These stories were originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent in August 2022.
Our Annual Edition Dedicated to Ideas and Design, Both Indoor and Out
Welcome to our annual Home & Garden special issue, the edition run each spring where we explore ideas and designs for indoors and out.
In this year’s collection, we feature a new book all about that most iconic of Montecito gardens, Lotusland, and explain how you can create your own sustainable garden in the backyard. Then we turn to a new Home & Design Collective in the downtown Arts District, head to the library to find free decor resources, and take a look at what it takes, and why, to electrify your house.
Destination Downtown for Design: New Santa Barbara Arts District Home & Design Collective Brings Biz to State Street
Home Design Inspiration for All: Free Resources Galore from the Santa Barbara Library
Electrifying Your Home in Santa Barbara: How to Flip the Switch Away From Natural Gas
Longtime Santa Barbara Wholesaler Takes a Voyage into Retail
Boho chic meets vintage flair at Tamara and JP Cajuste’s colorful new Indian Pink store (indianpinkpillows.com), a home furnishing haven stocked to the rafters with an inventive assortment of goods.
Pillows made from exotic textiles from around the world are the mothership that launched the couple’s wholesale enterprise in 2007, and there is certainly a vibrant collection of these one-of-a-kind creations. But with the new store (their first) comes a plethora of new merchandise, including tablecloths, napkins, upcycled lampshades, throw rugs, and a variety of vintage furniture covered in the same gorgeous fabrics that first inspired Tamara when she traveled the world as an American Airlines flight attendant.
“We take 19th-century old-fashioned chairs and couches from France and England, so they’re really well-made, and then have them reupholstered in a pretty fabric,” says Tamara. With supply chains still a mess from the pandemic, “the fact that you can get something that is repurposed and beautiful and available is a big asset,” she explains.
During lockdown, she even created a new line of super-comfortable yet still fashion-forward dresses (with pockets!), pajamas, and reversible robes — all of which are on colorful display at the store. “I wanted to have something cute to match my house to put on,” she laughs. “I had no idea they would be so popular.”
These days, Tamara sources her fabrics from four different vendors in Rajasthan and Shahpur, India. She relies primarily on instinct to make her selections. “I just fall in love with certain things when I see them,” she laughed. “I could never be an interior designer, because I can’t do modern things. I can only do what I do and what I like.”
Michelle Beamer’s Retail Showroom Is a Beautiful New Space for Inspiration
Being in the right place at the right time is often the key to success.
As the principal designer at MB Interiors and a faculty member of the interior design department at Santa Barbara City College, Michelle Beamer had long toyed with the idea of opening a retail showroom. Lonetree (lonetreesb.com), her stunning new space stocked with upscale yet comfortable home furnishings, lighting, art, and accessories, comes on the scene just as the downtown Arts District is seeing a renaissance in home design shops and services.
Cleverly merchandised as a series of vignettes and “rooms” combined with a spacious, courtyard-facing design studio, Lonetree is actually based on Beamer’s master’s thesis at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, D.C. The plan included having ever-changing curated vignettes where clients could sit on furniture and touch fabrics and envision what it would be like to live with them. Check. She also envisioned storytelling design opportunities such as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art–inspired Van Gogh desk display now on view. Check. And she wanted to be able to provide a space for community engagement such as 1st Thursday parties — featuring a recent raffle to benefit CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) — and collaborations with community groups like Jane Chapman’s Communal Table gatherings (communaltablesb.com). Check.
Not to mention, a beautiful space for her to create, work with her team, and meet clients. Checkmate.
A Nebraska native, Beamer says the name Lonetree is a nod to her hometown. “When I was doing research, I found out about traders in the 1800s traveling by boat along the Missouri River to bring their goods to market,” she said. “The trader was told that once he glimpsed the lone tree on the hill — there weren’t a lot of trees in Nebraska — he knew they were close to the right place to sell their goods.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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: