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.

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 […]

SBIFF is Here: Roll Out the Wheels
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 8, 2021

What does one say to welcome filmmakers, stars, and guests to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival this year, the 36th, which holds the strange honor of being the first-ever hybrid event in SBIFF’s history? While movies, tributes, and filmmaker Q&As will all stream online from April 1-10, the only live interaction between people from […]

Book ’Em: Chaucer’s Choices Crowd Calendar
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2021

Prolific Santa Barbara-based children’s book author/illustrator Bruce Hale, whose 60-plus books include the Clark the Shark and the award-winning Chet Gecko mysteries series, kicks off four straight afternoons of conversations with writers about their new books hosted by Chaucer’s. The Edgar-nominated Hale, whose books also include Snoring Beauty, one of Oprah’s Recommended Reads for Kids, […]

SBCC Stories Stream
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2021

Perhaps ironically, it’s SBCC – which has been largely shut down during the pandemic, thus allowing SBIFF to create its makeshift drive-ins down by the beach in the college’s parking lots – whose Theatre Arts Department has compiled stories written by the SBCC community, including students, staff and faculty, to create three separate performances of […]

Westmont’s COVID-safe Concerts
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2021

Westmont Music kicked off its spring student showcase series with a pandemic-proof performance of Gabriel Fauré’s sublime “Requiem” in its annual Masterworks Concert. Westmont found a new space for its spring reading of the piece, with the widely spaced singers vocalizing from the bleachers high above the orchestra located on the track at the college’s […]

A&L’s Virtual Spring Events
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2021

UCSB Art & Lectures announced its new season of virtual events for the spring quarter – perhaps the last one necessitating such exclusively online programming before the pandemic releases its grip. The slate gets underway on April 10 with an old friend of A&L in Jane Goodall, the British primatologist, anthropologist, ethologist, and UN Messenger […]

A Bold Take on the Iliad
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2021

In a COVID coincidence, the second weekend of the school’s zany take on Greek myth cozies up to a more serious – and perhaps even more ambitious – approach to some of the same material in the Ensemble Theatre Company’s live stream of the one-man show, An Iliad. The work is crafted around the stories […]

Homer Onstage x 2: High School’s Hi-jinks and High-art Theater
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2021

As if persevering through a pandemic isn’t sufficiently perplexing, Santa Barbara High’s theater arts department is undertaking the challenge of cramming years of classic sagas into a single evening performance. In The Iliad, The Odyssey, and All of Greek Mythology in 99 minutes or less, written by Jay Hopkins and John Hunter, the student actors […]

Opera, Outdoors and Out of the Box
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2021

Opera director Josh Shaw has never been one to follow conventions. After setting aside a career as a tenor (his resume includes appearing at the now-defunct “Opera Under the Stars” series at the Arts and Letters Café in the Sullivan Goss Gallery back in 2010), he co-founded Pacific Opera Project a decade ago to provide […]

‘Dist-Dance’: Love of Ecstatic Dance Motivates Director Michael Love
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 7, 2021

We also spoke with Michael Love, the veteran screenwriter (he authored the screenplay for the Academy Award-nominated, Gaby: A True Story, in 1987) and director with dozens of credits to his name, including multiple short docs and a few features that have premiered at SBIFF over the years. His 2021 entry, Dist-Dance, chronicles the ecstatic […]

One805 Four Years Later, Nonprofit Continues to Kick Ash
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 1, 2021

Everybody in town likely knows about One805. Sure, they’re the organization who three years ago created the “Kick Ash Bash,” mounting the massive benefit concert as a way of thanking both the firefighters whose brave stand against the Thomas Fire in December 2017 saved untold homes in Montecito, as well as honoring the already weary […]

Viva la FIESTA FIVE! Movies Return to Downtown as Metro Theatres Reopen
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 1, 2021

In one of those quirky COVID coincidences, Metropolitan Theatres is reopening its doors just as the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is about to get underway with a hybrid virtual/drive-in edition.  Nine days after the county moved back into the red tier, movie theaters will be allowed to open indoors at 25 percent capacity or […]

Getting Innovative: From Drive-ins to Zoom Q&As, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is Ready
By Steven Libowitz   |   April 1, 2021

Over its 36-year history, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has had to deal with challenges such as raising funds to keep the fest afloat in the early days; pivoting quickly following the departure of its new executive director after a single season at the helm; and erecting barricades to hold back the masses when […]

Feeding Our Community: The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County Adjusts to Meet Our COVID Needs
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 25, 2021

To say that the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has been busy is an understatement – the nonprofit distributed 9,708,944 pounds of food over the course of a year, including some four million-plus pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits. Sounds like a lot, right?  Sure, but that’s the year preceding the COVID crisis in California. […]

‘Storm Reading’ Revisited
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 19, 2021

Back in 1988 nobody could have predicted the success or impact of Storm Reading, a theatrical play starring and based on the life experiences of Neil Marcus, a humorist-philosopher who lives with a neurological disorder called Dystonia that dramatically impacts his ability to speak and control movement. That includes Rod Lathim, who as head of […]

Heal the Ocean
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 18, 2021

Heal the Ocean (HTO) has enjoyed a remarkable record of success, particularly for how the nonprofit that was founded barely more than 20 years ago to address contamination of the waters off Summerland from coastal septic system runoff has turned comparatively smaller donations into big projects. HTO smartly and enviably has leveraged modest sums to […]

Words + Music: UCSB’s Virtual Concerts Add Visuals
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 12, 2021

UCSB’s Music Department Winter Concert Series has not only gone virtual, it’s also veered toward video, with a big percentage of the ensembles choosing to incorporate visual material into their programs. Each entity took a different approach to marrying music and imagery, ranging from traditional filmed scenes of nature for choral music to wildly abstract […]

CALM is for Kids
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 11, 2021

April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month, so naturally our very own Child Abuse Listening Mediation has some special activities planned. CALM is half-a-century old and the only nonprofit in Santa Barbara County that specializes in the prevention and treatment of childhood trauma. This organization, just like every other nonprofit, has had to forgo its […]

Savvy and Sassy Sharp Advice from Marcus for Women Over 50
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 11, 2021

From the very first paragraph in Bonnie Marcus’ Not Done Yet!, the Santa Barbara author leaves no doubts about the attitude readers can expect from her new self-help book subtitled “How Women Over 50 Regain Their Confidence & Claim Workplace Power.”  “Okay. Right from the get-go, I’m gonna be straight with you. I’m pissed,” Marcus […]

Mission: Impossible Objects
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 10, 2021

Ed Lister, who is known in both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara as a skilled scenic artist with credits in the theater credits and mural making, has created a series of vibrant abstract silk screen prints, or serigraphs. They were made starting in the early 1970s while he was teaching printmaking at the Chelsea School […]

Anti-Defamation League of SB 
By Steven Libowitz   |   March 4, 2021

This past January 6, Americans watched in horror as an insurrection fueled by violent conspiracy theories and white supremacy extremism attacked the Capitol in Washington, D.C., the very seat of our democracy. The Anti-Defamation League might have been shocked, but they weren’t surprised by what they have called “a predictable act of political violence fueled […]

Race Relations Past and Present
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 26, 2021

Earlier in February, UCSB Arts & Lectures hosted the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” playwright-actress Anna Deavere Smith as part of its virtual Race to Justice series. The university’s Department of Theater and Dance closes out the month with a production of Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Other Identities, Smith’s groundbreaking one-woman show […]

UCSB’s Zoom-tastic Don Giovanni Opera-ting in the ‘New Reality’
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 26, 2021

More Mozart is headed our way this weekend as UCSB Opera Theatre and the Department of Music present an abridged two-act virtual video version of Don Giovanni on Friday, February 26. The production is helmed by Associate Professor Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian, the star soprano who sang the love interest role of Zerlina in multiple productions […]

The Eyes Have It Symphony’s Concert a Musical (and Medical) Marvel
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 26, 2021

There’s plenty to celebrate in Santa Barbara these days, and not just the spurt of greenery and wildflowers poking up from the earth in the sunshine following last month’s rains or the fact that the number of daily COVID-19 cases has dropped down to double digits for the first time in nearly two months.  Joy […]

Breast Cancer Resource Center: THRIVE is Alive
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 25, 2021

Webster’s Dictionary defines thrive as a verb meaning “to grow vigorously, flourish” or “to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.” No wonder the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara – the nonprofit that provides free educational resources and unique support services for women currently facing a breast cancer diagnosis […]

Westmont’s Winter Opera Might be the Elixir for the COVID Blues
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 25, 2021

The ongoing pandemic has certainly posed a plethora of problems for productions in the arts world. But some have been able to persevere, albeit with plenty of proper planning. Such is the case with Westmont Music Department, which employed dogged determination to transcend the COVID compliance restrictions to produce a full-scale opera this year. The […]

Search Dog Foundation: Finding Diamonds in the Ruff
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 18, 2021

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation has had tremendous success in rescuing rambunctious shelter dogs and turning them into highly-trained rescue canine workers who, teamed with human partners, help find survivors buried in disaster wreckage while they’re still alive. It’s a story that’s both heartwarming on every level and awe-inspiring in its purpose and efficiency. But, […]

‘The Shot’ Premieres
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 12, 2021

You could say that Robin Gerber has had a backwards career. After working as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and then serving as a well-paid Congressional lobbyist for trade unions for 15 years, Gerber, experiencing self-described burnout, junked it all for a life as a writer for newspapers and magazines.  Then her mentor suggested she […]