From Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Exhibition Through Vincent’s Eyes, Vincent van Gogh, “Les Vessenots in Auvers,” 1890. Oil on canvas | Credit: Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

This edition of ON the Beat was originally emailed to subscribers on January 5, 2023. To receive Josef Woodard’s music newsletter in your inbox each Thursday, sign up at

A common symptom felt by cultural addicts, professional and otherwise — sometimes known as “listomania” — may be a variation on SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and stubborn, calendar-driven habit. Come the shift of the calendar, we look back with fondness and disappointments at what has come in the past 12 months, as a kind of overview and a clearing of the deck before the next year’s arts harvest. In the last ON the Beat column (here), we surveyed live music’s happy returns in 2022.

Moving onto other media, here are further observations from the Top Tenning salon.

Art in Our More Than Fair Town

From Wildling Museum of Art and Nature’s Wildlife on the Edge, Hilary Baker, “Parisian Room (Cougar),” 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24 inches | Credit: Josef Woodard

In Santa Barbara’s art department, the big news of the year arrived late, but in a very welcome and accessible way. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s COVID-delayed reopening after its major multi-year renovation brought in teeming crowds eager to savor the Van Gogh show Through Vincent’s Eyes, a genuine blockbuster, but one with brains. On a sadder, more sobering note, Santa Barbara lost a venerable contemporary art sanctuary, the 40-plus-year-old Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB, originally Contemporary Arts Forum).

In other fine arts news circa 2022…

Marshall Brown, The Architecture of Collage, at SBMA
A Time of Gifts: Six Years of Photographs Given to the Collection, at SBMA
Juxtaposed, at Sullivan Goss
Patricia Chidlaw, The Pool Show, at Sullivan Goss
A Bold and Unconventional Collector: Highlights from the Barry Berkus Collection, at Westmont Museum of Art
Hilary Baker, Wildlife on the Edge, at the Wildling Art Museum
Ishi Glinsky, Upon a Jagged Maze, at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum
Evelyn Contreras and Tamar Siegfried Rosa Halpern, at SBCC Atkinson Gallery
Adam Belt, Wish You Were Here, at Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art

Cinema, On Screens Near Us and In-House

Whereas live music came back into the public sphere and consciousness with a fairly strong resurgence, the age-old practice of watching movies “at the movies” has yet to resume, diluted by the ease and availability of streamed cinema. That change is an implicit sub-theme of Sam Mendes’s brilliant Empire of Light, about a movie palace and the morphing lives within it (including another show-stopping and heart-breaking performance from the great Olivia Colman).

Thankfully, we were able to once again dive into the 10-day swim that is the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, in blessed live form, and SBIFF’s operations continued its relevance year-round with, among other things, an unprecedented flow of Cinema Society screenings with film-world notables passing through the Riviera compound for post-screening interviews.

EO | Credit: Courtesy Skopia Film

The year’s film crop included a bold tip of the camera to the lives of donkeys (EO and The Banshees of Inisherin) and the hypnotic and sweet slice-of-life bovine portrait, Cow. Meawhile, Tár — my favorite film of ’22 — found auteur Todd Field and his muse Cate Blanchett (coming soon to SBIFF) going boldly into the very rarely filmed inner world of classical music, with satirical bite and #MeToo underscoring intact. Bravo!

 (Todd Field)
EO (Jerzy Skolimowski)
The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)
Descendant (Margaret Brown)
Till (Chinonye Chukwu)
Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund)
The Eternal Daughter (Joanna Hogg)
Cow (Andrea Arnold)
Pinocchio (Guillermo del Toro)
Nope (Jordan Peele)

The Case of the Disappearing Radio Signal

For those long attuned to the splendors of the Central Coast public radio beacon of KCBX, based in San Luis Obispo but with a reach very much inclusive of this end of the 805, the end of the year brought an end to a warm and cozy FM frequency, 89.5. After many years of having its signal nestled in this spot on the Santa Barbara dial (Goleta has its 90.9 signal), the invasive interference of a bullying San Diego NPR station at 89.5 — caused by a mysterious atmospheric “ducting” phenom — finally forced the closing down of that frequency.

Although our left-of-the-dial desires sense a vacuum, a missing-tooth sensation, the internet comes to the rescue, at least as a stop gap solution. Proceed to, and cry a small tear for the terrestrial radio demise of 89.5 in the 805.


Antonio Artese | Credit: Samantha Stout

The fine Italian pianist Antonio Artese hasn’t been a stranger in these parts, having studied music at UCSB and returned on a regular basis over the years. After playing at the Lobero Theatre last year, he returns to play at SOhO January 10 with his “West Coast trio,” consisting of bassist Jim Connolly and drummer (and Independent photography contributor) Matt Perko.

As heard on his impressive, abidingly lyrical, and ear-pleasing recent album Two Worlds (on the Italian ABEAT label), Artese moves between the two worlds of his classical training extending into an idiomatic jazz world in the shadow of Bill Evans and the general landscape of virtuosic tone-painters lorded over by the paradigms of Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau.

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