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GOINGS ON SANTA BARBARA : Untiring Innovator : The pioneering spirit of architect Albert Frey will be reflected in the first retrospective of his work, at University Museum.


As an experimental architect in the 1930s through 1960s, Albert Frey integrated the structure and beauty of the natural landscape into his buildings. Now, almost 90 and semi-retired, Frey, who lives in Palm Springs, continues to examine the interplay between nature and architecture. But these days his emphasis is on environmental conservation. Always the innovator, Frey is exploring new designs and building materials that would cut down on the use of natural resources.

This pioneering spirit is what established Frey as a major influence in the evolution of modern architecture. The University Art Museum will celebrate that spirit with an exhibit that is the first retrospective of his work. The show, which opens Sunday and runs through April 19, will include Frey's original drawings, blueprints, photographs, and four large-scale models that were constructed especially for the exhibit.

One of the models is of Frey House II (1964-65), a private residence in Palm Springs that interacts with the landscape. A huge boulder juts in through the glass walls of the living room and bedroom and the elevation of the floor changes with the natural grade.

There will be a lecture about Frey at 2 p.m. Sunday at the University Center Pavilion Room, followed by a round-table discussion. The opening reception will be from 4 to 6 p.m. The museum is located on the UCSB campus. Admission is free. 893-2951.

For those who can't get enough of environmental awareness this weekend, The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is beginning this season's whale watch trips. Participants will have a chance to see California gray whales as they journey north from Baja California to the Bering Sea. Museum naturalists and docents will be on board to share their knowledge and answer questions.

The trips will take place on three weekends: March 7, 8, and 14,15 and 21,22; from 9 to 11:30 a.m., out of Sea Landing in the Santa Barbara Harbor. Tickets are $22 for adults and $12 for children. Mail-in reservations are required: SBMNH, 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara 93105. Include date of trip, number of people and a check. Call 682-4711.

"The Foreigner," a comedy presented by the Santa Barbara City College Theatre Group, opens Friday at 8 p.m. at the campus's Garvin Theatre. It's the story of a meek science-fiction story editor who poses as a non-English-speaking foreigner to avoid talking to other guests in a rural Georgia lodge. A wacky mix of silly dancing, lovers' feuds and the Ku Klux Klan make for an offbeat comedy. The play's run continues through March 21. Tickets are $14. 965-5935.

Henry Butler is a popular jazz pianist from New Orleans who, despite being blind, is also a much-exhibited photographer. He will perform Saturday at the Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara. The 8 p.m. concert will be preceded by a "Meet the Composer" discussion at 7. Tickets are $18.50. 962-3575.

"An Evening of Arabian Music and Dance," featuring a full array of Arabic musical expression from folk to classical and popular, will be presented at UCSB's Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, Friday (March 6) at 8 p.m. $8. 893-3535.

"Ran," Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's ("The Seven Samurai," "Dreams") adaptation of King Lear, will be shown tonight at 8 at UCSB's Campbell Hall, $5. 893-3535.

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