First Thursday Aerials, Tesla Coil, and Travel Game

By Robert Bernstein

We are back from almost a month away. Our destination was the furthest land point on Earth from Santa Barbara. Edhat owner Lauren suggested that we make a bit of a game out of this. Can you guess what that location would be? No fair if I told you already!

We got back in time for October First Thursday. So many amazing sights, art and performances to squeeze into the limited time!

As usual, we started at the Santa Barbara Film Festival (SBIFF) office. The featured film was “Sonder” by Joey Szalkiewicz. A very personal look at homelessness in Santa Barbara and efforts to solve the problem. The director explained the hard work needed to gain the trust and respect of the people featured in the film.

The title word “Sonder” was coined by John Koenig in 2012, whose project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, aims to come up with new words for emotions that currently lack words. “Sonder” is defined as “The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passing in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.”

Next we passed a big street party honoring Ukraine and giving voice to those who are suffering due to the brutal Russian invasion.

Then on to Sullivan Goss Gallery, which has a never-ending parade of high quality art. Always a highlight of First Thursday. Here was one of the works of art currently on display that caught my attention.

Then over to Gallery 113 which features local Santa Barbara artists. This piece “Lost” by Carol Ondrey was very intricate and represented a great deal of detailed effort.

It is always a special treat to visit a new gallery. In this case, Tamsen Gallery. Featuring works like this one by Robert W. Firestone.

But there were two truly special events at this First Thursday. One was an Aerials performance called “Out of the Blue” at the American Riviera Media (ARM) studio at 8 East De La Guerra Street. Presented by the Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Dance, under the skilled direction of Ninette Paloma.

I came to know Ninette and her amazing students from their performances in Pali’s Solstice Grand Finale. They perform inside his giant inflatable art pieces.

This First Thursday performance was combined with indigo-dyed fiber art by Kellen Meyer. From their program “A 6,000 year old tradition, the art of indigo dying was said to have derived from a woman who wished to swallow the sky and saturate her hair and body the color of thunder.”

Here are two of my videos showing the aerialists performing, along with glimpses of the “Out of the Blue” fiber art.

Following up with Ninette, she wanted me to share this information:

“ARM Studio is the experiential artery of my new quarterly publication American Riviera Magazine. Our vision is to have the stories in the magazine come to life in the studio with performances, literary salons, art exhibitions, and workshops. We have many, many events planned in the coming months that celebrate the Central Coast’s rich arts and culture scene, and look forward to hosting you again soon.”

Be sure to watch for future events with her American Riviera Magazine and ARM Studio!

Then, it was over to the Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology (SBCAST). A bit distant from the rest of First Thursday, but well worth the effort.

The event was meant to showcase the work of Media Arts and Technology (MAT) students at UCSB.

One of the pieces was an interactive Virtual Reality piece by Haru Ji and Graham Wakefield. Due to the number of people waiting to experience it, I barely got to explore the wonderful world they had created. Haru Ji kindly posed for a photo.

The undeniable highlight of the occasion was the most impressive Tesla Coil performance I have ever seen. SBCAST has already wowed us by the memorably amazing Tesla Coil magic of Dr Megavolt, which I have shared here before.

But Michael Ravenwood and his performers at Sky Fire Arts took the art and technology to a new level. The performers were not in a safety cage. They just wore conductive mesh outfits. With spiky projections mounted on their heads to add to the electrical discharge effects.

As an electrical engineer who has worked with high voltage, I was quite aware of the risk level involved to achieve this fine art. I noted how sparks jumped from the feet of the performers when they leaped into the air.

It was also done with an engaging story line and thunderous music, tied into the Tesla Coil electronics. Oh. And did I forget to mention the fire mixed in with the high voltage? Here is my video! Be sure to watch for future First Thursday and SBCAST events!



Written by sbrobert

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