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.

 

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.

 

A New Way to See UCSB — Introducing UC Santa Barbara Magazine

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

I am the managing editor of a brand new publication, UC Santa Barbara Magazine.  A  glossy print publication and website offering a birds-eye view of the spectacular seaside university. From the people, programs, scholarly pursuits and trends that make UC Santa Barbara a world-class institution, to the sports, arts and culture, natural environment and vibrant students and vital alumni communities that enrich our campus experiences, UC Santa Barbara Magazine offers insight into the rich complexity of the university and its impact on the larger world around it.

Read the entire magazine online here. In addition, here are links to some of the stories I wrote.

Wheels of Fun

The Short List: The Beat Goes On

Elevated Reflections of Life — Artist Yumiko Glover MA ’17

Bringing Diverse Perspectives to the White House

Shoe Designs That Step Up the Sustainability 

Where Palate Meets Palette — Artist Christina LoCascio ’01

The Short List: The Beat Goes On (UC Santa Barbara Magazine)

DJ Darla Bea, photo by Paul Wellman.

“Like any of your senses — the act of listening to a song can conjure up feelings and, in this case, a love of your college days,” says Darla Bea ‘03 . As Stevie Wonder once said, “Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” 

Sporting slews of rave reviews from national wedding websites and voted Santa Barbara’s favorite DJ for six years in a row, Bea has made a career out of homing in on the visceral, emotional connection that tunes play in our lives. “Rock it Properly,” her weekly radio show that’s been running on KCSB since 2007, is a meticulously researched round-up of fun facts and musical magic. 

When last year’s All Gaucho Reunion had to go virtual, Bea helped to make it memorable by creating seven different GauchoBeats playlists, curated by decade, from 1939 to the present. From Bill Haley & His Comets’ “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” and The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” to Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance,” these Spotify playlists of feel-good tunes (alumni.ucsb.edu/events/all-gaucho-reunion#gauchobeats) brought some much-needed positivity during some rather grim days. 

Of her time at UC Santa Barbara, Bea says, “The magic and music were always a thing that drew me out to hear bands play in Isla Vista and at UCSB, and of course I knew I was going to get an excellent education. I just wanted to be part of that.” 

A Santa Barbara native who lived at home during college, she says, “I did not have a car, had a bus pass. I spent a lot of time on campus in the library and the bookstore. I loved looking at all the media out there; it was a really good bookstore. And every once in a while I’d have to call my dad to get me because I missed the last bus.” 

Known for her colorful wigs, kicky costumes and eclectic mixes, Bea still comes to campus every Sunday to host her radio show, and says one of her goals is to, “expand your narrow way of thinking about music. The world is a lot smaller when you can grasp a culture, or an era, through their music.” 

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.

The Books of 2021

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante was one of my favorite books I read in 2021.

So many books, so little time—part 15.

My son started keeping a reading list in third grade, so I did too. This is the 15th year we’ve done this.

2021 was another weird year (with f-ing COVID still raging) but I finally got my reading mojo back. Between long walks with audio books and nights that were once spent socializing with friends and colleagues now spent curling up with books, I definitely read even more than in previous years.

My favorite books of 2021 were The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (the second book in her excellent My Brilliant Friend series), The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley and Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (a return to top form after what I thought was a rare miss with Nine Perfect Strangers — though I still binged the whole series on Hulu).

I also really liked White Ivy by Susie Yang, The Turnout by Megan Abbott, Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau (I don’t know her personally but she grew up in Santa Barbara and is an excellent writer), Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, Those Who Stay and Those Who Leave by Elena Ferrante (third in the series), The Huntress by Kate Quinn, Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman, The Midnight Library by Matt Haigh, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

I’d love to hear what else people loved.

Here’s the 2021 list.

Rules for Being a Girl Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno
The First Mistake Sandie Jones
The Midnight Library Matt Haigh
Blackbird Fly (The Bennett Sisters Mysteries #1) Lise McClendon
Beach Read Emily Henry
The Dutch House Ann Patchett
Evidence of the Affair Taylor Jenkins Reid
Everyone’s a Critic Jennifer Weiner
The List Jade Chang
Face: A Memoir Marcia Meier
You Should See Me In A Crown Leah Johnson
Love and Death With the in Crowd Jessica Anya Blau
Self-Help Lorrie Moore
Members Only Sameer Pandya
Weightless Sarah Bannan
The Story of Arthur Truluv Elizabeth Berg
The People We Hate at the Wedding Grant Ginder
All We Can Save Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson
Just Like You Nick Hornby
The Other Woman Sandie Jones
The Half Sister Sandie Jones
Chances Are Richard Russo
Pretty Things Janelle Brown
Ready Player Two Ernest Cline
In a Holidaze Christina Lauren
The Hating Game Sally Thorne
Take a Hint, Dani Brown Talia Hibbert
White Fragility Robin DiAngelo
One True Loves Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Taylor Jenkins Reid
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything Janelle Brown
Jane in Love Rachel Givney
I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are Rachel Bloom
The Five-Year Hitch Melissa De la Cruz
Separation Anxiety Laura Zigman
The Divines Ellie Eaton
Dick Pic Mary H.K. Choi
The Authenticity Project Clare Pooley
Uncanny Valley: A Memoir Anna Wiener
The End of Everything Megan Abbott
The Guest Book Sarah Blake
The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse Charlie Mackesy
Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life Christie Tate
While Justice Sleeps Stacey Abrams
Milkman Anna Burns
The Soulmate Equation Christina Lauren
The Chicken Sisters KJ Dell’Antonia
Malibu Rising Taylor Jenkins Reid
Get a Life, Chloe Brown Talia Hibbert
The Singles Game Lauren Weisberger
The Wedding Gift Carolyn Brown
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating Christina Lauren
Neighbors Elizabeth La Ban and Melissa DePino
Adulting Liz Talley
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Matthew J. Sullivan
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures Emma Straub
Good Riddance Elinor Lipman
One to Watch Kate Stayman-London
Inclusive Conversations Mary-Frances Winters
Royal Holiday Jasmine Guillory
Everybody Loves Kamau W. Kamau Bell
Boyfriends of Dorothy Wednesday Martin
Everyone’s Happy Rufi Thorpe
The Edge of Falling Rebecca Serle
Act Your Age Eve Brown Talia Hibbert
Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty Lauren Weisberger
Astrid Sees All Natalie Standiford
A Promised Land Barack Obama
That Summer Jennifer Weiner
The Hunting Party Lucy Foley
The Story of a New Name Elena Ferrante
Unsheltered Barbara Kingsolver
The Last Thing He Told Me Laura Dave
Good Company Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Helen of Pasadena Lian Dolan
When Stars Collide Susan Elizabeth Phillips
White Ivy Susie Yang
Untamed Glennon Doyle
Apples Never Fall Liane Moriarty
It Had To Be You Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Nobody’s Baby But Mine Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Seven Days in June Tia Williams
Heaven, Texas Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Book of Lost and Found Lucy Foley
Match me if You Can Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Rose Code Kate Quinn
Girl, Woman, Other Bernardine Evaristo
The President’s Daughter Bill Clinton & James Patterson
The Heart Principle Helen Hoang
The Paper Palace Miranda Cowley Heller
The Huntress Kate Quinn
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay Ferrante Elena
This Heart of Mine Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Kiss Quotient Helen Hoang
Dream a Little Dream Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Beautiful World, Where are You Sally Rooney
No Judgements Meg Cabot
A Bookworm’s Guide to Faking It Emma Hart
This is Not the End Chandler Baker
No Offense Meg Cabot
Mary Jane Jessica Anya Blau
Bliss Shay Mitchell & Michaela Blaney
Shipped Angie Hockman
The Turnout Megan Abbott
Fake Accounts Lauren Oyler
If the Shoe Fits Julie Murphy
The Husbands Chandler Baker

Previous Book Lists

The Books of 2020

The Books of 2019

The Books of 2018

The Books of 2017

The Books of 2016

The Books of 2015

The Books of 2014

The Books of 2013

The Books of 2012

The Books of 2011

The Books of 2010

The Books of 2009

The Books of 2008

The Books of 2007

This Way to the Orchid Trail

Orchid Trail, American Riviera MediaOrchids are an exotic and fascinating species, with a lavishly colorful array of flowers in bloom in Santa Barbara County. Along with being the home of the renowned Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (scheduled to be back in-person for the 76th annual festivities on March 11-13, 2022), the region between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean has seeded an industry that produces more orchids than any other part of the country. This stretch of the American Riviera is known as the Santa Barbara County Orchid Trail, and there is no better way to traverse the region and discover it for yourself.

Cal-Orchid Inc. Orchid Trail, American Riviera Media

James and Lauris Rose have owned this boutique nursery since 1987, and its diverse inventory reflects their keen eye for the unusual. “We have an insatiable desire to improve on what people generally see in the marketplace,” says Lauris. Known for their unique line of Epidendrum hybrids, particularly the Reed-Stem Epidendrum hybrids, Cal-Orchid’s breeding program focuses on “taking something that’s average and making it very special is a passion for us.” she says.

1251 Orchid Drive, Santa Barbara, 805/967-1312, www.calorchid.com

Gallup & Stribling Orchids

A premier supplier of orchids to the world for more than 60 years, Gallup & Stribling’s home farm occupies close to 50 acres in Carpinteria. Now owned by the Van Wingerden family, who emigrated from Holland to the Central Coast in the 1960s to bring generations of farming knowledge to the area’s cut flower industry, Owner Case Van Wingerden says they have diversified their holdings over the years to include orchids and cannabis, as well as a variety of fresh produce that is available for sale on-site. “Gallup is probably the last commercial Cymbidium orchid grower left in the county.” he says. They also offer a wide selection of Phalaenopsis (the biggest selling orchid in the country) as well as Galilea Orchids and Lady Slippers.

3450 Via Real, Carpinteria, 805/684-1998, www.gallup-stribling.com

Orchid Trail, American Riviera MediaWesterlay Orchids

A third-generation family business with Dutch roots, Westerlay Orchids specializes in Phalaenopsis in tons of beautiful colors, says Paige Harmon, who manages the retail shop of this 21-acre operation. As restrictions on gathering begin to lift, keep an eye out for announcements of in-person flower arranging and orchid care classes. Growing approximately three million orchids a year, Westerlay puts an emphasis on giving back to the community as well as on sustainable practices. Using innovative, environmentally-friendly technologies and systems have earned it an MPS “A” rating for best practices to minimize its impact on the planet.

3504 Calle Real, Carpinteria, 805/684-5411, www.westerlayorchids.com

Ambriz Kingdom of Plants

The newest grower on the trail, Ambriz Kingdom of Plants’ Owner Joe Ambriz mostly focused on the crowds at the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show and some wholesaling to local nurseries until the pandemic hit last year. Now open to the public, his greenhouses focus on Lalias Anceps and Cattleyas and generally temperature tolerant orchids, i.e. “ones we can grow outdoors here in our climate.” As a self-avowed “lover of the entire kingdom of plants,” in addition to a collection of rare and unusual orchids, Ambriz also has rare and unusual cactus succulents and South African plants for sale.

4998 Foothill Road, Carpinteria, 805/570-5792, www.facebook.com/ambrizkingdomofplants/

This story originally appeared in American Riviera Media.American Riviera Media, Fall 2021

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.

Connect, Discuss, and Explore at Vistas Lifelong Learning

Learning new things and maintaining a vibrant social life are two of the key pillars that experts say will keep our brains sharp and healthy. This is exactly what the nonprofit Vistas Lifelong Learning (vistaslifelonglearning.org) offers to the community.

This volunteer-run organization, which started in 1999, is dedicated to keeping aging brains nimble with ongoing educational programs on a wide variety of topics. Recent
courses included Foods That Changed the World (exploring foods that have changed the world in profound and delicious social, political, and economic ways); Unpacking
the Dementia Epidemic (current thinking about the causes of dementias, dementia management, and how to stay on top of new developments); and Politics and
Religion in Verdi’s Operas (with audio and video extracts from modern performances of the operas).

The depth and variety of the programming is impressive, but the social component of Vistas is equally important to its success. “I think of all the connections that people find through Vistas,” said President Jim Hemmer. “There are two book clubs; there’s a short story class; there are memoir writing classes. And in our in-person programs — which moved to Zoom during the pandemic and will resume in the fall — there’s always a 20-minute coffee break in the middle so people can socialize and see old friends and meet other similarly situated people.”

For Hemmer, who retired from a career as an attorney in Chicago and moved to Santa Barbara with his wife, Francine, in January 2017, becoming part of Vistas has been a great way to engage his brain and find a community. Though it’s not a requirement, many of the Vistas presenters are members as well.

A longtime history buff, Hemmer found his way to the organization through a presentation on the Silk Road that he made to a luncheon group called The Cosmopolitan Club (sbcosmo.com). A Vistas member suggested he present to that group, and the response was so positive that Hemmer ended up teaching three different courses on the journey of the historical Silk Roads through China’s current efforts to reinvigorate them today.

“Vistas really attempts to satisfy this desire to learn things, and being a presenter is a wonderful way of doing that,” said Hemmer. “Taking other people’s classes is also great. I find that because I’m busy preparing presentations, I don’t have time to take all the classes I’d like to. I’ve been very busy during the pandemic, and it’s just great.”

Vistas is a small group, explained Hemmer, fluctuating between 300 and 400 members, and is not affiliated with any college or other institution. Programs are open to the public for a small fee, and the fees are less for members. (Annual membership fees are $40 per person for email-only communications and $50 for snail mail, with individual classes averaging $9 per session for members and $14 for nonmembers.)

“It’s a really varied and interesting group of people,” Hemmer says. The mostly retired members come from very diverse careers, ranging from former judges, teachers, and
docents to social workers, librarians, and secretaries, just to name a few.

Upcoming programs in the fall include a reprise of the Silk Road series; the short history of cryptography; the writer James Baldwin; climate change and the impact on the Great American Waterways; criminal procedure; economic issues; and the social safety net in the U.S., with additional courses and details still being finalized.

“We have a very, very wide palette. There’s somebody for everybody,” said Hemmer. “It’s a wide variety of programs on science, history, current events, music and fine arts, and so on.” Research suggests that humans learn better in social environments. “The brain is triggered more through discussion and questions than from solitary activities such as
independent reading,” said Hemmer.

“So it turns out that Vistas’ cooperative spirit that we’re all in it together and we get our ideas from other members is particularly beneficial in the case of seniors.”

See vistaslifelonglearning.org.

Originally published in The Santa Barbara Independent on August 12, 2021. Cover photo by Erick Madrid. To read this special section as it originally appeared in print, click here.

GET IMMERSED IN A BOOK

Book face photos by Erik Mendez, Santa Barbara Public Library.

Bringing book covers to life scores volumes on social media via #BookfaceFridays on the
Santa Barbara Public Library Instagram account (@sbplibrary). A popular meme in the
book-loving community for quite some time, Bookface photos—images in which a person
is strategically lined up with a book cover so that life and art appear to meld—are a great
way to showcase literature from the library’s collections, according to library marketing
specialist Erick Mendez.

“We get a lot of positive feedback and a lot of reposts,” says Mendez. “It’s great to see the
community of books and libraries sharing and getting inspiration from one another. It’s
never about competing to see who can do the best one, it’s always about showcasing books we love and finding a way to promote literature through covers.”

Originally published in the Summer 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.