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.

“Selma Rubin and Community of Life” at Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Selma Rubin and Beezhan Tulu at El Capitan (courtesy photo)

Selma Rubin and Beezhan Tulu at El Capitan (courtesy photo)

The legacy of beloved local activist Selma Rubin lives on in filmmaker Beezhan Tulu‘s new documentary, Selma Rubin and Community of Life, which is an official selection of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. 

When asked what inspired him to do the film, Tulu said, “I believe we don’t own this planet and we share it with billions of other species that our health and livelihood completely depends on theirs. Therefore I always look for stories that promote a healthier planet for all species. Selma Rubin and her community has done that. Therefore a story like Selma’s and how she has encouraged every one around her to build strong organizations such as EDC (Environmental Defense Center) and CEC (Community Environmental Council) has been very inspiring to me.”

The documentary focuses on the period of time when Rubin (who passed away in 2012) finds out that a developer is planning to build 1,500 homes on the Gaviota Coast and decides to stop him. It’s definitely a must see for locals. Along with footage of Rubin, it also features Dave Davis (CEO/Executive Director of the Community Environmental Council), Chris Mobley (Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent), David Landecker (former Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Center), Jean-Michelle Cousteau (explorer, environmentalist and Chairman of the Board and President of Ocean Futures Society), Linda Krop (Chief Counsel of the Environmental Defense Center), Marc McGinnes (UCSB Environmental Studies Program), Paul Relis (founding Executive Director of the Community Environmental Council) and Mike Lunsford (charter member and president of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy Board of Directors).

In addition to a touching local story, what Tulu hopes people will take away from the film is an encouraging message. “I  believe in people and know that we need to be working to gather for a better world. I believe that focusing on a healthier planet for all species goes beyond our differences in culture, religion, nationality, race, sex, skin color and all other shallow thoughts that have separated us and made us suffer. And although we live in hard times and 98% of scientists agree that global climate change is real and we need to do something very serious, really fast, and really soon. But I believe this is also a great opportunity to unite us again as humanity.”

Selma Rubin and Community of Life will screen at Santa Barbara Museum of Art on February 4 at 7 p.m. and at Metro 4 Theatre on February  5 at 10 a.m.


—Leslie Dinaberg
Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on January 28, 2014.

Share the Gift of an Experience

GiftofExperience1-704x400Nothing beats the gift of a memorable experience…except perhaps one that you can share with your loved ones. Here are some holiday gift suggestions that can be appreciated together.

Santa Barbara Beautiful

When it comes to enjoying our gorgeous city, the options truly are endless. One of the best ways to soak in the soul of Santa Barbara is to get out on the water. In the early winter months, Condor Express whale-watching charters follow migrating California Gray Whales as they pass through the channel (805/882-0088, condorexpress.com) and Adventure Sailing Charters (805/794-8703, adventuresailingventura.com)offers boats to the Channel Islands, as well as surf trips.

Landlubbers will love a membership to Lotusland, which provides priority access to 37 acres of spectacular collections of exotic plants (805/969-9990, lotusland.org). Members of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (805/682-4726, sbbg.org) not only get free entry to this living museum, but also support the garden’s mission of conservation, education and scientific research. Garden lovers, not to mention history buffs and architecture aficionados, will love a tour of the historic Casa del Herrero (805/565-5653, casadelherrero.com), an elegant Montecito estate and National Historic Landmark. For a truly adventurous gift, take to the skies with Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours (805/845-4500, helicoptertoursofsantabarbara.com), offering wine tours, whale watching trips and Channel Islands flights.

Wine and Dine

Oenophiles will appreciate the plethora of tasting and transportation options offered by Wine Canyon Tours (805/453-7047, winecanyontours.com), Sustainable Vine Wine Tours (805/698-3911, sustainablevine.com) and Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours (805/646-3200, ccjeeps.com), among others. Got a sweet tooth? Santa Barbara Adventure Co.’s Tasty Cupcake and Wine Tour (805/884-9283, sbadventureco.com) is simply delicious.

The Show Must Go On

Why not treat that special someone to passes for Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which runs Jan. 30–Feb. 9 (805/963-0023, sbiff.org) and offers a variety of packages that include movie tickets, parties and tributes and awards ceremonies. Classical music aficionados will love series tickets to Santa Barbara Symphony (805/898-9386, thesymphony.org), the “Met Live In HD Series” at Music Academy of the West (805/695-7931, musicacademy.org) or CAMA’s International Series (805/ 966-4324, camasb.org). If the play’s the thing, then the Broadway Series at The Granada is just the ticket (805/899-2222, granadasb.org) for big musical performances, while the black-box intimacy of Center Stage Theater (805/963-8198, centerstagetheater.tix.com) hosts a terrific variety of plays and performances, including the locals’ favorite Speaking of Stories (805/963-0408, speakingofstories.org) reader theater series.

Catch Some Culture

Museum memberships make great gifts. Santa Barbara Museum of Art (805/963-4364, sbma.net) members have access to the museum’s renowned exhibitions, grand opening events and other special activities, as well as a connection to a vibrant community of art lovers. MCASB (805/966-5373, mcasantabarbara.org) also cultivates a unique arts community. Its members form a society of contemporary art lovers, patrons and artists who actively participate in the intellectual and artistic life of the museum. Another great way to catch some culture is via UCSB Arts and Lectures Series (805/893-3535, artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu), which has about a dozen terrific ticket series to choose from—or you can build your own.

Get Active

The gift of physical fitness is a gift that keeps on giving. Why not give golf lessons (805/968-1541, sandpipergolf.com), try stand up paddle boarding (805/881-2115, supadventuressb.com), or yoga at Core Power Yoga (805/884-9642, corepoweryoga.com) or Yoga Soup (805/965-8811, yogasoup.com). Los Padres Outfitters offers beach horseback rides, day rides or pack trips for horse lovers (805/331-5961, lospadresoutfitters.com), while Rancho Oso (805/683-5110, rancho-oso.com) in the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains is a great place for beginning riders to get comfortable with gentle horses and on guided trail rides.


Learn to paint (and sip local wine) at The Painted Cabernet (805/963-9979, paintedcabernet.com), a perfect place for a date-night gift. Market Forays cooking classes and culinary adventures are also a great gift for someone who would enjoy a guided shopping tour through local farmers’ markets and the fisherman’s market, followed by a hands-on cooking class and five-course feast (805/259-7229, marketforays.com). Brooks Institute Extension (805/690-7629, workshops.brooks.edu) offers a variety of excellent workshops for photographers of every level to improve their skills.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Winter 2013/14 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

Labor of love

SBMA docents often young students’ first exposure to art

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

“The most important thing about learning to look at art is that what you feel about it matters. Your opinion is valid. There is no right answer,” is what Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) Docent Pat Andersons tells elementary school students before she brings them in for tours.

The very first visitors on SBMA’s opening day in 1941 were schoolchildren. Today the Museum serves about 30,000 children per year through its education program, said Spokeswoman Martha Donelan.

Much of the educational programming is carried out by docents, who collectively volunteer approximately 12,000 hours per year, said Andersons, president of the 79-member group, which includes artists, teachers, a married couple who met through the program (Candice Taylor and Paul McClung) and even a retired rocket scientist (Cliff Hauenstein). Docents undergo nine months of rigorous training, as well as ongoing education. Unlike many museums, which use scripted tours, “One of the things that’s so different about our program is that we do all our own research … we select the pieces … it’s a really personal thing.”

Most docents lead tours for both children and adults, but it’s clearly the kids who’ve captured Andersons’ heart. One of the things that fascinated me when I started touring kids is that “a lot of children have never been to a museum … so the concept of original art … makes them almost giddy,” she said.

Prior to the elementary school field trips — funded entirely by SBMA, including the buses — docents visit the school to give a preparatory talk. “(The school visit) is actually one of the most important aspects of the program because not only does it give the children something to look forward to and get them excited about the program, but they feel more comfortable coming here if they know what to expect,” said Andersons.

“… We have wonderful exhibitions and an outstanding permanent collection, but the education program, and the docent programs in particular, are the ways that we reach out to people and let them know what we have and why it’s interesting and what’s cool about it,” said Donelan.

After children tour the museum, they are given souvenir postcards and free tickets to bring their families back to the Museum. Teachers are also given posters and hands-on activities do back in the classroom. The program — which serves schools from as far away as Lompoc and Hueneme at no cost — is curriculum-based, designed to compliment what teachers are doing in the classroom from K-12.

With art programs in the schools being cut, sometimes we’re it, said Andersons. Admittedly, being a docent is demanding, but infinitely rewarding, said Andersons. “We all think we get back much more than we give,” she said.

For additional information about the docent-training program, call Sue Skenderian at 684.6384.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

Lionesses of Winter

They Take Pride in Giving Back

It takes passion, money and a lot of hard work for Santa Barbara’s most treasured nonprofit organizations to thrive. This community tradition of giving back by supporting education, caring for those in need, and sharing a love for nature and the arts has an incredibly generous cast of leading ladies at its helm. Not content to simply be the torchbearers, they are also keeping an eye toward the next generation of the philanthropic community.

“I’m trying to spread the circle,” says Shirley Ann Hurley. “I’ve brought young women into my life who care passionately about these sorts of things that I do and they stimulate me and …I love the excitement that is getting to know all of these wonderful people.”

Let’s meet a few of the women who help keep the community alive and well.

The Leading Ladies

Betty Hatch

La Belle Foundation, Granada Theatre, Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Hospice, CAMA, Cottage Hospital, Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Art Association, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Ballet

“My life has been dedicated to the teaching of self-esteem,” says Hatch, founder of La Belle Modeling Agency (1963-1991), and now executive director of the La Belle Foundation, which offers young women free training in self-esteem, self-development and personal and social responsibility.”

“Giving to the community is just a pleasure; it’s a demonstration of our gratitude and our love for everybody here.”

Shirley Ann Hurley
Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Family Service Agency, Santa Barbara Public Education Foundation, CALM, Anti-Defamation League, Santa Barbara Foundation

“The things I’ve wanted to spend my time on are the things that help children and young people become the best that they can be, which means to live up to their full potential … The organization that I have probably put the most years into and time is the Family Service Agency. The concept that we could intervene early in a child’s life and with that child’s family and help them raise a more secure child was what hooked me.”

“People keep saying what do you do for fun. I said everything. All of this is fun. And it is. It’s work, but it’s fun. There’s nothing I like better than working with a group of deeply caring people. It is so exciting. And the fact that you know that together you can make a difference in somebody’s lives and your community is just such a reward.”

Gerd Jordano
Cottage Hospital Building Campaign, Westmont College Foundation, CALM

“Board members are ambassadors for those organizations. They are sort of cheerleaders and are able to sort of talk and share what that organization is and what it’s all about. It’s really an opportunity to educate people about that organization and that gives me great joy to share my passion and my knowledge about that particular organization.”

“I’m a former cheerleader so I continue that same passion, only I’m just not jumping up and down anymore (laughs). But I do get very passionate about what I get involved with and it just brings me a lot of joy.”

Carol Palladini
Santa Barbara Women’s Fund

“The concept of the Santa Barbara Women’s Fund (which will have given away more than $1 million by the end of the year) is making your time and money most effectively used by a lot of women writing checks and putting them together and doing direct fundraising, so that you’re not spending a lot of money to make money… Our umbrella is giving in support of the greater Santa Barbara area; it has to be local, to benefit unmet needs for women, children and families.”

“A lot of the work that I’ve done in the past, on and off boards, has some Heartache mixed in with the joy of it. This has been a pleasure from the beginning.”

Joanne Rapp
Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, CALM, Cottage Hospital, Botanic Gardens, Laguna Cottages, Montecito Community Foundation

“I have enjoyed working with organizations that are targeted at helping youth with their educational goals, in particular the Scholarship Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation student loan program. Everything that you work on and within the nonprofit community enhances the quality of life and the effectiveness of our community, but helping the students transfers anywhere. … It will strengthen the fabric of whatever community that they land in.”

The Next Generation

Tiffany Foster
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, Howard School, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Lotusland, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families

“When I arrived in Santa Barbara four years ago … it seemed that every fabulous, intelligent person I met was volunteering for either Storyteller or Lotusland. Before I knew it I was in the center of a vibrant group of caring women and men who dedicated their energy, financial resources, and business acumen to help make a difference in our local community.”

“Storyteller Children’s Center provides daycare and preschool to homeless toddlers in Santa Barbara as well as support services for their families. Young children deserve security, safety and a stable environment. … It is difficult to find a more worthy cause.”

Kisa Heyer
Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, Crane Country Day School, Storyteller, Lobero Theatre, Sarah House, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, CAMA

“Even after being involved with Lotusland for so long, I’m still amazed by it–not only with its collections, design, architecture, and programs–but also with the story behind the garden. Madame Ganna Walska’s wonderland is such a benefit to our community. It’s magical to see joy that children (all 4th graders visit) and adults express after visiting the garden, and no surprise, really, that we are becoming world-renowned as a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Jill Levinson
Lotusland, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of SB, Storyteller, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Lobero Theatre, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families.

“I think everyone has a need for hospice care for themselves or their loved ones at some point in their life. I just feel like it’s very important to support these organizations because they’re necessary. If they disappeared that would be a travesty for our community. Our community is so fortunate to have so much to offer everyone. I think that’s part of what’s really special about Santa Barbara, it tries to take care of people.”

Laura Shelburne
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Stanford University, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ I spent a number of years practicing corporate law, working around the clock during the Silicon Valley boom, and I always regretted that I didn’t have enough time to do worthwhile pro bono work. While I was one of those oxymoronic happy lawyers, I have to say that now it is wonderful to be able to choose my own “clients” based on causes I believe in and use my skills and experience to help non-profits. I also feel strongly that I should set an example for my children by doing things for others and for institutions that will outlast us and continue to benefit future generations.

Lisa Wolf
Santa Barbara Ballet, CAMA, Storyteller, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Zoo, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, French Heritage Society, Laguna Blanca

“We started a group at the art museum because we had a feeling that the art museum was reaching out really effectively to kids in town, elementary school students and underprivileged kids and it was also a great resource for very very serious art collectors, but there was nothing in the middle. … So we created this group called SMART families (and it’s Santa Barbara Museum of Art, not that we think we’re especially bright) but a really wonderful group.”

“When you know that you’ve helped make it possible for somebody to attend a program or for somebody to be exposed to opera or some great cultural moment, or to just alleviate human suffering, it’s a great privilege to be able to do it.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine, 2007