to create the home for Santa Barbara’s Jewish community in 1927.

This festive, elegant celebration was packed to the gills with 450 guests to mark the 90th anniversary of Congregation B’nai B’rith, Santa Barbara’s largest Jewish synagogue, which now serves as the spiritual home to more than 800 families.

Dubbed the Dreamers Ball, the Marc Chagall-inspired gala was beautifully reflected in decorations and touches throughout the ballroom and live music by We the Folk (whose talented accordion player is David Childs, son of Shari and Cantor Mark Childs).

Also honored at the event was Cantor Childs, who has served the congregation for the past 25 years, touching thousands of lives in the process.

The Dreamers Ball was organized by co-chairwomen Hallie Avolio, board president Judi Koper, Liat Wasserman, Marcy Wimbish, Bethy Fineberg and executive director Elizabeth Gaynes. Ruth Hartzman and Adele Rosen were the honorary co-chairwomen.

An impressive tribute book detailed the congregation’s history and leadership and was filled with glowing personal tributes to Childs and congratulations on the 90th anniversary of Congregation B’nai B’rith. Included in the tribute are excerpts from local historian Erin Graffy’s upcoming book about the history of Jewish Santa Barbara.

“Right now, we are setting the stage for the next 100 years of our CBB communal life,” writes Rabbi Steve Cohen. “We are establishing patterns of congregational life which draw deeply upon the best of Jewish tradition and values, and which are vibrantly alive … full of humor, creativity, moral integrity, intellectual rigor and honesty … and connect us deeply to this place, Santa Barbara, a place of awesome natural beauty and resources, nestled between the ocean and the mountains.”

For more information about Congregation B’nai B’rith, visit http://cbbsb.org/.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 16, 2017.

Congregation B’Nai B’Rith Celebrates 90 Years


Cantor Mark Childs to be Honored at Dreamers Ball on Jan. 22 

Congregation B’nai B’rith celebrates its 90th anniversary at a Chagall-inspired Dreamers Ball to be held at the Bacara Resort on January 22.

The dreamers theme—which honors yesterday, today and tomorrow—pays homage to the 14 founding families who had a vision to build a home for the Jews in Santa Barbara in 1927. What started as a dream thrived beyond expectation to the temple of today—a beautiful sanctuary that serves as a spiritual home to more than 800 families.

The Dreamer’s Ball celebrates the rich history of Congregation B’nai B’rith, the vibrant current community, led musically by Cantor Mark Childs,  and the commitment to innovation and strength into the future.

Cantor Mark Childs, photo by Jay Farbman.

Cantor Mark Childs, photo by Jay Farbman.

“This is a moment to pause in a long continuum of time to celebrate our growth, to honor those who kept us going over the decades, to remember those who have passed along the way, to sigh as we recollect the hard times, to laugh as we recall the high moments, to marvel at the vision of those upon whose shoulders we stand, and to embrace each other as we face our road forward,” says Cantor Childs who will be honored at the gala for his 25 years of service at Congregation B’nai B’rith.

“Congregation B’nai B’rith has been, and will always be filled with the spirit of close community and the priority of educating the next moral, ethical and literate Jewish generation,” says Rabbi Stephen Cohen, who has been the synagogue’s spiritual leader since 2014, and works in partnership with Cantor Childs.

“I believe that right now, we are setting the stage for the next 100 years of Congregation B’nai B’rith communal life. We will maintain our deep connections to the Jewish people around the world, and throughout history, but we are also finding our place in Santa Barbara, alongside the Chumash, and the Latinos, the marvelous interfaith community of Muslims, the Catholics, Unitarians, Episcopalians, Evangelicals, Mormons, Hindus and Buddhists. Here in Santa Barbara, we Jews have a role to play. Our congregation should be a light to our entire city, and a model of healthy, feisty, dynamic, reverent, warm and welcoming community,” explains Rabbi Cohen.

Through song, Jewish teaching and humor, Cantor Childs has touched thousands of lives in Santa Barbara since his arrival 25 years ago. From his weekly song sessions with preschoolers at Beit Ha Yeladim, to his work with hundreds of b’nai mitzvot students, to his inspired leadership, interfaith partnerships and connection with seniors and community members throughout Santa Barbara, Cantor Childs has been a role model and an inspiration, marking everyday moments and significant life-cycle milestones with music and prayer. “He is an exceptional human being, a brilliant and humble leader, a supremely reliable teammate and partner, and a gifted singer,” says Rabbi Cohen.

Congregation B’nai B’rith serves as a spiritual sanctuary to its diverse and inclusive community (the temple has over 25% interfaith families), but is also integral to the greater Santa Barbara community, through social action and religious outreach programs and collaborations with the Santa Barbara Interfaith Initiative, Cottage Hospital, assisted living homes, Showers of Blessings, Anti-Defamation League, UCSB Hillel, and many others.  A temple-wide annual Mitzvah Day sends volunteers into the community to benefit dozens of nonprofits. In addition, Congregation B’nai B’rith has ongoing programs serving food to the homeless community in Pershing Park and working with Transition House in their community kitchen. The temple’s reach even extended to build the Ubumwe Center preschool and elementary school in Rwanda, Africa.

The celebration takes place on January 22 at 5:30 p.m. at Bacara Resort & Spa, 8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta. To find out more about the Dreamers Ball, visit the event page at www.cbbsb.org/dreamersball, call 805/964-7869, or email dreamersball@cbbsb.org.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 4, 2017.