2019 Best of Santa Barbara

SB Independent Best of

From the Santa Barbara Independent, October 17, 2019.

So, I had the honor of writing up the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa winners this year. It was a huge, fun project. People were so happy to hear from me and so excited to have won! You can read the whole thing (203 winners at last count) by clicking here, or on the PDF below.

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part1

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part2

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part3

Best of Independent Cover

LEVI GILBERT | Art Meets Action

Levi Gilbert interview from 805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Falling down stairs, crashing motorcycles, and taking death-defying leaps off the sides of cliffs are all in a day’s work for Levi Gilbert, a 2017 Santa Barbara High School graduate who got his first Hollywood stunt job as soon as he turned 18 and was legally allowed to perform. This might seem like a crazy career choice to some, but stunt performing is in Gilbert’s blood. His grandfather Mickey Gilbert’s career dates back to the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and his father, Lance Gilbert, was Mel Gibson’s personal stuntman.

“I got started doing stunt work with the guidance of my dad,” says the 20-year-old Gilbert, who has already appeared in TV series such as 9-1-1, 13 Reasons Why, Ballers, Daybreak, Silicon Valley, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as the upcoming Ford v Ferrari film, which is generating Oscar buzz. “He has always helped me by giving me every opportunity to learn something new and expand my skill sets.

“Directors know exactly what they want from the stunt performers, but it’s up to you to make it happen safely,” says the youngest of the Gilbert family stunt artists. “The most dangerous stunts I have done so far in my career would probably be stair falls.” He starred as a young naval lieutenant who fell to a dramatic death in an NCIS: New Orleans episode this year.

“Difficulty and danger often go hand in hand,” he says. “But for me the hardest stunt isn’t a stunt at all—it’s acting—which is something I am working on and trying to understand the art of.”

Leslie Dinaberg

805 Living Magazine, October 2019.

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, October 2019. 805 Living Oct 2019 The 805’s Got Talent

Getting Schooled in Museum Education

student interns strike a pose. Courtesy UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Art, Design & Architecture Museum student interns strike a pose. Courtesy UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Interns at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum earn academic credit and valuable experience

By Leslie Dinaberg
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 – 06:00 Santa Barbara, CA

When this year’s cohort of interns take their place at UC Santa Barbara’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum (AD&A Museum), they’ll have the opportunity not only to add valuable skills to their own resumes, but also serve to the University and the broader Santa Barbara community.

“We are contributing to the development of the museum field by fostering future professionals,” said Elyse Gonzales, AD&A Museum’s acting director. “I also see the internship program, and all of our efforts really, as a means of developing future museum visitors, members, and donors for our museum and all museums in general. Our goals for the undergraduate internship program at the AD&A Museum are quite ambitious.”

Internships for academic credit are offered in the curatorial, collections management, archival management, programs/events, education outreach and public relations departments of the AD&A Museum. The museum also offers collaborative internships with the University Library’s special collections department; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where interns serve as gallery guides for students in grades six through 12; and with online platform impactmania — in collaboration with the Neuroscience Research Institute, Department of Religious Studies and global partners — where interns work to deliver a suite of interviews, interactive presentations, and events related to the topic “Human Mind and Migration.”

“I approach all of our UCSB students — really all students — who come to the museum the same way, with a warm welcome, emphasizing that the museum is for them,” Gonzales said. “If we can get them to visit while they are at UCSB, give them a positive experience and help them understand that the museum is not an intimidating place — this is not a place that is about exclusion, it’s about inclusion — then you’ve hooked a museum-goer for the rest of their life.

The more we can reach out to and engage younger generations, the better we are going to be in the long run. And when I say ‘we’ I mean the AD&A Museum, but also museums in general.”

Gonzales credits much of the vision for the internship program to Bruce Robertson, the recently retired museum director. “Studies reveal that most museum professionals and others in the arts became interested in these fields because they had a pivotal moment with an object or a formative creative experience. Knowing that, and with education as the imperative of the entire university, we immediately understood that we could make a significant contribution to our field,” Gonzales said. “But, also the reality of our situation is that we have a lot of tasks, projects, and events that need to be executed and managed and loads of ambitions to do even more. Knowing this, it became clear that working with students would not only help them but help us achieve our goals and mission.”

Focused on professional development, the resulting program pairs students with employees at the museum.

“The students have been great to work with — they are excited to learn new things, go ‘behind the scenes’ at the museum, and are able to explore possible career paths,” said Architecture and Design Collection Reference Archivist Julia Larson. “The students are eager to come in for their intern shifts because they are working on concrete projects — putting materials in folders, organizing and labelling collections, assisting with cataloging which they can cite as examples of work projects for future jobs or grad school. They also ask a lot of good questions and force me to think through my work and how best to explain things.

“The students learn how to process archival collections,” she added, “which is very hands-on work.”

Said Susan Lucke, collections manager and registrar, “We rely on our interns so much. They’re just not doing entry-level work. They actually get to do work that I would do. We need the help, and they gain a lot of experience and that’s so useful when they start to look for a job.

“I think it’s helpful for kids to look at all their options in school and this is a really a good program,” Lucke continued. “It’s not like sitting in a classroom with 300 other kids. It’s more of an intimate experience, and students get a lot of one-on-one attention plus it enables them to look at another side of life.”

AD&A Museum interns have gone on to graduate school; the Peace Corps; and to careers at many different kinds of museums, including the Smithsonian, the Peterson Automotive Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara, among others.

For-credit internships are open to undergraduates in all majors. “We find that many of our interns love art and architecture but also feel like they need to have a degree in something else, something they perceive as being more stable,” said Gonzales.

“The impetus behind this internship program is primarily to help give students professional experiences but also to help alleviate student and parental concerns about future career opportunities,” she added. “In addition, one of my goals is to help reflect the diversity of our campus and to create opportunities to diversify the field for future museum leadership.”

What she feels most proud about the internship program is that when students leave, they have concrete real- world experiences they can put on a resume and several individuals willing to give them a great reference. “A really smart and committed intern can do wonders,” Gonzales noted. “We should know, our museum wouldn’t function half so well without their terrific help.”

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 28, 2019.

Bells Will Be Ringing

Performance by university carillonist Wesley Arai celebrates the 50th anniversary of Storke Tower

By Leslie Dinaberg

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 – 12:00, Santa Barbara, CA

University Carillonist Wesley Arai, courtesy photo.

University Carillonist Wesley Arai, courtesy photo.

From a small space atop Storke Tower, the music Wesley Arai creates on a 61-bell carillon rings out across the UC Santa Barbara campus.

Audiences will be treated to a special program Sunday, Aug. 25, when Arai, the university carillonist, gives a recital as part of series celebrating the 50th anniversary of Storke Tower. Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 2 p.m. Listeners are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs to sit on the grass beneath the tower.

“I realize that most people aren’t familiar with the carillon, so I try to make my recitals accessible and varied,” said Arai, who also oversees the maintenance of the instrument and organizes guest carillon recitals as part of his duties. The summer concert will include well-known classical music, popular songs and some music written specifically for the carillon. As a tribute to the 50th anniversary, Arai said, “I’ve been trying to also include music that is significant to the university and its carillon. Going with that theme, the concert will likely include some music written for the campus carillon, music written by past university carillonists and school songs.”

Arai, also a lecturer in the Department of Music, has performed extensively across the United States and abroad. He has recently performed in Australia, at the Eighth Berkeley Carillon Festival, at the Springfield International Carillon Festival and at the Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, which this year took place in Lake Wales, Florida. In addition, he gave the dedicatory recital for the carillon at the University of Washington. Arai also performs annually at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington.

In addition to the carillon, Arai has studied piano, trombone and voice, and has performed in a variety of concert bands, marching bands, jazz bands, orchestras and choral groups. He also enjoys arranging music and occasionally performs some of his own arrangements on the carillon.

An alumnus of UC Berkeley, where he received bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and in statistics, Arai discovered the carillon as an undergraduate student. “I would hear the bells all the time while walking to class,” he said, “and I heard there was a class to learn how to play — so I signed up and have been playing ever since.”

Enthusiastic to share his passion and skill, Arai invites UC Santa Barbara students interested in learning to play the Storke Tower carillon to email him at warai at gmail dot com to schedule a piano audition. Enrollment is limited to three students per quarter.

Storke Tower and its carillon were a gift from Thomas More Storke, former publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press. The instrument consists of 61 bells cast by Petit & Fritsen of the Netherlands, with the bells weighing from 18 pounds to 2.5 tons and spanning five octaves. The carillon at UC Santa Barbara is a much larger modern copy of historical instruments that were invented approximately 500 years ago in the Low Countries of Europe. Then, tower bells were used to signal time, much like a clock chime, and as a means of additional notifications (e.g. an enemy is approaching) and directives, such as to close the city gates or go to church.

Eventually, the number of bells was increased and they were connected to a keyboard to facilitate the performance of music. A melody was often played to attract the attention of the townspeople before the hour bell tolled the time throughout the day. A carillon is played with the fists and feet, and the action is completely mechanical. To vary the dynamics of the music, the performer must strike the key harder or use a lighter touch, much like a piano.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 20, 2019.

Body-Mind Connection

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

BMCA somatic movement conference focuses on embodiment and brain research, with an indigenous education element

By Leslie Dinaberg

Monday, August 5, 2019 – 10:15

Santa Barbara, CA

Bringing together more than 70 presenters from around the world, the Body-Mind Centering Association (BMCA) presents its 34th annual interdisciplinary laboratory, research and workshop conference at UC Santa Barbara August 6-11.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

Hosted by brooke smiley, a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance, this somatic movement conference features an array of workshops, panel discussions, presentations and performances. The theme, “Self and Other,” reflects the conference emphasis on the evolving indigenous embodiment in relation to dance, song and land.

“I wanted to create a focus on what it means to value our differences and also bring focus to our interconnectedness,” said smiley.

She anticipates approximately 130 participants at the conference, which is open to the public. “It’s interesting because we have a lot of people from different realms: science, dance, academia, choreographers, dancers, therapists and infant movement development specialists,” smiley said. “Movement research takes a lot of different forms out in the world. As host, I’ve been able to be supported in bringing a focus to an indigenous educational awareness about the land here, specifically before UC Santa Barbara was here, and the dances and the songs that came from the bodies in relationship to this land.”

With that awareness in mind, the Friday, Aug. 9 plenary session led by smiley, titled “Embodying Land in Dance and Song: Addressing Decolonization in Indigenous Ceremony and Performance,” includes a panel from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. An indigenous dance artist herself, smiley was recently named a 2019/2020 Advancing Indigenous Performers Fellow by the Western Arts Alliance, a program made possible by a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Among the conference highlights:

• A two-part presentation by BMCA founder and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. “Engaging Self and Other through Embodiment, Part I” will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Part II will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

• 2019 Guggenheim Scholar Ann Cooper Albright’s two-part “Cultivating the 3R’s: Responsiveness, Resistance, Resilience” (Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. and Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. ). Cooper is professor and chair of dance at Oberlin College.

• Two evenings of dance performances (Aug. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.) in 1151 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Admission is free.

Founded in 1985, the BMCA is a professional organization dedicated to exploring, sharing and expanding body-mind centering work. Members reside around the world, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Additional conference details and registration information is available at https://bmcassociation.org/conferences/2019-bmca-conference. A complete schedule of events can be found at https://bit.ly/2JHR7YJ.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 5, 2019.

Art on Deck

Click here to see the story:

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.

A Day Away: Pasadena

The Huntington Botanical Gardens, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The rich history and culture of Pasadena is a just a short drive away.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Less than 10 miles away from Downtown Los Angeles, but a world away from the big city vibe, Pasadena beckons with an exceptional blend of architecture, gardens, history, entertainment and dining options that will please even the pickiest of travelers.  

Sip & Savor

We started our recent visit with a delicious meal at The Arbour (527 S. Lake Ave., Ste. 120, 626/396-4925, thearbourpasadena.com), where Chef Ian Gresik and his team bring the freshest ingredients from local farms, ranches and fisheries to the table. Sip a specialty cocktail like an Arugula Gimlet (get your veggies and gin in one shot) and nibble on delicious edibles like crab pappardelle pasta or bison steak tartare as you watch the magic happen in a bright, open kitchen.

The Antidote cocktail at Bar 1886 at The Raymond, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Antidote cocktail at Bar 1886 at The Raymond, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Step back into time for late night cocktails at Bar 1886 at The Raymond (1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave. 626/441-3136, theraymond.com), a speakeasy style bar with more than 600 off-menu house cocktails, Manhattans, old-fashions, sidecars and sours prepared to perfection. If you don’t see exactly what you’re thirsty for, request a “dealer’s choice” and let the bartender create the perfect drink for you.

A great choice for breakfast is Central Grille ( 219 S. Fair Oaks Ave., 626/449-4499, centralparkrestaurant.net), housed in a 100-year-old flower warehouse, and serving up specialties like salmon skillet hash, braised short rib benedicts, as well as an array of eggs, waffles, pancakes and other breakfast fare. 

Prawn, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Prawn, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

For a casual lunch, check out Prawn (16 Miller Alley, 626/219-6615, prawncoastal.com/pasadena-ca), Chef Mark Peel’s (Ma Maison, Spago, La Brea Bakery, Campanile) new venture designed to deliver super accessible high-quality seafood. Try the Seattle fish stew, the lobster mac & cheese and the chocolate chip cookies, if they have them!

Gamble House in Pasadena is a 1908 National Historic Monument designed by Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene. Photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Gamble House in Pasadena is a 1908 National Historic Monument designed by Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene. Photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

See

Tour the Gamble House—a 1908 National Historic Monument from—for a docent-led education in the craftsman tradition. Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene not only designed the residence, but nearly every detail inside and out—furniture, rugs, lamps and leaded art glass—for David and Mary Gamble of the Procter & Gamble Company (reservations required, 626/793-3334, gamblehouse.org). 

Interior of Gamble House in Pasadena, a 1908 National Historic Monument available for tours by reservation.  Photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Interior of Gamble House in Pasadena, a 1908 National Historic Monument available for tours by reservation. Photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Architecture buffs should also check out the Bungalow Heaven Home Tour on Apr. 28 (bungalowheaven.org), where you’ll visit select homes built from 1900 to the 1930s in Bungalow Heaven, Pasadena’s first Landmark District. Designated as one of the “10 Great Places in America” by the American Planning Association, Bungalow Heaven has more than 1,000 historic homes in the neighborhood.

The iconic Vromans Bookstore, photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The iconic Vromans Bookstore, photo courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore, Vroman’s Book Store (695 E. Colorado Blvd., 626/449-5320, vromansbookstore.com) is a literary landmark well worth exploring. 

The Pasadena Playhouse, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Pasadena Playhouse, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The historic Pasadena Playhouse (39 S. El Molino Ave., pasadenaplayhouse.org) offers building tours, as well as a wide variety of productions. Slated to open this spring is Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the New York Times bestseller by Cheryl Strayed, and adapted by Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

The Huntington Art Gallery exterior, courtesy the Huntington.

The Huntington Art Gallery exterior, courtesy the Huntington.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (1151 Oxford Rd., 626/405-2100, huntington.org) is a magical place. I could have easily spent several days exploring the 207-acre estate of the late Henry Huntington. The botanical gardens alone have 14,000 varieties of plants on more than 150 acres. Don’t miss the Chinese Garden, where you can stroll around a beautiful lake bordered by Tai Hu rocks and enjoy a landscape that includes five hand-carved stone bridges, a stream, and a canyon waterfall. The Huntington Library includes works from American and British literature, including an original Gutenberg Bible. There’s also the Huntington Art Gallery, showcasing 18th and 19th British and French masterpieces, including “Pinkie” (Thomas Lawrence, 1794) and “The Blue Boy” (Thomas Gainsborough, 1770), which currently offers visitors a glimpse into the technical processes of a senior conservator working on the famous painting as well as background on its history, mysteries and artistic virtues (through Sept. 30). 

The Norton Simon Museum, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Norton Simon Museum, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Norton Simon Museum (411 W. Colorado Blvd., nortonsimon.org) is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. The current exhibition, Matisse/Odalisque, on view through Jun. 17, features work by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and others.

The Pasadena Playhouse District, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

The Pasadena Playhouse District, courtesy Visit Pasadena.

Stay

We stayed at the centrally-located Hilton Pasadena (168 N. Los Robles Ave. 626/577-1000, hilton.com), in a spacious, contemporary room. Also well-regarded are the Langham Huntington (recently named a reader’s choice award winner by Condé Nast Traveler) and the historic Bissell House Bed and Breakfast.

For more information, go to visitpasadena.com. 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 14, 2019.

Joffrey Ballet

Joffrey Ballet, "Mammatus, photo by Cheryl Mann.

Joffrey Ballet, “Mammatus, photo by Cheryl Mann.

The world-renowned Joffrey Ballet comes to the Granada Theatre for two nights of incredible dance performances of works by George Balanchine and other acclaimed choreographers, presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures on Tuesday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 6 at 8 p.m.

“The Joffrey dancers, costumed and lit and shockingly talented, are like a rock concert for the eyes,” reports Huffington Post.  

Among the repertoire included in on the Santa Barbara stage is one of Balanchine’s earliest experimental works, two pieces by modern ballet master Nicolas Blanc, the unique cinematic vision of Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman, contemporary ballet darling Justin Peck with a work set to a score by Philip Glass and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa‘s stunning depiction of a turbulent cloud formation. These wide-ranging programs display the inestimable skill of the Joffrey Ballet’s dancers, classically trained to the highest standards, and the company’s unique, inclusive perspective on dance. 

Tue, Mar 5 (Program A)

George Balanchine: The Four Temperaments
Nicolas Blanc: Beyond the Shore
Alexander Ekman: Joy

Wed, Mar 6 (Program B)

Justin Peck: In Creases
Nicolas Blanc: Encounter
Alexander Ekman: Joy
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa: Mammatus 

The Joffrey is a world-class, Chicago-based ballet company and dance education organization committed to artistic excellence and innovation. Classically trained to the highest standards, the Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences and repertoire, which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.

Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.

Joffrey Ballet, Beyond the Shore, photo by Cheryl Mann.

Joffrey Ballet, Beyond the Shore, photo by Cheryl Mann.

RELATED EVENT

Community Dance Class with The Joffrey Ballet 

Mon., Mar. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Gustafson Dance, 2285 Las Positas Rd., Santa Barbara

Reservations: 805/563-3262 ext. 1

Co-presented by Gustafson Dance

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.eduTickets are also available through The Granada Theatre at  805/899-2222 or granadasb.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 2, 2019.