Tapas, Vino y Arte

As we parked at the Lobero and walked down Canon Perdido toward the plaza entrance leading to the Alhecama Theater courtyard, we saw three columns of orange, pink, green, yellow and purple balloons flying high in the sky. When we arrived at the event it exploded with more color. There were giant oblong balloons called air tubes going around the perimeter of the whole event like a big box of crayons spilled out. Co-chair Lynn Kirst is forever grateful to friend Todd Birns who loaned the air tubes and helped her design the event.

The excitement was to honor the opening of the new Santa Barbara Presidio Research Center under the auspices of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). Some of the guests taking self-guided tours were patrons Jim and Chana Jackson and Michael Towbes and Anne Smith. Docents like Kathi Brewster were everywhere to answer questions. Back in the 1920s the building was the Santa Barbara School of the Arts where Channing Peake was a student. The original north window and skylight are still there. The collections document and reflect the peoples who have lived in Santa Barbara Presidio neighborhood since the eighteenth century. As County Supervisor Brooks Firestone reflected, “The Trust is recording that which has come before for our grandchildren. Of all the places I’ve been I think Santa Barbara preserves history best.”

The Courtyard was teaming with ten different restaurants serving generous samples of their wares and a dozen excellent local wineries doing the same. There was a $500 prize for the best food, and Montecito Country Club was the winner. Paintings from 24 artists were hung all around, enticing buyers with a silent auction. Laguna Blanca’s Jazz Band provided the music. Executive Director Jarrell Jackman gave us a bit of trivia. He pointed at Playa Azul Restaurant, saying, “Pearl Chase’s office for thirty years was there.” Ms Chase was one of the chief proponents of the Spanish look of Santa Barbara after the earthquake of 1925 had destroyed many of the earlier Victorian-style buildings.

Everyone wanted to win the raffle prize of a trip to (where else?) Spain. Charles de L’Arbre from Santa Barbara Travel Bureau donated airfare, and The Honorable Inocencio Arias, Consul General of Spain in Los Angeles, arranged the seven nights at paradors (historic castles, monasteries etc.). The lucky winner was Penny Knowles, Executive Director of the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos.

Thirty-five volunteers helped co-chairs Lynn Kirst and Mike Stoker double the goal with over 200 attending. It’s going to be a hard act to follow in 2008. For information regarding SBTHP call 966-1279.

Garden Reception

Each year the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) says “thank you” to members of the President’s Council with a garden reception—this year at the Montecito home of Chris and Mark Levine. Members donate a minimum of $1,000 annually.

As we all enjoyed the beauty of the surrounding gardens, owner Mark revealed that, “After two failed attempts using landscape artists, I enrolled in Environmental Horticulture at City College. My wife works in the gardens also. Everyone in my family went to SBCC.”

As we strolled, sipping wine and eating tidbits prepared by the Culinary Department, we met students manning booths who explained various programs. One is S.P.A.R.C. (Single Parents Arriving Ready for College), and another is Running Start, for high school seniors. President John Romo is particularly proud of the School of Media Arts. “It is receiving national recognition,” he boasts, adding, “and is looked at as a model for the rest of the state.”

Karen Moynier who will soon be graduating from the Nursing Program told the audience her heartfelt story. She had worked since age 14 and never dreamt she could attend college. When her daughter became college age, Karen began to dream of going as well. “My husband thought I was going through a mid-life crisis,” she said. She learned she was dyslectic and has to study six hours a day because it takes her longer. The students call her “Mom,” her husband food shops and vacuums, and her dream will soon be a reality.

It’s A Boy!

The baby shower invitation came with a small pillow that was to be tied around one’s tummy so all the guests would look as pregnant as the expecting mom, Hanna Dreier. Hostess Arlene Larsen, being a former costume designer, would naturally think of a gimmick like that. There were many young friends of Hanna’s but there were many “classic” women friends of mother-in-law Ginni Dreier, who looked like they might be trying for the oldest birth mom on record.

The living room was filled with blue balloons for the “It’s a Boy” theme. Then came the wine and games—guessing how many diapers were tiered like a wedding cake, how many diaper pins were in the jar, and instead of seeing whose frog could jump the farthest, we raced small plastic babies to see which could crawl the fastest. Mine quit midway—the batteries ran out! There was a mountain of “loot” for the baby.

Harpist Jeanne Martin was playing on the terrace overlooking the Yacht Club sailboat races. Philippe and his staff served dinner. There was no shortage of small talk on “girls’ night out.” Among those girls who helped Arlene were Ann Moore, Sharon Purpero, Joyce Shaar, Marie Profant, and Zanne Woolever. Some others attending were Cindy Howard, Janet Rothman, Kristin Wilson, Sue Bennett, and daughters Kerry and Kate.