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I remember a lot of ballet, dance, color … so much joy! I felt so comfortable [at the Lobero]; it fed my soul.

Interviewed by Brandon Mowery, Director of Development

The beautiful paintings featured on the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 editions of BACKSTAGE at the Lobero were created by Laurie McKinley, who is a talented artist and a generous supporter. Laurie is from Santa Barbara and has been attending performances at the Lobero since the early 50’s with her grandmother, and now brings her grandchildren. She has been inspired by the magic of this hall for many years and shares that with the world through her paintings—and her gifts. I had the good fortune to sit and learn more about our talented collaborator.

BM: Tell me a little about your artistic passions. At what point in your life did you realize that painting was going to become your profession?

LM: I always had the feeling that I was part of a global family. I traveled as a child, and was drawn to many different cultures. My career included social work and documentary film work with National Geographic. I wanted to capture cultural happenings that I observed through my travels. My art has given me that outlet to share that magic as well as to capture the disappearance of certain cultural acts.

BM: How were you introduced to the Lobero?

LM: My friends and colleagues Cheryl Doty and John Gerngross were becoming more involved with the theater, and I was intrigued with the Lobero’s commitment to magic, music and the arts. It is what brings the community together and makes Santa Barbara special.

BM: What was the Lobero like when you were a child?

LM: I remember a lot of ballet, dance, color … so much joy! I felt so comfortable there; it fed my soul.

BM: Talk to us about the inspiration behind your cover paintings; what led you to choose your subjects?

LM: I look for images that have energy and movement. I was also intrigued by the Ghostlight. Once I learned the story of why it remains on stage, I wanted it to be present in my paintings.

BM: What does the Lobero mean to you and what do you see as its place in the community?

LM: The Lobero represents everything that Santa Barbara has been since the beginning. It’s the archetype for our city architecturally and emotionally. It’s a reminder of how lucky we are as a community.

BM: What do you look for when you support an organization, and how does the Lobero capture the spirit of that engagement?

LM: I love to give back. I embrace creativity and the arts, and that the staff has passion and purpose to keep the Lobero alive. Inclusive, passion and purpose—we need all those things.

BM: What are your hopes for the Lobero moving forward?

LM: Keep embracing dance, music and remain a resource for fans of all ages. I want to make sure all children, grade school through college, can go and experience the magic.

Compelled to observe and photograph the deeply human stories of culture, compassion and humanity, Laurie translates these indelible images onto canvas, capturing the unforgettable experience and subtle beauty, so that she may share them with the world in the hopes of inspiring change.

Much of Laurie’s work is available for sale, and she accepts commissions. All proceeds from her paintings support non-profits. More at