ON Culture | Introducing Our New Arts Newsletter

A Snapshot of Local Culture and Fun Happenings

Fleet Foxes | Credit: Carl Perry

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on July 15, 2022. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at independent.com/newsletters.

ON the Stage

Outdoor entertainment is always in season in Santa Barbara, but summer is a particularly great time to be under the stars. I had a fabulous evening with Rod Stewart at the Bowl, and check out Cat Kelley’s review of Fleet Foxes from last weekend. Later this month, the Bowl will have Rise Against, Slightly Stoopid, Black Crowes, The Chicks, and Josh Grobin, with much more to come through October.

One of my other favorite venues, Solvang Festival Theater, reopens with Mat Kearney this weekend. They have PCPA’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods later this summer, and I’ll soon be singing along to PCPA’s Sound of Music at the Marion Theater. Another fun musical, Something Rotten!, is onstage at SBCC through July 23 (read Maggie Yates’s review here, and there’s also Claudia McGarry’s new play, Air Love n’ Love, at the Marjorie Luke Theater.

ON the Page

Credit: Courtesy

Writing the special Summer Reading section for this week’s Independent was so much fun. I have a slew of new book recommendations, including dozens that I couldn’t fit in from my interview with Joe Medjuck and D.J. Palladino: The Temple of Gold by William Goldman, BUtterfield 8 by John O’Hara, Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, World of Wonders by Robertson Davies, The Premonition by Michael Lewis, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, and The Butcher’s Boy by Thomas Perry, among others.

While I was on vacation in France, doing Little Free Library research, Ellie Bouwer did a great overview of the Little Free Libraries in Santa Barbara. I have a little library outside my house, and it’s always exciting to see what treasures people will leave behind.

Speaking of libraries, the Santa Barbara Public Library has a fantastic new free resource available called PressReader, which gives you access to more than 7,000 newspapers and magazines from around the world, including all the wonderful international versions of Vogue, Elle, Architectural Digest, and much more.

ON the (Big) Stage

Credit: Courtesy

Check out my overview of the Summer Movie Specials in town, including UCSB Arts & Lectures’ free summer cinema series at the courthouse — Dirty Dancing is up next, followed by Thelma & Louise — and don’t miss the $2 family fun series at the Fiesta and Camino Real theaters, featuring animated favorites like How to Train Your Dragon and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Also coming this month is the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s free Asian-American film series featuring A Vanished Dream: Wartime Story of My Japanese Grandfather (July 22) and Waterman, the story of the legendary athlete Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (July 29).

ON the (Small) Screen 

Credit: Courtesy

If you’ve ever wanted to do a visual mashup of Harry Styles and a pastrami sandwich or Taylor Swift and the Presidio, have I got a website for you! Check out: It’s an AI model that creates images from any text prompt your heart desires.

On the television front, I’ve been savoring the new Hulu series Conversations with Friends, based on the wonderful book by Sally Rooney. I’m also looking forward to the second season of Only Murders in the Building, with sometime Santa Barbaran Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez (also on Hulu), and am finding Melissa McCarthy’s new Netflix series God’s Favorite Idiot quite amusing.

If you haven’t seen the half-hour anthology series The Premise on Hulu, from writer/director BJ Novak (a k a Ryan from The Office), you are in for an R-rated, thought-provoking, and hilarious treat!

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ON the Walls

Credit: Courtesy

There’s no shortage of contemporary art on view in Santa Barbara right now, including Tenacity at Silo 118 Gallery, by the always interesting Toni Scott. Also in the Funk Zone is Double Up, from curator Marcello Ricci, who you might remember as the director of the Arts Fund a few directors ago. Check out my preview here.

Josef Woodard has an overview of Going Global: Abstraction at Mid-Century at theSanta Barbara Museum of Art, and Koss Klobucher has a preview of Marianna Victoria Mashek’s watercolors on view through the end of August at Santa Barbara Tennis Club.

I’m also looking forward to checking out Earth Wind & Tires, a “wrecktospective” of California desert photographs featuring the work of Ginny Brush, Nell Campbell, Bob DeBris, and Matt Straka, July 22-24 at the Community Arts Workshop.

ON the Air

Local singer Caitlin Tucker has released her first tune on Spotify, titled “Angel Face,” and it’s awfully catchy. Also worth checking out is the new video for “Diamond Wings” from Plastic Harpoons. The video was filmed at Circle Bar B, and this twangy tune is sure to leave your toes tapping.  

Erin Pata — graphic designer, adventurer, air guitarist, and entrepreneurial farmer extraordinaire — is the guest of honor on the podcast Ground Work. Check out “The Journey to the Summit with Erin Pata” here.

ON the Podium 

Cultural Sundays at Arrowsmith’s Wine Bar in Solvang is a fascinating new series of free lectures. Up this week is Professor Ross Melnick discussing his new book, Hollywood’s Embassies: How Movie Theaters Projected  American Power Around The World. Upcoming topics include How Soft Robots Could Save Your Life (by crawling down a person’s throat) and The Wine Culture Wars: Why Believe in Moderation?

ON the Catwalk

Kate McHale Jensen | Credit: Facebook

During the pandemic, comfort took center stage on the fashion front, with nap dresses remaining popular. Indian Pink, which I wrote about when they opened in the spring, has a cute version of these comfy dresses in all sorts of fun fabrics.

Upcycled chic, the other lasting pandemic trend — thanks to both continued supply chain issues and a growing concern for the environmental impact of the fashion industry — is one that Santa Barbara designer Kate McHale Jensen has long been on top of with her one-of-a-kind women’s shirts fashioned from vintage men’s shirts and hand cut by McHale Jensen herself. Her studio shop at 36 W. Calle Laureles is where the magic happens and is sometimes open to the public; call (805) 895-2440 to see if she’s there.

ON the Calendar

Grace Fisher | Credit: Courtesy

Amazing Grace Fisher is at it again. An adaptive art class — Fisher demonstrates how she creates her artwork by painting with her mouth, sharing her journey and leading the group through creating their own piece — takes place at Kyle’s Kitchen in Goleta on July 23. Register here.

All funds go to the Grace Fisher Foundation, whose mission is to connect children living with disabilities to music, art, dance, and other forms of artistic expression.

For a complete calendar of events this week and beyond, visit independent.com/events/.

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