Solstice Workshop Fun and Help Needed

By Robert Bernstein

Santa Barbara Summer Solstice is officially off to a running start with the Open House at the Workshop this past weekend. Here are my photos!

There are many ways to get involved in Solstice and the Open House was just the beginning. I will say more about getting involved at the end.

The theme this year is “Roots”. Which can have many meanings. This group is literally going to build a Root Beer Float as part of their ensemble!

Here are some sketches involving my favorite root vegetable: The carrot.

Artist Mae Logan is not ready to be Artist in Residence, but she is still creating her own Ents ensemble. Ents are tree creatures from Lord of the Rings. They are a bit creepy looking, but they are good guys in the story. She posed with her Ent model, along with long time Solstice volunteer Richard O’Steen, who plans to help with her project.

Once again, Pali is dreaming up an amazing Grand Finale ensemble and a totally new inflatable art design. His ensemble will be called “Cosmic Roots” and it will involve mushrooms. Here he posed with his wife Raven in front of a mushroom tapestry.

Here he posed with his assistant and foam carvings of the model.

Here is his sketch of the inflatable art. From an engineering standpoint, this is quite revolutionary. All of his designs in the past were convex. This will be the first time he will have a design with concave features. He assured me he knows what he is doing. If you look at the Luminarium in my previous article you can see it also has concave features. Good for Pali to try such a revolutionary design!

Lark is bringing back the Children’s Solstice Festival and Parade. She posed with a poster about this.

Henry, Jim Sun Bear and Serena are regular Workshop creators back for another season.

I got to know Christine many years ago as we worked side by side dismantling things after Solstice was over. But she is also very good at creating and building things! Here she posed for a nice photo.

Bella Donna and Amisha will be working in the Costume shop.

Phyliss (pronounced like “Felice”) is also a costume designer as you can see here. She posed with Lark.

Emma Jane is back in a big way this year. She will be running the mask shop and plans to help people create innovative designs. Masks and head pieces are a big part of Solstice.

Clare Carey is the new registrar. You can register for the parade and workshop online or you can work with her in person.

Former Solstice Executive Director Claudia is making a ship float as part of her ensemble. She held a model for this photo. She talked about her family roots going back hundreds of years, involving ships and sea captains. I know little about our family roots past the beginning of the 20th century!

Penny Little is the new Executive Director. A challenging position to be the adult in the room handling finances, permits, regulations and precise planning. And balancing that with giving the playful creative people what they need and not inhibiting their creativity. Penny has been involved in Solstice for many years, so she knows what is involved! She posed with radio star Steve Meade, who is also on the Solstice Board.

Carlos is another long time builder of Solstice floats and all around handy guy.

Riccardo (center) has had almost every position at one time or another in Solstice. He runs the Workshop and knows how to solve tricky design problems. He literally makes sure the wheels don’t come off the floats in the parade!

Here is a group photo of some of the Solstice crowd. Richard McLaughlin is the guy in the middle with the interesting white headpiece. He is a long time Solstice person and is married to mask maker Emma Jane. He plans to teach a class on how to make big puppets. Ideally, this will lead to some wonderful Solstice creations.

Yulia Maluta is a dance teacher and choreographer. You may have seen some of her amazing performances and events around town, including at the Center State Theater and New Vic Theater. She is organizing a dance ensemble to be loosely connected to Pali’s Grand Finale.

Again, there are many ways to get involved in Solstice. If you have a big idea, you can create your own ensemble. An ensemble does not necessarily involve a float. It can be a group of people in costume doing a performance. Many ensembles are dance groups. Others provide music. Some years ago several of us unicyclists played a game with several other people dressed as traffic cones, forming a slalom course that made its way up the street!

An ensemble can even be just one person inside some interesting float.

Most people prefer to join an ensemble that is already underway. You can help build floats, sew costumes and help with painting, carving, gluing or making paper mache. If you don’t know how, you can learn new skills! I already knew how to do construction with power tools, painting and paper mache. But I decided to learn something new. The costume shop people were very patient with teaching me to use the sewing machines and cut out patterns in fabric.

Pullers are needed to pull the floats up the parade route and back afterwards. In some cases that pays money and you get to be in the parade!

There truly is a place for everyone in the community to be a part of this community event!

The Workshop is at the corner of Ortega and Garden Street. It is open Wednesday through Sunday now and will be open every day as it gets closer to parade time. Come by and see the excitement, energy and creativity! And feel free to lend a hand! Everyone is welcome!


Written by sbrobert

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