I had the pleasure of writing the Santa Barbara Independent special “Schools of Thought Issue once again in fall of 2022. To read the entire issue online, click here. I
I had the honor of writing the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa Barbara winners once again in 2022. It’s always a fun project and it’s always a huge amount of work — but a little every time I do it. People are always so excited to hear they won, so that part is definitely fun. You can read the whole thing by clicking here, or on the images below.
These stories were originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent in August 2022.
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.”
Nathaly (Arriola ’10) Maurice joined the White House Office of Public Engagement (OPE) as Special Assistant to the President and Director for Partnerships this spring. OPE works at the local, state, and national levels to ensure community leaders, diverse perspectives, and new voices all have the opportunity to inform the work of the President. The team is tasked with creating and maintaining a two-way dialogue between the administration and communities across the nation to ensure that voices are heard and that concerns can be translated into action across the administration. Through outreach, communication, public events, and official announcements from the administration and the various departments of the Executive Office of the President, the Office of Public Engagement removes obstacles and barriers and creates opportunities to improve public awareness and involvement in the work of the Biden-Harris administration.
Maurice previously worked for the Executive Office of the President in the Obama administration, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the Senate. A native of Peru, she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in international relations and Latin American studies. She participated in UC Santa Barbara’s Technology Management Program for four years and was a member of the Lambda Sigma Gamma sorority. Maurice is a mentor for The Puente Project, which helps young Latinas prepare for college. She attributes much of her success to her experience at UC Santa Barbara and participation in a UCDC internship in the office of a member of Congress.
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.”
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.
“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.”
Between the bicycle-friendly weather, the relatively flat terrain, and the environmentally-conscious ethos on campus, it’s no wonder that UC Santa Barbara has long been known for its bicycle culture. More than 10,000 people bicycle-commute between their homes and the university on a daily basis. With seven miles of Class 1 bike paths and more than 20,000 bike parking spots on campus — not to mention designated skateboard lanes — expect to see those wheels keep on turning for years and years to come.
Where were you in ‘62?
This photo of a student dressed for success and riding a bike near the library was taken on October 7, 1962, just four years after the campus moved from the Santa Barbara Riviera to its current location.
Today’s students make their way around the League of American Bicyclists’ certified Platinum-level Bike Friendly University, where backpacks are now ubiquitous and comfortable athleisure wear is de rigueur both on campus and in many professions.