Name Changer is a Game Changer – CAF turns into MCA — what does it mean for art in SB?

'Seen (Detail),'Sanford Biggers Museum of Contemporary Art SB
‘Seen (Detail),’Sanford Biggers
Museum of Contemporary Art SB

Miki Garcia knew something was working when Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (aka CAF, as most locals call it) changed its name to MCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art. She was standing outside and heard a couple walk past, on the way from the carpark to the steps leading to the ground floor of Paseo Nuevo. “Oh, there’s a museum here!” said one to the other. Maybe they had passed the Forum many times, maybe this was their first time here, but the point was taken: it’s a museum and everybody knows what that does.

For regular visitors to CAF, the switch may have seemed cosmetic and unheralded. But it’s that couple that Ms. Garcia keeps in mind.

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courtesy photo
courtesy photo

The other day I was biking around and noticed a photo laying face-down in the street. Hours later when I returned to the spot, the photo was still there. Picking it up, I discovered it was a nude self-portrait of an unknown woman. Who was she? How’d it get in the street? Who was it taken for? Should I keep it? My find would be perfect for the magazine Found, Davy Rothbart’s cult sensation that honors weird things picked up in the street. His talk and slideshow comes to Contemporary Arts Forum this Thursday.

“That’s awesome,” says Mr. Rothbart when he hears of my find. “It really is amazing how many people these days are taking photos of themselves naked, and also how many people lose them.”

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Forces of Nature – The team behind ‘Ruckus’ returns for a free show at CAF

Back again so soon? Some readers may remember Anaya Cullen and Marko Pinter from September’s issue, when they caused a “Ruckus” over at Center Stage Theater, where they were one-third of that evening’s show of multimedia performance. For this Thursday’s forum Lounge at Contemporary Arts Forum, the two return with their still-unnamed company for “Gravitational Forces,” a longer, more ambitious piece.

Returning to mix sound, video and dance are Kaita Lepore and Steven Jasso, who Cullen considers as much a part of the company as the two creators. For “Dichotomous” and “Ruckus,” Cullen remained behind the scenes. But for “Gravitational Forces,” she returns to the stage as a performer. Santa Barbara audiences will know Cullen from her previous performance work for SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre, though currently she is the costume designer for State Street Ballet.

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POINTS of VIEW – SBCAF’s new two-painter exhibition finds an experiment in alienation


The “Parallax” view is a fixed point that seems to move when seen from two slightly different viewpoints. The perspectives from a left eye and a right eye are one example. The works of Paul Winstanley and Peter Rostovsky represent it as well, as the two artists who make up Contemporary Arts Forum’s new show — opening Saturday — look at similar things in very different ways.

Wistanley focuses on lonely, alienating interiors, from corporate offices to university common rooms. Rostovsky’s work ranges over many subjects and mediums, but this show will focus mostly on his “mediated landscapes.” Both artists provide new ways of looking at the world around us, and CAF’s publicity provides a tasty hint of the artists’ overlap: Rostovsky’s “Curtains” and Winstanley’s “Veil 15.” Both feature curtains, the former deep, red and mysterious with hints of the theater, while the latter is white, translucent and divided into sections by the window panes behind.

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We Have the Technology – ‘SonicSENSE’ invites the viewer to play with its art


Forget the signs at the museum telling you not to touch the art. When “SonicSENSE” sets up its exhibition for this coming week’s First Thursday Forum Lounge at Contemporary Arts Forum, it wants interaction. Play away — who knows what will happen.

One piece features a small corridor made out of piezo speaker film, a very thin, shiny metal paper. As the viewer walks through this narrow space, the displaced air ruffles the fabric, producing a ghostly sound between a rumble and a breath. Spooky, but intriguing.

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Full Exposure – Artist James Gilbert knows our intimate details, whether he likes it or not


Whether you have a Facebook account or a Twitter feed or nothing at all, the changing ideas of privacy affect us all. We let people know where we work, where we live, our beliefs and opinions, what we eat and drink and where we are this very minute. And the thing is, younger generations see no problem with it. Full transparency, they vote.

You could say that “transparency” is also the operative word in James Gilbert’s work, which comes to Contemporary Arts Forum this Thursday as part of First Thursdays. Instead of paintings or video or dance, viewers will encounter Gilbert himself right when they walk in, high above the desk, sewing underwear out of plastic, a material that leaves little to the imagination. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wear it. But visitors will have an opportunity to hang their ‘wear all around the gallery. That’s a lot of tighty whiteys. The work is “accumulative sculpture,” he says.

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Creative Juices – CAF highlights the best of the Ottawa Animation Festival


[caption id="attachment_2822" align="alignright" width="252"]STILL FROM G. MELISSA GRAZIANO'S 'LOVE ON THE LINE' STILL FROM G. MELISSA GRAZIANO’S ‘LOVE ON THE LINE’

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In Canada, the city of Ottawa has earned a reputation as a hub for film festivals, and one of its most popular is the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival. Part of that reputation comes from its community-building before, during and after the screenings, and part comes from its openness to local and amateur filmmakers, but a major ingredient has to be the pure quality of films each year.

But there’s no need to travel to the Great White North, as the festival packages an 80-minute compilation of its prize-winners to tour. This tour stops at Santa Barbara’s own Contemporary Arts Forum this Thursday to show, as part of First Thursdays.

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They Draw Horses, Don’t They? – Artists gather for a 24-hour marathon art session

Artists Keith Puccinelli, left, Penelope Gottlieb, top right, and Alejandro Casazi prepare for the drawing marathon earlier this summer. Thomas Kelsey/News-Press
Artists Keith Puccinelli, left, Penelope Gottlieb, top right, and Alejandro Casazi prepare for the drawing marathon earlier this summer.
Thomas Kelsey/News-Press

“4 a.m. is when it really starts to get to you,” says artist Saul Grey-Hildenbrand. “That’s when you really start questioning your sanity.”

Doing anything for 24 hours straight is pushing human limits, but there’s a special place for drawing, as a select group of Santa Barbara artists, who may want to know how to start a drawing business real soon, will find out this weekend when Contemporary Arts Forum hosts its first annual “From Dusk ’til Drawn” to raise money for CAF’s budget.

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Be Kind, Don’t Rewind – ‘Fast Forward’ at CAF offers primer in contemporary video art


As curator Annie Wharton likes to point out, video as an art form is just a little over 40 years old, a child compared to any other medium, save computer graphics. It’s a language she says that has grown dramatically considering that the first “portable” cameras weighed nearly 70 lbs. (the Sony CV-2000). As a young curator and maker of video art, she has been bringing her fascination with the art to galleries with video compilations, hoping to catch the rest of us up with the state of the art.

This Thursday, Wharton comes to Contemporary Arts Forum with “FAST-FORWARD: A Screening of Contemporary American Video Art,” a 50-minute show. Up and coming artists in the program include Susan Lee Chun, Jen DeNike, Spencer Douglass, Gustavo Hererra, Adriana Farmiga, Dan Finsel, Jesse Reding Fleming, Christy Gast, Alexa Gerrity, Aaron GM, Micol Hebron, Marc Horowitz, Jiae Hwang and more. In this brief interview conducted over e-mail, Wharton — who graduated from the University of Miami with a BFA in sculpture — lets us know what’s in store.

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SCENE ARTS : COLOR SPINNING : The crackling, psychedelic sculpture/performances of John Williams come to CAF

Above and below: John Williams performs "Record Projection" in 2009, with the help of record players, slides, Super-8 projectors and other mixed media. Courtesy photos
Above and below: John Williams performs “Record Projection” in 2009, with the help of record players, slides, Super-8 projectors and other mixed media.
Courtesy photos

Artist John Williams works in sound, light and color in a way that’s polar-opposite to the film composer who shares his name and makes Internet searching difficult. His work has vacillated between photography and sculpture since his days at CalArts, but all the while, his 2-D work has been trying to leap or peel itself off walls.

Still evolving after all these years, his “Record Projection” series comes to Contemporary Arts Forum this Thursday night as part of First Thursdays. The 45-minute piece is part-installation, part projection, part performance, part sound collision. It’s all Williams, though.

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