1st Thursday Brings Together Art, Film, Music, and Theater

by Elizabeth Schwyzer

Santa Barbara residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to
the arts. Keeping a calendar of such cultural riches can be a
serious undertaking, especially for those who want to enjoy the
full range of the city’s creative offerings. Starting next month,
the challenge of staying on top of it all becomes considerably
easier when on Thursday, February 1, the Downtown Organization
kicks off its monthly arts night, 1st Thursday, bringing together
visual art and film, live music and theater.

The idea of a regular downtown arts evening has been brewing for
more than a year. The success of recent social and cultural events
like Nights at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the first-annual
Off-Axis art festival brought attention to the community’s hunger
for some sophisticated creative expression combined with a little
festivity. Many cities hold a regular art walk of some kind, but
Santa Barbara has never before brought together galleries and
museums, independent artists, theater groups, and musical groups
for a monthly downtown event.

pool_above.jpgOrganizers see 1st Thursday as a way of
serving the local community while at the same time drawing visitors
to the downtown area — after all, the express goal of the 1,400
member nonprofit Downtown Organization is “to maintain and enhance
business and cultural activity” in the downtown corridor. “If the
locals like it, the tourists will love it,” Downtown Organization
Executive Director Marshall Rose predicted recently.

Christi Westerhouse and David Court, owners of participating
venue The Frameworks/Caruso-Woods Gallery, concur. For more than a
year, they’ve been hosting a third-Thursday soirée each month,
where deejays spin, drinks flow, and there’s fine art on the walls.
“We felt like downtown needed something fun to do in the evenings
that didn’t cost a lot of money but had a cultural element to it,”
Westerhouse said. “We’re providing an inexpensive way to hang out
and have a good time in a community of creative people.” The
gallery’s monthly shindigs have thus far acted as an unofficial
after-party for SBMA’s Nights.

By switching from the third to the first Thursday of the month,
Westerhouse hopes to foster a downtown buzz as participants move
from one gallery to another. In honor of the Santa Barbara
International Film Festival, on February 1, Caruso-Woods will host
DJ Thomas Golubic, music director of KCRW and music supervisor of
HBO’s popular television show Six Feet Under. Golubic will present
clips from classic films like Blade Runner and The Graduate,
rescored to live mashups. Artiste winery will provide a free
tasting, and Linda Saccoccio’s paintings will be on display.

At CAF, members of the Society of Motion Picture Still
Photographers will hold a panel discussion and present their work
for major Hollywood films, including locally shot flicks Seabiscuit
and Sideways. A reception will follow the talk. “We consider 1st
Thursday an important new program for the city, and we seized the
opportunity to fold in art and film,” said CAF Executive Director
Miki Garcia. “There’s a need and desire for art to be part of our
social and cultural life.”

Film fest fever will also turn up at Santa Barbara Frame Shop
and Gallery, where owners David and Angela Beardon will celebrate
the premiere 1st Thursday with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and an exhibit
of framed movie posters from motion pictures featured at this
year’s film festival. Bearden sees 1st Thursday as a family event,
and one that welcomes the entire community. “With the Downtown
Organization running it, it’s easier to bring everyone together,”
Bearden said.

Other 1st Thursday exhibits and venues include the official
opening of the Patty Look Lewis Gallery, where works by Lewis,
William Dole, and Selden Spaulding will be on display, accompanied
by live music by Fiddlin’ Dave and the Arroyo Boyz, and wine from
Alma Rosa Winery. At Studio 3 East, owner Erika Carter will host
the kickoff event for the Light Blue Line project with a display of
Global Warming Postcards — haunting images of a prospective Santa
Barbara given a seven-meter rise in sea level.

1st Thursday may be centered on downtown art spaces, but it’s
more than just a gallery crawl. The inaugural event features
Mitchell Thomas’s Car Plays, in which a series of short, original
plays will be presented simultaneously inside vehicles parked
behind SBMA. Also, old-time band Legrand, Franks, and Dodge will
serenade State Street strollers from the patio of Borders

In short, this monthly art walk offers more than watercolor
beachscapes, wooden wind chimes, and woven change purses. 1st
Thursday is proof Santa Barbara is ready to embrace the full range
of contemporary arts — and even throw a party in their honor.


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