Local Lowdown: Shop Youth Interactive’s State Gallery

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Pairing student work with local, national and international artists, the nonprofit Youth Interactive’s new Downtown Santa Barbara Gallery is a dynamic new space for the grassroots after school Entrepreneurial Arts Academy students to showcase and sell their work alongside an impressive array of professional artists.  

You’ll find contemporary work in various mediums, from works on paper, sculpture and assemblage to painting, photography and new media. Everything in the store is artisanal and handmade and the proceeds go back to support the youth and the arts in our community. 

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Home of the original State Theatre and more recently the Unity Shoppe, the large open space celebrates Poetry Month in April with Word Up!, a fundraiser led by Santa Barbara Middle College students during First Thursday Art Walk from 5 – 8 p.m. on April 4. The gallery also showcases the work of Santa Barbara printmaker Bay Hallowell in an exhibition called Truth be Told, showcasing a compilation of works combining art and text. 

Later in April comes an exhibition titled Grounded, a group exhibition of painting, photography and sculpture connecting us to the ground we walk on and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with works by artists Cynthia James, Ryuijie and Luis Velasquez.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Among the youth-led business with their work consistently on view in the gallery are: Infinite Treasures, students create handmade jewelry while learning valuable business skills; Pier Pressure Designs, a team of teens makes beautiful bags out of recycled sails donated by SB Yacht Club, and fabric donated by Patagonia and others; Havok, a group of young entrepreneurs who design original works of art on T-shirts; RBY (Resurrected by Youth), a team of high school kids learning carpentry, business, marketing and general entrepreneurship skills; and The Creative Studio Team, which creates and sells art while managing the gallery. 

Youth Interactive’s State Gallery (1219 State St., Santa Barbara, youthinteractive.us) is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays, with extended hours during exhibit openings and special events. 

—Leslie Dinaberg

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Gallery, courtesy photo.


Cocktail Corner: Sipping for Good


Belmond El Encanto has partnered with Sunstone Winery to craft two custom blends in support of the local youth organization Youth Interactive. Photo courtesy Belmond El Encanto.

Belmond El Encanto has partnered with Sunstone Winery to craft two custom blends in support of the local youth organization Youth Interactive. Photo courtesy Belmond El Encanto.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

I’m always excited to hear about partnerships between local wineries, local businesses and local nonprofits. After all, when good wine benefits a good cause … well, it’s all good!

Most recently, Belmond El Encanto  collaborated with the beautiful, family-owned Santa Ynez Valley winery Sunstone Winery to craft two custom blends in partnership with GO Campaign to support Youth Interactive, one of my favorite local organizations that works to create youth-led businesses to help participants explore their creative and entrepreneurial talents. 

Belmond El Encanto worked directly with winemaker Bion Rice and the Sunstone team to craft each wine.

The first custom blend, released in December, is Enchanted Riviera (pictured above). It is a 2017 cuvée consisting of 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. Each of the four lots used to compile this blend originated from the 28-year-old Sunstone Estate Vineyard.

The white blend, Charming Vista, will be available in early 2019. A select panel from Belmond El Encanto and Youth Interactive’s Board developed secret blends for a blind tasting at Sunstone Winery, and a Level 2 Sommelier from the winery chose the winning blend.

Youth Interactive Artist Jack Miles with his artwork that is featured on the "Enchanted Riviera" bottle. Courtesy photo.

Youth Interactive Artist Jack Miles with his artwork that is featured on the “Enchanted Riviera” bottle. Courtesy photo.

The bottle label artwork was created by Youth Interactive participant, 18-year-old La Cuesta Continuation High School student, Jack Miles. A fan of abstract art, Miles was mentored by celebrated local artist James-Paul Brown on the design.

“Youth Interactive means a lot to me. It is a safe place where I know that I can always come to and feel free to be myself and express myself. I am able to meet important people in the community and expand on my skills to become a better person,” says Miles, who hopes to find a job that allows him to utilize his talents and give back to the community.

Founded in 2012, Youth Interactive Santa Barbara  is a grassroots after school Entrepreneurial Arts Academy that bridges opportunity and social divisions by providing creative young adults from all walks of life with the keys to self-sufficiency. Sold exclusively at the hotel, Belmond El Encanto will donate five dollars from each bottle sold to the organization. 

You can also check out some of Youth Interactive’s other products at their new gallery space, the State Gallery @ YI Shop, located at 1219 State St. across from the Granada Theatre in Downtown Santa Barbara.

Sunstone Winery, courtesy photo.

Sunstone Winery, courtesy photo.

“Collaborating with both Sunstone Winery and Youth Interactive is the perfect match for Belmond El Encanto,” says Colleen Huther, General Manager of Belmond El Encanto. “Being a strong advocate for sustainability, we appreciate the environmental preservation and organic growing that is inherent with Sunstone Winery. A majority of our local community outreach efforts focus on youth, the future stewards of our planet. We can’t think of a better youth organization to support than Youth Interactive.”

Cheers to good wine and good causes! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

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 believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 18, 2019.

YI Shop | Youth Interactive Holiday Market

Photo courtesy YI Shop.

Photo courtesy YI Shop.

Buy local and help support the nonprofit Youth Interactive this weekend at their Makers Market on Saturday, December 22. This unique nonprofit creates youth led businesses to mentor students’ creativity, help ignite their imaginations and provide them with new opportunities to develop the life skills needed to succeed beyond school. 

YI Shop (located at 1219 State St. across from the Granada Theatre) is filled to the brim with local artists and craftsman working alongside students to celebrate the holiday season and create beautiful items for lucky holiday shoppers.

For the perfect gift, unique, LOCAL, handmade and crafted with love, stop in the YI Shop for everything you will need to make the holiday season shine bright for everyone on your list.

Photo courtesy YI Shop.

Photo courtesy YI Shop.

YI Shop is  partnering with some of the Central Coast’s most creative artisans to support our youth.  Among the gift items, you’ll find:

Turquoise Succulents by Ashley Rifkin 

Barry Tryon Ceramics

Photo courtesy YI Shop.

Photo courtesy YI Shop.

Kathy Burba Ceramics

Jess Conti Leather Goods

Dancing Flame Glass by Lindsey Cossman

Pedaling Paper by Barbara Booth

Karen Hazarian Fine Jewelry

Table Salt Screen Prints by Earl Arnold

Avi Hyman’s Green Eyed Art

Wolf Hietzke – Ceramics

Felicia Artisan Jewelry

Unite to Light

Elephant Project

Founded in 2012, Youth Interactive Santa Barbara (YI) is a grassroots after school Entrepreneurial Arts Academy that bridges opportunity & social divisions by providing creative young adults from all walks of life with the keys to self-sufficiency.

Past participants say, the YI approach has changed the pathway of their lives from a place of darkness & failure to success! Click here for more information. 

Youth Interactive Holiday Market is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 22 at 1219 State St. in Downtown Santa Barbara. www.youthinteractive.us

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 20, 2018.

Seaside Makers Funk Zone Opens

Seaside Makers Collective, photo by Kelsey Crews.

Seaside Makers Collective, photo by Kelsey Crews.

Don’t miss the grand opening of the new Seaside Makers Funk Zone location on Thursday, Nov. 29. This is a great opportunity to support 15 of the best local artisans in one amazing spot—209 Anacapa St. The newly transformed space (formerly Youth Interactive, which moved to a new State Street location) is a curated collection of local art and gifts for bath, body & home, put together by Kristin Fraser of The Grapeseed Co. and Jules Kramer of Jules by the Sea.

Other artisans at the collective include Asher Market, Sarka Photography, Jess Conti Leather Goods, Meadow Rose Photo Art, Blue Planet Eyewear, Whimsea, Mission Canyon Collective, and a beautiful collection of art by Karin Shelton, Pedro De La Cruz, Alana Clumeck, Katie Kramer, Anthony Barbaria and Kelly Clause. In addition, other artists, makers and pop-ups will rotate in and out, starting in December with some amazing one-of-a-kind handbags, jewelry and other special treats.

Seaside Makers Collective opens 11.29 in the Funk Zone, courtesy photo.

Seaside Makers Collective opens 11.29 in the Funk Zone, courtesy photo.

“This is a dream come true to land in the heart of the Funk Zone with this extremely talented group of makers and artists,” explains Jules Kramer, who will be managing the Santa Barbara store.

“The collective will highlight and celebrate the amazing artisans in our community by offering much more than a great place to shop… we will tell the stories behind the makers, and also look forward to hosting Scent Bar parties, pop-ups, live-painting and workshops in our event room space and parking lot,” says Kristin Fraser.  

Fraser opened Seaside Makers flagship store in Carpinteria (961 Linden Ave.) in September 2018. Response from the community was so positive that she partnered with Kramer to open a second location in Santa Barbara.

The shop will host a Grand Opening Celebration on Nov. 29 from 4-8 p.m. to give the community a chance to “meet the makers” in person. Seaside Makers Collective is located at 209 Anacapa St. in the Funk Zone, with parking available in its own lot.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 28, 2018.

Pianos Jazz Up State Street

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

State Street’s got some rhythm in its soul this month with the annual Pianos on State interactive musical exhibit on display throughout October.

In its 9th year, the exhibition will extend from October 2-24,  and feature pianos painted by Santa Barbara-based artists—all of which are available for community exploration, impromptu play and group performances.

This year’s panel received a record number of submissions, according to organizers from Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture. The selected artists include Aviel Hyman, Mahina Martinson, Ariana Meyers, Jack Mohr, Amanda Phillips, Melody Rose, Sheryl Schroeder, Lanny Sherwin and Richard Stokes. Additional community partners working with local students and artists to design pianos include Art From Scrap, the Santa Barbara Public Library Central Branch, The Arts Fund and Youth Interactive.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Helmed by the Santa Barbara Bowl, this program represents a unique collaboration that aims to provide arts exposure for residents and visitors of all ages. “The pianos are a beloved tradition that enhances the cultural vibrancy of Santa Barbara and the downtown corridor. It is a way to engage the community by inviting participants of all ages and backgrounds to experience performing arts in a public space,” says Kai Tepper, Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach Program Manager. Additional producing partners include the City of Santa Barbara, Office of Arts and Culture, The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation and New Noise SB. Many local sponsors and businesses also help sponsor and underwrite costs.

Isaac Hernandez. Untitled. Acrylic paint on piano. Exhibited outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. November 7, 2010. ©2010 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com.

Isaac Hernandez. Untitled. Acrylic paint on piano. Exhibited outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. November 7, 2010. ©2010 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com.

An opening celebration takes place on 1st Thursday, October 4, from 5-8 p.m. as artists traverse the pianos and the Piano Boys perform at the Library’s piano at the intersection of State and Anapamu Streets.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 3, 2018.

Editor’s Pick: Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald, courtesy of Lobero Theatre.

Michael McDonald, courtesy of Lobero Theatre.

Iconic singer and five-time Grammy-winner Michael McDonald (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers and loads of solo hits) teams with Ambrosia for a special Concert to Benefit Youth Interactive at the Lobero Theatre (Oct. 11). All proceeds support Youth Interactive’s after-school programs for local underserved youths.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Celebrates Grants in Action

Annual site visit allows members to hear firsthand how their recent contributions totaling $550,000 are helping local nonprofits

Members of the Women's Fund board Santa Barbara Airbus on their way to visit nonprofit grant recipients. (Women's Fund of Santa Barbara photo)

Members of the Women’s Fund board Santa Barbara Airbus on their way to visit nonprofit grant recipients. (Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara photo)

The mood was particularly festive at the 10th annual Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara site visit on Wednesday as more than 200 members of the organization were greeted with the news that founder Carol Palladini had received the prestigious Woman of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara Foundation and Noozhawk the day before.

Guests were also uplifted to see and hear what their most recent $550,000 in grants was doing to help the community.

The Santa Barbara Public Library hosted the annual site visit gathering, which included tours of three nonprofit facilities — Peoples’ Self Help Housing, Youth Interactive Santa Barbara and the Single Parent Achievement Program at Santa Barbara City College — as well as presentations by representatives from Casa Esperanza, Domestic Violence Solutions, the Legal Aid Foundation, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Posse Program (Opening Doors to College) and Storyteller Children’s Center.

Together, these nine charities comprise the most recent recipients of 64 grants totaling $4.7 million to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since the fund began in 2004.

“Our annual site visit is the best way to understand the work the Women’s Fund does,” Steering Committee co-chair Nancy Harter said. “And it’s an opportunity to connect us to some of the things that matter most — friends, new and old, and to our collective efforts that impact community. For a decade our members have combined their charitable dollars to make large donations in the community — more than most of us could accomplish on our own.

“We’ll be able to visit some of these grantees and see how they deliver services. Other grantees will make presentations on the progress of their grant. We’ll be able to ask questions about the effectiveness of our giving. And we’ll be able draw connections between words on a ballot and real people — those delivering services and those receiving them. My hope is that this site visit affords all of us a rich opportunity to sharpen our skills as strategic philanthropists.”

Traveling via Santa Barbara Airbus, the day included a stop at Peoples’ Self Help Housing’s site in Carpinteria, which received a $50,000 grant to use for after-school/summer educational enhancement for children of low-income families.

Rochelle Rose, Peoples’ fund development director, explained that the money was used for a program called YEEP, which stands for Youth Education Enhancement Program. YEEP is open after school every day in seven centers.

“These hours are structured,” Rose explained, “one hour for homework completion, one hour for physical activity and recreation and healthy snack, and one hour for educational enhancement — with a special project in math, science, art, music, community service or social studies. Thanks to support like yours, we are able to provide this program to over 300 children a day.”

Rev. Mark Asman of Casa Esperanza, Women's Fund photo

Rev. Mark Asman of Casa Esperanza, Women’s Fund photo

The next stop was the Single Parent Achievement Program at Santa Barbara City College, which received a $90,000 grant for child-care support for low-income single mothers to allow them to attend college.

Chelsea Lancaster, EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs Student Program advisor and a former single-parent student, offered her thanks: “My mother said, ‘You can either struggle for a few years while you’re in school or struggle for the rest of your life without an education. The choice is yours.’ I’m glad I chose wisely!”

Youth Interactive Santa Barbara’s executive director and founder, Nathalie Gensac, gave an overview and tour of the nonprofit, to which the Women’s Fund granted $60,000 for entrepreneurial and job skills programs for underserved youth.

Calling the grant “transformational,” Gensac said, “It is literally because of your gift that I am proud to say that we are here today reaching unbelievable new heights. We followed your grant with a fundraiser concert hosted by Michael McDonald. He is now a huge supporter of Youth Interactive and personally donated $20,000 after the concert, other new grants have flowed in, too. We have now raised another $70,000 since May. All our students have access to the best artists and entrepreneurs in town, who teach them vocational skills, financial literacy and business skills.”

Back at the library were several additional presentations by grant recipients.

The Rev. Mark Asman, board president of Casa Esperanza, which received $50,000 for shelter and support to transition women out of homelessness, shared the story of Angela, who was born and raised in Santa Barbara.

“She had never experienced homelessness until her mother died and she began to fall on hard times,” he said. “Angela arrived at Casa Esperanza in June. She was 23 weeks pregnant. Because of her condition, Angela was given priority to stay at Casa and placed in one of our special-needs beds.”

Angela was matched with volunteers from the new “Navigator” program, paid for by the Women’s Fund grant.

“Over the months that Angela was with us, the volunteers helped to advocate on behalf of Angela for the courts … schedule prenatal visits along with attaining baby care items, etc.,” Asman said. “Angela recently gave birth to a healthy baby daughter and is now living with her and the baby’s father in affordable housing in Lompoc. I am confident that without the Navigator Program, Angela would not be where she is today. … Members of the Women’s Fund, thank you for your compassionate and strategic leadership.”

Bringing many in the audience to tears, Charles Anderson, executive director of Domestic Violence Solutions, began his presentation by playing a 9-1-1 call from a child witnessing violence.

“We know this is shocking,” he explained, “yet we work with children like this little girl and her family on a daily basis. Our DVS staff members are available to dispatch on 9-1-1 calls to assist law enforcement 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. During the previous 12 months, DVS staff has accompanied law enforcement officials on 655 of these domestic violence 9-1-1 emergency calls. We are the ‘first responders’ to many domestic violence situations. We responded to over 1,500 domestic violence crisis calls last year.”

The Women’s Fund gave DVS $50,000 to update the security system and the playground, which, as Anderson said, “Because of this most generous gift from the Women’s Fund, the children at DVS Santa Barbara have a safe, secure and inviting playground and security camera system where their mothers can take joy in watching their children thrive and grow.”

The Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara received a $75,000 grant for a domestic violence attorney for women and children, which, as family violence attorney Elizabeth Diaz explained, “was used to fund a second attorney … to assist victims of domestic violence, dependent adult abuse and elder abuse. Our services range from advice and counsel, to assistance with the preparation of legal documents, all the way up to representation in court proceedings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center was Executive Director Elsa Granados: “Your generous grant ($50,000) supports in part a crisis intervention counselor and a long-term counselor … thus enabling the SBRCC to counsel an additional 98 victims of sexual assault per year.

“An important part of the healing process for survivors of sexual assault is to feel that they are believed and supported by their community. Many are reluctant to speak publicly about their experience out of fear that they will be judged and stigmatized. I thank you for creating a space where Liz Blackadar could speak about her experience.”

Blackadar shared a moving story of her more than 30-year journey to finally be able to call herself a “survivor of sexual abuse,” thanks in large part to the services from SBRCC.

Also speaking at the library was Jo Ann Caines, principal of La Cumbre Junior High — along with San Marcos High School Principal Ed Behrens and San Marcos senior Jose Campos — to share how the Women’s Fund grant of $75,000 to the Posse Program (Opening Doors to College) has impacted the more than 100 students in the group.

“One of the important components of the program is to provide mentors and tutors to the high school Posse students in the evening at La Cumbre,” Caines said. “Because of funding limitations, the tutorial, mentoring and collaboration aspects of the program used to begin in October for the students. They are enrolled in rigorous and accelerated academic classes, Honors and Advanced Placement classes, and they need support as soon as the school year begins.

“This year, the Women’s Fund grant enabled the Posse Program to begin the tutorial and mentoring opportunities and support to begin on Sept. 8 with full tutorials and mentors in place, as well as the textbooks needed for their respective classes that span four high school grade levels. The students attended in mass and expressed their appreciation for the early start. What a difference a month makes!”

On behalf of the Storyteller Children’s Center, which received $50,000 for a food program for low-income preschool children, Executive Director Terri Allison said: “Thank you so much for your support of our program. Storyteller Children’s Center serves 100 of the community’s most vulnerable children each year and serves close to 23,000 meals and snacks. Your support allows us to do our work every day … providing quality, tuition-free early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children, as well as comprehensive support services for their families.”

Sarah Stokes, Kate Winn-Rogers and Barbara Hauter Woodward were the event co-chairs, who offered special thanks to generous bus sponsors Santa Barbara Airbus, Ferguson Bath & Kitchen Gallery, Allen Construction and Montecito Treasures.

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.

This story was originally published in Noozhawk on October 10, 2014.