GOINGS ON SANTA BARBARA : Art and Anxiety : An exhibit invites viewers to touch, to move and to worry about the sculptures.


CAUTION: Visiting the new exhibit at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum may cause extreme anxiety. At least that's what one of the four participating artists would like it to do.

The exhibit, titled "Active Presences," features the work of four sculptors, all of whom designed their art to be touched, moved, or otherwise messed around with.

All in all that doesn't sound too risky. But the work of Santa Barbara's Richard Aber, called "Warning," is meant to cause some concern.

Aber's work--like that of the other three artists--is set up inside a 10-foot cube. But on the front of Aber's cube is a sign that says, "WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer."

Inside the cube is a five-foot ball of wax hanging from the ceiling, waiting to be pushed back and forth.

"People will want to engage it in movement, but at the same time there is the warning sign," said Aber. "It's an environmental piece that relates to environmental hazards we have to face on a daily basis, and it deals with the fear that to live their lives, people have to essentially deny. It leads to anxiety."

Aber knows of this anxiety firsthand after his own experience with wax. "I was working with this material for 20 years and I just got notification from the manufacturer that these products are somewhat dangerous. It's not my primary material anymore," he said. "I used to enjoy the warmth of it. Now I have to deal with the fear myself."

Aber said it is highly improbable that the wax will be hazardous to anyone's health. Just in case, you might want to visit the other sculptures first.

The show will run through April 20. The Contemporary Arts Forum is at 653 Paseo Nuevo, on the second floor in the middle of the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center. Admission is free.

Santa Barbara photographer Macduff Everton will display his photos of "The Modern Maya: A Culture in Transition," at the UC Santa Barbara University Art Museum through April 21. For 20 years Everton lived off and on in a Mayan community in the Yucatan and documented through photographs the effects of industrialization on the society. His collection totals 200 photos. For information about the exhibit call 893-2951.

Things will be buzzing at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Friday. First, a showing of the film "Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven," a conservationist's look at Yosemite, past and present.

The portion on the past is based on the 1851 diary of a California militiaman, who was around when Yosemite was a wilderness. It is shown in contrast to what Yosemite is today--a park that attracts more than 3 million visitors yearly and 25,000 pounds of garbage daily. The film will be shown at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Admission is $2 for non-members.

Then from 8 to 9:30 p.m., the museum's Palmer Observatory will be open to the public for viewing of Jupiter, its moons and other celestial objects. And what astronomical event would be complete without popcorn and drinks? They will be available free. Admission, however, is $2 adults and $1.50 children.

Magician David Copperfield will appear (and, more than likely, disappear) at the Arlington Theatre March 21. He'll do two shows, at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $22, $15.50 and $12.50. Call the box office at 963-4408 or Ticketmaster at 583-8700.

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