While there are some definite downsides to living in a smallish town like Santa Barbara-connections can grow a bit incestuous and the 2 a.m. bar closing time can be a drag, not to mention the utter lack of places that’ll serve you a grilled cheese sandwich after you’ve vacated your drinking establishment of choice at said closing time-the upsides more than make up for it. And, as far as I’m concerned, at the top of the list of S.B.’s perks is its unfailing sense of community.

So, last Friday, no one was surprised by the huge turnout at the benefit aiming to help Frameworks/Caruso-Woods Gallery owners David Court and Christi Westerhouse, as well as the couple who lived upstairs, get back on their feet after a fire engulfed their building last month. After all, Court and Westerhouse are some of Santa Barbara’s original community-builders. It was the example set by their mellow BYOB Third Thursday parties-the welcoming vibe and the way that art-gazing and socializing melded so seamlessly there-that inspired the Downtown Organization’s recently launched 1st Thursdays event. And, upon hearing news of that fire, it was the community they’d selflessly done so much to cultivate that sprang into action around them.

The sun had slept in again on Friday, but got to work in time to wash the Casa de la Guerra in its warm glow for the bittersweet festivities. When I arrived, Court, true to form, tried to let me in for free; I politely told him to shove it. I spotted familiar faces everywhere and realized the first time I’d seen many of those faces was, unsurprisingly, at Frameworks. DJ Scott Topper, who’d received word of the fire while on the road and immediately asked what he could do to help, spun tunes for the first couple of hours, while Spencer the Gardener got ready to take the stage. The music, the wines from Au Bon Climat, beer from Telegraph Brewing Company, and snacks from Epiphany and Elements kept the peeps happy and hopeful-in fact, it managed to be damn close to a trademark Frameworks good time. I can’t wait for the next one.


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