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.


ON the Walls

From To Feast on Clouds by Holli Harmon, currently on view at Sullivan Goss | Photo: Sullivan Goss

The latest body of work from Holli Harmon, To Feast on Clouds, currently on view at Sullivan Goss through September 24, is absolutely stunning. Inspired in part by her artist residency at White Buffalo Land Trust, Harmon said that the show tells a story about how closely our food is tied to our environment. “For me, art can engage our sensibilities and rationalizations in different ways, so that we can open ourselves to new ideas, even if they are hiding in what we think we know. “ The work includes 89 cloudscapes on silverware and Farmer’s Almanac pages from the 1800s make this a novel exhibition. Don’t miss it.

“Monument in Evening Shadows” by Peter Adams | Photo: Courtesy SLOPOKE Art of the West

A unique fine art show with a western flair, the 13th annual SLOPOKE Art of the West Show comes to Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang September 22-24. Renowned artist Peter Adams is the featured guest artist and juror for the event. Click here to see my story about last year’s show, and click here for more information about the 2023 edition. 

ON the Street

Artist Marisol Trejos during Pianos on State 2022 | Photo: Sasha Huckoby

Congratulations to Amanda Harris, Babymoet, Brett Renee, Catalina Bertola, Curt Crawshaw, Elina (Suzy) Lopez Garza, Elzy Sherlock, Jenn Swain, Madeleine Gendreau, Matt Rodriguez, Mia Franco, Stepanie Ingoldsby and Rebecca Zendejas, Stephen Harper, and Vandana Khare, who are the 2023 artists selected for Pianos on State. I can’t wait to see the latest iteration of this interactive music/public art installation. It hits our streets October 3-22. For more information, see pianosonstate.com.

ON the Page

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl | Photo: Courtesy


I’ve always loved Dave Grohl, but my fandom is even more solidified now, after listening to the audiobook of his memoir, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. Recorded in his own voice, with his signature goofy charm, the book is full of great road stories, sweet tales of fatherly love for his daughters, and fascinating rock trivia. Did you know that both Grohl and Kurt Cobain had the same habit of drumming with their teeth? (I can just hear my dentist tut-tutting.) Or that Pantera has their own strip club? Both of those stories and many more great ones are in the book. I got it from the library via Libby, and it’s widely available at your favorite store too. 

Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton & Me, the new memoir by Bernie Taupin, will have its debut at Chaucer’s on September 16. | Photo: Courtesy

Speaking of musical storytellers, the great writer Bernie Taupin (he of the masterful lifelong lyrical collaboration with Sir Elton John) is apparently a Chaucer’s customer and will launch his new book Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton & Me at our lovely independent bookstore on Tuesday, September 26, at 6 p.m. Among the many celebublurbs included in the press materials, my favorite is from Pete Townsend, who writes: “Orgasmic. Every page of Scattershot is a delight, a joy, a name-dropper fan’s delight. Divine. I couldn’t put it down.” Obviously, I can’t wait to pick it up.

Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library hosts a special event featuring music and poetry on September 22 at the Faulkner Gallery. | Credit: Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library

If poetry is more your speed, Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library is holding an evening of poetry and music on September 22. Featuring live music and poetry readings by Santa Barbara Poet Laureates Melinda Palacio (2023-2025), David Starkey (2009-2011), Emma Trelles ((2021-2013), and Sojourner Kincaid Rolle (2015-2017), as well as Kundai Chikowero, Santa Barbara County’s First Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador, the evening includes wine and appetizers and is a great way to support the library. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

The Ghost Story Challenge starts now. | Photo: Courtesy

It’s spooky storytelling season at the Goleta Valley, Buellton, and Solvang libraries. Enter the Ghost Story Challenge now through September 30 by submitting a scary or mysterious story related to the supernatural. Entries must be the original work of the submitter, with a maximum length of 500 words, and the contest is open to all local writers in three age categories: Adult (18+), High School (9th-12th grades), or Middle School (6th-8th grades). Click here for all of the details.

ON the Theater Stage

The Thanksgiving Play opens Ensemble Theatre Company’s new season. | Photo: Courtesy

In case you needed any more indication that fall is on the way, Ensemble Theatre Company’s first show of the 2023-2024 season is promising The Thanksgiving Play, a satirical show that tells the story of a group of “terminally woke” teaching artists who scramble to create a politically correct pageant that will celebrate both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month. The show opens October 5 at the New Vic

The Book of Will is at Solvang Festival Theater through Sunday, September 10. | Credit: Luis Escobar, Reflections Photography Studio

ON the Music Stage

Chamber music collective Camerata Pacifica launches its 34th season on Friday, September 15, at the Music Academy’s Hahn Hall with turn-of-the-20th-century English romanticism on a program featuring Elgar’s mighty Piano Quintet in A Minor. Other works include Mozart’s Piano Sonata in F Major, a musical mosaic that shifts from dancelike to dramatic, as well as one of Beethoven’s remarkable early works, the String Trio in D Major. For more on the upcoming season, read Josef Woodard’s story here. For tickets and additional information, see cameratapacifica.org.
Lobero LIVE presents Keb’ Mo’ on Friday, September 22. | Photo: Courtesy

Contemporary roots artist Keb’ Mo’ hits the stage at the Lobero on September 22. His new album, Good to Be, links the grit and groove of his Compton roots with the strum and twang of his more recently adopted hometown of Nashville. Drawing on country, folk, blues, and soul, this is a great opportunity to see a groundbreaking artist in one of my favorite intimate spaces. Click for more information and tickets.

Santa Barbara’s own Dave Hause performs on September 24 at the Lobero. | Photo: Courtesy

Dave Hause (whom you may remember for his 40th birthday fundraiser performance at Cold Spring Tavern in 2018 after the mudslide tragedy) hits the Lobero stage on September 24 with his band The Mermaid doing some “post-apocalyptic Americana” tunes, along with the “punk-rock, country-western and mariachi-influenced” music of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers. Click here for more info about this intriguing show.

Wyrn joins Ella Hue and Mimi Gilbert at SOhO on Sep. 13. | Photo: Courtesy

Critically acclaimed musician Wryn, who hails from the Central Coast, is back in action at SOhO on September 13, with a lineup that includes Ella Hue and Mimi Gilbert. Check out their video here.

Lee Abbott | Photo: Courtesy

Santa Barbara filmmaker Lee Abbott has a new film out called Disaster at Devil’s Jaw,  about the Naval disaster at Honda Point, which screens at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum on September 21 at 6 p.m. Honda Point is just north of Point Conception. Known by mariners as “the graveyard of the Pacific” and to 16th-century Spanish explorers as “La quijada del diablo” (the devil’s jaw) it was here that 100 years ago the largest peacetime disaster of the U.S. Navy occurred on September 8, 1923. Abbott will discuss the film, share photos and answer questions afterward. For reservations and additional information, click here.

ON the Podium

Mustafa Suleyman will speak on AI on October 5, presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures. | Photo: Courtesy

AI is certainly dominating the conversation right now, which makes UCSB Arts & Lectures’ addition of Artificial Intelligence pioneer Mustafa Suleyman to the lineup of speakers this week all the more timely. The author of the just-published book The Coming Wave: Technology, Power, and the 21st Century’s Greatest Dilemma will be at Campbell Hall on October 5 to speak about new technology and what we all need to know. A leader in the field of AI and AI ethics, Suleyman is the cofounder of Inflection AI, the former Head of Applied AI at Google, and cofounder of DeepMind. He was also one of five top AI leaders – along with executives from companies including Microsoft, Google, and Open AI – chosen to meet with President Biden at the White House to discuss creating safeguards around the new technology. A copy of his new book is included with ticket purchase. Click here for more information. 

ON the Catwalk

Ace Rivington founder/designer Beau Lawrence recently launched a line of women’s denim. | Photo: Paul Wellman (file)

Ace Rivington’s recent launch of their first line of women’s jeans was certainly a fun one. The talented ladies of La Boheme Dance Group sashayed and modeled their way down State Street — the store is located in La Arcada —  in the new clothing line. That’s what I call making an entrance! 

ON the Travel Schedule

Dirty Heads headlines the Alta Music Festival on Sunday, September 24. | Photo: Courtesy


Looking for one last September getaway? The Alta Music Fest is back at the Avila Beach Resort September 23-24 with a great lineup that includes Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, Pepper, E-40, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Tribal Seeds, Tropidelic, Shwayze, Rome & Duddy, and Coyote Island. For more information on the festival, click here.

ON the Calender

Sponsored by Explore Ecology, this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day is September 23. | Photo: Courtesy

If you love the beach, show it some love on Coastal Cleanup Day — the perfect day to give back to the ocean, beaches, and creeks that make Santa Barbara County such a fabulous place. Saturday, September 23, volunteers of all ages can participate at any of the 2023 cleanup sites. Last year, volunteers picked up more than 8,000 pounds of trash. 

Each site will have a captain there to provide instructions and supplies. You can bring your own gloves, buckets, and other reusable cleanup supplies to lessen the plastic footprint of this event. The event takes place at various locations from 9 a.m. to noon. Click here to register and get more information.

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

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