Paths of Gold: Japanese Landscape and Narrative Paintings from the Collection

Views of Itsukushima and Wakanoura (detail), Japanese, Edo period, mid-17th century. Ink, color, and gold leaf on paper; pair of six-panel folding screens. SBMA, Museum Purchase, Peggy and John Maximus Fund.

Views of Itsukushima and Wakanoura (detail), Japanese, Edo period, mid-17th century. Ink, color, and gold leaf on paper; pair of six-panel folding screens. SBMA, Museum Purchase, Peggy and John Maximus Fund.

Choice selections from Santa Barbara Museum of Art‘s extensive Japanese painting collection are on view beginning Saturday, November 10, in the new exhibit Paths of Gold: Japanese Landscape and Narrative Paintings from the Collection.

Traditional Japanese houses were constructed of wood with paper windows and doors, and rice-straw matting (tatami mats) covering the floors. Each room—separated by sliding door panels—was like a virtual blank slate that could be repurposed and redecorated to suit each purpose, and, for certain occasions, could be outfitted with glistening screens and objects of color and gold.

Screens were changed seasonally or commissioned specifically for a celebration, a gathering of like minded friends, or a political assembly. A gilded screen enhanced the ambient light in a room, and at the same time, impressed, or even humbled visitors as it reflected the wealth or status of the patron.

Crows in Early Winter (detail), Kishi Chikudō, Japanese, 1826-1897. Ink and color on gold ground; pair of six-panel folding screens. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by Lord and Lady Ridley-Tree, Priscilla Giesen, and special funds.

Crows in Early Winter (detail), Kishi Chikudō, Japanese, 1826-1897. Ink and color on gold ground; pair of six-panel folding screens. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by Lord and Lady Ridley-Tree, Priscilla Giesen, and special funds.

This exhibition examines the aesthetics of Japanese art within both private and public interiors by showcasing nine folding screens, two scroll paintings, and examples of lacquerware selected from the permanent collection, supplemented by two local loans. Paths of Gold features screens dating from the 16th through the 19th centuries, at the end of which Japan opened to European and American trade.

Among the treasures in the exhibition is a lavishly decorated 17th-century set of three handscrolls, attributed to Tosa Mitsuoki (1617–1691). Painted with exquisite mineral pigments and gold, The Tale of Bunshō narrates a story about the rise of the merchant class and the struggles of women. On display as well are a hanging scroll and screen paintings from the Meiji era (1868–1912), a time when formats and subjects were introduced for the newly-conceived public exhibition hall. Also on display are examples of lacquerware from the collection, decorated with various gold techniques, adding to the multi-faceted painterly splendor in the Japanese interior.

This exhibition is co-curated by Hollis Goodall, Curator of Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Susan Tai, Elizabeth Atkins Curator of Asian Art at SBMA. It is on view November 10, 2018 – February 10, 2019. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located at 1130 State St. in downtown Santa Barbara. It is open Tuesday – Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Free Thursday Evenings from 5 – 8 p.m. For more information, call 805/963-4364, or visit www.sbma.net.

Leslie Dinaberg

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

Wild Up at SBMA: GRADIENT

The modern music collective wild Upan adventurous chamber orchestra committed to creating visceral, thought-provoking happenings—comes to Santa Barbara Museum of Art on September 27 with a program inspired by Nam June Paik’s TV Clock. Featuring  Violinist Andrew McIntosh, the performance is  about space, light, and the passing of time.

Nam June Paik, TV Clock, 1963/1989. Twenty-four fixed-image color television monitors mounted on 24 pedestals. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Grace Jones Richardson Trust, Lillian and Jon B. Lovelace, Leatrice and Eli Luria and the Luria Foundation, Zora and Les Charles and the Cheeryble Foundation, Wendy and Elliot Friedman, and Lord and Lady Ridley-Tree.

Nam June Paik, TV Clock, 1963/1989. Twenty-four fixed-image color television monitors mounted on 24 pedestals. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Grace Jones Richardson Trust, Lillian and Jon B. Lovelace, Leatrice and Eli Luria and the Luria Foundation, Zora and Les Charles and the Cheeryble Foundation, Wendy and Elliot Friedman, and Lord and Lady Ridley-Tree.

Situated in front of Paik’s work, four wild Up violinists perform elegant and visceral works by Anahita Abbasi, John Cage, Tashi Wada, and Steve Reich. The event is free, but reservations are required as seating is limited.

wild Up has been called “Best in Classical Music 2015” and “…a raucous, grungy, irresistibly exuberant…fun-loving, exceptionally virtuosic family” by Zachary Woolfe of The New York Times, “Searing. Penetrating. And thrilling” by Fred Child of Performance Today and “Magnificent” by Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times. Over the last eight years, wild Up has collaborated with orchestras, rock bands and cultural institutions around the world.

The performance takes place on Thursday, September 27, from 6 – 7 p.m. at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State St., Santa Barbara. It is free but please reserve tickets at the Museum Visitor Services desk, or online at tickets.sbma.net.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 25, 2018.

Poetry as Portraiture: Adam Zagajewski and Andrew Winer

Courtesy SBMA.

Courtesy SBMA.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art presents Poetry as Portraiture: Adam Zagajewski and Andrew Winer on Sunday, April 15 at 2:30 p.m. in the Mary Craig Auditorium (SBMA, 1130 State St., Santa Barbara). (Note: Please enter through the Museum Store or Park entrance during the current renovation project.)

Prize-winning, globally-admired poet Adam Zagajewski writes with precision and wonder about the calm and courage of ordinary life. He says of poetry that it “is like a human face—it is an object that can be measured, described, catalogued, but it is also an appeal.” His most recent book, Slight Exaggeration, is a blend of memoir, essay, and anecdote, and in which he defines poetry as “a slight exaggeration, until we make ourselves at home in it. Then it becomes the truth.” Zagajewski is interviewed by fellow writer, friend, novelist, and Chair of the UC Riverside writing program Andrew Winer. Book signing to follow.

This special presentation is part of SBMA’s Parallel Stories series, a literary and performing arts series that pairs art and artists with award-winning authors and performers of regional, national, and international acclaim. This series functions as a multidisciplinary lens through which to view the Museum’s collection and special exhibitions.

The event is free for SBMA Members, $10 for non-Members and $6 for seniors. Tickets may be purchased at  the Museum Visitor Services desk or online at tickets.sbma.net.

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 14, 2018.

Local Dish: Smithy Kitchen + Bar

The outdoor patio at Kitchen + Bar is a beautiful place to dine, day or night. Photo courtesy Smithy.

The outdoor patio at Kitchen + Bar is a beautiful place to dine, day or night. Photo courtesy Smithy.

There’s nothing better than good food in a beautiful setting, and the new Smithy Kitchen + Bar (7 E. Anapamu St.) has both! I’ve dined on the lovely outdoor patio—under its gorgeous canopy of 100-year-old olive trees—twice in the last few weeks—once on a cold night and once on a warmish one—and the well-placed heaters make it a comfortable and cozy spot to be in almost any weather.

Designer Steve Hermann has redone the former Somerset space in an upscale yet approachable style, with a more “Santa Barbara” vibe and every day price point. Originally a blacksmith shop, hence the name “Smithy,” this prime downtown location (near the Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Public Library and Sullivan Goss Gallery) is now a great spot for lunch, dinner with friends and family, nighttime drinks and bites or a leisurely Sunday brunch. There’s also a special Easter Brunch menu, if you’re eager to check it out this weekend.

Smithy's "Baby I'm a Star" cocktail and roasted sunchokes with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Smithy’s “Baby I’m a Star” cocktail and roasted sunchokes with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Chef Lauren Herman’s new menu is delicious, and nothing is over $20. We loved the mussels and clams with shallot, garlic, crispy pork belly, and bok choy served with grilled toast. The sauce was so savory we asked for extra toast (homemade) to lap up every last bite. The pastas were also terrific. Try the Cavatelli combined with pork ragu, mustard greens and tomato confit for a hearty dish. The squid ink casarecce in lobster bisque with uni and nori breadcrumbs was also fabulous.

The vegetables really shine as well. We loved the fried delicata squash with cauliflower, bagna cauda, calabrian chili and anchovy aïoli, as well the roasted rainbow carrots with spiced cashew butter, coconut yogurt and carrot top pistou. I also enjoyed the sunchokes, roasted with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree. Overall, everything was tasty and ideal for sharing.

Smithy's Polenta Dumplings and Mushroom Flatbread. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Smithy’s Polenta Dumplings and Mushroom Flatbread. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Partners in life and in the kitchen, Lauren Herman’s wife, Christina Olufson, is a terrific pastry chef.  The flourless chocolate cake with crushed honeycomb was amazing, as was the butterscotch pumpkin cake. Our friends at a nearby table also raved about the brioche doughnuts, so those are definitely on my list to try next time. 

The cocktails are also worth noting, with creative names like “Ortega Undead II: The Resurrection”  (tequila blanco, lime , thai chile, wild elderflower, falernum and chili-salt rim), “From Tokyo to Mars” (iwai japanese whiskey and bittered grapefruit cordial) and “Baby I’m a Star” (pear and fennel, vodka, fino sherry, absinthe, lemon and peychauds bitters) that are just as delicious as they are irresistible for wordsmiths.

One of several communal dining tables at Smithy Kitchen + Bar, courtesy photo.

One of several communal dining tables at Smithy Kitchen + Bar, courtesy photo.

While I loved the aesthetic of Somerset, Smithy is definitely a more welcoming space, not to mention significantly less expensive. The building’s original exposed brick walls with white weathered board and batten walls, rustic reclaimed table tops, and original school house chairs create a beautiful restaurant that is both airy and open, yet still feels intimate. As is becoming a trend, there are three separate communal tables and bar seating, as well as an additional 130 seats located inside and out, offering a myriad of dining possibilities. The nights I was there, there were large groups of people (both young and less young), lots of couples and smaller groups, as well as some solo diners.

Smithy's Kale Salad. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Smithy’s Kale Salad. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

“We want Smithy to provide a dining oasis in the heart of Santa Barbara,” states owner and designer, Steve Hermann.  “We hope to become that bar/restaurant that feels like home for all of our guests’ dining and drinking needs, whether small or large.  Our food is delicious yet accessible, and our environment is welcoming and comfortable.  We’d like to create a new history with Smithy that matches the history of our iconic Santa Barbara location.”

Smithy is located in downtown Santa Barbara at 7 East Anapamu St.  Call 805/845-7112 or visit Open Table for reservations. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30 – 2:30 p.m.; dinner from 5p.m. – close; and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Happy hour runs daily from 4 – 6 p.m.

Leslie Dinaberg 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 29, 2018.

Interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Bar interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Bar interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Local Lowdown: Beyond Borders

Image from UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum "The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement," the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. Photo by Suzanne Lacy.

Image from UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum “The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement,” the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. Photo by Suzanne Lacy.

The Latin America-Southern California Connection: Pacific Standard Time

By Leslie Dinaberg

An ambitious artistic celebration of the vibrant cultural linkages between Southern California and Latin America takes place across the state this fall, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, Santa Monica, Palm Springs and beyond.

Backed by more than $16 million in grants from the Getty Foundation, the series of thematically linked exhibitions—Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA—spans more than 70 institutions, including local exhibitions at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Historical Museum and UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

“We’re proud that the Getty is once again making it possible for institutions across Southern California to do justice to a vast and complex subject, with this exploration of the vital traditions of Latin American and Latino art,” says Jim Cuno, president of J. Paul Getty Trust, referring to the 2011-2012 iteration of Pacific Standard Time, a Southern California collaboration that focused on art in Los Angeles from 1945-1980. He continues, “Working together, as we did in the first Pacific Standard Time initiative, can we begin to encompass the richness and dynamism of an art created in multiple countries and on two continents.”

Valeska Soares, Any Moment Now… (Spring), 2014, courtesy Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo, on view at Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Among the local Pacific Standard Time highlights is “Valeska Soares: Any Moment Now,” a survey of the New York-based Brazilian artist’s work comprised of unique environmental installations combining sculptures, photography, video, and performances at Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Sept. 17-Dec. 17).

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara breaks new ground with “Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art from 1960-Present,” the first survey of modern and contemporary art from Guatemala, exploring a previously unexamined rich period of artistic production that began during the “long civil war” of the late 1950s and extends to the present day. The three-part exhibition is presented at MCASB’s galleries, Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop (SBCAW) and Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art at Westmont College (Sept. 17-Dec. 17).

Darío Escobar, Untitled, 1998, Cardboard, plastic, gold leaf, and pigments, 7.875 x 3.5in, Courtesy the Artist. On view as part of "Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960 - Present" at MCA Santa Barbara.

Darío Escobar, Untitled, 1998, Cardboard, plastic, gold leaf, and pigments, 7.875
x 3.5in, Courtesy the Artist. On view as part of “Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960 – Present” at MCA Santa Barbara.

Sacred Art in the Age of Contact at Santa Barbara Historical Museum brings together, for the first time, a diverse body of objects from Santa Barbara-area collections exploring the relationship between art and spirituality in both Chumash and Spanish traditions. Also presented at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum, “Sacred Art” highlights the themes of sacred geography, language, materiality and resistance. It also investigates the mutually transformative interaction between these traditions, which have immediate implications on the ways in which the cultural dynamics of Santa Barbara County are understood today (Sept. 15-Jan. 14).

Also on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum is “The Schoolhouse and the Bus: Mobility, Pedagogy and Engagement,” the work of Suzanne Lacy & Pablo Helguera. This exhibition pairs for the first time the work of two leading practitioners of the Social Practice Movement, an art medium that focuses on engagement through human interaction and social discourse. This exhibition juxtaposes key examples of the artists’ works and incorporates installations, photography, drawing and performance, alongside archival documentation that serves to highlight overlapping themes, including immigration, race and social organizing (Sept. 16-Dec. 8).

For more information and a complete list of events and exhibits visit pacificstandardtime.org.

Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

SBMA Atelier: The Scent of Secret Gardens

Courtesy SBMA

Courtesy SBMA

Santa Barbara Museum of Art‘s Atelier events are always chock full of creative fun, and this Saturday’s event—Atelier: The Scent of Secret Gardens— should be right on par with the best ones. This time around, Atelier takes India as inspiration in an evening embracing everything from Moghul to Modern, from Bombay to Bollywood. Music and dance, as well as fabulous flowers, food, and drink, celebrate the richly layered culture of the Indian subcontinent.

Have another round with the Raj at the Gin and Tonic Bar or sip the sweetly seductive Rose Petal Punch. Artist-designed activities include a Jain-inspired game of South East Asian Snakes and Ladders, match the deity to the vehicle, or spin the karmically competitive Wheel of Fortune.

The event is Saturday, May 14, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State St. Tickets can be purchased at 

 the Museum Visitor Services desks or online at tickets.sbma.net.

—Leslie Dinaberg  

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on May 12, 2016.

Local Poets on Ray Strong

Ray Stanford Strong, Lower East Side, New York City, Rainy Day Under the El, 1926-27. Oil on canvas mounted on board. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by Robert and Marlene Veloz.

Ray Stanford Strong, Lower East Side, New York City, Rainy Day Under the El, 1926-27. Oil on canvas mounted on board. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by Robert and Marlene Veloz.

There’s a great, free poetry event coming up on Thursday, June 11, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Local poets will follow Ray Strong‘s example in SBMA’s exhibition and write about the world “Beyond Santa Barbara,” while remaining true to their homegrown cultivated poetic visions. The event takes place on the front steps of Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State St.   

The museum also has a related exhibition, Ray Strong: Beyond Santa Barbara, running through June 21. Here’s the scoop:

“This intimate presentation of paintings and drawings by esteemed artist Ray Strong (1905–2006) highlights distinct moments within the artist’s practice over the course of 45 years. Featuring landscapes and cityscapes produced outside of the Santa Barbara area, the selected works from the Museum’s holdings offer a view of Strong’s travels and his lifelong interest in depicting the environment around him.”

Ray Strong: Beyond Santa Barbara is organized in conjunction with The Ray Strong Project, an initiative of Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery. This effort includes a series of events and exhibitions coalescing in June of 2015 at museums and galleries in the Santa Barbara area. This initiative will also produce the first monograph on Ray Strong and an online catalogue raisonné.”

For additional information, visit www.theraystrongproject.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on June 5, 2015.

Cocktail Corner: Primavera in Winter at SBMA’s Atelier

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

 

Ciaramella, courtesy SBMA

Ciaramella, courtesy SBMA

Santa Barbara Museum of Art‘s Atelier cocktail parties are always a feast for the senses, and Atelier: Primavera in Winter, which celebrates everything Italian—including the fabulous exhibition of Botticelli, Titian and Beyond: Masterpieces of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums, which is on view through May 3—is shaping up to be a great event.

Cavaliere d'Arpino (Giuseppe Cesari), Archangel Michael and the Rebel Angels, ca. 1592–93. Oil on tin leaf(?)-coated copper.  Glasgow Museums; Bequeathed by Archibald McLellan, 1856 (153) © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Cavaliere d’Arpino (Giuseppe Cesari), Archangel Michael and the Rebel Angels, ca. 1592–93. Oil on tin leaf(?)-coated copper.
Glasgow Museums; Bequeathed by Archibald McLellan, 1856 (153) © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Taking place at the Museum on Friday, February 27, from 5:30–7:30 p.m., this evening celebrates what the organizers are calling, “the drama of the divine, the sensuality of the secular and the splendors of spring in a one-night pilgrimage through 500 years of Italian painting in the galleries.” The entertainment includes music and dance performances by Ciaramella and Helios Dance Theater, participatory fresco painting, an interactive installation—From Mad Love to Bad Love—inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres inspired by the Italian greats.

Start out your evening with a visit to Dante’s Purgatory, a literary work that inspired a 1480 commission by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici for a series of narrative paintings by Sandro Botticelli.The tiered terraces of purgatory look suspiciously like dessert at the From Mad Love to Bad Love station, so you can have your cake and eat it too in this interactive, artist-designed installation.

After your journey through purgatory, immerse yourself in large-scale works at the fresco painting interactive installation. Work with SBMA Teaching Artist Kendall Pata to create a communal fresco inspired by the exhibition and painted directly onto dry plaster panels. Then tune in to the instrumental tapestry of Ciaramella, a wind ensemble dedicated to the music of the 15th century. The six-piece group—whose name is from he Italian shawm (a double-reed instrument similar to the oboe) and a 15th-century story about a beautiful girl whose clothes are full of holes and “knocks men flat” when she opens her mouth—performs a blend of Renaissance polyphony and improvisation.

Helios Dance Theater, courtesy SBMA

Helios Dance Theater, courtesy SBMA

Helios Dance Theater, led by critically-acclaimed choreographer and artistic director Laura Gorenstein Miller, returns to Santa Barbara Museum of Art with a performance that mixes sensual abandon with fierce physicality. Praised by the Los Angeles Times as presenting a “sensual partnering of maneuvers constructed of both intimate gestures and acrobatic lifts,” Helios performs at the intersection of period music and contemporary dance to deliver a visual exploration of the sacred and the sensory.

Guests will also enjoy a selection of baroque music curated for the occasion by composer, violist, baroque violinist, and 17th-century music specialist Andrew Mcintosh.

As you make your way through the ages, sip on Brander wine and savor Italian-inspired piccolini and small bites inspired by the flavors of Rome, Venice, and Florence, and prepared by Fire and Ice Events. A blend of Cutler Vodka, limoncello, and fresh citrus makes the evening’s signature cocktail: the Sacred and Profane. Inspired by the symbol of purity in love, lemons, the Sacred and Profane provides a refreshing, revealing, and possibly redemptive experience—as can be said for the beautiful and powerfully moving paintings around which the evening revolves.

This is a 21 and over party, and tickets $25 SBMA members/$30 non‐members) include hors d’oeuvres, wine, and signature cocktails, along with the entertainment. Purchase tickets at sbma.net/atelier. For more information, call 805/884.6423 or email atelier@sbma.net. Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located at 1130 State St.

Hope to see some of you there. Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on February 13, 2015.

Leslie Dinaberg

 

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.”

Local Lowdown: Class-y Gifting

By Leslie Dinaberg

In a season chock-full of stuff, the notion of learning a new skill, or improving upon an old one, through taking a class is a great way to give someone a gift that keeps on giving—providing memorable experiences and perhaps even spurring lasting new interests. Here are some class-y gift suggestions for everyone on your list.

Courtesy Eat This, Shoot That!

Courtesy Eat This, Shoot That!

Eat This, Shoot That!

One glance at Instagram is all it takes to know that food shots are all the rage. Learn how to take fantastic food and travel photos while tasting delicious food and drinks in and around Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone with this unique tour. (800/979-3370, 805/699-6719, eatthisshootthat.com) Eat This, Shoot That! owner Tara Jones and her crew take you to taste and shoot at Deep Sea Winery, Santa Barbara Shellfish Co., Lucky Penny, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Riverbench Winery, Koval Confections and Seven Bar + Kitchen. In addition to photography tips and nibbles and tipples, the tour also offers tidbits of Santa Barbara history.

Polo Play

Learn the fast-paced game of polo at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, where John Westley’s world-renowned polo school has taught players of all skill levels for more than 20 years (805/729-2812, sbpoloschool.com). The club offers a variety of options to learn to play polo for beginners and to fine tune polo skills for more advanced players.

Make Music

Studies have shown that learning music enhances brain power, improves memory and boosts performance. What a great gift to give to someone at any age! Learn to sing or play an instrument at Santa Barbara School of Music (805/699-5594, schoolofmusicsb.com), where the goal is to make learning to sing or play an instrument a fun, rewarding and positive experience.

Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts, courtesy photo

Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts, courtesy photo

Up in the Air

Has the same old, same old exercise routine gotten stale? Santa Barbara Rock Gym’s skilled staff teaches aspiring rock hounds of all ages everything from beginner climber safety and climbing techniques to advanced bouldering skills (805/770-3225, sbrockgym.com). For a completely different type of high flying fun, check out Cloud 10 Jump Club (805/617-3900, cloud10jumpclub.com); with almost 19,000 square feet of trampolines to play on, the club is also home to the C10 “Air Academy” training center for trampoline and tumbling classes, camps and flipping clinics. Also up in the air for fun and fitness are classes at Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts (805/284-8785, sbaerial.com), including intensive stretching and conditioning, static trapeze, aerial sling, the art of balance and more.

Dance Fever

Dance to your heart’s content at Santa Barbara Dance Center (805/899-2901, santabarbaradancecenter.com), where lessons are offered in Brazilian dancing, Bollywood fusion, world dance, salsa, Argentine tango and more. Arthur Murray Dance Center (805/963-6658, arthurmurraysantabarbara.com) gets students out on the floor for a wide variety of Latin, country Western and ballroom dances, including the waltz, jitterbug, fox trot, cha cha, Texas two-step, swing, Polka, merengue, quickstep and more.

Adventure Awaits

Yearning to get out on the water? Santa Barbara Adventure Company (805/884-9283, sbadventureco.com) offers standup paddling lessons, surf lessons, paragliding and kayaking. Santa Barbara Sailing Center (800/350-9090, sbsail.com) has more than 40 charter boats in its program and a large staff of instructors to accommodate sailors of all levels. In addition to one-on-one lessons, it also offers plenty of live-aboard instructional vacation options to choose from, as well as regularly scheduled group classes.

The WOODS Art Studio offers creative mixed-media classes, date nights, art parties and more. Photo courtesy The Woods Art Studio.

The WOODS Art Studio offers creative mixed-media classes, date nights, art parties and more. Photo courtesy The Woods Art Studio.

Grow Artsy

Get out a paintbrush and get back to nature at the same time at The WOODS Art Studio, a fun sunlit outdoor studio in the Santa Barbara foothills, where LeAnne Iverson offers both private and small group classes in mixed media painting, collage, Photoshop techniques, acrylics, art journaling, mosaics, found object construction and art parties (including bachelorette gatherings, date nights and singles nights) for children/teens and adults (646/369-7277, facebook.com/thewoodsartstudio). For a more traditional approach, Santa Barbara Museum of Art (805/884-6457, sbmuseart.org) offers a wide variety of studio art classes at Ridley-Tree Education Center, including instruction in watercolor and acrylic painting.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Winter 2014/15.

Michelle Stuart: Drawn from Nature on View at SBMA

Michelle Stuart, Book of the Stone, 1984-85. Earth from Machu Picchu, hydrocal cover, brown wax, linen, muslin-mounted paper. Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects.

Michelle Stuart, Book of the Stone, 1984-85. Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects.

Currently on view at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (through May 25) is an interesting contemporary exhibit, Michelle Stuart: Drawn from Nature.

Drawing, sculpture, photography, video and installation— Stuart has done it all, infusing her lifelong interest in the natural world into all of her pieces, and maintaining a dialogue with nature that is at times literal (smashing rocks and leaves into her art) and ethereal (creating her own imaginary landscapes). Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State St. 805/963-4364, sbma.net.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on March 9, 2014.