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.

Bringing Back the Beatles: ETC Music Benefit Honors the Fab Four
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 1, 2021

For Ensemble Theatre Company’s education director Brian McDonald, the theme for this year’s fundraiser for the ETC’s education and outreach programs was a bit of a no-brainer: “Come Together.” After all, the title of the Beatles song from their penultimate album provides the perfect prescription for emerging from a pandemic that has kept people apart […]

A New Attraction, and Return of Some Popular Ones at the Santa Barbara Zoo
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 1, 2021

It’s not too big of a stretch to suggest that a lot of people probably felt like they might never get out from under the “new reality,” what with several surges and multiple levels of lockdown over the past 15 months. But the folks over at the Santa Barbara Zoo are emerging from the COVID […]

A Time For Reinvention
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 1, 2021

Opera Santa Barbara won’t ease back into action, instead taking on a first-time production of Das Rheingold at the Lobero Theatre Anyone who thought Opera Santa Barbara might ease its reentry into live indoor operas with something out of the standard repertoire clearly doesn’t know Kostis Protopapas very well. OSB’s artistic and general director has […]

Town Hall Will Aid Those Struggling with Post-Pandemic Re-entry
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 1, 2021

California and much of the country reopening have been met with rejoicing by many people, but not everybody is completely comfortable with jumping right back into their old lives.  That’s the impetus behind Hospice of Santa Barbara’s “Navigating Re-entry” Town Hall, an online forum featuring a half-dozen community leaders discussing the fears, anxiety, and issues […]

Finding a Compassionate PATH: Nonprofit has Increased Homelessness Outreach Through Partnerships
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 24, 2021

The COVID pandemic was surely a challenge for just about everyone in Santa Barbara and all around the world, but some communities were harder hit than others. Not so much here in the city or Montecito but consider what it must have been like to go through the 15 months of lockdowns, surges and protocols […]

Center of Attention: CST Wastes No Time Bringing Back Live Performances
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 24, 2021

Who could have predicted dance as the art form that would dominate reopening at the Center Stage Theater? Sure, the “black box” theater upstairs in Paseo Nuevo has been a happy home for several of the local dance companies that produce their own periodic performances and has also hosted a few festivals featuring revues. But […]

MAW, Please: ‘Restorative Power of Live Music’ Returns to Montecito
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 17, 2021

Faced with the pervasive pandemic protocols in the summer of 2020, the Music Academy of the West proved its mettle by coming up with MARLI — the Music Academy Remote Learning Institute — a technical wonder that allowed students and faculty to immerse themselves in learning and music making even if only virtually and in […]

Grateful and Still Going Strong: 4 Questions with Rock Photographer Jay Blakesberg
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 17, 2021

San Francisco-based photographer Jay Blakesberg is a self-confessed Deadhead whose work has appeared everywhere from Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, Relix to Time, and Vanity Fair. Over a 40-plus-year career he has taken pictures of innumerable rock legends, including the Grateful Dead, Phish, Radiohead, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, and Tom Waits, to […]

Selah Sees ‘The End of the End of the World’ As We’ve Known It
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 17, 2021

Meredith Cabaniss-Ventura, the Selah Dance Collective founder and artistic director, doesn’t remember where she first found the main word of her dance company other than remembering it’s featured heavily in the Bible in the Book of Psalms. But while she liked that the word isn’t directly translatable to English, one of the meanings struck her […]

EYC 2.0: Endowment for Youth Committee Looks Beyond Money to Provide Long-Term Opportunity
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 17, 2021

The Endowment for Youth Committee is one of the oldest nonprofits serving the needs of African American students and the greater Black community on the Central Coast, with a history that dates back 35 years. But before Guy R. Walker stepped in as executive director in 2015, the EYC had struggled to continue as a […]

Shifting Directions: Human Rights Watch Now Following an Inclusive Path
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 10, 2021

For more than 40 years, Human Rights Watch has enjoyed an international reputation for taking on and often accomplishing its mission to scrupulously investigate abuses to widely expose the facts and then relentlessly press those in power, ranging from governments to armed groups to businesses — all in the name of change. Its ability to […]

Summer in Solvang
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 10, 2021

With the continued easing of pandemic restrictions, PCPA is returning after two summers to the Solvang Festival Theater, the charming outdoor amphitheater in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley village. The stars will be live on stage as well as visible in the sky above starting in mid-July, when PCPA debuts an original production […]

UCSB Music Goes Live, with Tech Support from SBCC
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 3, 2021

Last October, Santa Barbara City College’s Jim Mooy used the Jamulus audio platform and live-streamed videos of each performer generated via Zoom to direct a synchronous audio and video stream of a university ensemble performance of SBCC’s Lunch Break Jazz Ensemble concert.  This week, Mooy lends his expertise to his counterparts at UCSB’s Music Department, […]

You’ve Got a Friend in Me: Friendship Center Finds a Way to Stay Connected
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 3, 2021

The Friendship Center serves an often overlooked, but much-needed niche for the aging adult community — providing a daytime home away from home where the dependent seniors can take advantage of companionship and engaging activities. They also receive necessary supervision while their family caregivers receive respite and a much-needed break from the demands of caregiving […]

Back to the Stage! Center Stage Theater Welcomes Back Audience
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 3, 2021

The UCSB Initiative for New & Reimagined Work is presenting a staged reading of the classic Chekhov play Three Sisters at 6 pm on May 31. What makes this show most remarkable is that the performance will take place inside the intimate Center Stage Theater, where the general public is welcome to attend for the […]

Lotus at the Luke
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 27, 2021

Back in the virtual world, the Marjorie Luke Theatre this weekend unveils its eighth video presentation in its virtual concert series spotlighting local musicians and others in highly produced digital productions shot with multiple cameras and professional sound on the stage of the historic venue.  All In For Love represents the live concert full-set debut […]

Lobero Ready to Have to Fun, Fun, Fun All Over Again
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 27, 2021

David Asbell has had it up to here with the pandemic.  The longtime general manager of the Lobero Theatre piloted the venue through a pandemic pivot along with everybody else to stay relevant during the last 14 months. For the Lobero, this meant partnering up with an indie producer to host live streaming shows from […]

The Curtain Rises Once Again: Ensemble Theatre Company Announces Full Slate of Productions for 2021-22 Season
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 27, 2021

Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) executive artistic director Jonathan Fox was already talking about reopening when he was interviewed for the original Giving List book connecting philanthropists and nonprofits that we published last November. At this point, to the surprise of no one, six months later that still hasn’t happened as the pandemic pounced once again […]

ACT Write Now for Relief
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 27, 2021

ACT Daily Journal: Get Unstuck and Live Fully with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the latest book from local author/psychologists Dr. Diana Hill and Denver-based Dr. Debbie Sorensen, offers readers an introduction to the six core processes of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) — including mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based living. The book also introduces a seventh: […]

Creating Hope with Pico Iyer and the Dalai Lama
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 20, 2021

It’s no surprise that UCSB Arts & Lectures has turned to the XIV Dalai Lama for the keynote event in its year-long 2021-2022 Creating Hope programming initiative. After all, not only has His Holiness, who is believed to be a manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, spent much of his life encouraging people to be […]

‘A Caseload of One’: CASA Puts the Focus on Individualized Attention for Children
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 20, 2021

The mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County is to assure a safe, permanent, and nurturing home for all abused and/or neglected children by providing a highly trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system. When a child is removed from their home due to abuse or neglect, they […]

Chaucer’s Choice
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 13, 2021

The population of western monarch butterflies — the majestic insects that migrate from nearby states to spend the cold months in groves of trees between Marin County and San Diego — has declined more than 99 percent since the 1980s, a dramatic drop that has sadly been verified by their disappearance from our own famous […]

‘We See a Lot of Hope Every Day’: SB Wildlife Care Network Growing as Need Expands
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 13, 2021

The pandemic might have produced a reduced need for services at many businesses and nonprofits. But that’s not the case at the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. In fact, the coronavirus crises created a contrary result, even if only indirectly. “We saw a dramatic increase in animals coming here in 2020, and we’re certainly on […]

Arch of a Story: From the Big Screen to the Bookshelf
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 13, 2021

It’s been more than a quarter-century since Jeff Arch’s first produced screenplay Sleepless in Seattle arrived in American multiplexes. But the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy — which broke the genre’s meet-cute mold in that the leads don’t actually meet in person until the end — gave the then-struggling writer his first success, […]

Showing its MOXI: Innovative Spirit Helps Organization Continue to Support Children’s Quest for Knowledge
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 6, 2021

Every organization had to pivot to produce programs during the pandemic. But for the MOXI museum, innovation comes with the territory. Indeed, that’s what the “I” in the nonprofit’s name (Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation) stands for.  “What the pandemic forced us to do is to take what we do best — which is […]

‘Gone and Mostly Forgotten’: Essays Keep Memories of Little-Known Santa Barbara Authors Alive
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 6, 2021

Shortly after moving to Santa Barbara more than four decades ago, Steven Gilbar found he spent a lot of his off hours from his day job as an attorney doing things that are all about authors and writers. An avid reader, Gilbar has also published more than 20 books over the course of his writing […]

A Resting Place: Sarah House Withstood COVID in Order to Provide Respite
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 29, 2021

Sarah House executive director Kate Grove didn’t want to talk much about the financial burdens the COVID pandemic has placed on the eight-bedroom home that mainly provides end-of-life care for the financially disadvantaged, as well as support services for HIV/AIDS sufferers and short-term stays to alleviate stay-at-home caregivers. “Everyone’s told the COVID story. It’s super […]

Productions at the Pollock
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 29, 2021

The Pollock Theatre at UCSB jumps back into the post-SBIFF fray in mid-spring with three events within a single week. Appropriate for Earth Day weekend, Pollock’s virtual filmmaker series dives into the 2020 documentary Frozen Obsession, which follows the 18-day, 2,000-mile Northwest Passage Project expedition through the stunningly beautiful and extreme Canadian Arctic, aboard the […]

3 Qs with Delila Moseley: Finally Free to Dance on Film
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 28, 2021

The opening sequence of UCSB Dance Department’s COVID-coping triptych of dance films shows a series of eerily empty spaces all over the seaside campus. But it’s not meant to be a metaphor or pandering to the pandemic, said artistic director Delila Moseley, a longtime professor of dance at UCSB. Moseley has been able to actually […]

SB Education Foundation
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 22, 2021

Santa Barbara Education Foundation Executive Director Margie Yahyavi was reluctant to have her office visible during our Zoom call last week, even going so far as to employ a virtual background of a rustic cabin complete with a woodburning stove in place of her actual surroundings.  “Oh my God, this office is insane,” Yahyavi said. […]

Patriotic Pandemic Performance
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 22, 2021

“Nay, why reproach each other, be unkind,For there’s no plane on which we two may meet?” The words might be a little too poetic and eloquent for modern times, but the sentiment is surely something that might have been spoken aloud on the floor of the U.S. Senate this week, say, perhaps by a centrist […]

Skating on ‘Thin’ Ice for SBCC
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 22, 2021

The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett’s crime caper series featuring the society couple Nick and Nora Charles, was first published as a magazine serial in 1933. But it wasn’t long before the tales of the high-life living couple and their dog, Asta, being drawn into the seamy underbelly of crime as amateur sleuths aiming to help […]

“An Iliad”: Tale of War, With a Modern Twist
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 22, 2021

Our troubles coping with the COVID pandemic have stretched beyond the one-year mark. But that’s a short blip of time compared to the arduous ordeal of relating conflict, rage, war, and more over three millennia — with no end in sight.  Such is the plight of the storyteller in An Iliad, the modern-day adaptation of […]

Talking Baseball in Tokyo
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 21, 2021

Veteran journalist and author Robert Whiting is one of only a few Western writers to have written a regular newspaper column in the Japanese language. The author of several highly successful books on Japan and the city where he has lived on and off for more than half a century include the best-selling You Gotta […]

Montecito at the Movies: Byrne Busts Through at SBIFF
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 15, 2021

The list of endeavors Montecito filmmaker Niki Byrne took on before she was out of her mid-20s would put most of us older adults to shame with the breadth and variety of her adventures: soccer player, race car driver, advertising copywriter, helicopter pilot, vegetable chopper for a Top Chef winner, photographer, painter (her portrait of […]

SBIFF Closes with Santa Barbara Short Docs
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 15, 2021

Despite the pandemic, the film festival is continuing its recent tradition of giving over the prestigious closing night slot to selected short documentaries shot by Santa Barbara filmmakers. We caught up with two of the locals who have contributed frequently to the fest’s film lineup. First up is Casey McGarry, who tackled roller skating old […]

Community Environmental Council
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 15, 2021

With Earth Day 2021 rolling around just a week after the publication date of this issue of the Montecito Journal, you’d think the big three-day festival would be all anybody at the Community Environmental Council (CEC) would want to talk about. After all, it was a nascent CEC that organized Santa Barbara’s first Earth Day […]

Standing Together to End Sexual Assault
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 8, 2021

April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), an annual campaign aimed at raising public consciousness to consider sexual assault as a public health, human rights, and social justice issue as well as educating people about how to prevent it.  For the nonprofit Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) based here in Santa Barbara, […]

Rock of Gibraltar Cyclist ‘Climbs’ back into the (bike) saddle
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 8, 2021

It was just 31 months ago that Neil Myers was nearly killed in a bike-versus-truck accident near the top of Gibraltar Road above Montecito, where the triathlete loved to train by undergoing grueling climbs up the mountain pass road. He followed the uphill treks with lightning-fast descents at speeds of more than 30 mph, far […]

$avvy Women. Money. Freedom. (Men allowed.)
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 8, 2021

The Big Short proved that it’s possible to make an interesting movie about money, a lesson documentary filmmaker Robin Hauser seemed to take to heart. Her latest documentary, $avvy, covers what could be a very dry subject – women’s relationship to finance – with a whole lot of advice from (mostly female) experts on how […]