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Communication Breakdown – THREE ABSTRACT ARTISTS SHOW AT MICHAELKATE

Isis,' Liv Zutphen Brad Nack photos

Isis,’ Liv Zutphen
Brad Nack photos

Curator Brad Nack has brought three artists, mostly locals from the region, for a show at MichaelKate Interiors that doesn’t even try to match the crazed intensity of its Halloween/October exhibit. Instead, this show, titled “Perfect Day” as a nod to the recently passed Lou Reed, acts as a sort of palate cleanser. We have the bold graphics of James Paul Lambert, the brutal abstracts of Liv Zutphen and the landscapes of Julie Young to contend with. Do the three have anything really to do with each other? Not really, apart from the abstract, but their jarring proximity is a breather, a chance to regroup. All three are worth checking out.

Julie Young’s landscapes break geography into geometric shapes and explode them onto her canvases in her colorful oil paintings. There’s a Chagall and Miro-like dance in such works like “Summerland Beach,” where the sand can barely be seen through the blue and green shapes (swimmers? umbrellas?), or “Paradise Road” with its green curlicues and odd stripes. Elsewhere in sketchier and centered “Hendry’s Beach” or “150 Lookout,” one can see the paragliders off the cliffs, for example, but it’s still like a half-remembered dream. For those not versed in the look of Santa Barbara, it may not just look abstract. Call it a hidden message to the locals.

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Thrills and Spills – THE EXCITING TELLURIDE MOUNTAINFILM FESTIVAL RETURNS TO UCSB

Climbing Trango Towers on the north side of the Baltoro Glacier in Baltistan, a district of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, in the film 'A New Perspective Corey Rich photo

Climbing Trango Towers on the north side of the Baltoro Glacier in Baltistan, a district of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, in the film ‘A New Perspective
Corey Rich photo

Every year the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival receives 500 submissions from all over the world, and Emily Long gets to whittle them down not just for the Fest, but working with UCSB’s Roman Baratiak, she’s reduced them to 14 gems for this touring production. The Mountainfilm in Telluride Tour comes to UCSB’s Campbell Hall this Wednesday, bringing a selection of shorts that, as the Fest’s slogan goes, “Celebrate the indomitable spirit.”

Some of that may mean the kind of crazy, death-defying adventure found in the opening film, “Cascada,” from Skip Armstrong and Anson Fogel, where kayakers head to the Mexican jungle and brave the elements and plunging waterfalls. Some include cute, animated films like “The Squeakiest Roar” by Maggie Rogers about a tiny lion cub learning to be just like mommy and daddy. (Yes, the evening is family friendly.)

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Good Enough Expectations – Mike Newell directs a new version of Dickens’ classic

Jeremy Irvine (Pip) and Holliday Granger (Estella) star in the new adaptation ofCharles Dickens'"Great Exppectations Main Street photo

Jeremy Irvine (Pip) and Holliday Granger (Estella) star in the new adaptation ofCharles Dickens'”Great Exppectations
Main Street photo

Mike Newell is one of those journeyman directors who has been steadily working since the ’60s, who rose through the ranks of British television, directing soaps and play-for-todays, until he hit his stride with “Donnie Brasco,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and the fourth Harry Potter movie. He’s not somebody whose name readily comes up when discussing film art, but I bet he paid off his mortgage ages ago. And now he steps up with a pretty faithful but truncated adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.”

The expectations, pardon the pun, on Mr. Newell however are whether he can shrug off the shadow of David Lean’s classic version of the tale of Pip. Yes, the ages of the actors are much better than a late-30s John Mills pretending to be a young man in his 20s, but Mr. Lean’s film has art and economy on its side. And another Harry Potter director, Alfonso Cuarun, tried to modernize the story in 1998 with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow with mixed results.

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Fright Night – WEIRD PAINTINGS LAND AT MICHAELKATE INTERIORS

'Geronimo,' Wallace Piat Brad Nack photos

‘Geronimo,’ Wallace Piat
Brad Nack photos

Curator Brad Nack was looking for something creepy and scary for his latest show at MichaelKate Interiors and he may have gotten more than he expected. There’s some artistic madness going down at the furniture showroom that doubles as a gallery, making for one of MichaelKate’s boldest shows of the year.

Fans of La Luz de Jesus gallery and the pop surrealist movement will instantly groove on the very large paintings by Christopher Ulrich and his “Demoneater” series. But equally scary is Christina Tonges Korn and her spectral paintings. These balance against the more mellow works by Barbara Romain and the pop art explosions of Wallace Piatt, the only local in the show. It might be an unfair battle, two unhinged artists going up against two more “normal” ones (friends of the artists may begin debate here!), but the mix of color and scale work themselves out nicely.

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Black Is the New Black – SBMA EXHIBIT TRAVELS TO THE 1980S, DOES NOT FIND NEON

Think of the 1980s and art and what comes to mind? Possibly Nagel, neon colors, jagged diagonals and geometry, paint splashes. Maybe the squiggles of Keith Haring, or the attack of Basquiat, or Jeff Koons’ kitsch. But for Julie Joyce, who curated this new show at the Museum of Art, it was a time of excitement for galleries, of a new trust in materials and finance, and lots of black. “Totally 80s: Gifts to the Permanent Collection” only nods to the clichéd idea of the decade in its title. There’s one example of neon. But there’s lots of black. (There’s more, too, in the other show she helped set up: the photos of John Divola, in the gallery around the corner).

Recent exhibitions from the Museum’s permanent collections have been too much of a muchness, with too much repetition of recently shown work. But “Totally ’80s” avoids that, thanks to recent gifts from the Broad Art Foundation in L.A. and Laura-Lee W. Woods and Robert J. Woods, Jr. There are only two familiar pieces here: Charles Arnoldi’s rough-hewn and brutal wood canvas, “Landfisher” and Al Held’s “Brughes II” that used to hang in the atrium, neon hoops and green building girders — an example of the brief “neo geo” movement.

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Music for the masses – Depeche Mode does not disappoint in Bowl show

Depeche Mode packed the Santa Barbara Bowl Tuesday night. THOMAS KELSEY/NEWS-PRESS

Depeche Mode packed the Santa Barbara Bowl Tuesday night.
THOMAS KELSEY/NEWS-PRESS

For a band whose reputation rests on the darker side of human nature, the biggest surprise at Depeche Mode’s packed show at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Tuesday night was just how happy the band was on stage.

Smiles abounded. High-fives were given. There was laughter between musicians. And Dave Gahan loves to dance.

But, hey, the band members should be happy. Depeche Mode has lasted longer than most of its contemporaries without really altering its sound, never leaving that operatic, industrial electronica that fans know since the early ’80s.

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Throwing in the towel – ‘HAUTE CUISINE’ FICTIONALIZES A REAL-LIFE TALE OF MITTERAND’S CHEF

Catherine Frot stars as Hortense Laborie who has been requested to cook for the President in "Haute Cuisine Anouchka de Williencourt photo

Catherine Frot stars as Hortense Laborie who has been requested to cook for the President in “Haute Cuisine
Anouchka de Williencourt photo

“Haute Cuisine,” the 2012 French film opening today, has two things going for it: the charming Catherine Frot, last seen by American viewers as the put-upon wife in “The Dinner Game;” and an impressive amount of food porn, including some very complicated and classic French dishes. It has many other things going against it, however.

Titled “Les saveurs du Palais” in France, “Haute Cuisine” tells a fictionalized version of a real life event. After many years of fancy meals, President FranÁois Mitterrand hired a middle-aged woman from the countryside to be his personal chef. He was looking for someone to make the kind of food his grandmother made.

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Thanks, But No Thanks – SEX-ADDICT ROMANTIC COMEDY A STYLISTIC MESS

Josh Gad, left, and Alecia Moore

Josh Gad, left, and Alecia Moore

The first directorial feature from Stuart Blumberg, the writer of “The Kids Are All Right,” is an ensemble, romantic comedy-drama that looks really good on paper, but is a bit of a mess. That’s a shame because all these actors are usually fun to watch.

“Thanks for Sharing” starts in a meeting for sexaholics, and introduces the sober Mike (Tim Robbins), the younger Adam (Adam Ruffalo), and the young and shlubby Neil (Josh Gad). All are doing the work of recovering addicts, with Mike as the stern veteran, and Neil as the man most struggling with his issues.

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The Wanted Man – ‘THE HUNT’ IS A THRILLER ABOUT MASS HYSTERIA AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS

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The Hunt” is the highest profile film from Thomas Vinterberg since his Dogme 1995 film, the stunning “The Celebration.” Since then, he’s worked with Dogme collaborator Lars von Trier on films that barely screened in the States, including “It’s All About Love” and “Dear Wendy.” But “The Hunt” is a tense and suspenseful tale that matches “The Celebration” for its dour view of humanity, yet unlike Mr. Trier, the film is laced with occasional humor and flashes of hope. (Yes, “the von” likes to call some of his most depressing films “comedies,” but come on now).

I suspect the 2012 film— which won its star an award at Cannes— is only finally getting its American release due to the rising star of Mads Mikkelsen, whose dour and vulnerable visage held together “A Royal Affair” and graces the new “Hannibal” series, of which he is the star.

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Face to Face – Penelope Gottlieb’s early works featured at Cabana Home

When an artist makes an abrupt 180 in her style, it’s always time to sit up and notice. Penelope Gottlieb has become synonymous with nature, especially the freakiness of nature, of extinction and mutation. Her acrylics and oils took a modern approach to Audubon-era nature painting, either by adding a crazed overlay, or by applying those old techniques to flora that make it look as though it was disintegrating before our eyes.

“Portraits in Air (A Series Revisited)” isn’t that. At all. And it’s not new. In fact, this short series of paintings dates from 2004, long before nature crept into the scene. In this exhibition at Edward Cella’s satellite gallery at Cabana Home, there’s little to tie these works to her current series, except for anxiety.

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