Their hearts and soles
It was the age of Prohibition, gangsters, flappers, jazz and a crazy dance step called the Charleston.
A hundred years later, the 20s are roaring again in Santa Barbara.
The revival sets the stage as artists and a shoe store put their hearts and soles into a benefit for the Friendship Center.
The 21st annual Festival of Hearts will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Those attending are encouraged to dress like gangsters and flappers, or they can simply wear something that sparkles.
The event will feature a luncheon with local wines and a silent auction of local artists’ 60 creative works that incorporate a heart from craft paper and the “New Roaring 20s” theme. Bids will start at $40.
The event will also feature a live auction of travel, adventure and luxury packages (including a trip to see a Prohibition-inspired speakeasy in Seattle) and music by Santa Barbara band A la Carte. (See the FYI box.)
Part of the festival’s proceeds will support HEART (Help Elders at Risk Today), a program that subsidizes the cost of adult day services for low-income aging and dependent adults and their families. The Friendship Center provides those services at its facilities in Montecito and Goleta.
You don’t have to wait until Saturday to see the hearts. They’re in the front window through Friday at — where else? — Charleston Shoe Co., 1017 State St. Like the dance step, the store is named after Charleston, S.C., the location of its corporate headquarters.
As long as the hearts are there, the women’s shoe store will donate 20 percent of its sales to the Friendship Center, manager Vanessa Anderson said.
This is the second year the store is displaying hearts and making the donation to the Friendship Center event.
Ms. Anderson, longtime heart wrangler Sharon Morrow and Sophia Davis, the Friendship Center’s advancement and project manager, smiled as they looked recently at the hearts in the store’s window and told the News-Press what they liked about them.
“The event is full of artistic authenticity,” Ms. Davis said, “Sharon does an amazing job of reaching out to these artists, and they make it their own.
“To bring this all together in one space is magical,” she said.
Mrs. Morrow said she enjoys seeing how the artists creatively interpret the festival themes, which have varied from “California Dreamin’ ” to last year’s 50th anniversary of the “Wizard of Oz” movie.
“As an artist myself, I love the creativity, and I love the artists,” Mrs. Morrow said. “I love going to their houses to pick up the art. I love inspiring them and being inspired by them.
“I love that I have a project for the community that I can personally connect with and wrangle,” Mrs. Morrow said.
The festival’s hearts also impress Ms. Davis and Ms. Anderson, and one in particular caught the latter’s eye.
It was a heart transformed into the face of a flapper, one of the young women in the 1920s known for bobbing their hair, wearing short skirts and rebelling against rules for acceptable behavior. This particular flapper was smoking a cigarette with a long 1920s-style holder.
Meet “Gert the Flirt.”
“She’s looking like she’s having a great time,” Ms. Anderson said about the work by artist Trudy Aufderheide. “I think it’s adorable.”
Mrs. Morrow pointed at artist Cheryl Guthrie’s “Josephine Baker Revisited.”
Ms. Guthrie created a marionette of the American-born French dancer and singer (1906-1975), who was also a French Resistance agent during World War II and a civil rights activist.
Elsewhere in the window, the colorful beads in artist Kat Foote’s “Hotsy-totsy” got Ms. Davis’ attention.
The beads are complemented by a photo of a flapper.
Just so there’s no confusion, the tag for Ms. Foote’s work explains that “Hotsy-totsy” is 1920s slang for “attractive, pleasing to the eye.”
Another work of art shows how Gene Gatz went beyond putting his heart into his creation.
He actually used two hearts.
Mr. Gatz combined them to create a gold motorcycle and called it “Moto Corazón.” (“Corazón” is Spanish for heart.)
The artist used to own Moto Loco, a Santa Barbara motorcycle shop.
Over the years, the Festival of Hearts has featured artists who have contributed on a regular basis such as Montecito celebs Jeff Bridges and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The festival was started in 2000 by Heidi Holly, the Friendship Center executive director.
Ms. Davis said the Friendship Center expects more than 150 people at this year’s festival and to raise $50,000 or more.
She praised the center for helping its members, which include her blind stepfather, the late Allan Head. She said he was treated well at the center, where he was known for his legendary wit.
“He was never treated like someone with a disability. He was treated like a human being,” Ms. Davis said. “I would say dignity is at the top of the experience for our members.
“I’m personally aware of the amazing level of care that we provide. Our activities and our focus on our members is so genuine.”
That’s something Ms. Davis and others have taken to heart.