Ventura’s Rubicon Theater Announces Grand Opening of Sandra and Jordan Laby Hall Gallery Space
Rubicon Theater Company emerges from the pandemic shutdown by reimagining underutilized space in theatre. The building at 1006 E Main Street is owned by Rubicon and served as the organization’s art headquarters for 24 years. As part of the redesign, the Sandra and Jordan Laby Room on the ground floor has been outfitted with a standard gallery hanging system, providing the opportunity for visual arts to play a new and substantial role at the Rubicon.
The non-profit theater’s staff and board of directors tapped internationally acclaimed local artist MICHAEL O’KELLY to help with the transformation of Sandra and Jordan Laby Hall. The result of this partnership is a projection of 24 plays by O’Kelly. The exhibit is titled “An Historical Eye” and includes oil paintings, dye sublimations and gold leaf etchings, all hung on the ground floor of the company’s location at 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura. OPENING – Thursday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rubicon Theater in Ventura! Many of the pieces on display were inspired by Mexico’s rich history, where O’Kelly spent formative years in the capital, studying with maestro Rufino Tamayo.
This collaboration between one of Ventura’s largest arts organizations and a local independent artist is an example of how the 24-year-old Ventura institution is reinventing its place in the community in the wake of the pandemic. Karyl Lynn Burns, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Production at Rubicon, sums up the idea of bringing the arts sector together: “There is enormous untapped potential in Ventura. We need to think big and find innovative ways to strengthen our creative economy. . The status quo won’t.”
O’Kelly has a long and storied history in the art world. A prodigy, Michael sold his first work of art at the age of nine. At 13, he was studying with the infamous British forger Thomas Keating.
Michael has exhibited in over forty-nine art galleries and museums on three continents, including the Commonwealth Institute, Centro Iberoamericano in Madrid and the Santa Barbara Museum. He has curated major collections of ethnographic art for the Museum of Mankind (British Museum), the Binche Museum in Belgium and the Brighton Museum in England and has co-produced major international exhibitions at the Plastic Arts Museum in Moscow, Hermitage in Russia and the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo. In addition to creation and curation, O’Kelly has illustrated several reference books on history. His beautiful handmade ceramic murals adorn the walls of Disneyland/World, as well as many public buildings in Vegas, Nevada and California.
The non-profit professional regional reached more than 480,000 participants and 45,000 students. Rubicon serves area residents and visitors with innovative productions of classic and contemporary plays, as well as a wide range of educational programs and events. Acclaimed by critics and industry professionals, the company received the LA Drama Critics Margaret Harford Special Award for “Sustained Excellence”, a Drama Desk Award for the Off-Broadway production of The Best is Yet To Come and won more than 20 Ovation Awards from the LA Stage Alliance.
Prior to the pandemic, Rubicon moved three shows to New York (Wiesenthal – Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Award nominations; Lonesome Traveler – Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Award nominations; and Daddy Long Legs (Drama Desk Award). streams of top national and international actors and directors, including Bruno and Odiseo Birchir, Susan Clark, Dana Delaney, Conchata Ferrell, Bonnie Franklin, Harold Gould, Joel Gray, Larry Hagman, Bill Irwin, Stacy Keach, Jack Lemmon, Amanda McBroom, Ted Neeley, Paul Provenza, Linda Purl, Rondi Reed, John Ritter,
Joe Spano, Bruce Weitz, Lillias White and others. The members of the society are George Ball, Joseph Fuqua and Jenny Sullivan.
Located in downtown Ventura’s cultural district, just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Rubicon resides in a historic 185-seat church built in the 1920s. more than 10 rows from the stage to the ground floor. (The balcony, which seats twenty people, is available for private parties or corporate groups.)
True to the company name and the vision of creative directors Karyl Lynn Burns and James O’Neil, Rubicon has created an environment where engagement and risk are encouraged, and where artists are nurtured and respected. As a result, the company has earned a reputation for invigorating interpretations of classics and supporting the development of new works. Rubicon features at least one world premiere each season, along with works-in-progress readings.
Deeply rooted in the region it serves, Rubicon offers extensive outreach programs, including daytime mornings for high school students, after-school and weekend programs for at-risk youth, and camps of musical theatre, drama and summer techniques. More than 45,000 students have benefited from it. A board of directors comprised of prominent social and civic leaders governs Rubicon under the leadership of Doug Halter. The company is also supported by an advisory group of regional ambassadors and a 50-member volunteer auxiliary. For more information about Rubicon Theater Company or to purchase tickets, call (805) 667-2900 or visit www.rubicontheatre.org. The theater is located at 1006 E. Main Street in the downtown Ventura Cultural District.