‘Silk’ art – University Art Museum has two new exhibits, including one that ties in with a semester-long course culminating in a concert in April. “Sounds of the Silk Road” features 21 types of rare musical instruments drawn from the countries associated with the trade routes which connected China to the Mediterranean in the 15th century. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with UCSB’s campus-wide programming on the topic, which concludes with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project residency and concert in March. Opening reception is tomorrow from 5 pm to 8 pm. “Crafting a Modern World: The Architecture and Design of Antonin and Noémi Raymond” features works created by the husband-and-wife design collaborators in Japan and the U.S. from 1921-73. The couple developed humane modern environments – including landscapes, furnishings, rugs and textiles – inspired by their personal connections with Japan’s art and craft traditions. WHEN: noon to 5 pm Wed-Sun, through April 8, WHERE: UCSB campus (park in lot 23), COST: free, INFO: 893-7564 or

Brooks alums exhibit – Five recent alumni of Brooks Institute of Photography have been invited to display their fine art photography at the school’s Cota Street Campus & Gallery. More than 50 images from the recent graduates will be on display, each with a different style and vision unique to the artist’s craft, including Big Sur photographer Kodiak Greenwood’s shots of the West Coast scenery, and Chris Buckpitt’s photos that capture the essence of people. WHEN: 8 am to 9 pm weekdays, 10 am to 9 pm weekends, through March 31, WHERE: 27 E. Cota St., COST: free, INFO: 690-4913.

Film Festival winds down – The 22nd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival comes to a close this weekend, but not before major tribute awards to former Vice President Al Gore and director Davis Guggenheim, who made last year’s hit movie “An Inconvenient Truth” on Thursday, and the following night to Forest Whitaker, considered the frontrunner for the Oscar for his role as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King on Scotland.” (See “Festival in Focus” on page 36 for interviews with both Guggenheim and Whitaker, as well as Tom Cavanagh and Heather Graham, who star in the closing night film, “Gray Matters,” screening Sunday. (All events are at the Arlington). Call 963-0023 or visit

Thursday, February 1

First 1st Thursday – Come experience Santa Barbara’s rich cultural scene downtown in this new weekly event from the city and the Downtown Organization. More than 20 galleries and museums have signed on to offer free admission and special programming including artist receptions, wine tastings, demonstrations every Thursday evening. The performing arts are also part of the program, with musical and theatrical pieces on tap at least once per month. The city’s newest gallery, Patty Look Lewis’ eponymous storefront, has timed its grand opening for tonight, featuring live music by Fiddlin’ Dave and the Arroyo Boyz and wine from Alma Rosa Winery, while Frameworks and Caruso-Woods Gallery has moved its popular and well-established monthly art and music debuts to coincide with the new event. Meanwhile, in recognition of the ongoing Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum will offer a panel discussion with A-list Hollywood photographers featured in the exhibit “Cinematic Moods: Images from the Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers,” followed by an opening reception. In addition, the Santa Barbara Frame Shop & Gallery will present a collection of framed movie posters from films featured at the current festival. As a final nod to the film festival, people wandering between galleries at Paseo Nuevo will be invited to play the part of a movie star and pose for red carpet photos, which will be printed on the spot courtesy of Samy’s Camera. WHEN: 5 pm to 8 pm,0 WHERE: various downtown locations, INFO:

“Car Play” diem – In conjunction with the first 1st Thursday, Mitchell Thomas’s “Car Play Theatre” performs a series of assorted short original plays simultaneously in the space behind the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The idea is to redefine the concept of theatrical while challenging the relationship between actor and audience. WHEN: 5 pm to 8 pm, WHERE: Behind 1130 State St., COST: free, INFO:

African Heritage Film Series – Two art exhibits, one each at Karpeles Manuscript Library and Museum and Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center, a community celebration and several movie presentations comprise the eighth annual event aiming to build understanding and interaction within the community. Film screenings include “From Swastika to Jim Crow,” which delves into the story of Jewish refugee scholars who were expelled from their homeland by the Nazis and found new lives at historically Black colleges in the American South, plus “St. Louis Blues,” and many others. WHEN: Today through Feb. 28, INFO: 899-1160 or

SBIFF alternative – You’d think UCSB might suspend its film series during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Instead, the school is presenting a movie that would surely capture the Oscar for best foreign language film were it not a re-release of a French classic from 30 years ago. As it is, “Army of Shadows” – described as an “edge-of-your-seat thriller” that serves as a portrait of assorted ne’er-do-wells in the German occupied Vichy France and the French Resistance movement – showed up at the top of scads of critics’ Top Ten lists. Never before released in America, the film makes its Santa Barbara debut tonight, making it worth avoiding the crowds downtown for a trip to Isla Vista. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $6, INFO: 893-3535.

Museum music – The Altenberg Piano Trio, one of the few full-time piano trios in the world, has earned a reputation as one of the most daring and consistent ensembles of its kind. The Vienna-based trio performs Beethoven’s Variations on “Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu,” Op. 121a, Schumann’s Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 110, and Brahms’ Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8, in a series concert at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Mary Craig Auditorium. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: 1130 State St., COST: $19 ($4 discounts for members), INFO: 884-6423.

Friday, February 2

RTC stages world premiere – The Rubicon Theatre Company is touting its next presentation, “A Time for Love,” as a sweetly comic, charmingly romantic and touchingly poignant song-cycle about a couple – played by Lois Robbins and Brian Sutherland – who fall in love, come together, marry and grow apart. The world premiere features familiar musical favorites plus original songs by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., who previously collaborated on “Baby,” “Big” and “Closer Than Ever” on Broadway; Maltby created the show and he directs. WHEN: Opens tonight, plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm; ends Feb. 25, WHERE: Laurel Theater, 1106 E. Main St., Ventura, COST: $25-$45, discounts available, INFO: 667-2900.

Saturday, February 3

Docent training – Help protect some of Santa Barbara’s most endangered and endearing wildlife – the Snowy Plover. Volunteers educate beach users on how to use the area responsibly with minimal intrusion upon this threatened bird's beach habitat. WHEN: Training session 10 am to 2 pm today, WHERE: Coal Oil Point Reserve, INFO: 880-1195 or e-mail

Sing gospel – Mama Pat’s Inner Light Community Gospel Choir celebrates Black History Month with its 12th annual Steven Roberts Gospel Music Workshop & Concert. The workshop is open to anyone who wants to sing – no experience necessary, no auditions required and you don’t even have to know how to read music. Roberts, who is a two-time Grammy Award-nominee, will teach by rote five to eight original songs. The workshop is held tonight and tomorrow at 7 pm at Goleta Presbyterian Church, 6067 Shirrell Way, and Saturday, 10 am at Unity Church, 227 E. Arrellaga St. The evening concert takes place at 7:30 at Unity. COST: $35 workshop fee includes music packet and the concert; $15 ($10 advance) concert tickets only, INFO: 729-2767 or

Sunday, February 4

Ballet sneak preview – Join the stars of State Street Ballet’s upcoming production of “La Sylphide” for this exclusive preview of the classic fusion of artistic dance and mime. The ballet, which debuted in France in 1832, introduced the dance world to “The Romantics,” a generation of young artists who revolutionized ballet. Ballet Master Filippo Taglioni invented the technique of point work for this ballet because he wanted his petite daughter, Marie, a principal ballerina, to appear taller on stage. State Street Ballet performs the work next Saturday and Sunday at the Lobero. Wine and light hors d'oeuvres will be served. WHEN: 4 pm to 6 pm, WHERE: State Street Ballet Studio, 322 State St., COST: $10, INFO: 965-6066.

Monday, February 5

Mind of Poetic Hope – Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue, who lives in the solitude of a cottage in the west of Ireland and speaks Gaelic as his native language, delivers a Mind & Supermind series lecture designed to uplift the spirit. The author of “Beauty,” “Eternal Echoes,” and the bestseller “Anam Cara” will talk on “Towards a Poetic of Hope: Embracing Possibility, Inviting Transformation.” WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: free, INFO: 687-09812.

Wednesday, February 7

Author lectures – Pulitzer Prize-winning author Martin J. Sherwin will discuss J. Robert Oppenheimer and the nuclear bomb with UCSB Professor of History and author Tsuyoshi Hasegawa. “American Prometheus – The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” Sherwin’s biography of the physicist who oversaw the creation of the atomic bomb, won a National Book Critics Circle Award for its detailed and revealing exploration of the history of the bomb. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: free, INFO: 893-3535.

Phillips and friends – Montecito musician Glen Phillips and family returned early from their planned year-long trek through Europe, which made the former leader of Toad the Wet Sprocket available for this special add-on concert in the Sings Like Hell series. A reprise of a similar show two years ago, Phillips will be joined by musical comrades from his recent years woodshedding at Largo in Los Angeles, including previous Sings Like Hell headliners Grant Lee Phillips and Sean and Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek), plus singer-songwriter Gus Black, who released two albums in the ’90s under the name Gus and whose cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” was on the soundtrack of the original “Scream” movie. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $39.50 advance, $42.50 at the door ($25 Sings Like Hell subscribers in advance), INFO: 963-0761.

Thursday, February 7

UCSB Film – Now that SBIFF is over for another year, you can turn back to our nearby state university for an ambitious film series offering the best in independent and foreign movies. “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles” was the 2005 from Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, director of “Hero” (2002), “House of Flying Daggers” (2004) and the current “Curse of the Golden Flower.” The film is a heroic account of a widowed fisherman on an extraordinary journey to redeem himself in the eyes of his dying son, which Box Office magazine called “a profound, powerful, heartfelt odyssey that cuts to the core of what it means to be a loving and virtuous human being.” WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $6, INFO: 893-3535.

Mexican politician speaks – Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, three-time presidential candidate and founder of Mexico’s Party of the Democratic Revolution, discusses the current state of affairs in a lecture titled “Perspectives on Today’s Mexico.” In an election eerily similar to what happened here in 2000, Cardenas narrowly lost 1988 Mexican presidential election when the computing system “crashed” and his sizable lead was transformed into a loss. The disputed result roiled Mexico and has since become fodder for a continuing debate over Mexico’s electoral process, including Mexico’s recent contested presidential election. Cardenas will address its aftermath in his talk. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: free, INFO: 893-3535.

Taste of the Past – Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation launches a new three-part lecture-and-tasting series featuring a selection of culinary experts who will examine the stories behind some of California’s most popular foods and drinks. Today’s event covers “Chocolate and Chiles: From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Santa Barbara.” Artist, writer and culinary historian Miriam Hospodar will conduct the presentation, which concludes with a delicious tasting of chocolate confections, just a week before Valentine’s Day.