The first Annual UCSB Arts Walk debuted on Wednesday, April 11 and showcased the works of artists, writers, musicians, and performers. The event offered an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the process of creating visual and performing arts.
The Arts Walk was a massive collaboration hosted by the Theater and Dance, Music, and Art departments, the College of Creative Studies, the UCSB Library, the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, and the MultiCultural Center.
The event kicked off with a reception at the Department of Music courtyard; guests mingled among tables of finger foods and fine wines to the sound of a soothing jazz ensemble that Dr. Jon Nathan directed. Nathan is the director of Jazz Ensembles and a lecturer in Percussion and Percussion Ensemble at UCSB.
At 5 p.m., various department chairs imparted a few welcoming words to the guests.
“It is an honor for us to partner with the other department to showcase the depth and breadth of the performances,” said Dr. Scott Marcus, chair of the music department, during the reception. Marcus is a professor at UCSB and director of the UCSB Middle East and Music of India Ensembles.
Dick Hebdige, chair of the Art Department and professor of Film & Media Studies, spoke next about humans’ fascination with art. He said, “we are experiencing a surge with interests in the arts on campus. There is a fascination with not just looking at art, but making art.”
The Department of Theater and Dance hosted the first few exhibitions at the Performing Arts Theater Lobby. As guests entered the lobby, they were greeted by quirky puppets and marionettes of the “Puppet Exhibition.” The exhibit displayed puppets of all kinds, ranging from elephants and fishes to demons and ravens.
Next to the “Puppet Exhibition” was the “Freshman and UCSB Dance Company Concert,” where guests filled the darkened Ballet Studio to experience innovative dance numbers and interpretive routines. A piece called “Forbes 6,” which Amanda Tran choreographed, involved five women in suits who gave the audience the middle finger halfway through the routine. Tran is a senior dance Bachelor of Fine Arts student. Meredith Heller, a graduate student in the dance department, performed a ballet to a voice-over of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” using her body and hand gestures to mimic the action of the poem.
The Department of Theater and Dance also offered a behind-the-scenes look at theater production through their “UCSB Design student exhibition” and “Open Rehearsal for Cabaret.” Nestled inside the Modern Studio, the “UCSB Design Student Exhibition” showcased costume design, lighting, and set pieces all done through student and faculty collaboration.
The “Open Rehearsal for Cabaret” was a unique glimpse at the organic progression of how a play is rehearsed, revised, and improvised. Director Anne Torsiglieri made adjustments and suggestions to the script as the rehearsal proceeded, and the atmosphere was one of supportive collaboration. The script for the spring performance is based on the book “Cabaret” by Joe Masteroff and the play by John Van Druten.
“I want you to see the story of how a charming person can transform into something like the Nazi party,” said Andrew Truong, a third year BFA student who plays Ernst Ludwig in “Cabaret.” “Cabaret” is a play about how life changes for people in Nazi Germany and premieres on May 25 at UCSB’s Performing Arts Theater. He added, “Theater is not as far removed like everyone thinks — it’s just you figuring out more about yourself. You don’t have to be an actor to be involved in the arts and the culture of our community”
Directly across from the Performing Arts Theater lobby was the “Interactive student playwright showcase stations,” where student playwrights hosted exciting activities to promote the New Works Lab. This lab provides original student projects with a year of developmental support culminating in workshop productions in the Performing Arts Theater.
Prospective playwrights of the New Works Lab performed exhibitions that were relevant to the plays they were writing. Michael Lin, a fourth-year philosophy and theater major, enticed the group of art enthusiasts with a game of chance with dice and prizes. Ali Albanese, a graduate student with the Department of Theater and Dance, manned an old-fashioned typewriter and wrote romantic, hateful, and erotic letters on demand.
The College of Creative Studies highlighted UCSB’s literary and musical creativity through student readings and open performances. Hannah Morley chilled the audience with the story that got her into the CCS program. She read and performed a transcript of a chat between a ghost who does not know she is dead and her best friend. Flutist Sylvie Tran and bassoonist Claire Garvais performed Heitor Villa-lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 6 at the CCS Old Little Theater to the audience’s delight.
The Music Department hosted open recitals in various music rooms near the Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall and performances that Chair of the Music Department Scott Marcus directed. There were open rehearsals for the Clarinet Choir, Antonín Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 4, Jazz Ensemble, the electro-acoustic music exhibition, and a rehearsal from members of the UCSB Gamelan Ensemble. Outside the MCC, Marcus and members of the UCSB Music of India Ensemble performed a host of Syrian, Persian, and Middle Eastern music to the clapping and singing of delighted guests.
For the First Annual Arts Walk, the MCC hosted UCSB MFA graduate student Andrew Morrison’s Indian Heritage art exhibition. The MCC lounge displayed his artwork, which included portraits of Native Americans and landscapes of their past.
The Department of Art showcased all forms of student work across their artistic display spreading across the Red Barn Project space, the GlassBox Gallery, and the MiniBox Gallery. The two galleries displayed “Almost There!,” a sculptural work of paper by students of the Art Department Honors Program, and “pages,” an experiment about how paper affects art by Madeleine Eve Ignon, who is currently pursuing an MFA at UCSB.
The Red Barn Project space featured the UCSB Womanhouse Collective’s “SHE-DEN” exhibition, a feminist approach to the traditional man cave.
Attendee Megan Keefe said she enjoyed “SHE-DEN” the most because “it was challenging a lot of this push and pull of expression and trauma. A lot of times when we are confronted with something that makes us feel uncomfortable there is a natural reaction to hide it in a personal space rather than expressing it. However, by expressing it, the act becomes a healing moment.”
The Project space also featured an open artist studio, where attendees could watch Sunny Samuel, a professor in the Art Department and CCS at UCSB, work on acrylic and glass. Samuel said, “I usually have an idea of how the art is going to look, but it changes as the art comes to life.”
“I loved being able to see all the art and interacting with the artists,” said Diane MacKenzie, a local filmmaker who is collaborating with Michael Morgan, a senior lecturer with UCSB Theater and Dance.
The First Annual Arts Walk was such a success that many faculty attendees expressed a desire to maintain the tradition for years to come.