Joe Woodard | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Name: Josef Woodard

Title: Senior Arts Writer

You’ve been writing about the Santa Barbara arts scene for many years now. What still gets you fired up?  As a hopeless music/art/film geek since my teen years in this town, I’ve always had plenty to soak up here. The pandemic’s hammering of live music — and galleries and movie houses — was truly a culture shock in such a vibrant arts town. Conversely, its slow, steady return to life has been a super-special reality, which I have eagerly leapt back into. I’m very happy to take it on with new regularity as “senior arts writer” for my home-base paper, the Independent.

How is Santa Barbara’s art world unique? What makes us special?  The truism is true: Santa Barbara has an unusually thriving arts scene for a city its size. It is thanks to convergences of institutions — UCSB, the Museum of Art, SBIFF, CAMA, concerts at the historic Lobero and Santa Barbara Bowl, SOhO, and more — and an underlying creative fire keeps Santa Barbara deeply entrenched in cultural happenings. Of course, it has also long been a hotbed for artists, musicians, and other dreamers, despite the surreal real estate/rent verities.

Besides slinging ink, how do you occupy your time?  Along with covering music, jazz festival tripping, and other observer work, I’ve always been passionate about making original music, from my restless adolescence. The lockdown allowed me to dive deeper into music-making, learn how to “home studio,” and collaborate in distanced fashion. Projects continue, but now tucked into a dizzy, busy writing work life. Also born in COVID times, I have my “random pic a day” project, posting one image a day on Facebook and Instagram.  Gotta keep the personal creative fires burning.

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