Three Part Harmony: SBMA Mixes Music and Art with Community Collaborations

Art and music are natural partners, a fact demonstrated in both the ongoing and newly inaugurated collaborations of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art with three virtuoso Santa Barbara musical organizations.

UCSB Arts & Lectures

The Museum’s extremely successful partnership with UCSB Arts & Lectures’ outreach program continued this spring with two performances at SBMA for students and families. On April 12, 65 students from Anacapa and Notre Dame Schools experienced art making in the plaza, along with a concert and conversation with renowned Indian flute player Sanjeev Shankar. The students were entranced as Sanjeev explained the history of the flute and shared the story of the multiple generations of musicians in his family with a projected image of Krishna playing his flute for the dancing milkmaids (an image taken from the current exhibition Puja and Piety Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist Art from the Indian Subcontinent) as his backdrop.

On May 1, the Museum added a Super Studio Sunday to its regular Studio Sundays on the Front Steps with Latin Grammy award-winning group from Colombia, Monsieur Periné, who performed on the Museum front steps for over 300 rapt visitors. Crowds gathered on the sidewalk and across the street as well, seduced by the lively rhythms of this fabulous group of musicians whose hybrid blend of jazz, cumbia, and salsa appeals across all demographic lines. The afternoon also featured a music-related art project, inspired by Joaquín Torres García’s Composition (1932), currently on view in the Museum’s galleries. This same art-making opportunity was offered at schools and community centers in Oxnard, Isla Vista, Guadalupe, and at the Marjorie Luke Theatre; wherever Monsieur Periné performed. The art project is a new addition to what has been a wonderful collaboration. Cathy Oliverson, Manager for Performing Arts & Director Educational Outreach at UCSB Arts & Lectures said, “Thank you to all of you at SBMA for making the Special Studio Sunday on the Front Steps so great last week—this was really a fabulous event. We are very grateful to SBMA for partnering with ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! to make it happen and we hope that we can collaborate again next year.”

Pop-Up Opera

Always popular, Pop-Up Opera continued on April 7 when approximately 100 guests in the galleries were treated to a series of Puccini’s most beloved arias as part of SBMA’s ongoing collaboration with Opera Santa Barbara. On May 5, this time in the Mary Craig Auditorium, over 130 guests enjoyed Jake Heggie’s composition uniquely suited for the Museum in which a woman, waiting to meet a man she has not seen before, speculates about life, love, beauty, and disappointment while contemplating a projection of a sculpture of Aphrodite, which is part SBMA’s permanent collection. Afterwards, a Museum Member was inspired to write, “This was truly an inspired collaboration! It was a unique opportunity to hear a seldom performed and very entertaining piece.”

Santa Barbara Symphony

A new collaboration this year is with the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Hands On Music Festival (and Musical Tea) on May 22 at the Lobero Theatre. Museum Teaching Artists prepared a special music themed art project to add to the celebration. Families were invited to paint and draw to music inspired by Jack Tworkov’s painting on view as part of the Museum’s 75th-anniversary celebration. They also had the opportunity to create collaged and painted scenes, including images of music and dance inspired by images from the Puja and Piety exhibition. This family festival allowed SBMA to reach over 500 music lovers with information about Museum classes, programs, and events. In addition, all participants in these collaborations received free passes to return to SBMA with their family.

These three partnerships exemplify the ways in which creative collaborations can extend and enhance the impact of organizations’ outreach efforts. Like three-part harmony in music, each individual voice is heard, but the melody is richer because of the joining together.

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