The dirt roads of my Ventura County childhood have been paved over. I blinked and Oxnard of all places became a tourist destination, complete with fine dining and an oceanfront resort. The city of Ventura somehow morphed from a Hell’s Angels stomping ground into a haven for the arts. 5-star accommodations popped up in the bedroom community of Westlake Village. Hip jazz shows came to Thousand Oaks. I opened my eyes and this county had become, dare I say, civilized.
Not that I was thrilled with the prospect while growing up, mind you. I don’t play golf, and I still long for the grubby dirt parking lot at C-Street. But the development of Ventura County in recent decades has brought more than pavement and gated communities—it’s brought a welcome surge of culture: art, music, wine and cuisine, refinement. There’s still enough edge around the county to keep things interesting, but there can be no denying that the good life is firmly upon us. And this is where Ventana comes in.
By now you’ve probably noticed a few changes in the magazine (including me). We’ve tweaked some sections and contemporized the look, and in the coming months we’ll tighten the editorial focus to celebrate fine living in Ventura County—the whole county, from Westlake to Lake Casitas and everything in between. This has always been a region with a heart and a soul and a story. Sure, we’ve been somewhat lost in the glare of our lustrous neighbors. That’s okay. It’s kept us humble. Santa Barbara is a world-class show town, a fabulous place to have in such close proximity. And, like it or not, 90% of modern “culture”—television, movies, recorded music, and myriad spin-off industries—comes from L.A. Then there’s Ventura County: in the middle of everything and totally unpretentious. Could there be a better place?
In this issue of Ventana, Ivor Davis chats with Ojai’s favorite villain, actor Malcolm McDowell, whose portrayal of the ultra-violent delinquent Alex DeLarge made A Clockwork Orange an eternal cult classic. On a tamer note, Michele DePuy Leavitt, the gallery director of Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo (now with an annex in Oxnard), shares the story of this dynamic art enclave on its 10th anniversary. We travel from Foster Park, Ventura to one of the hippest places to stay in the NorCal wine country—a chic B&B with a Zen twist. (This isn’t your typical kitschy doll house B&B.) And from the front lines of local environmentalism, Marissa Landrigan writes about the Wishtoyo Foundation. Nouvelle cuisine, summer wines, community events throughout the county. You’ll find them all on the pages ahead.
I hope you enjoy the new look and feel of Ventana. Change is afoot, and this is just the beginning. Be sure to let us know if you have any story ideas for upcoming issues—and feel free to send me any comments or suggestions.
Matt Katz, Editor