Where Palate Meets Palette Artist — Christina LoCascio ‘01

Part of being an artist is bringing pieces of yourself into your work, but painter Christina LoCascio ‘01, whose work is featured in “Gauchos Gone Grape,” takes this connection to a new level. She is truly living her creative life among the vines, painting with wine as a medium and working exclusively with wines from her family’s Larner Winery in Santa Barbara’s Ballard Canyon, where LoCascio, her winemaker husband Michael Larner, and their children Steven (10) and Sienna (8) make their home. 

When LoCascio began experimenting with wine painting in 2002 she couldn’t find any information about how to do it. “That was before Instagram or Facebook. Now if you search the hashtag #wineart there’s a bunch of artists that are painting with wine, but I feel like what makes what I’m doing special is that it’s such a part of my life.” 

Double majoring in communication and art, LoCascio got her first real exposure to the world of wine in her junior year as an intern for Touring & Tasting Magazine. “It was my 21st birthday and they sent me home with a bottle of wine.” That job also had her researching and writing about wineries and grapes and very quickly she was hooked. 

After graduation she worked in the wine industry in Temecula for a short time, until 2002, when Sunstone Winery scion Bion Rice lured her back to Santa Barbara wine country with an offer to work at Artiste Winery, a new venture featuring art-inspired blends that perfectly combined LoCascio’s interests in wine and art. 

The idea for painting with wine grew out of classes she would host for wine club members at Artiste that used wine in a similar fashion to watercolor. 

Those first few paintings led to a group exhibition in Santa Barbara and then an offer to create wine labels for Artiste. “The exposure of working at the tasting room, having my art on display and then having my art on the wine bottles was great for me,” says LoCascio, who went on to have nine shows at Artiste. 

She continues to show her work at the tasting room gallery, although she stopped working there in 2008, when the family opened Larner Winery. They now have a tasting room in Los Olivos, where LoCascio’s art is on display. “From the very beginning, I was drawn to wine and all the wonderful things about it and how it combined art and science and history and so many things,” she says. 

Wine remains a consistent media for her work — the many shades of red comprise her color palette and she uses white wine to “lift” color in a similar way that watercolorists use water to soften their paint. And while wine is a frequent subject, she also delves into figurative art and architectural paintings. “I think that in the time that I’ve been painting with wine my art has evolved and it continues to change. I have gone through a lot of different types of things,” says LoCascio, who has recently begun experimenting with leaves as well as the fermentation process of the wine itself. Exploding wine bottles and incorporating spills into female forms are some of her other recent artistic explorations. 

Of course, when harvest calls, the paintbrush comes down and it’s all hands on deck for the family business. “We’re really busy, but I’ve come to realize that that’s all part of the process. So, when we’re bringing in grapes and doing the punch down and I’m helping with the wine, and watching the fermentations, it’s just kind of part of it and it all inspires me to think of different ideas,” she says. 

“I think the act of being in the winery making the wine is inspiring for the art, too.” 

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of UC Santa Barbara Magazine. Cover illustration by Yumiko Glover. To see the story as it originally appeared click  here.

 

Shoe Designs That Step Up the Sustainability 

Environmentally friendly practices and fashion come together at della terra (dellaterrashoes.com), a new footwear brand from Designer Emily Landsman ’05. Prior to its launch in June, the new brand hit the ground running, winning four Global Footwear Awards for Landsman’s initial designs using vegan and recycled materials to create a PETA certified line of shoes that don’t sacrifice style or comfort. 

“My time in the art studio program at UC Santa Barbara had a huge impact on my career as an eco-footwear designer, especially Kip Fulbeck’s mentorship that allowed me the opportunity to explore the intersection between art, fashion and the digital world. It was Fulbeck’s teachings that ensured we all examined our position in the business and art landscape, bringing awareness of identity politics to the forefront of my mind,” says Landsman, who is the founder and CEO of della terra. 

“A lot of my inspiration also comes from UCSB’s surrounding areas and amazing backdrops, which granted me the chance to explore a design thinking process that I have continued to apply to each and every project I have worked on since my time at the school,” Landsman says. “While I spent a large chunk of my career in major cities like New York and Boston, Santa Barbara’s landscape has continued to be a constant presence in my work. della terra translates to ‘of the land’ and UCSB’s surrounding area is a very large part of that inspiration behind the name. Being able to merge this while contributing positively to the planet will continue to always be my initiative as a designer and business owner.” 

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of UC Santa Barbara Magazine. Cover illustration by Yumiko Glover. To see the story as it originally appeared click  here.

 

Elevated Reflections of Life — Artist Yumiko Glover MA ’17

Elevated Reflections of Life, UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Fall/Winter 2021.

Born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, cover artist Yumiko Glover MA ‘17 took a circuitous route to finally following her passion. 

“When I was applying for college in Japan I didn’t have a mentor to support me,” Glover recalls. “I wanted to go to art school and of course, my parents worried that it was ‘non job promising.’ So, I gave up and I majored in something else.” But the desire stuck with her. She took as many art classes as she could while working in the import-export business for more than a decade before returning to school to follow her dreams of becoming an artist. She completed a bachelor of fine arts degree at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 2011 and then came to UC Santa Barbara to complete her masters in fine arts in 2017. 

“I was not a good student in Japan in college because I was not really interested in the field. But when I went back to school, I was very serious,” laughs Glover, who is now a visiting lecturer in the UC Santa Barbara Department of Art, as well as a graphic designer and fine artist who has her work in collections at the Honolulu Museum of Art and on view at LAX, among other venues. 

Over the years her style has evolved, but current events continue to influence her art. 

Her “Unfold” series was inspired by President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in 2016. The first sitting president to visit the city destroyed by an American atomic bomb during World War II, Obama brought origami paper cranes that he folded himself. “Crane origami is a symbol for peace, wishing the best for others, and healing for challenging times,” says Glover. 

Working on the premise that with each fold they make in an origami crane, people are thinking about others’ wellness or sending them good wishes, Glover drew geometric forms and combined them in different ways to create elements. “I thought that matched well with what we are going through in the pandemic,” she says. 

Her ongoing series “Transience” also fits in thematically. “Living through the pandemic completely shifted everybody’s life, including myself, especially my perspective on approaching art,” says Glover. 

“Transience comes from the Japanese term, mono no aware, which means the transience of life that is the aesthetics of impermanence — nothing lasts forever but there is preciousness to it. I created new paintings during the pandemic; one inspired by the cherry blossom season. As you know the cherry blossom has an intense and precious life and death cycle, which is mirrored by the impermanence of our nature and material world that we took for granted for so long.” 

She continues, “During the pandemic, as everything that we thought would last forever became uncertain and our perspectives about life, including the subjects for the magazine — education, economy, mental health, work and environment — everything has changed and also affected me and the way I think, so when I received the concept of the magazine design, I could apply those ideas that I was going through during the pandemic to the design.”  

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of UC Santa Barbara Magazine. Cover illustration by Yumiko Glover. To see the story as it originally appeared click  here.

 

Follow the Herd

A colorful collection of artistically painted horses is making its way around Santa Ynez (santaynezchamber.org), thanks to a collaboration between the community’s chamber of commerce and a team of local artists. Each of the nearly life-size plywood cutouts has its own personality and aesthetic. One, titled, Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, bears a landscape designed by Maryvonne LaParlière. Another, by Laurie Owens, takes cues from 1960s pop art flowers. A third, painted by 12-year-old artist Faith Ortega, is adorned with Chumash-inspired symbols.

“I was happily surprised at how unique each one is,” says Linda Small, executive director of the Santa Ynez Chamber of Commerce, who came up with the idea and plans to keep the horses on display through the fall. “We just wanted something joyful to inspire people to smile as they drive or walk around town.”

Originally published in the September 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine. Cover photo by Gary Moss. To see the story as it originally appeared click here.

sbmidmod Brings Mid-Centry Style to Santa Barbara

Owner of sbmidmod, Tracey Strobel. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Owner of sbmidmod, Tracey Strobel. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

An appealing array of home furnishings and artful objects—featuring the mid-century modern motifs of clean lines, bright colors, organic and geometric shapes, bold patterns, mixed textures, and contrasting materials—are on display at sbmidmod, a new addition to the Funk Zone. Located on Anacapa Street next to the popular Mony’s Mexican restaurant, this eclectic retail space showcases the timeless appeal of the design style.

A self-described research geek with a degree in ancient history, owner Tracey Strobel has spent almost two decades collecting, studying, restoring, and selling mid-century pieces. She got started hunting down furnishings for her own home. “Then it became a situation where I had one or two too many pieces and I thought I could maybe sell them … and it
snowballed into a business rather rapidly after that … and 18 years later, ta-da,” she laughed.

A Richard Schulman print of actor Anthony Hopkins, sits in the corner of sbmidmod. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

A Richard Schulman print of actor Anthony Hopkins, sits in the corner of sbmidmod. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Strobel began selling in the early days of eBay. “I’ve done the grunt work,” she said. “I worked estate sales, I’ve had spaces in antique malls—including a current space at the Antique Center Mall—and I’ve been incredibly grateful for those experiences because you
learn a lot from the people around you. One of the things I love the most about this job is that you’re constantly learning.”

She finds her inventory everywhere, from online searches to estate sales to tips from her network of antique dealers. As to what excites her about the mid-century modern aesthetic, Strobel said, “I love the minimal lines. I love the simplicity, and honestly, I view all of these pieces as functional art. It’s a lamp, yes, it gives you light, but it’s beautiful to look at and it inspires an emotional reaction for me. I can’t explain it better than that.”

Kitty corner, a tribute to cats in art form, at sbmidmod in the Funk Zone. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Kitty corner, a tribute to cats in art form, at sbmidmod in the Funk Zone. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

The research geek that she is, Strobel added, “There is also the component of knowing who the designers are and having the opportunity to research and learn about someone new.” The other appeal of the era is the craftsmanship. “It’s so well-made,” she said. “When you take care of these pieces, they will last for generations. It’s also important to me—though it’s pretty simple and rather obvious—that antiquing and buying vintage/used furniture helps the planet.”

As to the risk of opening up a new retail space during the uncertain days of a pandemic, Strobel said it was really a matter of stumbling onto a building that spoke to her. She was out on a bike ride in February when she spotted the “For Lease” sign in the window of a gutted building. “All I could see was the brick and the studs,” she said. She quickly made an appointment for a walk through. “It just landed with me,” she said.

Strobel signed a lease two weeks later. The timing was good. “I was really ready to have a
place where people could come in and shop, but also where I could research and do my work,” she said. “This is essentially my office that people can come and shop in.”

“It’s definitely an obsession,” she laughed. “You’ve got to have a passion for this in order to make it last a long time. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work.”

Santa Barbara Independent, June 24, 2021.Originally published in the June 24, 2021 issue of the Santa Barbara Independent. To see the story as it originally appeared in print click here.

Home and Garden: Special Issue

HAPPY HOMES & GLORIOUS GARDENS

Architects, Antiquers, Nursery Pros, Chefs, and More Celebrate Indoors & Out in 2021

From private homes with public impact to public gardens offering private inspiration, our annual Home & Garden special issue for2021 celebrates the many design and decorating options for residential life in Santa Barbara. We hope you find something that works in your living situation, whether that’s a small tree to plant on your patio or a complete remodel of your mansion.

Here is the whole package of stories:

Sheltifying Santa Barbara

Tips From a Veteran Vintage Shopper

Exploring the Ambriz Kingdom of Plants

Confined to Quarters, Not to Canvas

Public Gardens for Private Inspiration

Seasons Star in Lush Life Cookbook

Bringing Brass Ring to Home Decor

Indian Pink Pillow Power

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Sheltifying Santa Barbara

Architect Jeff Shelton Delights in the Details, photo by Erick Madrid. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

Joy oozes through the walls of every Jeff Shelton project — the delight is in the details. From the Moroccan tile carpets of Pistachio House to the Escher-like staircase of El Jardin, the Suessian shapes of Ablitt House, and the quirky art-covered Vera Cruz building, touches of his fairy dust are sprinkled around town. The artistry and zest for life infused in Jeff Shelton’s buildings are hard to miss.

While there’s some debate about whether Pearl Chase, Bernhard Hoffmann, James Osborne Craig, and the other founding fellows of Santa Barbara’s aesthetic would be toasting Shelton’s evolution of the town’s traditional style or tearing out their hair out by its Spanish-Mediterranean-Moorish roots, there’s no doubt that this native son has made his mark on our town. After almost 30 years of “Sheltifying” Santa Barbara’s cityscape, he
shows no signs of slowing down.

Current projects in the works include residences in Mission Canyon, Carpinteria, and on
Cota Street, as well as the State Street undercrossing project (expect to see vibrantly tiled columns  and fancifully loopy iron fences guiding pedestrians from the beach to downtown), and a tequila bar at the corner of Ortega and State.

“I just try to find good clients,” said Shelton. “It’s no fun with clients that don’t understand the process. I’ve been pretty lucky. Clients are the ones who make it work. They pay for everything, but they also have to have faith in this crazy bunch of people they’re getting into working with.”

Mary Beth Myers, whose Tower House was the first to be rebuilt in Montecito after the 2018 mudslides, had nothing but raves about Shelton and his team. “Jeff’s just a peach — he’s so creative, he has such minimal ego, and is so cooperative,” she said. “After all is said and done, the building process was an absolute joy. They’re just like a group of happy elves.”

From “Sheltifying Santa Barbara,” photos by Erick Madrid and sketches by Jeff Shelton. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

Chief among the Shelton collaborative team — they call themselves a “guild” but have no
financial connection — is Dan Upton, the contractor who (with Leon Olson) offered Shelton a project at 1021 Laguna Street in 1994. They’ve worked together ever since.

“We are problem solvers,” said Upton. “Jeff comes up with these optimistic, fun ways of thinking and fun ways of building and … we are just happy to do the fun things. He sketches, and we say, ‘Make it as fun and interesting as you want, and we’ll figure out how to build it.’”

For a man who specializes in the curvy and colorful, Shelton’s a pretty straight shooter. He loves his town, his team, and his work—and it shows. As for his method of staying true to his artistic vision and navigating his way through Santa Barbara’s notoriously complicated approval process, “I just do what I think is best for each building and each lot,” he explained. “My palette is the code and the site and the city and the people around the
neighborhood. It’s an art, but ultimately nobody cares about all those details in the end. They just want to be able to have a glass of wine comfortably and happily in their house.”

A GUIDE TO THE GUILD
“First the tractors come in, and they grade the site,” explained Shelton of how one client
described the work of his guild, “and then this merry band of artisans show up, and they laugh and they enjoy the work, and it’s like that until they leave.”

It certainly sounds like a joyful process. The Upton Construction team has played a huge part in Shelton’s work, with Matt Metcalfe recently taking over the day-to-day business as founder Dan Upton is mostly retired.

Jeff’s brother’s architectural ironwork, lamps, and other elements from David Shelton Studios are an integral part of Jeff’s buildings. “I just say, ‘Dave, I’m going to do a balcony.’ I don’t even need to draw, and he knows what to do,” laughed Shelton.

Jeff’s wife, Karin Shelton, an accomplished fine artist in her own right, wields her brush on various architectural projects and also helps with the Shelton line of fabrics, tiles, and books. Their daughter Mattie Shelton is part of the team as well, working on the fabrics, tiles, and her own line of unique shelters called Shelton Huts. (Their other daughter, Elena Shelton, works as a doula.)

The “merry band” also includes sculptor/mason Andy Johnson; woodworker David Moseley; window and door specialist Royce Woodbury; lamp shades by Saul Alcaraz of
Santa Barbara Art Glass; ceramicist Linda Hail Godlis; California Pottery & Tile Works; Villa Lagoon TileSpecialty Team Plastering; and artists Richard Wilke, Court Johnson, Katie Upton, and Ben Ciccati, among others.

For about the past 15 years, the group has been meeting at the James Joyce on Tuesday afternoons. “Jeff keeps a really accurate tally of who shows up at James Joyce and when they come,” said Upton. “And at the end of the year, you get a medal if you were there the most frequently or least frequently.”

“I’m a big believer in pubs,” said Shelton. “They should be every half mile, like a community living room that’s a place where people of all ages can meet and hang out.”

Added Upton, “It’s been one of the great pleasures of my life to have this collaboration with Jeff to build the buildings that we have built.”

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Confined to Quarters, Not to Canvas

Confined to Quarters, Not to Canvas, photos by Erick Madrid. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

When the pandemic stuck Maryvonne LaParlière in her new Solvang home last spring, the white walls and unfinished surfaces didn’t stand a chance against the artist’s love of color. The French-born, École des Beaux-Arts–educated artist has specialized in decorative art for decades but focused primarily on commissions—like the three vibrant murals that grace the walls of Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital—and work for sale in galleries.

“When COVID arrived, it was not even like fight or flight, because we didn’t know what to fight exactly and we couldn’t fly anywhere,” said LaParlière, who closed her gallery in Amherst, Virginia, with the shutdown. “I had to figure out what to do.”

She looked around the house and spotted two nightstands in the bedroom that “were good quality but kind of blah.” So she painted them to match the botanical design on her
bedspread. Then it was on to faux painting a frieze of tiles in trompe l’oeil style, inspired by antique Spanish/Portuguese ceramic tiles.

Staying with Mediterranean-inspired vernacular, she hand-painted her patio and did an entire outdoor barbecue area. “I decided to do the wall near my iron gate and a little
barbecue sink, which I did painted in blue and white in the azulejos Portuguese style,” says the artist, whose work can be found in the collections of celebrities such as Priscilla Presley, Larry Hagman, Fannie Flagg, Julia Roberts, and Susan Sarandon, as well as the Orient Express Hotels chain, University of Virginia, and Alliance Française of Washington, D.C. In 2010, after a solo exhibition at the French Embassy, she was even decorated by the French Ambassador as a Knight in the Order of the Palms in recognition of her talent and for bringing French culture to so many in America.

Painting her way through the pandemic kept LaParlière’s spirits high, as did living in such a beautiful place. She transformed the steps leading up to her house into a colorful entryway, painting images of the nearby mission and gathering inspiration from all the local flora and fauna; “boring furniture” pieces like chests, trunks, and tables were transformed
into colorful works of art; and borders around her windows became showcases for more
hand-painted tilework.

Now that things are starting to open up, she is eager to work with new clients, as well as in her own home—if she can find an empty surface. Said LaParlière, “I will never stop.”

See laparliere.com.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

UCSB Arts & Lectures Patron Spotlight: Audrey & Timothy O. Fisher

Event sponsors and A&L Council member Tim & Audrey Fisher with Joe Biden. Photo: UCSB Arts & Lectures.

For a town of its size, the cultural life of Santa Barbara is impressively full, say patrons Tim and Audrey Fisher. The couple have been involved with UCSB Arts & Lectures (A&L) since they bought a home in Montecito in 2000, and attended their first performance at Campbell Hall shortly afterward.

Miller McCune Executive Director Celesta Billeci and her team introduced themselves at intermission and the rest, as they say, is history. “We’ve been great friends ever since – we just love them,” says Audrey, a fashion designer and the retired president of a custom couture clothing business.

Tim was part of the creation of the Arts & Lectures Council in 2013. “We raised 25 million over three years and that really financially created a much better environment for A&L,” said the longtime businessman and philanthropist, who recently retired after more than 45 years of leadership in The Hillman Company. As a Council member, Tim guided the establishment of A&L’s legacy giving program and advocated enthusiastically for planned giving.

Audrey is a big fan of A&L’s expansive dance programs, as well as “the variety and the fact that they bring in just about every student, all ages. I like the educational aspect of it and exposing these kids to absolutely world-renowned performers and having it be a part of their everyday lives. … The cultural life is so enriched here.”

As for Tim’s favorite A&L memories, he says, “There have been so many over the years, but I would say most recently Joe Biden was really outstanding. He was very generous with his time and he did a Q&A and interacted with the students. I think it was really special.”

The Fishers recently made a generous donation to the endowment fund, which is important for arts funding, as Tim explains. “The reason nonprofits are called nonprofits is they don’t make money. What an endowment does is it creates a strong capital base. For instance, during this shutdown period A&L would really be struggling financially without the resources of the endowment. Endowments provide financial stability and they are also important because you don’t want the executive directors of nonprofits spending all their time raising money.”

Adds Audrey, “One reason that my foundation decided to support the endowment is because it’s the least appealing gift option for many contributors. It’s the hardest money to raise because people traditionally want to see what they are paying for. While we enjoy sponsoring performances, which we do every year, I think the endowments are kind of a lonely lost child in the family (laughs) and they really need support. I think when people become educated about their merits they do support endowments because there is a security factor.”

Supporting A&L is a family affair for the Fishers. As chair and a trustee of the Audrey Hillman Fisher Foundation, Audrey has given generously to A&L. Their son Matthew has sponsored musical performances and Tim and Audrey have supported a variety of events over the years, ranging from Joe Biden to the Vienna Philharmonic.

The Fisher family also sponsored the Forces of Nature environmental series in 2019-2020, in memory of their son Brooks, who was very good friends with filmmaker and environmentalist James Balog. “They used to go on these incredible exploits together,” says Audrey. Tim adds, “He was a friend of our son, who was an ardent conservationist. I think that for A&L cleaning up the environment is such a strong theme as it is in this country and globally. It’s a very worthy cause to support.”

The Fishers split their time between Santa Barbara and their hometown of Pittsburgh, and the cultural offerings of A&L make it easier for them to go from a bigger place to a smaller place. “In the early ’70s Jack Heinz created the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust which is a really big arts organization. Their budget is over 50 million and they have five theaters and they own a lot of downtown real estate. It’s a big operation, but I would say that we probably attend more events per year in Santa Barbara,” says Tim. “The cultural life here is every bit as full, in large part thanks to A&L.”

This story was originally published by UCSB Arts & Lectures. To see it as it originally appeared, please click here.

See-Worthy Ships

See-Worthy Ships, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

See-Worthy Ships, originally published in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

A new exhibit at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM, sbmm.org) spotlights the work of artist of the fleet Arthur Beaumont, who used impressionist techniques to paint the rich history of the U.S. Navy, from the USS Constitution to atomic bomb tests to expeditions to the North and South Poles.

“SBMM is proud to be one of only 10 museums in the United States selected to exhibit Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea,” says the museum’s executive director Greg Gorga. “This exhibit fits in perfectly with our other military displays,” Gorga adds, pointing to the museum’s appropos location inside the former Naval Training Center building and the area’s rich naval history, including visits by the Great White Fleet, the USS Constitution, and the USS Ronald Reagan; as well as some of the tragedies like the Honda Point Disaster and the Shelling of Ellwood Beach. In the last show on the West Coast, the artist’s 53 works are on view from December 3 through May 30, 2020.

Cover of 805 Living December 2020 Click here to see this story as it originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.