PROFILES Portraits of 39 South Bay Creatives CONTENT MAGAZINE, SAN JOSE Silicon Valley’s Innovative and Creative Culture ISSUE 11.4 Sept/Oct 2019 C PROFILES
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now and next: patterns of disintegration
exhibition: september 6–october 13, 2019 five artists explore ecological to societal disintegrations with guest curators monica valdez and emily van engel.
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asami akinaga, artist member
jonathan kermit, artist member
larry cazes, artist member
erika gomez henao, artist member
Elizabeth Sullivan, Samantha Tack
Yale Wyatt, Grace Olivieri
Linnea Fleming, Rah Riley
Gege Xu, Daniel Garcia
Brandon E. Roos, Michelle Runde
Nathan Zanon, Johanna Hickle
Gillian Claus, Brad Sanzenbacher
Daniel Codella, Tad Malone
Marissa Ahmadkhani, Esther Young
David Ma, Allen Johnson, Jeff Brummet
Yale Wyatt, Taran Escobar-Ausman
Grace Talice Lee
Too often, people fall in line to unconscious standards that are subtly promoted by the subgroup they follow. They dismiss others based on unspoken ethos and close the door on artists and genres not “accepted” in that tribe. The mission of Content Magazine/SVCreates is to bridge that divide; we provide a platform for all spectrums of our community to be represented. As the reader of this profiles magazine, you will not get just “high society pages” or just underground culture. We believe the beauty of community is in the nuances of diversity. I hope that the individuals we have in this issue challenge you to learn and appreciate people who may not fit into your typical circle. Whether that is “traditional” or “alternative,” either way, you will be – I believe – enriched by learning about the people who are creating and making that might not be in your original style or preference. May you grow in valuing all those that are around you as you read these Profiles
ISSUE 11.4 “Profiles” Sept/Oct 2018 To participate in Content Magazine: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscription & advertising information available by contacting email@example.com CONTENT MAGAZINE is a bimonthly publication about the innovative and creative culture of Silicon Valley, published by . IN THIS ISSUE Santa Clara County Supervisors / Google Artists / DJ Basura / Coldbrew Creative
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Aug. 22 Vogue
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CONTENT Sept/Oct 2019 San Jose, California
Sara V Cole, pg. 40
Ashley Bachman, pg. 44
Matthew Heimgartner, pg. 38
Jessica Gutierrez, pg. 16
ART & DESIGN 10 Artist, Jen Jennings 12 Woodworker, Matt Wicker 14 Set Designer, Ron Gasparinetti 16 Artist, Educator, & Activist, Jessica Gutierrez 18 NUMU Art Student, Enzo Segovia 20 Director of NUMU Atelier, Gabriel Coke 22 Artist & Roller Skater, Sarah Sauerzopf 24 Artist, Eddie Ramirez 26 Stablished Projects, Ratha Nou 28 Artist, Kathryn Dunlevie 30 Artist, Ruben Escalante 32 Artist, Jacqueline de Leon 34 Coldbrew Creative, Mike Lee 36 Artist, Murphy Adams 38 Artist, Matthew Heimgartner 40 Artist, Sara V Cole 42 Silicon Valley African Film Festival, Chike Nwoffiah 44 Google Employee Gallery, Ashley Bachman, Mary Vidnovic, Mohammad Awadalla & Yuri Iwahara CONTENT magazine’s production is powered by ON
these tricks—I want to do that..." pg. 22
Artist & Roller Skater, Sarah Sauerzopf. “Watching videos of skating, it looks awesome and beautiful, the way they execute
52 Santa Clara County Supervisors, District 1 Mike Wasserman
District 2 Cindy Chavez
District 3 Dave Cortese
District 4 Susan Ellenberg
District 5 Joe Simitian
64 Community Supporter, Joe Noonan
66 Department of Transportation, Jessica Zenk
68 Community Supporter, Janikke Klem
70 The Barbers Inc., Dave Diggs
72 Journalist, Jennifer Elias
74 Preservation Activist, Brian Grayson
76 Creative Community, Ellina Yin
78 Esselle and Kinfolk
Inspired Space, Sherry Lee
80 Community Builder, Evan Cranston
82 Musician, Adira Sharkey
84 DJ Basura, Mike Boado
86 Marinero, Jess Sylvester
88 Album Picks, Needle to the Groove
90 Content Calendar
92 Content Contributors
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Jessica Zenk, pg. 66
Chike Nwoffiah, pg. 42
Dave Diggs, pg. 70
38 West Santa Clara Street San Jose, CA 95113
Murphy Adams, pg. 36
10 — Profiles 11.4 —
Written by Grace Talice Lee
Jen Jennings Maker/Creator
smokejumped.com Instagram: smoke_jumped
Jen Jennings comes from a household of artists who never fully pursued their passions: a ceramicist grandmother turned nurse, a seamstress mother turned homemaker, and a musician father turned telecommunications employee. It seemed like Jen would continue that tradition when she began studying microbiology in college. But then she switched to accounting when she couldn’t stand the microscopes anymore, and then changed again to fashion design when she grew bored with crunching numbers at a desk. She yearned to put her creative vision and nimble hands to use. She kept wanting more. So she made the leap into studio art and eventually graduated with a master’s degree in spatial design from San Jose State University.
Nowadays, she’s the in-house artist at Terra Amico, where she makes velvet pillows and giant clothespins out of wood and facilitates workshops on anything from linoleum printmaking to macramé tying to pinwheel folding. Recently, she’s taken a deep dive into the new medium of reclaimed fire hoses, turning the rubber lining and polyester yarns into dog toys, fly swatters, and birdhouses—each product handmade, handsome, and built to last.
“All the trial and error, the experimenting, just takes a lot of time. And I love it. I love trying to figure things out; I just love to have a challenge. That’s why the more things you know—that’s kind of bad because all the challenges are gone. Because you just want to learn something else.” C
Written by Yale Wyatt
For Matt Wicker, his connection to woodworking was always tied to his dedication to DIY philosophy. As a kid, he was into punk acts like Rancid and NOFX that introduced him to the idea of DIY and a broader sense of self-reliance. He and his buddies would take on small projects like building ramps in the backyard for their skateboards, even turning half of his dad’s garage into a makeshift studio for his band. He had no idea woodworking would be his career—until a crate he posted on Etsy immediately sold. From there, he became a dedicated full-time woodworker, and since then, not much has changed—except the size and scale of his operations and a few scars on his hands. Chances are, if you’ve been in downtown San Jose, you’ve probably shared a meal on one of Matt’s works of art.
“Music was the driver in my life. Being in a band really got me in the entrepreneurial mindset—you know, working merch, recording ourselves. The culture there pushed me into who I am as an adult. If you want what you’re into, you have to make it happen by yourself. I didn’t find a niche; I found a product with a purpose. I don’t overvalue what I do just because I’m doing it. Just because I made a crate doesn’t make it more valuable than something you can buy at IKEA—you have to add value to what you do. C
12 — Profiles 11.4
The Set Guy
Written by Grace Talice Lee
At five years old, Ron Gasparinetti saw Santa take off in a rocket during the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall—and from that moment on, all he wanted was to make fantasy feel real onstage. He started putting on homegrown shows, recruiting neighborhood kids as actors, and turning the garage door into a proscenium curtain. Theater took a backseat, though, when it came time to enter college. Ron followed his parents’ advice to study economics and promptly failed every class in his major. He didn’t understand the subject nor did he care to understand it whatsoever, but he still cared very much for set design and soon earned a bachelor’s degree to match that passion.
Ron got his first job in college and caught a wave of continuous employment through word of mouth, but in his early thirties the gigs stuttered to a stop, and Ron found himself living in his car for six months. Eventually, he picked himself up and applied to every technical director job across the country. He landed in California and went on to design more than two decades of beautiful and innovative shows around the Bay Area.
“When I see the audience gasp or laugh or cry, I know that we did a good job, because that means we got a reaction from them. We made them think about something. We made them hate something. We made them love something. Doesn’t matter what. As long as we got that reaction, that means we’ve reached them. Every once in a while, I see that, and I think, that’s why I do this.” C
15 — Profiles 11.4
Artist | Educator | Activist
Written by Nathan Zanon
marthastreetartnight, conscioussanjose, jessicag.13
Artist, educator, and activist Jessica Gutierrez might be new to the San Jose arts scene, but she’s already having an impact. A teacher at James Lick High School, Gutierrez first became involved with the arts community through her work at Be the Change Yoga, integrating art into their public programs and coordinating with local organizations for the Conscious San Jose Festival. Living in a building with apartments upstairs and empty space on the ground floor, she and her collaborator, Jesse Santos, had the idea to host a gallery show featuring art made by Gutierrez and her housemates. The result was the first Martha Street Art Night—a small gathering that has since grown into a series of sporadicallyscheduled community events drawing hundreds of people to showcase, participate in, and share art. She has added food and music, and the event is generating enough buzz that she is already trying to figure out how to scale up.
“Martha Street Art Night was my first experiment of what it looks like to have an intention and hold space for other people. It started as a fun thing where I can host people in my home and share art—but I don’t have the capacity to do it frequently, and in terms of the space, it’s at that capacity point where we might have to find another space. I’ve been thinking about what that would look like, but at the same time, maybe the appeal is that it’s in a home, a space of comfort and welcoming. If I partnered with a gallery, would the same community want to come, knowing that there are all these formalisms that come with that? Is it okay if it draws different crowds? It’s not about what I want; it’s about what’s needed by the people who are coming. I also want to model for my students that these are the kinds of spaces you can create, especially understanding gentrification and how that’s impacting San Jose and the East Side—how you can control what those spaces look like for the community as opposed to developers coming in and deciding for you what those spaces are.” C
16 — Profiles 11.4
Enzo Segovia Student Artist at NUMU
Written by Esther Young
enzosegovia.art Instagram: enzopaint
First drawn to NUMU (New Museum Los Gatos) by a competition during his junior year of high school, Enzo Segovia’s search for a new studio led him to Gabriel Coke, NUMU’s atelier director. On Enzo’s first day, despite nervousness about his lack of traditional training, Gabriel’s observant and patient style of instruction relaxed him.
Enzo’s imaginative illustrations—ranging from silly self-portraits to eerily twisted, masked creatures in arid landscapes—voice his observant nature and passion for a cause he is adamant about: nature’s suffering at the hands of human irresponsibility.
“I spend a lot of time just looking at things...how light falls on a tree, the way people talk, move, and gesture,” Enzo explains. “Art has definitely led me to be a more patient person.” In a fastmoving world, he makes a point of enjoying slow-paced creative process and growth. “I see a lot of really great artists and think, ‘Why can’t I be like that?’ Obviously it takes practice but also just time to develop your own sense of sight.”
Sharing one’s art is quick with social media but poses unique risks: “Nowadays, a lot of the successful people get tied to one thing they do because social media’s about consistency. You kinda get stuck into a pigeonhole of art,” Enzo notices. “People that are successful sometimes feel they can’t experiment after that...that is when I notice people stop improving.”
Moving forward with the determination to become ever more patient, Enzo hopes for a way to roll freelance illustration and fine art landscape painting into a future career path. But wherever the wind takes him, he’ll go. C
18 — Profiles 11.4
Gabriel Coke Director of NUMU Atelier
Written by Esther Young
Instagram: newmuseumlosgatos, gabriel.coke
New Museum Los Gatos aims to inspire, illuminate, and instruct. Gabriel Coke’s atelier is a revitalization of a tradition popularized during the Renaissance. His curriculum is designed to prepare students for professional art study through a well-rounded education mastering the basics: still life, landscape, portraits, and drawing.
Some of his youngest students’ paintings hang among the masterpieces of the visiting instructors in the gallery. A collection of self-portraits, for example, showcases incredible realism and richly reflective imagination. Gabe took his students’ photos until each had one they liked. Then, he helped them streamline their invention of symbols, colors, and illustrations to tell their life story. “It’s so important when you’re working with young kids, because they still have imagination, to let their imagination have a voice,” Gabe emphasizes. His mission is to teach the foundational skills that promote that confidence.
On the lower floor of the museum, where Gabe holds his classes, each workstation is designed to set students up for success. Lamps wrapped in cones of black tape focus light away from the eyes, shining directly on the easel without polluting the subjects to be drawn. At each station, Gabe has placed an egg. “The egg is a metaphor for something more complicated,” he explains. “I don’t want them to ever feel like they can’t do something. Almost everyone can draw an egg, but I explain everything that’s going on to make it look realistic.”
From there, a student of any age can draw something more complicated. “It’s really not me,” Gabe promises. “If you’re born with talent and ability, you’re never going to lose it.” C
21 — Profiles 11.4
Written by Johanna Hickle
Instagram: zopf_ink, paikea_
If you have ever been walking around downtown or through the San Jose State campus and seen Sarah Sauerzopf zip by you in her Moxi roller skates, it was probably a moment you took note of. With her infectious smile and cool-but-playful demeanor, Sarah is hard to miss. A founding member of the San Jose chapter of Chicks in Bowls and a regular at monthly Skate Nights, she has been wheeling through the streets and parks for years, and she does it purely out of a love for skating. A talented artist and illustrator as well, Sarah contributed to the 100 Block Mural Project earlier this year with an homage to her favorite hobby. Her Skate or Die piece is one of the more eye-catching works on the wall, and she has been able to leverage it to draw attention to her other creations by selling merch on Instagram, in local art booths, and by eliciting new commissions.
“Watching videos of skating, it looks awesome and beautiful, the way they execute these tricks—I want to do that and make it look just as good. For the mural, I thought, ‘These are the two things that I love…and it’s hilarious.’ It was nice to be picked as part of the wall, but it was also nerve-racking. I had painted a mural on my dad’s house, but not out in public. I had never done public art before. It ended up coming out really nice. Both [skating and drawing] make me feel creative; when I’m on my roller skates, I still feel creative. It’s an art form, too. It’s like dancing. I feel free, I feel good, I feel like I look good, and I also really like to see people’s faces when I skate downtown.” C
Written by Esther Young beauty everywhere
Beauty is everywhere, Eddie Ramirez says through his paintings. You just need to know how to see. One such painting, a painting of a lamppost, is the mundane rewritten as magic. Under its warm glow, a swarm of moths float in still motion like fairies descending from a late afternoon into evening, at once common and extraordinary.
As a younger painter, his favorite subject was nature. Yet, as a city dweller, he learned to appreciate the small ways humans and nature coexist, neither being invincible. A frequent participant in the Chalk Art Festival in San Jose’s Backesto Park, Eddie wholly embraces the challenge of a massive piece that is destined to disappear.
As an art event organizer, a painter, hand-letterer, sign maker, teacher, and manager of his own handmade canvas business, Eddie’s situation seems dreamy. But sacrifices made years prior shaped where he is today. Leaving school early to work at Orchard Supply Hardware eventually led to a position in visual merchandising where he applied his artistic skills to signage design. When the company’s liquidation forced him to start over without the leverage of a college degree, he turned to a well-paying but soulless job for a period he dubs the “Lost Years.” Finally, he turned to the passion he had originally meant to pursue: teaching.
“I found a school that hires artists for being artists,” he says. Wherever he goes in the community, he says he hopes people will take a little piece of him. “I take pieces of them and push myself.” C
25 — Profiles 11.4
Stablished Projects Ratha Nou
Creative Studio | Motion Design | Video Production
Written by Audrey Freeman
Ratha Nou, founder and creative director of Stablished Projects, a multidisciplinary motion-design studio, has been dreaming of creating his own brand and company since he was an undergraduate student at San Jose State University. A 2004 BFA animation and illustration alum, Ratha has been relentless over the years in his pursuit of excellence and growth as a multidisciplinary artist, creator, storyteller, and businessman. Beginning as a designer in a local silkscreen shop, and after years of freelance motion-design work, Ratha has built a company founded on his strong technical and artistic skills and expertise. The powerful work that Stablished Projects produces for its clients speaks for itself. To students who are striving to build a creative career, he would emphasize the importance of taking risks and believing in your vision.
“Right now I get to live life on my own terms. I get to do what I’ve been wanting to do and creating this thing that I’ve been wanting to create, and it’s because I’ve been relentless with staying true to that. And it’s allowed [me] to get a taste of that, that it’s possible after working for so many different companies that have done this themselves, and now having the realization that I could totally do it myself or with my team…it’s something that I obsess over. I wake up, and I continue to follow, follow those signs, and I’ll do everything that I need to do to make it feel as right as it can to me.” C
26 — Profiles 11.4
“Right now I get to live life on my own terms. I get to do what I’ve been wanting to do and creating this thing that I’ve been wanting to create.”
Written by by Yale Wyatt
Kathryn Dunlevie has always possessed a magical perception of the world around her, even before she became an artist. Growing up all over the United States, Dunlevie developed a deep appreciation of what gives a particular area a sense of place. Nowadays, her art works as a connecting thread, bringing disparate places and ideas together in what she describes as “hazy vignettes woven together.” She photographs the locales of her travels and sits on the pictures until she begins the process of collaging. Then, in construction, she finds a method of arranging her photos that poignantly displaces the observer’s sense of time and place. Being an artist located in the Silicon Valley, Dunlevie is often inspired by San Jose’s diversity—not only in viewpoint, but in its sense of locality. Given the difference in age and style that many San Jose neighborhoods possess, she believes that you can walk down the street and enter in to a new world entirely. Alongside the San Jose art community she happily stands with, Dunlevie’s work captures the ever-changing world we find ourselves wandering in.
“I have a fascination with history. I’ve always been riveted by old places, as if I can feel them. I’m always collecting images and trying new ways to combine them. My assignment to myself is to experiment with new approaches and see what ideas take shape. When something catches my eye, I grab it, often without any idea of where it will fit in. As for the themes of my projects, that inspiration finds me.” C
29 — Profiles 11.4
“Because we’re all on these journeys, we’re all in progress.”
Written by Grace Talice Lee
Instagram: _spnge, chicreativeagency, dmcstudio_macla
Ruben Escalante suffered a heart attack as a freshman in high school. But this is only surprising until Ruben reveals the trauma he endured as a child: the father who went out at least once a week and came home drunk, angry, and violent; the early death of the grandfather who was the only one that could subdue his dad’s temper; the constant and vicious attacks at school by bullies who could not accept a sensitive, poetry-loving brown boy.
Now Ruben is a youth advocate and community organizer who moves his audience through film, photo, and every other medium he can get his hands on. And, really, the reasons for his art and activism are the same reasons behind his cardiac arrest. His path to recovering from childhood abuse and depression was paved with books, music, and movies—with stories and characters that made him feel a little more seen and a lot less alone. After reaching stability and self-sufficiency, Ruben realized that he wanted to dedicate his life to amplifying that sense of inclusion, and he’s done just that by serving as the coordinator for Digital Music & Culture Studio at MACLA and by co-directing the Emo Kids of Color collective.
“These books, movies, songs that saved me, ultimately will save the people who are like me. It’s always been for that reason, to try and engage people—more importantly, kids of color. Because we’re all on these journeys, we’re all in progress; but it’s those ages where you’re starting to see different parts of the world, starting to understand your parents aren’t perfect, when you need the most guidance and direction." C
31 — Profiles 11.4
JACQUELIN de LEON
Written by Tad Malone
jacquelindeleon.com Instagram: jacquelindeleon
Artist and illustrator Jacquelin de Leon has been serious about art as far back as she can remember. The San Jose local began carrying around a portfolio of her art in 6th grade the way art school graduates do. By her freshman year of high school, de Leon was actively selling her work. After graduating from the Laguna College of Art and Design with a major in illustration, de Leon threw herself even more into making a living as an artist—creating an online shop, running a YouTube channel, hosting workshops— all the while building up a social media following that could make celebrities envious. And it’s no surprise, as de Leon’s art is a lush and detailed panoply of mystical portraits and landscapes. Working with a mix of ink, watercolor, and acrylic, de Leon hopes her art, especially her figurative work, can inspire women to not be afraid to be themselves. As for the future, de Leon has much in store for us, including a graphic novel for DC Comics.
“I want all of the young or aspiring artists to know that they don’t have to be a “starving artist” or follow the rules and work for some big company. They can create their own path as an artist and be their own boss! When I graduated I initially applied for jobs in the animation and illustration industry, and eventually I started making a name for myself and doing all the things I’ve always dreamed of doing without working for anyone else.” C
32 — Profiles 11.4
Mike Lee, CEO Coldbrew Creative
Jamal Newborn, CEO Exposyour
Coldbrew Creative Creative Solutions
Written by Johanna Hickle
Mike Lee is the enterprising CEO of Coldbrew Creative, a business name that tips its hat to the almost universal love of craft coffee and craft beer shared by designers everywhere. Lee’s creative and print agency assists companies with branding, web design, and marketing strategies with the goal of carrying them from concept to execution. With a strong stance against impersonal business ventures, Lee voices a willingness to collaborate and embraces all networking opportunities—a mindset he’s discovered he holds in common with many San Jose businesses. With the desire to support these innovators, Lee founded Coldbrew Creative to aid them in brainstorming ideas, develop their offline and online presence, and generally connect them with their target audiences so they can continue to produce high-grade work and pioneer in their respective fields. For several years now, Coldbrew has collaborated with Jamal Newborn and his agency, Exposyour, to create innovative campaigns for clients. There’s no doubt Lee and his capable team find producing quality work for clients as satisfying and intentional as well-crafted espresso.
“My proudest accomplishment is being able to work with a lot of businesses in San Jose. Not any of these businesses in particular, but to really be involved, and really be able to be a part of San Jose. My greatest accomplishment is getting into this market and getting to know the people here—the people and the businesses. And that even includes other agencies.” C
Written by Johanna Hickle
There’s something about the funky, raw, unfiltered paintings of Murphy Adams that sticks with the beholder. Perhaps her distinctive depictions of humanity remind us that, all things considered, people are pretty peculiar. Initially discouraged from pursuing a career as a professional artist, Adams emboldened children in their creative endeavors by developing Willow Glen Elementary’s art program and cofounding ArtHouse Kids. Her own creative confidence bloomed after a friend with a pop-up booth invited her to share her work. Emboldened after selling 35 of 40 paintings that day, she opened a studio. One undercurrent this artist is known for is her discomfort with color-in-the-lines perfectionism, expressed through devoted avoidance of balanced symmetry. Large emotions are also featured prominently throughout her illustrations. In fact, this second motif is tied to Murphy’s litmus test for whether she’s accomplishing her mission as an artist. When one of her paintings reflects a passerby’s reality so intrinsically that they say it seems made with them in mind, she feels she’s done her job.
“Why do I create intentionally childlike illustrations? You know, I worked as an art teacher with children for a really long time. Besides that, I’ve always liked outsider art and naïve painters and folk art. I think [my] intention is when somebody sees it, they say ‘Oh look at this. This is really cute.’ And then when they really seek to understand it, then they see that it addresses adult, more sophisticated issues.” C
36 — Profiles 11.4
Written by Tad Malone
matthewheimgartner.com Instagram: fabulousmatty
Although a visual artist now, Matthew Heimgartner was initially drawn to the creative world through storytelling. Writing stories throughout his childhood in San Jose and adding doodles in the margins, it wasn’t until 2017 that he made what he considers the official switch—that is, showing his artwork publicly. Thankfully so, as Heimgartner’s work is expressive, vibrant, and intimate—so intimate, in fact, it almost feels as if his art is only accidentally seen by the public eye. Working in a mixture of pen, pencil, and watercolor, Heimgartner’s surrealist influences are apparent but not overwhelming. By finding a careful balance between absurd and defined, his art exudes a raw emotion that is hard to ignore and even harder to forget.
“I want people to look at my art and feel like they have had a conversation with me. My art is very personal, because I have a hard time being personable. I feel like I have lived so many different lives in my 28 years, and I have a hard time jumping between those lives and reconnecting with the people that were once really close to me. I feel like I can talk about and express that in my art, and people will understand the feelings that I feel, but the viewer gets to add their own connotation of that feeling.” C
39 — Profiles 11.4
Sara V Cole artist / writer /
educator / activist
Written by Tad Malone
Even as a baby, Sara V Cole held art materials in her hands. Her mother inspired her to find no limit in her creativity, and Cole truly hasn’t. Originally from Framingham, Massachusetts, Cole attended San Jose State University, earning a BFA, and since becoming a nationally represented artist with an exhibition history spanning the continent, from San Francisco to New York City—understandably, too, because Cole’s art is a stunning journey through the impermanence and fragility of life. Fragile yet bold, vibrant yet muted, Cole’s work is one long process of experimentation, employing everything from ceramics to collage in an attempt to express the uniqueness of the human condition. While Cole has suffered from progressive chronic health conditions for most of her life, she doesn’t let it hold her back. Instead, Cole’s art is a reflection of resilience through pain, a reflection that is at once inspiring and haunting.
“As a woman encountering chronic, debilitating health conditions since birth, my vision of a future self, be it artistic or otherwise, is inextricably intertwined with the progression of illnesses. Honestly, I am grateful to even be able to create today, and each additional day I am blessed to be able to do the same, is a great day—until I have run out of adaptive tech options for my mobility concerns, and I cannot!” C
40 — Profiles 11.4
“Until the lion learns to speak, the tale of the hunt will only glorify the hunter. This is the impetus behind the founding of the film festival.”
Silicon Valley African Film Festival
When Chike Nwoffiah arrived in the Bay Area from Nigeria to pursue a career in biotech, he was shocked to see the way Africa was portrayed. Home to over one billion people, it’s a vibrant land full of both modern cities and rural villages, yet few are exposed to the rich diversity and vitality of the continent and its people. Leaving his corporate life behind, Chike pursued the arts, becoming an accomplished actor, theater director, and filmmaker. But of all of his endeavors, founding the Silicon Valley African Film Festival—a celebration of African film, music, food, art, fashion, and culture—feels closest to his heart. Now in its 10th year, the festival is transforming perceptions and giving Africans a chance to share their stories.
“For far too long, the story of Africa has been told through lenses far removed from the continent, leading to blurred perceptions and historical distortions. When those of us from the continent come here and see, feel, and touch the Africa that is projected here, it’s disheartening. It’s either the Tarzan narrative of people living in the jungle, swinging from trees, or the National Geographic narrative of children starving with flies on their faces. Until the lion learns to speak, the tale of the hunt will only glorify the hunter. This is the impetus behind the founding of the film festival. We want to present the real stories of Africa—good, bad, or ugly—and we want Africans to tell those stories.” C
Written by Daniel Codella svaff.org Instagram:svafilmfest
43 — Profiles 11.4
Shot at 3Below Theaters and Lounge
Ashley Bachman, Google Design Studio Coordinator/Creative Producer
Written by Kevin Marks
Google Creatives Embrace New Internal Art Gallery Ashley Bachman
On sleepy Villa Street, just a few blocks from downtown Mountain View, lies one of the more subdued Google campuses in the Bay Area. A hodgepodge assortment of sandstone-colored buildings sits loosely arranged around understated courtyards dotted with wooden picnic tables and shaggy landscaping. The now-ubiquitous corporate primary colors adorn a few crooked patio umbrellas.
This is the home of Retail Hardware Marketing, one of Google’s emerging divisions, and in this pastoral scene, this is where the creatives live. Birds chirp overhead, the parking lot seems empty, and if you listen closely, you can hear the bang of a drum kit from within the onsite music studio and practice rooms.
Even creatives flexing their artistic muscles at work need an outlet, and that’s just what Ashley Bachman and her community of artists have in what they simply call the “gallery” or “gallery nights,” a relatively informal but regular collection of art displayed by internal Googlers.
“Anyone who has a creative career went down that route, because at some point in time they were doodling in their notebook, making things, or drawing with chalk on the sidewalk. But we lose sight of why we got here in the first place,” says Bachman. The gallery is a chance to recapture some of the childish glee of creating for creation’s sake, even within the walls of high tech.
Bachman herself is the purveyor of Dandy Roots—an all-natural, maker-esque boutique featuring beeswax candles, skincare products, and jewelry. She has shown some of her products at the gallery. “Ever since I graduated from San Jose State, I realized that now I have time and money to make what I want to make,” she says. The gallery affords her and her colleagues the chance to scratch that inner itch present in many creatives—the never-ending drive to create simply for the joy of it. C
45 — Profiles 11.4
Google Creatives Embrace New Internal Art Gallery
Written by Kevin Marks
The Whimsical Product Designer
mohammadawadalla.com sfemperornorton.com comradecrayons.com
Mohammad Awadalla is a Google copywriter by day, a product designer by night. Yet, his products are not what you might expect. They are art objects and experience pieces and include a honeybased root beer named after a San Francisco homeless man and Comrade Crayons, a socialist-forward box of coloring instruments that are—you guessed it—all red.
“I always love creating things that people can experience, coming up with something that’s new, that’s unique, that people will find interesting and engaging,” he says. “That’s what always drives me.”
That drive to create something truly new led him and his brother to work with a San Jose bottler and create Emperor Norton Root Beer, a boutique, small-run beverage, whose website features a bearded dignitary riding a cartoon T. rex, declaring, “Let all who desire to smile, to love, and to prosper, drink from my root beer.” That whimsical style permeates Mohammad’s unique products and winking approach. It certainly informed the decision to design and market a box of entirely red crayons that pokes fun— tastefully—at Communism.
“I was watching a documentary on the Soviet Union, and I just kind of imagined what real basic things were like: What was toilet paper like, what were shoes like? This is just how I imagined the crayons.” He found an unlikely partner to produce the crayons overseas. “I contacted a manufacturer in China. Ironically enough, they agreed to do this. They didn’t get the joke,” he says with a laugh.
In a world that seems to have lost its sense of humor, we could surely use an entire product line of Mohammad’s wares. C
46 — Profiles 11.4
Google Creatives Embrace New Internal Art Gallery
Written by Kevin Marks
Yuri Iwahara The Sculptor
Yuri Iwahara is a recent transplant to the Bay Area from New York, enjoying the laid-back vibe of California. Perhaps the only people truly qualified to call the Silicon Valley ‘laid-back’ are New Yorkers, but even Iwahara finds it difficult to stay on top of personal creative expression while maintaining a corporate career. She’s an associate product marketing manager, and commutes to Google from the Mission in San Francisco: “Ninety minutes each way. It adds up,” she says.
Iwahara studied English and writing at Brown University, but her personal creative endeavors lean more toward filmmaking and sculpture—creative disciplines heavy on overhead, equipment, and collaboration, all of which can be hard to arrange, reserve, and account for in the Bay Area.
The onsite gallery at Google and the quarterly Gallery Nights help. Iwahara describes being “mentally drained” as a result of working and commuting in high tech, but the gallery creates an opening in what can be an intensely structured lifestyle.
“It has to be very intentional,” she says, describing the willingness to pursue creative projects outside of work. The Google gallery provides an outlet for that intentionality. She has shown her sculpture—a mixed media style that explores different kinds of storytelling—and plans to showcase her short films soon. C
49 — Profiles 11.4
Google Creatives Embrace New Internal Art Gallery
Written by Kevin Marks
The Painter / Photo-technician
Mary Vidnovic, a corporate photo-technician, describes her reaction to one of the famous perks of working for Google: “I remember when I first started working here, everyone was really excited about all the free food,” she says. “But I was like, ‘There’s a gallery night? I can put my paintings up? What?!”
A talented Google artist that is energized and activated by a chance to show her work, Vidnovic has been retouching and editing photos since she graduated from San Jose State, but her true passion is painting. Her website declares that she paints “as much as humanly possible.” For Vidnovic, that means spending most Saturdays in her Aptos studio crafting beautifully abstract portraits and landscapes. Hers is a body of work whose color palette seems breezily informed by the coastal regions of the Bay.
Vidnovic began her career as a photo retoucher for a local wedding photographer. She enjoys the cleanliness of making art in the digital realm, but prefers the real, natural messiness of painting and the challenge of rendering human beings in portrait.
“I really enjoyed trying to get to the photo-realism place,” she says. “After I got there, I started experimenting with adding in more abstract features.” Her work strikes a seemingly perfect balance between the abstract and the real, which may be a way to describe the life of a creative in high tech—doing “real” creative work from nine to five, but being drawn to more abstract, personal projects as well. The Google gallery has afforded a place to flex those more abstract muscles.
“It’s really nice to see that there’s other creative people in the building who have all these different talents. It’s nice to have that community here.” C
Supervisor Mike Wasserman
Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, part of South San Jose, and some unincorporated area.
Supervisor Cindy Chavez
Part of San Jose and some unincorporated area.
Supervisor Dave Cortese
Milpitas, parts of San Jose and Sunnyvale, and some unincorporated area
Supervisor Susan Ellenberg
Campbell, Santa Clara, part of San Jose, and some unincorporated area.
Supervisor Joe Simitian
(the president of the Board of Supervisors)
Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Saratoga, part of Sunnyvale, and some unincorporated area.
52 — Profiles 11.4
Written by Gillian Claus
Illustration by Ralph Buenconsejo
Santa Clara County Supervisors
Santa Clara County covers a lot of ground, encompassing 1,304 square miles. There are 1,781,642 residents—more people live here than in 53 countries and 14 other US states. Those residents have very different incomes, with inflated housing costs creating more than 75,000 millionaires and 9,706 homeless people in the last homeless count.
Making policy decisions for this vast area is a board of supervisors—five nonpartisan elected officials that pass ordinances and approve an eight billion dollar budget. That money translates into 40 different departments working together to keep life running smoothly and safely behind the scenes.
County government seems invisible, but their decisions and policy do impact daily life. That green public health sticker in the window of your favorite restaurant means you can enjoy a worry-free lunch. The weightsand-measures seal on the scale at the meat counter ensures that you actually do get a pound of delicious bacon. Significant moments like getting married mean a visit to the county clerk to obtain a license, who also records deaths and births.
In an emergency, when we most need visible services and support, the county maintains the safety net. County emergency communications (911) receives a call every minute. They run ambulances, Valley Medical Center, Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services, Child Support Services, and Alcohol and Drug Services. They manage programs for infants and children, adolescents, and aging adults as well as in-home support services for disabled individuals. Furthermore, from arrest to detention in jail, the district attorney, public defender, and probation officers are all county employees.
When you need information, the Santa Clara County Library District provides free access with over nine million checkouts a year. Remarkably, more people used the county library system last year than visited any major local sporting event combined. Because the system is funded by property taxes rather than a city general fund, the county libraries don’t have to reduce hours during a recession.
Each elected supervisor views this work through their own lens, focusing energy on particular projects and committees where they can effect change. Their votes can help protect vulnerable people, improve emergency services, and preserve farmland or endangered species. By representing the interests of so many constituents in their large districts, they each impact the daily lives of nearly two million people.
So take the time to read about each of the five County supervisors—and connect with them beyond the ballot box.
DISTRICT 1 Mike Wasserman
As a former financial planner, Mike Wasserman understands the power of numbers. That’s why he moved from Los Gatos Town Council to District 1, going from a population of just under 31,000 to 400,000 people in five cities in 700 square miles. He spearheaded a study to calculate costs of an average homeless person in Santa Clara County—$62,000—and translated that amount into an irrefutable argument for adopting permanent supportive housing. As chair of Public Safety and Justice, he has piloted re-entry centers, which have reduced recidivism from 70 to 40 percent. He chairs the Habitat Conservation Plan, protecting endangered species and open space; chairs the Santa Clara County Library District; and serves on the Board of Directors of SVRIA (Silicon Valley Regional Interoperability Authority), which enables communication between emergency services in different cities within the county. Though he hopes to squeeze every hour out of his last term, he loves to get out and support his wife Kim in coaching their dog, Max.
“My goal when I leave here is that the county will be the strongest, most productive, most helpful, and most efficient county that it has ever been. A lot of our funding is from federal government, which translates to uncertainty in the next couple of years. But I can promise whatever funding we get, we will spend it as wisely as we can. I have been told that I’ve got a head for numbers and a heart for people.” C
55 — Profiles 11.4
“My goal when I leave here is that the county will be the strongest, most productive, most helpful, and most efficient county that it has ever been.”
DISTRICT 2 Cindy Chavez
Born in New Mexico, Supervisor Cindy Chavez attended San Jose State, afterwards making San Jose her home and raising a family here. When she’s not working, she enjoys watching her son play sports.
She is well aware of the disparity in levels of income throughout Santa Clara County, and as chair of the Children, Seniors, and Families Committee, she addresses family support, including care for abused or neglected children. Focused on preventing displacement and housing insecurity, Chavez is proud of her work as the primary architect on the 2016 Measure A – Affordable Housing Bond, building new homes for the homeless ahead of schedule and providing dedicated safe spaces for homeless LGBTQ kids. By committing funds to save two hospitals, her efforts have been instrumental in the continued care of 30 percent of county residents that use one of the three hospitals, twelve clinics, or two health plans. With an eye on the future, Chavez encourages her constituents to stay tuned for more policy reform.
“We’re writing that history right now, and we have a lot going for us—an economy that is driving the nation’s economy and a community that is both safe and the most diverse. But the disparity of wealth is just not sustainable. We need to find ways for all income levels to thrive here. To guarantee continued prosperity for us all, we need to build more affordable housing, enact reforms to prevent displacement, and increase family incomes.” C
56 — Profiles 11.4
“We need to find ways for all income levels to thrive here.”
DISTRICT 3 Dave Cortese
With over 50 years of family participation in public office—his father was county supervisor in 1968—Supervisor Dave Cortese first won a school board seat in 1992, later followed by a close run for mayor of San Jose. At the county level, his expertise in public safety has led to the creation of human trafficking teams, safer jails, and an East San Jose neighborhood safety unit. In an effort to redress income disparity, he supports a living wage policy, a $700 million extremely low-income housing fund, and has launched a summer “intern and earn” program for 500 foster and other youth. Since co-chairing the campaign committee for the $950 million Measure A – Affordable Housing Bond in 2016, 19 lowincome housing projects have been launched. In the self-governed Hope Village, he championed interim housing for the homeless and partnered with the city of San Jose to create the All The Way Home campaign to house over 1,300 veterans.
An avowed lover of hiking, he relishes time spent outdoors.
“I love the hills and open spaces of our county and the valley—and I love the diversity of the community. I have deep and profound friendships in and among so many cultural groups, civil rights groups, and various faith traditions; it is a constant blessing and wonderment in my life. There is still a deep generational layer of humanity in this county." C
59 — Profiles 11.4
“There is still a deep generational layer of humanity in this county.”
DISTRICT 4 Susan Ellenberg
As a former social justice educator and the newest county supervisor, Susan Ellenberg is taking an inclusive approach to county government. She views her work on the Board of Supervisors through the lens of four key priority areas—protecting children, supporting mothers, stabilizing families, and empowering youth—arguing that if we can get those initial pieces right, the rest will then fall into place. Connecting environmental sustainability issues to children as future stewards for the environment has led her to address funding for urban kids to get out into green spaces. Serving on the First 5 Commission, her first big initiative is countywide access to childcare and early education to promote both healthy child development and increased economic stability, which affects women disproportionately. Ellenberg also chairs Public Safety and sits on the board of Silicon Valley Clean Energy. Via a community outreach program called Food For Thought, she holds sidewalk office hours once a month at farmers’ markets throughout her district to increase people’s awareness of available services.
“Knocking on doors, most residents had no idea what county government does. My first response is that if you are living a relatively stable and well-resourced life, you may never be aware of county services. County government is, at its heart, the level that serves our community’s most vulnerable populations. We need to meet the needs of every resident. Those needs just look different.” C
60 — Profiles 11.4
“If you are living a relatively stable and well-resourced life, you may never be aware of county services.”
DISTRICT 5 Joe Simitian
After a career spanning the State Legislature, California State Assembly, and eight years in the California State Senate, Supervisor Joe Simitian ultimately decided that he wanted to work again at the county level—primarily because it touches people’s lives in so many ways. As a member of the county’s Housing, Land Use, Environment, and Transportation Committee, he found addressing the regional concerns of such varied parts of the county challenging, but satisfying. During his first term back on the Board of Supervisors, more than 400 of his constituents were threatened with eviction from their homes in the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. With the help of the city of Palo Alto, the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County, the county, and the nonprofit Caritas, Simitian helped to preserve 117 units of affordable housing, prevent the eviction of more than 400 people, and provide full and fair market value to the owner of the property.
After hours, Simitian loves a good book, a trip to the theater, or a lively conversation with friends.
“What is so, so satisfying about working at the county level is that you know that the work you do has a direct and immediate impact on the people you represent. There is nothing abstract about it. It is not theoretical. You either do or don’t get the job done for the two million people who call Santa Clara County their home. Exciting things happen here; the future begins here. This is an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming region.” C
63 — Profiles 11.4
“Exciting things happen here; the future begins here. This an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming region.”
Joe Noonan still vividly remembers the day in eighth grade when his father told him the family was moving to California. For a kid growing up outside Chicago, the news was a bona fide dream come true. A Bay Area resident ever since, Noonan proudly claims San Jose as his own and has been a tireless advocate for the city, particularly its downtown core. Stints with Christmas in the Park and the San Jose Downtown Association (a partnership that casually began with volunteer efforts hosting community movie nights and collecting survey information at Music in the Park) paved the way for his latest role as development coordinator with the City of San Jose’s Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services department. As he admits, his undying optimism concerning the city’s potential has helped chart his career path for nearly a decade.
“I’m very fortunate to be connected to some organizations that I truly, sincerely love, and I think those organizations see that because I go all in. I’ve had an opportunity to touch some great things. It’s always been an incredible rush for me to do things that make downtown San Jose a better place to be. It’s been behind almost everything I’ve done in the last 10 years. I feel it’s the city that just keeps trying. I love that about San Jose.” C
Shot at A-Cricle Cafe 64 — Profiles 11.4 —
Written by Brandon Roos
“It’s always been an incredible rush for me to do things that make downtown San Jose a better place to be.”
Written by Esther Young
If the human eye needs to see something new about every 10 seconds to stay interested, what is your cityscape doing for you? As the acting deputy director for the City of San Jose Department of Transportation, Jessica Zenk applies her urban planning expertise to design a people-first city: safe, walkable, beautiful, and efficient.
San Jose was built out in a time when development was privately oriented and the goal was moving cars through quickly. “We seek out places where there’s life. We don’t have enough of those,” Jessica says. “What cities do well is bringing lots of people into small spaces to interact with each other. That’s what makes cities fun. But when you build a city densely and expect people to get there by car, the geography doesn’t work.” In the last few years, San Jose’s traffic fatality rate has climbed higher than homicide rates, marking a public health crisis amidst a decrease in crime rates.
Challenging the misunderstanding that more people means more traffic, Jessica sees that the more concentrated a space is, the less people need to travel, resulting in less congestion. Space concentration and foot traffic are also key to a flourishing arts community and independent retail.
Jessica’s recent achievements mark hopeful, tangible improvements for a beautiful and safe San Jose: In 2018, San Jose adopted a new transportation metric (Vehicle Miles Traveled or VMT) that judges projects on how much travel they will induce rather than how quickly cars can get through intersections. Her department has successfully installed 10 miles of bikeways through downtown San Jose, enabling people of all ages and abilities to bike safely. This year, partnered with Lyft, they are releasing dockless bikes that can be used anywhere within city limits. C
66 — Profiles 11.4
Written by Johanna Hickle
Ever since Janikke Klem established a dance company for local teens emphasizing self-esteem through performance and community involvement over competition, she has proved herself a dedicated advocate. Years later, Klem utilized her aptitude for making connections as director of alumni engagement at San Jose State before assuming her current role as vice president of community and government relations at Tech CU. From this position, she enjoys combining philanthropy and policy, especially finding joy in the development of educational programming. She volunteers on multiple boards, championing quality schooling, not just for her own twins entering kindergarten, but for Bay Area kids across the board.
“One reason why I liked fundraising at San Jose State was [that] my job was literally to talk to people and hear their life stories and what they were passionate about. Fundraisers would go, ‘Okay, Bob was a business grad. I think he could probably donate ‘X’ amount of dollars, and I think it should be for this. I want Bob to take this action, because I need it for the university, because I need to hit my goals.’ But I sat with Bob and said, ‘Why did you major in business? What did you do with that?’ I learned that he paid for his own school because it was super cheap at the time, that he built a business, that he’s supported a family, that he had a friend that died that he’s always wanted to honor. It’s like, ‘Have you ever thought about starting a scholarship? This is a way that you can honor your friend, that you can help students, because you know it doesn’t cost this amount anymore. Have I asked you for any money yet? No, I’ve just aligned what you’re interested in with something you’ve maybe never thought of doing.” C
68 — Profiles 11.4
Written by Tad Malone
instagram: davediggsthebarber thebarbersinc.com
Sometimes, when people face immense hardship, a hitherto unseen ambition erupts from them, transforming their journey into an inspiration. Dave Diggs is one of those people. Barber, business owner, author—he seems to do it all. But all this came after a tough childhood and a truly life-changing experience in prison. After he got out, Diggs kept at it. He enrolled in the San Francisco Barber College. With a seemingly limitless sense of ambition and a desire to help people out of situations like the ones he had found himself in, Diggs opened the Barbers Inc., a true barbershop in the heart of downtown San Jose. Moreover, he specifically sought out former convicts looking to make a life cutting hair on the outside and actively fostered their growth. Along the way, Diggs also realized he was a natural educator and now travels the world educating on hairstyling and barbering for Andis Company. With a book under his belt, a sizable social media following, and an inherent desire to give back to his community, Diggs plans to keep helping people realize futures for themselves that they could never have imagined—all through cutting hair.
“We started here [at the Barbers Inc.] with six chairs and four barbers. Now we have 15 chairs and 15 barbers. And the guys I bring in—a good number of them have a history. They understand that life and want something different. They want a good environment where they can provide for their family as well as be assets to the community. So it really comes down to: ‘How can we help?’ How can we help elementary school kids, college kids, homeless people—anyone that needs it? We make a point to show our support for the community and give people a chance in the same way that someone once gave me a chance. So really, for me, it’s all about giving back.” C
71 — Profiles 11.4
Written by Johanna Hickle
Don’t be mistaken. Though Jennifer Elias reports on technology (with a niche in wearable tech), her most prominent passion isn’t the product. It’s the people. When’s the last time you consciously realized that behind every circuit transmitting electric currents through its wires is a human being with blood pumping through their veins? When did you last consider the brains behind your smart watch? After freelancing for a number of publications, including Forbes, the young journalist applied her insight into tech and culture in the newsroom at Silicon Valley Business Journal From her current position at CNBC, she keeps the public informed on Google’s parent company, Alphabet, “covering one of the most secretive and locked down companies,” from its employees to its issues. Elias describes her writing voice as straightforward, living the mantra “brevity can be powerful.” She aims to be knowledgeable—but with a little bit of an attitude.
“One of my favorite interview questions is ‘What are you most proud of?’ That tends to get pretty good answers because they’re willing to talk more about those, they're passionate about them... One of the best [interview] techniques is not to rush in to ask a follow-up question. Letting awkward silence just hang there is extremely underrated because sometimes if you’re interviewing, they’ll get uncomfortable by the silence, so they’ll start talking more. Sometimes you get really good stuff out of that.” C
72 — Profiles 11.4
“Our history tells our story, particularly the buildings. As we lose those buildings, the story disappears.”
PRESERVATION ACTION COUNCIL
Written by Nathan Zanon
For more than ten years, Brian Grayson has headed the Preservation Action Council, solidifying the grassroots organization as an important voice in the ever-changing landscape of San Jose’s many neighborhoods. Formed as an advocacy group to designate and maintain historic landmarks in the city, the Council had little sway in the face of big developers and rapid growth in the early 2000s. A San Jose native, Grayson found his way to the organization by way of work in Mayor Norm Minetta’s office, time on the Santa Clara County Commission on Human Relations, and eight years on the San Jose Planning Commission. He used his connections to the machinery of government to ensure that the preservation of the city’s history was in the conversation whenever buildings were slated to be torn down or renovated. The Council’s “Save the Domes” campaign to designate the Century Theater domes as historical landmarks is their most notable public success, but they have been involved in dozens of other efforts to save relics of San Jose’s past from being unceremoniously bulldozed in the name of progress. Grayson retired this year, but plans to remain engaged with civic action.
“Public service is important; it’s the opportunity to be involved with what’s around you and affect change. Our history tells our story, particularly the buildings. As we lose those buildings, the story disappears. A picture or plaque can’t take its place. As I saw more and more of those bits lost, I felt it was important to take action. I’d like to think I left [the Council] in better shape than I found it. San Jose is a tough town to preserve, especially given the level of development. Century 21 struck a chord, but we have had other projects where it was hard to get people excited. There’s a lot to be done to educate people and retain our historic reserves." C
75 — Profiles 11.4
Ellina Yin Ellina Yin
Written by Michelle Runde Photography by Gege Xu
Instagram: exhibitiondistrict catalyzesv.org
Ellina Yin, San Jose native and current resident, is working on multiple initiatives to bring more vibrancy to her hometown. Yin is currently operations director of the Exhibition District (ExD), a nonprofit with the goal of building economic community projects and activations. Yin came on to help ExD executive director and founder Erin Salazar with Local Color, a project that reactivates out-of-use buildings in San Jose into art hubs for artists, makers, and the community at large. Yin also works with local artists, helping them secure paid jobs painting murals in the public spaces of San Jose. In addition, Yin is a founding board member of Catalyze SV, a diverse group of local leaders with a positive vision for Silicon Valley. In honor of her work with ExD and Catalyze SV, Yin was recently selected as a recipient of the K880 Emerging City Champions Fellowship, a program of the Knight Foundation.
“We work to create better communities through better community engagement. I was selected for this idea of creating a podcast for civic engagement. I’m focusing on development within the city of San Jose, and what a complex and sometimes very bureaucratic process that is, and why things take so long to happen in San Jose. The project I’m specifically focusing on is the Diridon Station and what’s happening with the new Google campus. I don’t know how I fit it all into 24 hours, but somehow it all works." C
76 — Profiles 11.4
“We work to create better communities through better community engagement.”
Written by Michelle Runde
Instagram: essellesf sherry_esselle
Sherry Lee, owner and founder of Esselle and Kinfolk Inspired Space (KIS), has an eye for opportunity. Sherry’s family moved from Taiwan to San Jose before settling in Fremont, where Sherry lived until college. “I went to SoCal for [college], then moved back to Fremont in 2012,” says Sherry. “My family’s still in Fremont, and I just bought a place in Fremont, so I’m pretty much settling my roots back here.”
In grad school, Sherry took a hands-on, DIY approach to decorations. This inspired her to begin Esselle, a vintage tabletop decor shop offering candles, place card holders, and other chic decor items. When Sherry acquired office space for Esselle in Fremont, she noticed the front room had beautiful natural lighting and decided to convert the space into a photography studio. Before she knew it, she had a regular stream of family photo shoot organizers and wedding photographers renting KIS. But Sherry didn’t stop there: “I decided I wanted to branch out and get to know more creatives in the area, so I’ve hosted KIS social hours where we send invites to other small business owners we know and invite them into our space to do a coworking day together,” says Sherry.
Looking ahead, Sherry is continuing to expand Esselle and to utilize KIS more as a meet up and speaking space. “I’m a connector type of person, and this space allows me to do that,” says Sherry. “I want the Kinfolk space to continue and to still cultivate these relationships." C
79 — Profiles 11.4
Written by Brandon Roos
A fourth-generation Northern Californian, Los Altos Hills native Evan Cranston has deep roots in this region she calls home. Her family’s connection to the state through real estate development and politics instilled in her a pride in place and a hunger for civic engagement. After getting her start with coworking company WeWork in New York, she brought her expertise back to Silicon Valley. As Community Manager, Cranston spearheaded the company’s efforts to establish a presence in downtown San Jose. Her success and her connections within the South Bay community earned her the tag “WeWork Evan” and gave her the opportunity to further the company’s expansion in Tokyo. Since stepping away from WeWork, intention has been a key concept for her in deciding the next phase of her life. The chance to foster meaningful connections will shape what’s to come.
“My focus is really community building. I love helping people make meaningful connections with each other. I think that so many of the conversations that we have day-to-day don’t happen as much [any more] because of the introduction of technology, where we can easily entertain ourselves with these little computers that we carry around with us. I love mine, but I really try to be intentional about the moment that I’m in with people and really appreciate the present.” C
81 — Profiles 11.4
Adira Sharkey music + story
Written by Marissa Ahmadkhani
Discovering a love for music early in life, San Jose native Adira Sharkey began her musical pursuits at a very young age. Sharkey works as an English language aid by day and avidly shares her creativity with the San Jose community and beyond by night. Sharkey grew up listening to musicians such as Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen, and Utah Philips. Describing her own music, she laughs, saying, “I’ve been told it’s a mix of Bluesy-Folk. ‘Americana’ is also an umbrella term that I came across recently, which probably describes it pretty well.” Her music has a deeper, darker sound, and features fingerpicking and slap guitar.
However, the guitar is just one element in her music. Her work also showcases her love of writing. Fast paced and incredibly lyrical, her songs play with tempo, poetically exploring relatable topics such as unrequited love and catcalling. In describing what she hopes to get across with her music, Sharkey says, “I’m a history buff and really interested in things like social activism. Really telling the story of something through my music, that’s something that I hope to grow and get better at. That’s what I aspire to do.” Just recently returning from a summer tour, Sharkey will work on recording new music in the coming months. Further supporting the San Jose creative community, she can be found co-hosting a variety show at Forager Coffee every First Friday. You can find and stream her music on SoundCloud. C
Instagram: adirashark SoundCloud: adirasharkey
“I don’t know where we fit in the musical landscape here. We’re just doing our own thing.”
Written by Yale Wyatt needletothegroove.net Instagram: djbasura
It was inevitable that Michael Boado would become a DJ. Growing up, music was a part of every scene he found himself in. His cousins acquainted Boado with the turntable, and he began collecting records, enamored with electronic, new wave, and hip hop releases. While he was working at local record shops like Sam Goody and Streetlight as a young adult, Boado was honing his craft as a DJ. Under the guise of DJ Basura, he would hand out mixes downtown, and soon afterwards, he landed gigs in the downtown clubs. Eventually, he landed a residency at the Blank Club, where he stayed until it became the Ritz.
Early in the 2010s, Boado helped found the record store Needle to the Groove (NTTG), where he currently works. Not long after the shop opened, NTTG launched their own label, focusing on homegrown, undiscovered talent. The label has proved successful, attracting an international market through their online store. Soon, Boado wants to record an album of his material that he can release through the NTTG name. Until then, you can find DJ Basura anywhere there is a party downtown.
“The label is such a learning experience. I don’t know where we fit in the musical landscape here. We’re just doing our own thing. We’re rolling with the punches. But I want to see our roster grow and put out a ton of quality releases. Thanks to social media, we get to see what really is happening in San Jose. It’s diverse. I think there is more going on here than there ever has been.” C
85 — Profiles 11.4
Written by Taran Escobar-Ausman
For singer-songwriter Jess Sylvester, growing up in the Bay Area and discovering Mexico has allowed him to create music that brings together diverse and seemingly disparate influences that reflect on chicanx realities. Jess grew up listening to artists such as Malo, Santana, and Trio Los Panchos, yet his musical world expanded into artists like the Beach Boys and the Beatles. He began playing in local punk and hardcore bands like Tiger Uppercut!, Violet Change, and Crisis Man. Then, Jess co-founded Francisco y Madero after meeting new friends on a destined trip to Guadalajara, which gave him new ways to articulate his own experiences, exploring chicanx and pochx perspectives with the group’s “cholo-fi” sound. His newest record, Tròpico de Càncer (on San Jose’s own Needle to the Groove Records), recorded under the solo handle, Marinero, is a further composite of all his musical influences and experiences, including a love for Brazil’s Tropicalia movement. More so, however, he says this is the first record where he turned more inward and is his first honest cry for what is going on with him.
“Before I even picked up a guitar I wanted to be a songwriter. I don’t know why, as I didn’t have [role] models or friends that were songwriters. Spending time in México really helped me grasp my own concept of identity, both musically and personally. It allowed me to make latinx music and pull from influences that I grew up hearing in my home.” C
86 — Profiles 11.4
How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles and Rarities 1965-1972
(Light in the Attic)
Release Date: June 14, 2019
Written by David Ma
“If loving you is a crime, then give me time, ’cause I’ll always be guilty. So guilty. So guilty.”
Lee Moses sings with tangible pain on How Much longer Must I Wait?, the newest and definitive anthology from Light in the Attic, a label that can take a huge amount of the credit for introducing Lee’s myth and history to the masses.
Moses moved to New York from Atlanta in the late ’60s to chase a career that didn’t bloom until he approached the end of his life. His singles, all of which were stunningly compelling, never proved commercially successful and sank on the charts as the ’60s teetered into the ’70s. But those short years, those sessions where songs like “Bad Girl” and “I’m Sad About It” were made, produced enough magic to outlast Lee’s own lifetime—and no doubt to outlast ours as well.
His one official LP, Time and Place (released in 1971), has long been a sought-after collectors’ item and for merited reasons. The musicianship in those songs are glowing and tremendous, the ache in his voice unmatched. The recordings, gloriously muddied through the analogue process, are a reminder that music’s opulence has little to do with state-of-the-art studios. This release not only captures lost recordings from those sessions, but also unreleased songs from vaults long forgotten, songs that are both rapturous and contemplative, mournful and celebratory.
Lee passed at the age of 56, leaving behind a scattershot solo catalogue and some guitar credits on a few minor yet noteworthy albums. And while he remains a bit of a mystery, he lived long enough to see the groundswell of interest in his music emerge before his passing in 1997.
Favorite Track: “Bad Girl Pt. 1”
Kevin Abstract Arizona Baby (Question Everything/RCA)
Release Date: April 25, 2019
Written by Yale Wyatt
As we near the new decade, it’s become clear that confessional lyrics have been the calling card for all groundbreaking rap releases of the decade. Kevin Abstract has proven himself to be a cut above the others in this emo rap milieu. Within two short years, he’s ascended from an underground quirk to a pop supernova, but it didn’t come without some baggage. Arizona Baby is Abstract’s most personal album yet, addressing the many crises he’s had since stepping into the spotlight and stands as one of the more adventurous records in this style.
On first run, Arizona Baby is a hard listen—not because the content itself is particularly difficult—but in making sense of the pain Abstract is sharing. Yet this lends to a sense that the listener is experiencing a manic episode alongside Abstract as he delivers his tortured confessions. Each track moves desperately through one admission to the next, giving the listener no chance to process Abstract’s emotions and merely witness. Sonically, it features the blend of hip hop and indie that Abstract has been building upon throughout his career. Smartly, he avoids redundancy by enlisting Jack Antonoff to co-produce the record alongside his frequent collaborator Romil Hemnani. Antonoff brings much-needed warmth to the record’s sound, and his pop tendencies round out Hemnani’s experimental inclinations.
The tracks with Antonoff’s strongest guidance are imbued with a sort of tenderness and stand as the strongest cuts on the record. The other tracks feel like less than the sum of their parts, over-encumbered by the bloated instrumentals. Still, it’s better to try something bold and overextend rather than bore an audience. Arizona Baby is an exciting hip hop record and and a necessary step in Abstract’s artistic emergence.
Favorite Track: “Georgia”
Curated by Needle to the Groove Instagram: needletothegrooverecords
Release Date: October 26, 2018
Written by Taran Escobar-Ausman
In the late 1940s, French composer Pierre Schaeffer developed musique concrète, or concrete music, which is a method of merging recordings of natural sounds in the studio to create musical compositions. Inspired by Schaeffer, Miles Davis would employ a similar method on the groundbreaking Bitches Brew, cutting and splicing various recorded sections into new compositions. Fast forward to now, where jazz drummer Makaya McCraven takes this method a step further by sampling, looping, and layering a year’s worth of live jazz sessions into a hypnotic, head-nodding dream of a modern jazz album.
The source material for Universal Beings was culled from four sessions, each in four different cities with different musicians. The New York crew of musicians include harpist Brandee Younger and cellist Tomeka Reid, both of whom add a whimsical, jazzy chamber folk vibe to such pieces as “Mantra” and “Young Genius.”
McCraven’s drum style is well suited to sampling as he creates focused, tight hip-hop beats while blending a layered, melodic presence with his cymbal work, such as on “The Newbie’s Lift Off,” yet he is similarly at home laying down complex polyrhythms. “Prosperity’s Fear” from the Chicago sessions starts off with a sparse hip-hop beat that accompanies Reid’s drone-like cello motif before slowly rising in fervor, then exploding into a free jazz workout with saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings leading the song to its climax.
There are indeed echoes of Madlib’s Yesterdays Universe project here as Makaya further explores the crossroads of jazz and hip-hop production mixed with a heavy dose of vibe and crate digger aesthetic. Because McCraven works with sounds that are spontaneous and live, the double album indeed feels universal, giving a sense of worldly exploration while simultaneously affirming community, reminding the listener that we are all universal beings.
Favorite Track: “Young Genius”
Social Media: makayamccraven
Release Date: April 19, 2019
Written by Taran Escobar-Ausman
A defining characteristic of an artist who captivates listeners is the ability to illuminate the sacredness in the mundane, elevating stories beyond measured comprehension. Kelsey Lu’s first full-length, Blood, begins with the acute track “Rebel,” where layered, oscillating cello melodies provide the backdrop to a simple, yet perceptive, narrative of her parents' introspective college days, all the while stating that she currently shares the same struggle. “Times have really really changed, changed / yet they always stay the same.” Kelsey then breaks out of her strife on the tracks “Pushin’ Against the Wind” and the soaring “Due West,” where she decides to break free from her now-controlling parents and head to California. This archetypal narrative strung across multiple songs is given a heightened sense of self-discovery by Lu’s haunting and soaring melodies.
Kelsey’s voice has a quality to distill a surge of emotional energy that slowly dissipates into ephemeral bliss. On “Why Knock for You,” her voice weaves in and out of a simple, repetitive digital pulse with a vibrato and sustain reminiscent of Kate Bush. Leading up to her debut, Lu had built her reputation on harmonizing with live loops of her main instrument, the cello, enchanting listeners with eerie chamber folk. While the cello still anchors the songwriting on Blood, Kelsey expands her sound with elements of R&B, pop, down-tempo, and even disco. The album as whole, however, stays intelligently grounded with Kelsey’s mature-beyond-her-years songwriting and effective track sequencing.
Kelsey presents a strong and beguiling debut album, one that announces a new and powerful songwriter to the field. The title track ends the album with a hopeful and promising statement of what is to come: “Don’t got game, but got the ball…Jazz ain’t dead, it’s in us all.”
Favorite Track: “Too Much”
— Profiles 11.4
Pippi Skateboards Launch Party
Christina Zagarino’s new skateboard line, by women for women, will launch their first skateboard designs by three female artists: Kris Goto, Danielle Peters, & Sarah Rebar.
9/6 The Art Cave theartcavesc.com
Kung Fu Vampire
Kicks off tour in San Jose, California, for the 11th Annual Friday The 13th Party. There is still some discounted “Early bird” tickets available. No better place to see KFV than his hometown.
9/13 8pm The Ritz theritzsanjose.com
The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe
The Wolves are a team of young soccer warriors in Sarah DeLappe’s raw, exciting first play, where all the turmoil of girls growing up explodes on a field of AstroTurf.
9/19-10/20 City Lights Theater Company cltc.org
Red Rock Open Mic Night
This family-friendly open mic experience welcomes people of all talents to share and perform their art.
Red Rock Coffee redrockcoffee.org
Each week a different group of local vinyl-only DJ’s playing records from across the musical spectrum.
Cafe Strich cafestritch.com
21 Free Community Day
A day of folklorico dancing, live weaving demos with exhibition Mayan traje, a cardboard loom crafts & art activities with Artistin-Residence Amber Imrie.
9/21 11a - 3p SJ Museum of Quilts & Textiles sjquiltmuseum.org
Enjoy Bavarian sausage, potato salad, sauerkraut, freshly baked pretzels, beer, and live music from 2pm-6pm in the bierhall. Advance ticket required.
9/21 & 9/28 Ludwig's German Table ludwigssj.com
21 Luna Park Chalk Art Festival
Artists and vendors will converge to cover Backesto Park with over 250 works of chalk art, and on this the 12th Annivesary, will continue Sunday with VivaCalleSJ.
9/21 Backesto Park lunaparkarts.org/festival
22 Viva Calle SJ
Six miles of street are temporarily closed for San Joseans to walk, bike, and play up and down on. Hubs of activity placed along the route will have vendors and performers.
9/22 Rose Garden to Backesto Park vivacallesj.org
27 Radical Velocity
Exhibition exploring the power of the human body to transform place and expectations through images of protest, performance, and physicality. Opening reception 9/27, 9/28-6/15 de Saisset Museum scu.edu/desaisset
The Caravan Lounge
Comics from all over the Bay Area and the world perform, hosted by Ato Walker. The Caravan Lounge caravanloungesanjose.com
Learn to dance to a variety of music genres with an instructor and then practice your moves to a live band. Free. Plaza de Cesar Chavez facebook.com/citydancesj
FRI 10 AM–2 PM San Jose Downtown Farmers' Market Stroll San Pedro Square for fresh produce and gourmet foods: through 11/16. San Pedro Street sjdowntown.com
FRI 8PM & SAT 7PM
Interactive comedy show where two teams of “actletes” compete for laughs.
3Below Theaters 3belowtheaters.com
90 — Profiles 11.4
Making an Impression
An exhibition celebrating printmaking offers highlights from the museum's permanent collection including many well-known California artists.
10/3 7-8:30pm de Saisset Museum scu.edu/desaisset
04 The Art Cave
Art Cave gallerists Danielle Peters and Leigh Erickson take over their gallery walls and open up their workspace for Santa Cruz Open Studios Art Tour.
10/4, 5-9pm; 10/5-6, 19-20 11am-5pm theartcavesc.com
05 Santa Cruz Open Studios
Over 300 artists throughout Santa Cruz County open their studio doors for this free self-guided tour of art and creative spaces.
10/5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20 11am-5pm santacruzopenstudios.com
A Day of the Dead story through music and dance. A poor woodcutter, who dreams of a day without hunger, is caught at a crossroads when his dream comes true.
10/10-10/20 Mexican Heritage Plaza Theater teatrovision.org
13 Von Rothbardt's Masquerade Ball
San Jose's favorite Halloween party, in support of New Ballet. Enjoy treats, ballet, and a dance party. Costumes welcome.
10/13 the Corinthian Ballroom newballet.com/halloween
X Factor Arts 2019 Finals
Don't miss the final Pitch Play-offs, as artists and arts organizations test pitch strategies in a competition for funding of innovative projects.
10/16 The School of Arts and Culture svcreates.org
18 Cornerstone of the Arts Awards
Cornerstone of the Arts honors individuals who have had a significant and long lasting impact on San Jose's art and cultural landscape.
10/18 Hammer Theatre Center bit.ly/cornerstonearts
Moses Pendleton's troupe of dancer-illusionists transport audiences to a fantasy world of astounding inventiveness and physical beauty.
10/20 & 10/21 Hammer Theatre, 7:30pm hammertheatre.com
22 Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesus Christ Superstar is an iconic musical with music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
10/22-27 SJ Center for the Performing Arts bit.ly/BWJCSS19
28 Rocky Horror Picture Show
Celebrate Halloween with the Bay Area’s premier Rocky Horror live cast. Shout, dress-up, or sit back and enjoy. This genderbending cult sensation is open to new and old fans.
10/28 3Below Theaters and Lounge 3belowtheaters.com
2ND TUES 7PM
Well-RED Reading Series
Poetry Center San José hosts different featured readers each month, followed by an open reading.
Works/San José pcsj.org
3RD TUES 7PM
Two Buck Tuesday
Local atists present an evening of live demos, workshops, sketch sessions, music and special performances.
Kaleid Gallery kaleidgallery.com
3RD WED 5PM–8PM
Meeting of the Mindz
Artists gather for a night of collaboration. Two artists randomly selected, work on 1 painting. DM to join. IG: meetingofthemindz
3RD THURS 5PM–8PM
Third Thursdays at SJMA
Admission to the galleries is $5 after 5pm, and the museum offers a variety of nightlife programming.
San Jose Museum of Art sjmusart.org
1ST FRI 5PM–9PM
First Friday Santa Cruz Enthusiastic arts lovers can enjoy an evening of art, music, and more offered by the Santa Cruz community. Various Santa Cruz Venues firstfridaysantacruz.com
1ST FRI 7PM–11PM
South First Fridays
The art walk is self-guided evening tour through galleries and museums of SoFA Distrct of Downtown San Jose. Various SoFA Venues southfirstfridays.com
Events are subject to change. Please confirm event details with the presenting organization or venue.
C 91 — Profiles 11.4
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Taran is an educator, author, record collector, and cerebral vagabond who is completely driven by inquisitiveness and curiosity in search for any revelational serendipity.
Elizabeth is a copyeditor and poet with an MFA from the University of Washington. She lives with her husband and numerous bees, chickens, and goats and is fond of making and eating cheese washed down with a moderate amount of mead.
Gillian is a freelance writer and editor, based in the Bay Area. She is also the director of Sunday Assembly Silicon Valley. When not behind a laptop or podium, she also works as a celebrant–designing rituals and ceremonies to celebrate life’s most significant moments.
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X Factor Arts Pitch-Offs
OCTOBER 8, 2019 FROM 5PM - 7PM
The School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza
Come cheer on your favorite X Factor Arts finalists as they pitch their creative arts ideas in front of a live audience! The top four contenders will be awarded $10,000 each to support entrepreneurial and innovative ideas to advance the arts and creativity in Santa Clara County.
Award-winners will be announced at 7 pm.
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The San José Arts Commission and the O ce of Cultural A airs are pleased to announce the recipients for the 2019 Cornerstone of the Arts Awards!
CORNERSTONE OF THE ARTS HONOREE:
BRUCE LABADIE, Artistic and Festival Director of San Jose Jazz
CREATIVE IMPACT HONOREE:
DOWNTOWN DOORS, a program of the San Jose Downtown Foundation
OCT 18, 2019
5:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Hammer Theatre Center
BUSINESS SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS HONOREE:
Congratulations to the recipients for this year's cornerstone of the arts!
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