Author spotlight: Steven Libowitz

Steven has reported on the arts and entertainment for more than 30 years. He has published his work in daily and weekly newspapers in New Jersey and California, as well as in Santa Barbara Magazine and a nationally syndicated news service. When not at his computer or out on the town, you’ll often find him playing volleyball at East Beach, just a short jog from Montecito’s famous Butterfly Beach.

MAW in Jeopardy?
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 29, 2021

Apparently Music Academy of the West personnel aren’t just nerdy (er, well-versed) in classical music. At least that’s the conclusion one must draw from the fact that a MAW staffer, Henry Michaels, will be appearing on an episode of Jeopardy! airing on NBC on February 2.  Michaels is the Music Academy’s Director of Audience Experience […]

Beam Me Up: MAW’s 2021 Alumni Enterprise Award Winners Announced
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 29, 2021

Music Academy of the West (MAW) has always been a decidedly different sort of summer music festival for both the young fellows who hone their classical music skills and repertoire over an eight-week period from mid-June to mid-August each year. That’s because in addition to the academic offerings of its program – which is very […]

UCSB A&L Announces House Calls II
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 28, 2021

Just What the Doctor Ordered UCSB Arts & Lectures has announced the winter series of House Calls, a slate of intimate, interactive virtual events to replace the live performances that were canceled due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Yvon Chouinard, founder and its philosopher-king of the Ventura-based Patagonia, kicks off the series on February 9 with […]

Pointers on Point Conception
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 28, 2021

Barely 50 miles from downtown Santa Barbara is one of the most fascinating and important parts of the California coastline. Point Conception is the headland where the coast transitions between north-south and east-west orientation, a very rare delineation that works as a natural division between Southern and Northern California. It also marks the location of […]

Winter Series Preview with Belinda Robnett
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 28, 2021

UCSB’s second segment of its year-long Race to Justice series of virtual talks and Q&A sessions, which was created in part by the heightening of awareness of inequity raised by the Black Lives Matters protest after George Floyd’s murder-by-police last spring, got underway last week with a conversation with the compelling author Ta-Nehisi Coates. It’s […]

New Beginnings
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 28, 2021

When COVID-19 first closed down in-person meetings, everyone hurried to figure out online opportunities. But New Beginnings Counseling Center (NBCC) had a leg up, having already nearly completed a partial pivot to Zoom before the pandemic opened the floodgates toward the platform.  It turns out the nonprofit had recognized a need to find a way […]

Focus on Film: Stories of Overcoming Bias
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 28, 2021

Back in 2010, rising country music singer-songwriter Brandon Stansell was ostracized from his strict Southern Baptist family after coming out as gay. He spent the past decade healing from that pain, finding a new support system, and building a name for himself in country music by refusing to hide his truth. The 33-year-old’s 2020 EP […]

Go with Gordon: Christmas in January
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 28, 2021

Sure, Christmas is almost a month in the rear-view mirror. Yes, Estella Scrooge, which takes place on a present-day December 24-25, is absolutely meant to be a Yuletide holiday story. But if you have yet to see this clever mashup of A Christmas Carol with several of Charles Dickens’ other books, now would be a […]

Everything’s Jake for Ukulele Master
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 21, 2021

All of the UCSB Arts & Lectures House Calls and Race to Justice virtual events have been recorded specifically for the Santa Barbara community and every program concludes with a live Q&A session with one of the A&L staff or a member of the local area arts or education community. But perhaps none of the […]

Talking Screenwriting at Pollock
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 21, 2021

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is the 2015 comedy-drama that earned writer-director Marielle Heller an Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature. The film received a lofty score of 87 from review aggregate Metacritic for its sharp, funny, and provocative account of one girl’s sexual and artistic awakening in 1970s San Francisco, largely told […]

‘Diving Deep’ into deGruy’s Degree of Influence
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 21, 2021

Nearly nine years after his death, prolific Montecito underwater filmmaker Mike deGruy’s world comes back to life via Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy, the documentary written and directed by his wife and filmmaking partner Mimi Armstrong deGruy. The film doesn’t only cover his underwater life, where deGruy most assuredly blew past […]

AHA!
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 21, 2021

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest that to many folks in our community, everyone who works at AHA! could be called a hero. After all, the Santa Barbara nonprofit equips teenagers – and often their teachers and parents – with social and emotional intelligence, using the five pillars of mindfulness, awareness, connection, empathy, and […]

Monumental Achievement: Montecito Filmmaker Reaching for the Stars
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 14, 2021

The Montecito foothills are more than a thousand miles from both the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and NASA’s headquarters in Houston – not to mention 234,000 miles from the moon – but the rolling greenery amounts to much more than a footnote for part-time Montecito resident Steven C. Barber spearheading a project to fashion […]

SBIFF Sessions on Zoom and YouTube
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 14, 2021

SBIFF’s first Film Talk of the year features Paul Walter Hauser, who got his start as a stand-up comedian before turning to acting where he has enjoyed a number of noteworthy roles. In addition to a litany of TV series guest shots and a few recurring roles, he proved a scene stealer at the movies […]

Philanthropy Spotlight: MLKSB
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 14, 2021

When I moved to Santa Barbara in 1993, I was struck not only by the area’s beauty – the opportunity to play volleyball daily on pristine East Beach, the nearby mountains – but also by the rich cultural opportunities. I was mesmerized by the extensive listings in what was then called SBCC Adult Ed (now […]

Focus on Film: Subversives, Survivor, and Script-to-Screen
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 14, 2021

The Carsey-Wolf Center’s Pollock Theater’s pandemic-pivot programming, which barely paused for the holidays, has jumped right back into the virtual fray with the start of the new year. The “Subversives” series gets going over Zoom on Thursday, January 7, with a discussion of Lingua Franca, written and directed by and starring Isabel Sandoval. The 2019 […]

The Peter Principle
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 14, 2021

Ojai Theater Veteran Takes Stark Approach to Male Sex Organ Twenty-five years ago, a then-little-known playwright named Eve Ensler turned the theater world upside down with The Vagina Monologues, comprised of a stark series of stories told in first-person readings that explore experiences with sex, body image, reproduction, menstration, sex work, and many other topics […]

House Calls Hosts Authors of Achievement
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 14, 2021

Thanks to the extended lockdown laws on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, UCSB Arts & Lectures has scrapped its planned live events season slated for February-May in favor of continuing the House Calls and Race to Justice series online. (The updated virtual calendar hadn’t yet been released by our print deadline.) Meanwhile, two of the bigger […]

Easy Lift
By Steven Libowitz   |   January 7, 2021

Several years ago, my elderly neighbor gave up driving due to recurring hip injuries and a debilitating autoimmune disease. Sometimes I’d look across our cottage complex and notice a taxi waiting to take her to doctor appointments or grocery shopping – she was old-fashioned enough to not even own a smartphone, so Lyft and Uber […]

Talkin’ Tunes and Times Through TEDxSB
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 31, 2020

TEDxSantaBarbara founder and executive producer Mark Sylvester realized early on as COVID-19 crept into our consciousness that he’d probably have to cancel his annual convention that each fall brings together as many as 10 speakers with local spins on the TED trio of topics (technology, entertainment, and design). That’s when the disappointment set in.  “It […]

Here We Go a-Carol-ing: Dickens of a Time for a Ghost Story
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 31, 2020

Just like redemption doesn’t come easy, recovering from the wounds of 2020 from the COVID pandemic and other tough situations this year will likely take significant time. But perhaps a local take on a legendary allegory can go a short way toward helping the healing, or at least create a satisfying enough diversion to bring […]

Talkin’ Tunes and Times Through TEDxSB
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 29, 2020

TEDxSantaBarbara founder and executive producer Mark Sylvester realized early on as COVID-19 crept into our consciousness that he’d probably have to cancel his annual convention that each fall brings together as many as 10 speakers with local spins on the TED trio of topics (technology, entertainment, and design). That’s when the disappointment set in. “It was nagging […]

Felder in Florence Salutes Tchaikovsky
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 24, 2020

Following the imposition of stricter protocols to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the area’s only planned live performance of The Nutcracker, a Concerts in Your Car production from Ventura Ballet, was canceled. Musician and theater impresario Hershey Felder, though, performs a pandemic pivot to point his next streaming production, Hershey Felder, TCHAIKOVSKY, toward the composer’s score […]

Fisher Finds a Way
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 24, 2020

If a sudden affliction of acute flaccid myelitis resulting in becoming a quadriplegic wasn’t enough to stop Santa Barbaran Grace Fisher from pursuing her musical dreams, the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t contain her from continuing her community Christmas celebration. This year’s Winter Music Showcase from her Grace Fisher Foundation – which was pre-recorded using proper protocols […]

Ensemble Theatre’s Ensemble Holiday Shows
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 24, 2020

Ensemble Theatre Company is bursting with some holiday pride about a new show streaming virtually out of Las Vegas this weekend. That’s because the star of The Elijah Rock Variety Show Christmas Special played Porgy in ETC’s 2017 production of Porgy and Bess, an ambitious, critically acclaimed and socially prescient adaptation of the show that […]

Revels’ Pandemic Promise: Join Us (Virtually) and Be Joyous
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 24, 2020

Every year, the December performances of Santa Barbara Revels are meant to mark the winter solstice, which represents the shortest day of the year, the deepest dive into darkness before emerging back into the light. So perhaps it was fitting that my conversation with Susan Keller, founder of and still the main force in the […]

Reining in the Reindeers: Nack Puts Paintings on Paper
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 17, 2020

Three years ago, a few of us attended Brad Nack’s 21st annual 100 percent Reindeer Art Show – a perpetually packed reception at Roy where folks jostle each other to get first dibs at the new paintings – decked out in N95 respirator masks to shield against inhaling smoke and particles from the then still-growing […]

Book basics: A Virtual Chat on ‘Vines & Visions’
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 17, 2020

Famed Santa Barbara photographer Macduff Everton and veteran journalist-writer Matt Kettmann, who are both graduates of UCSB, first collaborated on Around the Table: Recipes & Stories From The Lark in Santa Barbara, which was managed by Everton, who also took the photographs, while Kettmann contributed a chapter on wine history in town. Nearly four years […]

Honing in on ‘Home for the Holidays’
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 17, 2020

A cabaret for Christmas might seem like the mixing of metaphors, but the idea made a lot of sense for PCPA as a way to produce something during the pandemic. That was partly because a show that’s akin to a revue could be done from people’s homes during lockdown without damaging the storyline. But it […]

Focus on Film: Christmastime is Here
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 10, 2020

UCSB Arts & Lectures’ free outdoor fall film festival series of screenings at the West Wind Drive-In comes to a close with two Christmas classics, with a modern parable followed by a Jimmy Stewart tearjerker. In 2003’s Elf, Will Ferrell stars as an elf named Buddy who discovers that he’s actually a human whom Santa […]

PCPA’s Holiday Cabaret
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 10, 2020

PCPA’s 2020 Christmas-season treat is called Home for the Holidays, with the subtitle of “… because where else are you going to be?” Fair enough. With the coronavirus raging all over again, the Central Coast conservatory keeps its virtual programs flowing with a holiday cabaret featuring its resident artists. The free streaming event will be […]

In Good Company with Alone, Together
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 10, 2020

When the pandemic forced interaction to head to the internet, UCSB’s Theater Department quickly picked up the virtual ball and ran with it. Not only classes did move online but the Launch Pad project quickly pivoted to mark its 15th anniversary milestone by having previous participants in the play reading series contribute short pieces to […]

Strayed Gets House (Calls)-bound
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 10, 2020

Movie lovers might only know Cheryl Strayed from the film version of her bestselling memoir Wild, which starred Reese Witherspoon in the adaptation of the book that offered alternating harrowing and hilarious stories from Strayed’s solo 1,100-mile trek on the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the personal journey that led her there. But the […]

Art Walk… and Talk
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 3, 2020

The Arts Fund has announced that its Funk Zone Art Walk is back, albeit in a reimagined, COVID-19-safe format, which, of course, means virtually. The Funk Zone Art Walk Artist Spotlight is slated to take place over the next three months, when the normal in-person, bi-monthly gathering in the thriving artist studio, gallery, and boutique […]

Rubicon Streams a New Christmas Show
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 3, 2020

Rubicon Theatre in Ventura has done a lot of great work, from classic musicals to heart-rending dramas to serving as a home for developing new works. But over the years one show has stood out as qualifying for all three of those categories: Little Miss Scrooge, subtitled “A Dickensian Christmas Story,” which was conceived by […]

For the Love of Comedy
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 3, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced lockdowns and closures all over creation, Camarillo-based comedian Jason Love just kept on cruising. Sure, his regular in-person gig, including a rotating lineup of stand-ups he put together monthly for the Carrillo Recreation Center in Santa Barbara, went by the wayside. But Love, a former humor columnist for the Ventura […]

Focus on Film: Frank Talk on a Gambit
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 3, 2020

If you haven’t yet checked out The Queen’s Gambit, deservedly one of the top-ranked shows on Netflix and one of the best original series in the streaming service’s catalog, now would be a good time to get started on the seven-episode series about a chess prodigy turned accomplished if tortured young woman. That’s because Scott […]

Carmen for COVID: See a Classic Opera From Your Car
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 3, 2020

In normal times, opera can be an emotional experience, perhaps even a cathartic one, for members of the audience when the music meets the drama with just the right note. But the upcoming Concerts In Your Car version of Carmen has proven to be quite a tear-jerker just for the creative team even before the […]

Lookin’ Back at Loggins
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 3, 2020

Back in the first week of summer, as the pandemic shutdown rounded its third month, pop star and longtime Montecito resident Kenny Loggins kicked off a series of low-priced live, pay-per-view concerts streamed on the Lobero Theatre’s website, with proceeds supporting both the venue and the National Independent Venue Association, which has similar one-off theaters […]

Music in the Garden Goes Online
By Steven Libowitz   |   December 3, 2020

Among the casualties of the coronavirus closures was the complete cancellation of all in-person events last summer at the Music Academy of the West, normally one of the highlights of the year on the classical calendar. Instead, the 120-plus fellows and faculty members collaborated on the Music Academy Remote Learning Institute (aka MARLI), which bridged […]