Gagaku performance with Taiko drum | Credit: Daigengna Duoer

Thanks to a relatively high rate of vaccination in our county and a well-coordinated response by our arts organizations and venues, most in-person arts activities in Santa Barbara have resumed or will resume by the end of the month. Most recently, the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at UCSB announced that its doors would reopen on Saturday, September 25. Full instructions on COVID protocols and a link to the University’s On Demand Screening Survey can be found here.

Three dynamic and diverse current exhibitions highlight the multiple strengths of this museum. Irresistible Delights: Recent Gifts to the Art Collection focuses on the AD&A’s legacy of collecting contemporary art, often featuring artists from the Santa Barbara region. Sound of a Thousand Years: Gagaku Instruments of Japan employs the university’s extensive collection of musical instruments in the service of an inquiry into the art of Buddhist and Shinto liturgies in the Imperial Court of Japan.

From Riggs to Neutra and Niemeyer: Tremaine Houses, 1936-1977 reflects the scholarship of UCSB professor of art and architecture history Volker M. Welter on California modernism as expressed in a group of four mid-20th-century homes constructed in and around Santa Barbara between 1930 and 1980. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m., and on Thursday from noon-8 p.m. 


HAIM on the cover of Women in Music Pt. III | Credit: Courtesy

The Santa Barbara Bowl has a busy week ahead, with John Legend performing on Thursday, September 16; HAIM on Friday, September 17; Trevor Noah on Saturday, September 18; and Gary Clark Jr. on Sunday, September 19. Check sbbowl.com before you go to any of these shows for the latest information on COVID protocols, and be sure to bring proof of vaccination and a mask. When I checked on Monday, September 13, there were still good seats available for all four of these shows, particularly HAIM and Gary Clark Jr., who are two of the best live acts in the world right now, so there’s no excuse. See you there! 

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on June 7, 2024. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at independent.com/newsletters.


The 75th Ojai Music Festival runs Thursday-Sunday, September 16-19, and features a remarkably eclectic yet highly accessible lineup thanks to music director John Adams and special guest Rhiannon Giddens, both of whom will perform in multiple settings. Read our preview of the festival here, and seek more information and order tickets here


Mark di Suvero’s “Mama Mobius” | Credit: Charles Donelan

Read my review of Belinda Rathbone’s excellent new biography of George Rickey and learn about this pioneering artist’s unusual marital partnership and myriad Santa Barbara connections. Then get in the car and head to San Luis Obispo, where another major sculptor with a Santa Barbara/UCSB link, Mark di Suvero, is showing recent bioluminescent paintings, small sculptures, and one big outdoor work, the riotous red “Mamma Mobius” at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.


You say you’ve seen all the good music documentaries, and you’re not sure that you want to spend an hour and 51 minutes with Rick James? Well, what about Soul Power? This slept-on 2008 documentary has everything: James Brown and Bill Withers; B.B. King and Don King; Muhammad Ali; George Foreman; George Plimpton; The Spinners; Sister Sledge; and even Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, the President of Zaire. Shot by a team of top cameramen, including cinema verité legend Albert Maysles, Soul Power delivers sizzling performance footage by an extraordinary cast of international musicians plus behind-the-scenes material that didn’t make it into the Academy Award–winning companion film When We Were Kings. Crank this one to 11 on the Sonos and let the rhythm hit you.

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.