Local Lowdown: Let There Be Light!

LightWorks: Isla Vista Illuminates a Vibrant Community

By Leslie Dinaberg


Photo by Robert Bernstein, courtesy Kim Yasuda

The parks and streets of Isla Vista will pulse with artistic spirit on May 19-21, when LightWorks: Isla Vista comes to life. This exciting series of temporary installations and performances that transform the parks of Isla Vista into illuminated evening spaces, engaging existing underutilized spaces and animating them through visually compelling experiences that contribute to the safety, economic viability and quality of night life and sense of place.

Spearheaded by UCSB Art Professor, Kim Yasuda, an Isla Vista resident who is passionate about using the arts as a positive force for community engagement, LightWorks is part of a long-term community development partnership effort with Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, and other key partnerships that include UCSB Visual and Public Arts; Offices of the 3rd District Supervisor and County Sheriff; Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District; Isla Vista Community Network; UCSB Materials Research Laboratory; Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science, and Technology and the Santa Barbara Foundation.

“This multi-agency arts initiative is the first of its kind for Isla Vista and offers a way to engage the leadership of artists and designers in helping Isla Vista reimagine its future as a creative community,” says Yasuda, who worked hand-in-hand with Santa Barbara County Arts Commission to secure grant funding for the project.

Building on momentum from last spring’s Blunite Memorial Vigil, which lit the UCSB campus and adjacent Isla Vista area with thousands of blue LED lights, Yasuda says, “All of that was really the momentum of post-tragedy healing, artists kind of moving into those spaces and engaging them. Art is always kind of a way to make a space more beautiful. …So art is our catalyst. Artists and art are, to me, catalytic in beginning something beautiful and positive and that’s kind of how…I hope this will work.”


Photo by Marcos Novak, courtesy Kim Yasuda

She continues, “I was thinking about the lighting as being a key feature that artists could tackle. Rather than having enforcement lighting or surveillance lighting or security lighting, we would have engaged lighting in beautiful illuminated spaces.”

“While public lighting and clear sight lines are critical components for safety, we have identified the arts as an integral component to affect the permanent cultural change our community so desperately needs,” writes Alex Rodriguez, board chair of Isla Vista Recreation and Park District.

Initial funding for LightWorks: Isla Vista is based on temporary art installations, but Yasuda envisions this project as the beginning of developing a more permanent exhibit. “What I imagine is that the campus and IV community actually embark on a partnership to host this event annually, so essentially we would have a kind of contemporary art festival. That’s my dream. And also that we would start a collection, an illuminated public works collection of different projects…We would actually be one of the first campus communities that would have a public art collection comprised of light and technology.”

With support from UCSB Materials Research Laboratory—the lab of UCSB Professor Shuji Nakamura, who won a Nobel Prize in physics in 2014 for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes (LED lights)—Isla Vista certainly seems ideally suited to bring the long-term vision of LightWorks to life.

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Cocktail Corner: Enjoy Cocktails With Culture at 1st Thursday: After Hours

Figueroa Mountain Brewery

Figueroa Mountain Brewery

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

It used to be that the fun was just getting started when 1st Thursday ended…but not anymore! Lobero Theatre, The Granada and The New Victoria Theatre have teamed up for a terrific new production: Historic Theatre District’s 1st Thursday: After Hours from 7:30–9:30 p.m., where you can enjoy your cocktails with culture every 1st Thursday.

Premiering on Thursday, December 5,  1st Thursday: After Hours  is a fun FREE event featuring entertainment by magician Mark Collier, bites from Sojourner Café, and beer tasting by Figueroa Mountain Brewery. This first one will be on the historic (newly reopened) Lobero Esplanade in front of the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.

In addition, the party also features a no-host bar and additional live entertainment.

This is the first of six “1st Thursday After Hours” celebrations with Santa Barbara’s newly formed Historic Theatre District in which the Lobero Theatre, the Granada Theatre and The New Vic are teaming up for new ways to access the best in Santa Barbara’s performing arts. After enjoying the exhibits throughout the downtown galleries and local shops, guests are invited to keep the fun going  in Santa Barbara’s Historic Theatre District.

Hosted at a different theater each month, the 1st Thursday After Hours will feature sips and bites from one of the Theatre District’s restaurant partners and live local entertainment.

“This creative partnership between the three theaters is a great example of cultural organizations coming together to increase access to the arts and expand their audiences, while engaging the community,” says Ginny Brush, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission. “1st Thursday has become an immensely popular tradition for local Santa Barbara arts and culture enthusiasts, igniting the Cultural Arts District after 5 p.m. With the addition of ‘After Hours’ at the theaters, that energy can continue!”
The schedule of 1st Thursday: After Hours through the Spring is:
·       December 5, 2013 at the Lobero Theatre
·       Skipping January due to holidays
·       February 6 at The Granada Theatre
·       March 6 at the New Vic
·       April 3 at the Lobero Theatre
·       May 1 at The Granada Theatre
·       June 5 at the New Vic

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally featured in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine on November 29, 2103.

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.”

¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! welcomes Los Vega Son Jarocho

Los-Vega.sm_This week ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbarawelcomes Los Vega Son Jarocho, fifth generation jarocho musicians from Veracruz, Mexico. Carrying on a longstanding family tradition, Los Vega brings a fresh pespective to this distinctive style, playing jaranas (small guitars), percussion, vocals and zapateado (footwork). 

According to the organizers, “for more than five generations the Vega family has contributed to traditional son jarocho, taking on the responsibility of keeping a musical expression alive through the generations. Son jarocho is a style of music with origins in music brought from Spain in the colonial period, melded with indiginous folk music, dynamic Afro-Caribbean beats and wise-cracking wordplay unique to the tropical Veracruz region on the Gulf of Mexico. It is music traditionally played on stringed instruments such as the jarana, a strummed guitar with eight to ten strings, three of which are double, and the requinto, a small four-stringed guitar, and is accompanied by intricate dance or zapateado, often performed on wooden platforms or tarimas.”

They will perform a free family concert at Isla Vista School at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 18 (6875 El Colegio Rd., Goleta, 805/893-5037). On Saturday, October 19, they travel to Guadalupe City Hall for a free family concert at 7:30 p.m. (918 Obispo St., Guadalupe, 805/343-2939), returning to Santa Barbara to perform a free family concert at the Marjorie Luke Theatre at Santa Barbara Jr. High on Sunday, October 20 at 7 p.m. (721 E. Cota St., 805/884-4087 x7).

In addition to these performances, on October 17, La Cumbre Jr. High and the Santa Barbara Westside Association co-host a unique opportunity to learn and practice with the musicians of Los Vega Son Jarocho in a free participatory workshop from 5:30–7 p.m. at La Cumbre Jr. High, 2255 Modoc Rd. Musicians and dancers of all levels are welcome to come play together. Please bring your own instrument —or be ready to sing and dance!

Based on a vision of accessible cultural offerings for Santa Barbara County’s Latino communities, ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! brings together diverse audiences at free famly events in neighborhood venues on five weekends each year. The program is a consortium of the Marjorie Luke Theatre, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts & Education Center, Isla Vista School, and UCSB Arts & Lectures, represented by co-ordinators Alíz Ruvalcaba, Graciela Parra and Catherine Boyer. Volunteers from PTAs, the California Youth Corps, UCSB sororities and fraternities, and many others, join together to host and staff the events.  

¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! is funded by The James Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the SAGE, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Incredible Children’s Art Network, the UCSB Office of Education Partnerships, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, The Marjorie Luke Theatre’s Dreier Family Rent Subsidy Fund, the Santa Barbara IndependentSanta Barbara Latino, the Santa Maria SUNUnivisión, the Sandman Inn, Best Western South Coast Inn and Ramada Limited. This project is funded in part by the Community Arts Grant Program using funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara, in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Arts CommissionCo-presented by the Marjorie Luke Theatre, the Guadalupe Arts & Education Center and UCSB Arts & Lectures, in collaboration with the Isla Vista School After School Grant.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on October 17, 2013.