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.

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 […]

VADA VADA Voom Art Show on Lobero’s Back Wall Quite a Project(ion)
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 11, 2021

Most of what the students in the Visual Arts & Design Academy (VADA) at Santa Barbara High create is seen on the school’s near-downtown campus. But the program has made a lot of efforts to exhibit the students’ artwork in public places, including showcases as part of the monthly First Thursday gallery walk. But with […]

At Organic Soup Kitchen, the Proof is in the Soup
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 11, 2021

Historians say that soup has been a staple of the human diet as long as man has cooked his food. Archaeologists believe that humans have been making soup for at least 20,000 years, beginning with the advent of waterproof containers such as clay pots, where folks could pile in ingredients and boil them over a […]

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 4, 2021

Just like nearly every place in town, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden closed for two months during the first phase of the stay-at-home orders designed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. But then the county decided that the Garden was an essential service.  Which, to anyone who has ever visited the 78-acre site that blends […]

As Harding’s Mom, Janney’s Aim is True
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 1, 2021

I don’t know if it means anything that my phone went dead just after I asked Allison Janney about White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. There was a long pause. Some laughter. Then she said, “Oh boy, oh dear. I don’t know how anyone could want to be …” Janney, of course, is the […]

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 […]