On April 17, UCSB held its second annual Art Walk hosted by the school’s Department of Music, Department of Theater & Dance, Department of Art, College of Creative Studies (CCS), MultiCultural Center, Davidson Library, and Art, Design & Architecture Museum.
The Art Walk gave the community and students an opportunity to witness some of the great talent within UCSB. Those interested could experience this artistic talent by either watching a mesmerizing performance or losing oneself in a thought-provoking piece of art.
My experience began at the library, which was hosting two exhibits. The first was “In Her Own Image,” curated by UCSB librarians Chizu Morihara and Leahkim Gannett. This exhibit highlighted the works of women throughout the history of the comic industry. The works from artists like Thi Bui, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Tarpé Mills, and many others were the focus of the exhibit.
Bui depicted the struggles of motherhood in her piece. The pieces by Kominsky-Crumb showcased the struggle that women have to deal with when comparing themselves to the “ideal woman.”
Another standout piece was Mills’ “Miss Fury,” which depicted one of the earliest female superheroes created. The exhibit achieved its goal of highlighting the women of the industry. It gave art walkers the opportunity to reflect on the complicated history of the medium and was definitely worth a visit.
The second exhibit in the library was “Anguish, Anger, and Activism: Legacies of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill,” which was curated by librarians Kristen LaBonte and Annie Platoff. The exhibit’s goal was to give visitors an opportunity to experience the tragedy that befell Santa Barbara 50 years ago, showing visitors the damage and repercussions of the oil spill in 1969. This exhibit’s message hit hard, especially as a reminder to learn from our mistakes and always respect the environment.
After the library, I wandered upon a musical performance by UCSB’s Middle East Ensemble, which was hosted by the Department of Music. They performed traditional Middle Eastern music mashed with familiar instrumental music. The ensemble played a piece called “Upper Egypt,” which sounded like a song from Disney’s “Aladdin.”
The song also highlighted the mizmar, an Epgytian instrument that is normally played at weddings. Overall, the live performance by the ensemble provided a unique and interesting experience to listen to music from another culture.
Once the performance was finished, I walked into the Old Little Theater where CCS was hosting a performance by Angelica Picazo. Picazo is a music composition student from CCS, and for the Art Walk she performed four original works.
When she came onstage, she introduced the small ensemble that she’d be conducting for her first two works, which were instrumental pieces. The second half of her performance consisted of two ballads that were inspired by and dedicated to her grandfather. She told the audience how the first piece was inspired by her grandfather’s story of coming to the United States and how she created it in the style of mariachi music.
The second piece of the second half was inspired by how she felt in the last two weeks of her grandfather’s life. The tone of her singing gave listeners an idea of the sorrow she felt during that time. The string duet only emphasized the emotions of the piece. Picazo’s performance left the audience stunned in a moment of silence, which quickly turned into a loud applause for her and her ensemble.
The last two places I visited on my art walk were the Glass Box Gallery and the Art, Design & Architecture Museum. The works showcased in the Glass Box Gallery were by graduates from Tokyo’s leading universities: Musashino Art University and Tokyo Zokei University. The themes of the exhibit weren’t obvious. Some of the pieces depicted abstract visualization of peer pressure, while others showcased a memory from the past. If there was one theme that I found amongst all of them, it was the bittersweet taste of nostalgia.
The Art, Design & Architecture Museum had several exhibitions up for view, but there was one that I immersed myself in more deeply than the others. ¡Chicanismo!: The Sanchez Collection is a collaboration of pieces that Professor Tomás Sánchez started amassing in the early 1980s. The display is running as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Chicana/o Studies Department. Many of the pieces in the collection highlight the talent and struggle of Chicana/o artists that has been overlooked in the past.
Overall the Art Walk was a transformative experience that could only be found at UCSB. Although many of the events overlapped during event’s walk’s duration, there was still the opportunity to experience many of the diverse exhibits and performances, learning something new and intriguing about each different artistic niche on campus.