CONTENT Silicon Valley’s Innovative and Creative Culture
FOrce 129 | RYan Nyquist | Sue’s Gallery Cafe | Studio Bongiorno | FutureArtsNow!
content magazine, san jose
Joey Pisacane Actor/Musician
show 8.3 $9.95
2 N . M A R K E T S T R E E T, S U I T E 1 0 0 , S A N J O S E , C A 9 5 1 1 3 / P : 4 0 8 . 2 9 3 . 4 2 4 2 / U M B R E L L A S A L O N . C O M
#contentexplore silicon valleyâ€™s innovative and creative culture @contentmag | www.content-magazine.com
CONTENT Issue 8.3 â€œShowâ€? Sept / Oct 2016
The Makers: Cultivator Daniel Garcia
Editors Odile Sullivan-Tarazi Julianne Jigour, Johanna Hickle Vila Schwindt, Elizabeth Sullivan Trudy Obi Circulation/Distribution Elle Mitchell Brand Director Julia Canavese Production Kristen Pfund
Designers Elle Mitchell, Maggie Moore Photographers Stan Olszewski, Arabela Espinoza Scott MacDonald, Dan Fenstermacher Karen Santos Writers Mark Haney, Kate Evans, Shannon Amidon Michelle Runde, Nathan Zanon Kevin Biggers, Chad Hall, Diane Solomon Giselle Tran, John McCluggage Sieglinde Van Damme, Ann Bridges Johanna Hickle, Charlie McCollum Publisher Silicon Valley Creates
Sponsorships Alyssa Byrkit When I first started CONTENT and explained to people that we were going to focus on the South Bay, several people warned me that I would run out of material. I didn't believe it then, and I believe it even less now. After five and a half years of featuring the people of Santa Clara County, we have only just begun to tell the stories. And that continues in this issue, which focuses especially on the performing arts. Now, in the performing arts, there are many people involved in the process: from writers, to directors, to stage designers and tech crews. From these production teams, we feature a few up and coming, as well as a few established, local performers. And so I am proud to introduce you to dancers, actors, a professional BMX rider, and a local comedian. Each one of these individuals entertains us and inspires us with their craft. I hope that you enjoy meeting them and that you seek them out at their next Show. Enjoy. Daniel Garcia The Cultivator
IN THIS ISSUE Tim Thompson / Eri Gentry / Sue's Gallery Cafe / Ryan Nyquist / FutureArtsNow! To participate in Content Magazine: email@example.com Subscription & advertising information available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Content Magazine is a bimonthly publication about the innovative and creative culture of Silicon Valley, published by
visit www.veggielution.org/bohd for more info
Content show 8.3 Sept/Oct 2016 San Jose, California
8 Berkeley, Ca
10 Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park
Art and Design
12 Khela Designs, MarĂa Perez Amigo 16 The Space Palette, Tim Thompson 18 Force 129, Fernando Amaro Jr. 22 Sue's Gallery Cafe, J.J. & Sue Kang 26 Studio Bongiorno, Phil Bongiorno 30 Baunfire, Juan Sanchez 32 BioCurious, Eri Gentry 36 Anne & Mark's Art Party
Fernando Amaro Jr., pg. 18
40 South Bay Actors 50 ShakesBEERience 54 Comedian, Ato Walker 56 The Young Outlaws, Miranda Caravalho 68 Children's Musical Theater, Kevin Hauge 62 Pro BMX Rider, Ryan Nyquist 66 FutureArtsNow! Hip Hop Dancers
72 Black Sand Beach, Daniel Garcia
86 CafĂŠ Pink House 88 The Bad Ones
Sue's Gallery Cafe, pg. 22
90 Author, Bob Zeidman 92 Content LAB 94 Content Calendar 96 Content Contributors 97 Content Partners
All materials in Content Magazine are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published, broadcast or modified in any way without the prior written consent of Silicon Valley Creates, or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of this content. For further information, or to participate in the production or distribution, please contact us at email@example.com.
Black Sand Beach, pg. 72
Ato Walker, pg. 54
c e r t i fi e d
O RGAN I C ta
Now accepting new CSA members
l C l a r a Va
3 different sizes to fit your family's needs
FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS
completely customizable shares
DEL I V ERED T O YOUR DOOR
Need an escape? Don’t have a lot of time? Living in Silicon Valley provides you with all kinds of options for a short getaway. From the beach to the mountains, wineries to windsurfing, the South Bay is one of the best hubs for launching into world-class scenery and activities. So why not take a day trip?
Berkeley, Ca. Article and Photography by Sarah Gerber
Berkeley has a big name for being a relatively small town. Despite having just over 100,000 residents, Berkeley has a worldwide reputation and is often known by its alter ego: Berzerkeley. Most people think of hippies and crunchy granola types (head to Telegraph Avenue for this old-school Berkeley vibe), but this crazy town has a few tricks up its sleeve. A good day trip, or any day really, starts out with a cup of coffee. Berkeley boasts the first Peet’s Coffee and Tea, which makes it arguably the birthplace of third-wave coffee circa 1966. You can find this original location in one of Berkeley’s most iconic neighborhoods, called by the locals “The Gourmet Ghetto.” It wouldn’t be difficult to spend your entire day in this four-block radius. After coffee, head to Cheeseboard for a fresh pastry or renowned pizza—or like most people, both. As you sit to enjoy the pastry, glance across the street and see the world famous Chez Panisse restaurant. Look closely, the building is unassuming in classic Berkeley fashion. If you wish to make your coffee journey progressive, move on to another Berkeley original: Artis Coffee. Barely two years old, Artis has gathered a committed following with its “live roasting” and impressive collection of
coffee paraphernalia available in the shop. Now armed with your second cup of coffee, you can set out into another great Berkeley neighborhood: Fourth Street. Once the home of just a few local stores, this little shopping area now hosts global chains like Apple, Crate & Barrel, and M.A.C. Even as this shopping destination continues to grow, it maintains its original atmosphere of small stores in an open-air mall. After you select an item or two on Fourth Street, head downtown to the newly built location for the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacifica Film Archives (BAMPFA). It’s housed in a beautiful and unique building in the heart of downtown, just on the edge of UC Berkeley’s campus. The museum is the perfect size for an afternoon of exploring and guarantees at least one Instagramable moment. From there, you can stroll straight onto the campus and wander the winding paths of UC Berkeley, the original of the UC schools founded in 1868. Head toward the center of the campus to find the Campanile tower. If you’re lucky, you might even hear its 61 bells as they ring out a dreamy tune. By now you will be looking for dinner and the options are endless. You can head back to
where you started and enjoy the famous Chez Panisse. Be advised that downstairs requires reservations and upstairs most likely won’t have room for walk-ins, so plan ahead. Or you can stay closer to campus with the many great choices in downtown. Check out Gather or Revival Bar & Grill for excellent food and ambiance. Your day would not be complete without seeing the stunning views of the Bay Area from the Berkeley Hills. Indian Rock is a popular spot among natives and perfect for watching the sunset. Afterward, complete your day with a sweet note. Head to one of Berkeley’s most popular dessert spots: Ici Ice Cream. Don’t be intimidated by the line—this unique and freshly made ice cream is well worth the wait. Berkeley is well known, but many of its best gems are unobtrusive, local secrets. All of the neighborhoods mentioned deserve their own day, and the endless number of unlisted restaurants could have you eating at a new spot for months. An easy hour drive from the South Bay, Berkeley just might become your regular weekend spot.
2124 Vine St Berkeley, CA 94709 510.841.0564
1512 Shattuck Ave Berkeley, CA 94709 510.549.3183 cheeseboardcollective.coop
1517 Shattuck Ave Berkeley, CA 94709 510.548.5525 chezpanisse.com
1717 Fourth St Berkeley, CA 94710 510.898.1104 shop.artiscoffee.com
Ici Ice Cream
2155 Center St Berkeley, CA 94720 510.642.0808 bampfa.org
2200 Oxford St Berkeley, CA 94704 510.809.0400 gatherrestaurant.com
Revival Bar & Grill
2102 Shattuck Ave Berkeley, CA 94704 510.549.9950 revivalbarandkitchen.com
Indian Rock Ave & Shattuck Ave
Ici Ice Cream
Welcome to Berkeley, CA Population: 116,768
2948 College Ave Berkeley, CA 94705 510.665.6054 ici-icecream.com
Berkeley gets its name from philosopher George Berkeley and is home to the oldest public university. One of the most diverse cities in the country, Berkeley often prides itself on going against the flow with a history of revolutionaries. Protesters have participated in sit-ins on behalf of the Free Speech Movement, teach-ins opposing the Vietnam War, and even tree-sits to keep oaks from being cut down. Interior of BAMPFA
Plaza de Cesar Chavez Written by Mark Haney
Creating a plaza designed for people, not cars
laza de Cesar Chavez is the physical center point of downtown San Jose. Though not the largest urban park in downtown, the plaza is quickly becoming the heart of public life within the urban core. With the activities related to the Super Bowl and new events occurring throughout the summer, the plazaâ€™s potential as a daily gathering space is becoming very apparent. As European cities throughout the centuries have shown, great public plazas need mixed uses, both day and night, to create safe places for people to enjoy everyday public life. And people need such places. Places to congregate in, to loiter in, to enjoy spending time in. Places open to all. Places bustling with activity and life. So how can Plaza de Cesar Chavez achieve these lofty goals? Through expansion, through connection, through protection, and through activation. Expansion. Plaza de Cesar Chavez is a compact, yet disconnected, public space. Imagine if the plaza were expanded by completely removing vehicular traffic on Market Street around the plazaâ€™s perimeter. Imagine extending the plaza to San Fernando Street on the north, and to San Carlos Street on the south. Imagine if Park Avenue became a cul-de-sac fronting the plaza on the west, but still allowed access to the Tech Museum and the parking garage underneath City View Plaza. Last, imagine if the Paseo de San Antonio directly fed pedestrians in and out of the plaza on the east end without asking them to cross against vehicular traffic. Connection. As the physical space is currently designed, Plaza de Cesar Chavez sits in the center of two adjacent plazas: the privately held City View Plaza, and the publicly owned Circle of Palms. Imagine connecting all three plazas into one large, permeable open public space. Each plaza provides different experiences and amenities, yet would be physically connected, and not separated by on-street parking and four lanes of motor-driven traffic. The Circle of Palms and the San Jose Museum of Art would then be incorporated into the greater plaza area. This configuration would still allow for continued winter uses, like Christmas in the Park and ice skating, but also provide a chance to prototype and adopt new uses during the summer. City View Plaza would also benefit from the connection, as the retail spaces would be much easier for pedestrians to access from Plaza de Cesar Chavez.
Protection. The greatest benefit from a proposed expansion of Plaza de Cesar Chavez is that this plaza would provide a safe, open public space for pedestrians in a city devoted to the car. With this proposal, the Paseo de San Antonio, currently one of the only pedestrian-focused thoroughfares in the city, would spill directly into the plaza, turning the plaza into a hub of pedestrian activity in downtown. An expanded plaza would also provide an anchor destination for people coming down the Paseo from San Jose State, and a central-city launching point for future western Paseo expansion to Diridon Station. Maybe the greatest challenge to removing cars from Market Street, while maintaining a robust pedestrian connection to the Circle of Palms, is vehicle access to the 805-room Fairmont Hotel. The Fairmont is a cornerstone to downtown San Jose life. It is essential that there be a way for guests to get in and out with cars. The easiest option would be a driveway or cul-de-sac that would allow vehicles to enter and exit using San Fernando Street. But this would then present a division between the plaza and the Circle of Palms. A second option would be to build an underground connection from San Fernando Street to the current underground garage. Though this would be highly cost prohibitive, if the emphasis focused on keeping a connected plaza, this underground option would be the most optimal for pedestrian movement across the plaza. Activation. The use of the plaza during both Super Bowl Week and the Stanley Cup Final and its continuing summer activity schedule proves that people will come when thoughtful design, food, and drink are brought to the plaza. This proposal starts by focusing on people-first placemaking rather than focusing on how cars will be parked or move through a space. When the plaza is completely opened up to just people, its designated uses will determine the success of the public space. Possible uses for the plaza are endless, but a few ideas that relate to downtown and greater San Jose culture are offered here. Move the downtown farmersâ€™ market and give it a permanent place to set up daily. Dedicate a space for food trucks to set up. Bring in local breweries to showcase their beers in a garden that overlooks the fountain. Create a partnership with the San Jose Museum of Art to bring art into the public space. Have the City of San Jose invite local artists and artisans to come work and to sell their art in the plaza, or bring buskers and street performers to come display their talents. Create a stage for public events like The Commons, San Jose Taiko, or Music in the Park. Establish an area specifically designed as a skate park. Because of the high density of hotels nearby, this plaza would become a large tourist attraction if an outdoor makerspace were set up with tools and equipment for visitors to make gifts and souvenirs of San Jose to take home. The last idea is a familiar refrain: rebuild the historic electric light tower in the center of the plaza. Make the tower the focal point, an iconic structure that would draw people into the plaza and that could be seen from several blocks away in all directions. Having a centralized pedestrian-oriented and pedestrian-prioritized public space will create a positive impact on the businesses and cultural institutions that surround the plaza. When people feel safe to linger in a place longer, they tend to explore the environment around them. Museums, theaters, cafes, restaurants, bars, and other businesses will all benefit from having a place that invites people to come and stay. A place that is created for intentional collision, for meeting and making friends, for human connection and gathering. This proposed expansion not only pushes the physical limits of Plaza de Cesar Chavez but also expands the thinking around a well-connected, protected, and active public space. Ultimately it is people who bring life to a place, so that place must first welcome them in.
Thinkbiggersanjose.com twitter: ThinkbiggerSJ
“MY DESIGNS ARE MY WAY OF EXPRESSING SOMETHING I DON’T YET UNDERSTAND—A SENSE OF MY DEEPER SELF THAT I AM STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT.” _María Perez Amigo
KHELA DESIGNS Written by Kevin Biggers Photography by Dan Fenstermacher
ow would we describe ourselves using only lines and shapes? If you’ve ever created a mandala, there’s a good chance you may have had this thought, particularly in the very act of creating the mandala. Carl Jung, a longtime champion and practitioner of mandala art during his lifetime, called mandalas “a psychological expression of the totality of the self.” It makes sense. Looking at a mandala often involves a deep confrontation with its human-like complexity—systems of small lines and shapes existing intensely within larger systems of lines and shapes, all circumscribed within a singular organizing shape. The only question remaining is whether the mandala represents the artist who made it or the person who is looking at it? Over the past year, María Perez Amigo has created mandalas and mandala-based stationery that has captivated the San Jose arts and maker scene. Born and raised in Granada, a small town in the South of Spain, Amigo left home at the age of 22 in search of herself as well as a new adventure. It was about two years into her stay here when Amigo found herself homesick and even, she admits, a little lonely. “It was then, when one day, in this lost tornado that I got myself into, I felt the urge to do something completely different,” Amigo explains. “So I went to Barnes and Noble and got myself a sketchbook and drew with a Pentel my sister had gotten me. Since that day, my life has changed.” From there Amigo shared her mandala art with her friends here and, with their encouragement and support, launched her art and stationery brand, Khela Designs—a name derived from the popular Bay Area expression “hella” but softened a bit to create a sound more appropriate for Amigo and her art, simultaneously fierce and friendly. It wasn’t long before Amigo found success. Amigo
and her stationery thrived at local events, leading to the creation of her very own Khela Designs Pop-Up Shop at Westfield Valley Fair Mall this past June. Amigo was also a featured artist at ARTSMASH! on The Alameda, named artist-in-residence at TechShop San Jose, ran a solo mandala workshop at the Tech Museum of Innovation, and had a two-month-long solo exhibit at TechShop San Jose titled Lost in the Middle. “Like an unspoken diary, each line tells a story, each layer represents a lesson, and each finished piece is a milestone along the way,” Amigo says. The mandalas in the TechShop San Jose exhibit—systems of circles, sometimes cleanly organized and other times yearning to all go in different directions—meticulously own their bright and searing colors against the canvases. “My designs are my way of expressing something I don’t yet understand—a sense of my deeper self that I am still trying to figure out.” In the immediate future, Amigo plans to travel and find new adventures in Mexico and Cuba before returning home for a bit, where she intends to further develop as an artist and exhibit her pieces in galleries in Spain. A year from now, she hopes to bring Khela Designs stationery to the National Stationery Show, North America’s premier stationery market. Eventually, she hopes to return to San Jose, where she has finally found a welcoming and supportive community of artists, a highly desirable level of diversity, and a place where she feels at home. Circles play a prominent role in Amigo’s mandalas, and in some ways, her journey thus far and her journey moving forward represent these circles, paths charting similar shapes, composed of the experiences and ideas of previous journeys. “This work doesn’t belong to me,” Amigo says. “It never has. It is made to be shared with everyone. While it is certainly an expression of myself, it is just my expression of something common to us all.”
Content Magazine Maker Series is curated by sjmade instagram: sjmade
kheladesigns.com instagram: kheladesigns Amarillo
TIM THOMPSON INTERACTIVE INSTALLATIONS
Interview by My Art Resources Photography by Daniel Garcia
t first glance, the Space Palette might appear to be an alien device. It consists of a large, oval frame filled with a series of holes (4 large and 12 small). If only observed, its function will remain a mystery. However, once you physically interact with the object, its purpose is revealed. By passing your hands through the smaller holes, different musical sounds are selected, while passing your hands through the larger holes allows the instrument to be played. Multicolored, abstract graphics on a nearby screen visually reflect your choices. Though the origins of the Space Palette may seem extraterrestrial, it is actually one of Tim Thompson’s many interactive installation pieces. How would you describe your artwork? Before 2002, I was a musician who developed nerdy software for algorithmic composition [the creation of music through the use of algorithms] and real-time musical performance [music performed through immediate computer responses]. This software was a platform for my creativity. Since 2002, the first year I went to Burning Man, I’ve been developing interactive installations and instruments as platforms so others can be creative. Burning Man provides powerful inspiration, virtually unlimited and uncurated opportunity, and a large appreciative audience for interactive artwork. While music is still a key aspect, my artwork has expanded to include graphics, video, and physical structures. Three-dimensional input devices are particularly interesting to me. Using a 3D input device can be as transformative as using a paintbrush instead of a pencil. The potential for 3D input in uniquely expressive instruments is exciting and only beginning to be realized. You often combine art, technology, and music. What are some of the challenges of working with these mediums? Dealing with complexity is a primary challenge. My installations are often intended to be “casual instruments” that can be enjoyed immediately, analogous to “casual games,” like Angry Birds. A simple interface is key to this, but simplicity shouldn’t limit an instrument’s creative use or depth of expression. I often make a comparison to finger painting—one of the simplest creative interfaces around. No one needs to be taught how to finger paint. A child doesn’t even need to be able to hold a paintbrush. Yet [finger painting] allows a depth of expression that can satisfy any artist. One of my most
successful pieces is the Space Palette—its interface can essentially be described as finger painting in mid-air, where the “paint” is both visual and musical. In technology-based artwork, a simple interface usually corresponds with a great deal of underlying complexity. I have a lifetime of programming experience, so I’m well-prepared to deal with that complexity. I sometimes use a complex interface to contrast and complement a simple interface, incorporating both in the same artwork. The more challenging aspect for me is selecting the type of technology to use. New sensors and displays are being invented at a dizzying rate. It’s easy to find yourself always investigating the latest technology and never finishing anything. Deadlines work well to combat this tendency and events like Burning Man make excellent deadlines. What does being creative mean to you? Being creative means creating something that didn’t exist previously, which applies both to me and the people using my installations. Up until recently, most of my efforts involved creating music and software out of “thin air.” With the help of TechShop San Jose, being creative with physical things is becoming easier and easier. What are your plans for the future? Where do you think your work is going next? I have been using and exploring three-dimensional input devices for over a decade. I will continue to explore their potential for the foreseeable future, in both casual and performing instruments as well as installations. I’m particularly looking forward to using the Sensel Morph, a new pressure-sensitive pad being developed in Mountain View. What response are you hoping for when someone interacts with your art? I want people to realize that they are in control and are creating their own art and experience, especially if they haven’t previously considered themselves a musician or otherwise creative. Most instruments require a long learning curve and finger dexterity, which are barriers to entry for creativity. My casual instruments attempt to break down these barriers without sacrificing the potential for expressiveness or creativity. The response to the Space Palette has been particularly gratifying. The most common things I’ve heard as people walk away from it, smiling, are: “I want one in my living room” and “I could stay here all night.”
Artist profiles are done in collabration with MyArTResources.com, a comprehensive source of information for artists living in Santa Clara County
“I WANT PEOPLE TO REALIZE THAT THEY ARE IN CONTROL AND ARE CREATING THEIR OWN ART AND EXPERIENCE, ESPECIALLY IF THEY HAVEN’T PREVIOUSLY CONSIDERED THEMSELVES A MUSICIAN OR OTHERWISE CREATIVE.”
Written by Amrita Rao Photography by Arabela Espinoza
While spray painting on canvas remains his primary mode of artmaking, the phrase “the world is your canvas” holds literal meaning for Fernando.
ernando Amaro Jr. started spray painting at a young age. He reminisces about practicing the art form in his teens, armed with Krylon and a phantom cap. Today, after more than two decades as an artist, Fernando goes by the name Force 129. An unassuming personality brimming with ideas, he is a resident artist at the Kaleid Gallery in downtown San Jose. The studio where Fernando creates magic is a cozy corner in the backyard of his house. He built this studio by the sweat of his brow, a structure of his own creation to house many of his finished pieces as well as a few ongoing projects. The work on display here is a mix of both the figurative and the abstract. Fernando doesn’t limit himself to one form but instead prefers a freestyle approach to painting. He loves to work in mixed media, a distinctive aspect of his style the use of newspaper clippings and multiple kinds of paint in addition to the aerosol paint that is his go-to tool. While spray painting on canvas remains his primary mode of artmaking, the phrase “the world is your canvas” holds literal meaning for Fernando. He paints everything from shirts and bags to jam bottles and collectible train sets. Earlier this year, the Exhibition District, a collaborative of creatives that pays artists to beautify San Jose, asked Fernando to “live” paint a shipping container in Cesar Chavez Park. Over the course of a week, Fernando painted the container until it transformed from a drab box into a bright and bold public artwork depicting a diversity of faces. Each of these faces, with its wild eyes and distinctive features, seems to carry its own story. Fernando says that most of his work, in fact, comes out of character studies. He holds a “library of characters” in his mind that continues to grow each day.
This library of characters goes beyond the people Fernando observes in his day-to-day life. It also includes fictional characters that have resonated with him. His recent show at Kaleid Gallery, entitled #UseTheForce129, highlighted a number of characters— both past and present—from the Star Wars film series. Whether using a preexisting story or character as inspiration for his work or delving into his imagination to build from scratch, Fernando likes to bring new ideas to the table. For example, in 2014 he created the Work_Spaces project, a pop-up group art show that features both the work of visual artists and an exploration of the spaces where they create. Of course, launching group art projects while continuing to innovate on his own requires hard work as much as it does ingenuity and passion. “I’ve lost many nights of sleep completing things, and I continue to do so every day,” says Fernando. “But, in the end, it's all worth it.” “If you are looking to have a career in art or design,” advises Fernando, “set your goals right, prioritize things, and ensure you have all the time to create something beautiful. Rushing and taking shortcuts will only increase errors and lead to an unsatisfactory work.” With the sleep deprivation, the packed schedule of projects, does finding inspiration become more difficult? Fernando takes a pragmatic approach to the question of inspiration: he believes the ability to inspire oneself is a skill an artist must develop. This is a skill he seems to have mastered. “Life is my inspiration,” he says. “It is constantly changing and evolving around us every day.” For Fernando, the inspiration is always there—it’s just a matter of training your eyes to see it.
Fernando Amaro Jr.
force129.com social media: force129
SUE'S GALLERY CAFE
J.J. and Sue Kang
Written by Nathan Zanon Photography by Arabela Espinoza
Where art and coffee come together
ust beyond the south end of the Saratoga Village, nestled in a neighborhood of quaint homes along Highway 9, sits Sue’s Gallery Cafe, an easy-to-miss coffee house with creativity and charm to spare. Conceived by ceramics artist Sue Kang and her husband J.J., the cafe functions both as a showcase for Sue’s artwork and as a gathering place for neighborhood residents and anyone who appreciates the art of great coffee. Sue’s officially opened last November, and it has already established itself as a home away from home for many locals. “The community has been great,” says J.J., who does most of the talking (his English is stronger than Sue’s). He spent many years doing marketing for Samsung, but seems delighted that life has brought him to this new venture. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, the Kangs were high school sweethearts who married and moved to Delaware in the 1980s. J.J. took MBA courses at the University of Delaware, and Sue, who already had her master’s degree in ceramics, worked with influential avant-garde ceramicist Victor Spinski, a professor there.
J.J.’s job at Samsung moved them to San Jose in the early 1990s. Exploring nearby neighborhoods, they soon came upon Saratoga. “We fell in love with this town, instantly,” J.J. recalls. In 2004, they saw an opportunity and bought a house. “This site used to be our home,” J.J. explains of the cafe’s current location. “A small, very old home. It had a little sunken shack, and [Sue] used it as a studio. We did some research and found out that this was zoned as commercial as well as residential. We had this crazy idea: we wanted to live, make, and present all in the same location.” Sue’s passion is for functional ceramics, so when the two were kicking around the idea of opening a gallery, they thought it could be something bigger. “We could have a nice ceramic gallery with displays of hers and her friends and local artists, but that’s not interesting enough,” J.J. says. “We wanted to have something [where] we can interact with our guests. I’ve been a foodie all my life, so I thought maybe I can serve some food in a vessel that will match up. So the cafe just piggybacked on.”
“THEY COME HERE IN THE MORNING OR EVENING, ORDER THE SAME DRINKS, SIT WITH THE SAME PEOPLE, AND THEY MAKE IT THEIR RITUAL. AND I LOVE THAT.” The result is the “gallery cafe,” in which Sue’s ceramics are displayed as a small exhibition that includes a collection of succulent pots, vases, and mugs of various styles—and in which her work is also the dishware. Your cup of coffee will be served in a handcrafted mug, your pastry on an artisanal plate. As for coffee, J.J. favors pour-over style—so much so that Sue has also made single-serving drippers that come atop your mug when you order a cup. “I think it’s the best way to drink coffee. I wanted to share that with my customers. So I [do] the measuring and portioning in the bar and present the pour-over at the table, where they can enjoy the dripping part—the smell of it, the sound of it. That’s one example of me presenting coffee and her presenting artwork. I always dreamed of doing something with my own hands. She was doing it, I wanted to do it.” Espresso drinks are also meticulously crafted, and employees are knowledgeable about the various beans and roasts. Two levels of indoor seating are warm and brightly lit; the outdoor patio is spacious and comfortable. An additional
inside space will soon showcase more art and accommodate coffee tastings, art classes, and more. It took more than seven years to transform the Kangs’ home into Sue’s Gallery Cafe, due in part to how strongly downtown Saratoga residents feel about preserving their neighborhood’s history. J.J. had to make his case to the city several times before moving forward. “I had a different idea about what history is. History is something that we create. Twenty years later, 200 years later, people call us history. I argued that if you can create something that fits into the surroundings, still modern, still functional, then that’s history for us. Nowadays, people come and say, ‘I’m so happy that this is here.’” “About 40 percent of my customers are regulars. They come here in the morning or evening, order the same drinks, sit with the same people, and they make it their ritual. And I love that. I’m becoming part of their life, even if it’s a small portion.” J.J. smiles, and Sue nods in agreement. “I didn’t expect that. But I’m beginning to find out that’s the life of a cafe owner.”
suesgallerycafe.com instagram: suesgallerycafe
â€œLife is art, and the studio has taken on a life of its own.â€? _Phil Bongiorno
BONGIORNO Interview by CHad Hall Photography by Daniel Garcia
A PLACE FOR MISFITS, WANDERERS, AND SEEKERS
he moment you step into Studio Bongiorno, you know you’re in a place you won’t soon forget, a place meant to stand out, rather than fit in. You might expect a certain air of morbidity just across the street from Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, in the very building where tombstones once were made, but Studio Bongiorno is the exact opposite. There’s a wild eclecticism inside, a celebration of art, creativity, and the unbridled chaos that is life. It’s the kind of place where inanimate objects come to life when the doors close each night. And the ringleader of all this bristling activity is owner-curator Phil Bongiorno.
During business hours we serve beverages, and we have an espresso machine and Wi/Fi with alternative music always in the background. Check it out and join us! What made you want to open a place like Studio Bongiorno? As an artist I was put off by the somewhat pretentious cliques in the art scene and wanted to create a space where people felt inspired and encouraged to express something outside the norm. A place for people like myself—misfits, wanderers, and seekers. It has blown up to the point where we have about 40 different local artists who show here, featuring jewelry, tradition art, assemblages, sculptures, soaps, incense, and candles just to name a few.
How would you describe Studio Bongiorno? We’re located in the former California Monument Company, an old building in the heart of Santa Clara. We have two indoor spaces and two courtyards; the backdrop is Santa Clara Mission Cemetery. As a standalone business, we’re a destination, not influenced by other businesses, and we take on the vibe of places I love like Big Sur and parts of SF. We hold art shows/salons, poetry, music, book signings, theater, private and public rentals, and more. I also do found object art and once put out a call for doll parts. Somehow this has blown up into folks bringing in all sorts of oddities they are getting rid of or just want to donate. And so we’ve decorated the space with everything from old trinkets, oddities, mannequins, even a coffin that was being thrown away. It was once written that we are a monumental establishment catering to anyone outside the establishment. It takes about three visits to take it all in, and by that time everything has changed. It’s always evolving. It is truly something that must be experienced.
What is the most difficult part about running the studio? In our society, art is viewed as a luxury and sadly we do not do enough to encourage and support the arts. I find any gathering that has three pieces of art is now an “art show” and any establishment with three pieces of art is now an “art gallery.” Make no mistake, it’s a tough gig. Let’s just say, I’m not retiring anytime soon. But thankfully, it’s a labor of love. What benefits and detriments has technology brought to the art world? The good news is it is easier to get your work out there. Warhol talked of 15 minutes of fame— he didn’t know about social media and the fact some folks seek 15 minutes of fame daily. That’s the bad news! Modern artists are expected to also be their own marketing, PR, and sales department—how does that make you feel? I spent almost 20 years in the car business.
When that ended, I made a decision to live my life as an artist and dedicate my time to just creating. I later found the truth that if I have a good head for business, it actually frees me up to create more. I don’t create with money in mind, yet as a business, I have to keep the doors open. Bottom line: it’s a difficult balance.
How do you see the connection between inspiration and work? The link that connects the two is action. Many times I have been inspired from my couch and the result was nothing. Sometimes it’s as simple as picking up the camera, the brush, the pen, or the found object, and just starting. One simple step, and the creative juices seem to kick in and take over.
What role do you believe the artist plays in society? From my vantage point, we have the ability to move people: to take them from the place and space they are in and transport them somewhere else. With my work and much of what we show here, there are elements of dark and light, which can be taken as positive or negative. Art has the ability to open doors into souls, to create dialog, if you are willing and open to it.
What advice would you give a young artist? Walk past the fear and just do it! The worst piece is the one that never leaves your mind. Who (other than family) are your biggest influences? Captain Beefheart, Mother Nature, David Lynch, Diane Arbus, Charles Bukowski, Can (German band), Death.
What trait do you find most important for an artist to develop? To be childlike (not childish). Learn to color outside the lines. Find your own voice.
What is your ultimate goal with Studio Bongiorno? What do you hope it will become and how are you working to achieve that? Life is art, and the studio has taken on a life of its own. There is a sense of community, healing, creating, raising awareness, increasing knowledge, and going further. We have made the “Best of Silicon Valley” in the Metro for the last two years. Currently, we are the number two gallery. That is a hell of an accomplishment for being here just under four years. Many people will tell you that we’re the most unique and eclectic spot in the Bay Area, and that is priceless. What a wonderful foundation to build from. Our goal is to continue to get the word out and to grow—kudos to Content Magazine for helping spread the word.
How do you choose what to feature in the studio? As an independent gallery, I believe it is important to take on cutting-edge themes, to find a way to challenge the artists, to take them out of their comfort zone and to push the boundaries of not only them but the viewer. We also welcome ideas and then try to build an entire month around that theme. The studio has taken on death, the environment, depression, HIV, cancer, politics, alcoholism, addiction, spirituality—and Studio Bongiorno was the first to host a Death Cafe locally. Death Cafe started in Europe. It’s where folks gather over tea and cake to discuss not only what death has looked like in their life, but what they want their own death to look like. Studies have shown that when people understand that death walks in the shadows, they are able to live more in the now and to have fuller lives.
Basquiat or Pollock? As a person who’s been clean and sober for 31-plus years, I relate to the darkness of both Basquiat’s drug use and Pollack’s alcoholism. Without too much thought, I’m going with Basquiat because he’s in the Blondie video Rapture.
What book would you give someone in the hope that it would inspire? As I have grown older, my ADD has gotten to the point where it’s difficult to read. In my life, I mostly dig true crime, mafia, and rock and roll books. My best lessons have always come from the street.
Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki said: “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few.” What are your thoughts on that? To remain teachable, stay humble.
Studiobongiorno.com instagram: studiobongiorno 500 Lincoln St Santa Clara, CA 95050 408.217.9346
“YOU CAN’T MAKE SOMETHING GREAT WITHOUT PASSION.” _Juan Sanchez
Left to Rgiht: Jake Jensen | Jenny Thoi | Tiffany Choi | Ralph Buenconsejo | Juan Sanchez | Lily Nguyen | Pablo Vizcaino
BaunFire Written by Kate Evans Photography by Daniel Garcia
Juan Sanchez's journey to founding a digital agency Within a few years, Baunfire had recovered and evolved into something special. Sanchez, confident in its future, was ready to take on a new challenge for the company. Eager to leave the drab offices, he discovered a space for rent in the historic downtown Alliance Building on East Santa Clara Street. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in natural light, warming the ochre brick. This, thought Sanchez, could be home to the next phase of Baunfire. “I wanted the office to set the tone,” he says, “so I put my heart into its look and feel.” The team moved in and added sleek shelving, modern white furniture, and the finishing touch: original artwork from their top designers.
Act 1 Juan Sanchez loved the city. He would wander the streets, marveling at the cool morning fog, the majesty of the skyline, and the fact that everyone seemed to be smart, creative, and interesting. This was the place for the young and bright and he thought for a time that it was his place too. After all, living the dream life in San Francisco means you’d made it big. But success had always seemed to come easily to Sanchez, a wunderkind who rose quickly through the ranks at a high-profile tech firm and then realized his dream of starting his own company, a boutique digital marketing firm, Baunfire. He possessed both the rare, adventurous spirit of an entrepreneur who strikes out on his own and the charming personality that made people want to help and support him. With Baunfire, he made enough to afford valet parking and a trendy loft apartment. His small team was turning out good work and had satisfied clients, all of which he managed from his perch in a San Francisco high-rise. But slowly, Sanchez was realizing that despite his vibrant city life, his passion and drive were melting away. He felt hollow. When eventually, business couldn’t keep up with his lifestyle, finances forced him into a decision: let Baunfire die a quiet death and go work for someone else, or reinvent his company. It would have been easy to end the entrepreneurial adventure and continue with life in the city with a big salary at another tech firm, but Juan Sanchez, it turned out, was a fighter. “I felt, deep down,” he says, “that if something great is possible, why not do it?”
Act III The new space set the stage for the company’s final reinvention: a focus on the team that made Baunfire so extraordinary. Sanchez had the happy clients, but he wanted a happy team. He was determined to create a place that attracted the most talented, dedicated, egoless creatives and then give them the space and support to do something exceptional. He wanted to understand their dreams and ambitions and then use Baunfire to achieve them. Sanchez hoped that every employee felt invested in what they were building and accomplishing together, and proud to be doing it. “I want everyone here to feel as though they own this place.” Today, with the help of his team, he’s created a culture that does just that. And with his inventive design and marketing, his dozens of valued employees, and scores of loyal clients, he is moving yet again. Within the year, Baunfire will settle into a new, larger space on the 14th floor of a downtown building, an office full of personality and talent, overlooking the foothills and busy city below. Sanchez is the first to admit that he could have been another Silicon Valley story of youthful boom and bust, that when he lost his passion, everything could have easily slipped away from him. But now, there’s no end to what Baunfire can accomplish. After all, he says, “You can’t make something great without passion.”
Act II He gave up the loft, moved back to the valley, set up shop in a charmless office park in Santa Clara, and gave his company everything he had. “I had to really reflect on how we got here, on why this happened. It came down to my focus on money, not quality.” He devoted his time, his energy, and most importantly, his passion, to creating something that he could be proud of, something that offered fulfillment.
baunfire.com instagram: baunfire
Eri Gentry Cofounder, President, & Board Chair, BioCurious
“BIOLOGY ISN’T THE BIGGEST CONVERSATION STARTER, BUT IF WE CAN GET PEOPLE INTERESTED THROUGH FOOD AND DRINK, MAYBE THEY’LL ALSO CHEW ON HOW THEY CAN USE BIOTECH TO SOLVE BIGGER GLOBAL PROBLEMS.”
BIOCURIOUS Written by Marika Krause, The Tech Museum of Innovation Photography by Daniel Garcia
Use biology to hack your world
here’s something brewing in the world of biotech, and Eri Gentry hopes you’ll be a part of it. As cofounder of the world’s first community biohacker space, she thinks everyone should get busy playing in the world of biology. “We want more people to think of themselves as creators,” Gentry said. “Biohacking really is part of the maker movement and people getting their hands on tools. It’s not about making money—it’s about making visions a reality.” In 2011, Gentry and a group of entrepreneurs opened a community biotech lab in Sunnyvale called BioCurious. Inside, citizen scientists have access to the kind of equipment you’d find in a traditional biology lab, along with the freedom to explore their own passions. Hundreds of biohackers have tried their hand at award-winning projects that include a 3D bioprinter that prints living cells and a process to make vegan cheese done in collaboration with Oakland’s Counter Culture Labs. “The beautiful thing is that these projects are all very personal,” Gentry said. “Whether you get involved just to have fun, or you have a loved one suffering from a medical condition and you want to know more about biology, there’s a place for you.” Gentry grew up in a small town in Arizona and went on to study economics at Yale. She pivoted to biotech and a job with a biotech research startup. In Silicon Valley, she said, for the first time her “weird ideas” didn’t feel so out of place. “When I moved here, my ideas were met with curiosity and sometimes even blind encouragement,” she said. “Anything is possible here. So many places in Silicon Valley exist for you to reach your potential.” It’s probably fitting that BioCurious evolved from a Meetup group whose first home was a makeshift garage lab. An audience— many with no background in science—would gather at a small home of one of the founding members, under a patio roof made of aluminum siding. A Venezuelan working on a diagnostic for a rare disease in his home country crashed on the couch. An
app developer who wanted to give people a way to color-analyze bacteria without needing a lab was eager to meet new people. This is how a community was born of scientists and citizen scientists. A $35K BioCurious Kickstarter campaign helped open the doors in 2011 to a place that connected people with ingenuity and drive to the tools and resources for innovation. Today, BioCurious members include students working on science fair projects, people who see potential in biotechnology making a mid-career switch, pro scientists self-funding their dreams, and those who simply enjoy tinkering. “We see artists and bicycle mechanics who just think, ‘This is a really cool set of raw materials to work with,’ and I totally dig that way of thinking,” Gentry said. “That sense of approachability and play are so important.” Encouraging a sense of play is a big part of why BioCurious is teaming up with The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose to host Creative Collisions: Geektoberfest. The second annual event is a fun evening of demos by citizen scientists and tastings by some of the best craft brewers in the Bay Area. In addition to the obvious chemistry involved in making beer, there’s a natural connection between biohackers and home and craft brewers. “They’re not interested in making enough beer to sell on demand,” Gentry said. “They’re interested in making a beer that people love and want to drink. We love that spirit.” The hope is that people who show up for the beer will leave with a sense that they, too, can be biohackers. “Biology isn’t the biggest conversation starter, but if we can get people interested through food and drink, maybe they’ll also chew on how they can use biotech to solve bigger global problems,” Gentry said. “It’s an exciting time in biotech as barriers like cost and accessibility are dropping so rapidly. I want to open doors for really smart, passionate, and creative people.”
Join Content Magazine, BioCurios & Creative Collisions for Geektoberfest, Register at: Thetech.org/geektoberfest
biocurious.org firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: biocuriouslab instagram: erigentry
ART PARTY Written by Sieglinde Van Damme Photography by Daniel GArcia
CONNECTING ARTISTS AND ART LOVERS FROM THE BAY AREA AND BEYOND
t was a lovely Sunday afternoon at the house of Anne Sconberg and Mark Henderson—the brainpower, along with partner Georgie Huff, behind Anne and Mark’s Art Party. The house itself, purchased in 2007, was instrumental to the start of the Art Party. After the title documents were signed, friends and family expected a fun housewarming. But they didn’t expect what came next. Creatives that they are, Anne and Mark did more than place wine on the bar and cheese on the table. Instead, they boarded up the windows of their new (though still empty) house, took down the chandeliers, put up track lighting, and invited family, friends, and friends of friends to come and hang their art on the walls. In the guise of a housewarming, with the aim to reconnect with old friends and to make new ones, the evening turned out to be the very first Anne and Mark’s Art Party. This first San Jose event wasn’t Anne’s first art-themed housewarming initiative. Raised in Salinas, Anne moved to the Bay Area to attend Stanford. After graduating with a degree in English (and having taken many art classes along the way), Anne felt the wide world of adventure calling her name. Over time, she made her home in cities as far flung as New York, Paris, Adelaide, London, and Madrid. Each time she moved, she was eager to meet new people, and art seemed to be a great catalyst for making that connection. Her very first art-inspired housewarming was a release party for a filmmaker in Paris, where she was an apprentice for a fashion photographer while looking into attending film school herself. Mark is no stranger to art either. Born in the UK, he grew up in New England, but later returned to the UK to attend
college and study ceramics. The art of creating with his hands is still a major force in his life—no matter the project— which benefits the Art Party as well. Then, to the creative synergy of Mark and Anne is added the practical business acumen of the third partner, Georgie Huff. Officially titled “Head of Everything” (everything, that is, but the art), she’s the catalyst that helps make the parties a reality. More than 250 people attended that first party in the new house in San Jose. And about a year later, they wanted more. The house was in full remodel mode, yet with little hesitation Anne and Mark boarded up the windows once again. This time, though, they asked each first-year artist to nominate a new artist to participate so as to keep to the original intent of connecting with new people and building the community. Year two of the Art Party spanned two houses about a block apart, with art cars lining the street between the houses. Inside one of the houses, a shaky staircase gave way to an empty and mysterious attic, which Anne and Mark, curators par excellence, thought perfect for a “Love Lounge,” a place for artists to exhibit secret, yet cherished, art pieces that would otherwise never be officially shown. Ben Alexy, one of the original artists invited to that first party, still faithfully participates each year—though the size of his work never fails to challenge. That first year, Anne was mesmerized by his depiction of cows, a painting 8 feet high and 18 feet wide. She loved the work and thought it just the thing to show her ranching family that she’d not lost touch with her roots just yet. The largest living room wall that year measured 18 feet, 3 inches wide. The omens were clear: this was where the oversized cows would hang. Two years later,
Anne Sconberg | Mark Henderson | Georgie Huff
THE PLAN WAS . . . TO GIVE FOLKS FROM ALL OVER A REASON TO VISIT SAN JOSE AND, AT THE SAME TIME, TO PROVIDE LOCALS MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONNECTING WITH THE GLOBAL CULTURAL SCENE. Ben’s work stood at roughly 10 feet high and 20 feet wide. No indoor wall was big enough, so Mark expanded the Art Party beyond the house and into an additional gallery tent in the yard. Over the years, Anne says, Mark has often adjusted the venue to accommodate Ben’s work. The 2009 edition of the party also marked the introduction of fire as an integral element. An impressive flamethrower performance spurred Sam Liccardo (years before he was to become mayor of San Jose) to approach Mark to ask him whether he had adequate insurance coverage for the event. The following two years saw an expansion of the festivities into a 20,000-plus-square-foot warehouse, inspiring an influx of volunteers (some known to Anne and Mark, some not) offering to help in whatever way they could. The Art Party had become a true community icon, and people were hungry for more. In 2013, Anne enrolled in a public planning and private development class at San Jose State. As it happens, her project for the class was to redevelop the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. The creative possibilities of the grounds weren’t lost on her, and before long, the fairgrounds were being considered as the next Art Party venue. One year later, Anne, Mark, and Georgie took over the 34,000-square-foot venue with surrounding grounds and turned it into magic. The number of participating artists continued to grow through the annual nominating process. Fire and art cars had become a staple. The overwhelming stream of new ideas was fabulous, yet an increase in both funding and human power were needed to make them happen. Anne and Mark see themselves as both innocent and ignorant for taking on the fairgrounds project. To pull it
off, they relied on a widening circle of support—from the Kickstarter campaign for the new walls to the new curatorial team (Marc D'Estout, Tobin Wynne Keller, Susan Leask) to the many and sometimes last-minute volunteers—and survived for months on two to four hours of sleep. And this fall, they’re doing it all over again. At the moment, the official Art Party website has registered visits from 2,969 cities in 137 countries, and that is exactly the evolution Anne, Mark, and Georgie first envisioned for the party. The plan was never to limit participation and attendance to Bay Area residents, but rather to give folks from all over a reason to visit San Jose and, at the same time, to provide locals more opportunities for connecting with the global cultural scene. This year, party organizers have received applications from Russia to India, as well as one from a facilitator for artists in the Syrian refugee community. The sky’s the limit...except that it isn’t, not as long as the Art Party is not financially sustained and supported by a more elaborate team. For Anne and Mark, in the meantime, the Art Party has become a way of life, year-round. They forsake dinners out, movies at theaters, and other activities in favor of date nights at home so as to save every dollar possible for the next Art Party. The Art Party’s mission has always been to attract the best talent and the most interesting people from the Bay Area and beyond—and to share that creative joy with all. Each year, the Art Party community gathers to celebrate art, music, fashion, the spoken word, fire, film, dance, and spectacle. The venue is always changing; the formats vary. And the 2016 edition promises more of the same, another dazzling evening of fun. Care to join in?
Anne & Mark's Art Party- 9/24/16
Saturday 9/24: Opening Night Gala Saturday 10/1: Closing Bash, featuring “Pivot: The Art of Fashion” Gallery viewing days: 9/25, 9/30, and 10/1
artpartysj.com facebook: Anne & Mark's Art Party- 9/24/16 twitter: artpartysj
SOUTH BAY ACTORS Interviews by Johanna Hickle Photography by Daniel Garcia
FEATURING Melissa Locsin Christine Capsuto Joey Pisacane Monique Hafen
"Carnival Mask" designed by Freepik
ulitzer prize–winning playwright Annie Baker writes, “I worship at the church of theater. It’s where I go to experience ritual and take stock of my life and be part of a community.” Shared ritual, community, reflection—all things many of us agree are necessary to leading a healthy life but all things we can lose touch with in our fastpaced, increasingly digital existence. In the Silicon Valley, where the prevalence of high tech can make for a community particularly wedded to the screen, perhaps theater serves an especially important purpose. Yes, theater, like other art forms, provides opportunity for catharsis and self-discovery, for escaping into new, exciting worlds, and for engaging in dialogue about the challenging issues that define our own. And like many art forms, it can encourage us to practice empathy, but it does so in an immediate, visceral way that requires from us the presence and engagement we sometimes sacrifice in our computer-driven lives. A live, temporal art, theater will not wait for your attention. As audience members, we have only those moments when the actors are performing to listen and observe. The actors share the space with us as they embody the story, reminding us that we, too, are bodies, that we aren’t just floating, invisible entities in the cloud. We are in conversation with the actors and our fellow audience members, and there’s no pause button. There will be no rerun the following weekend. Should you see the same show a second time, it will be a different iteration, the actors responding to the present environment, making new choices, figuring out how to connect to a new audience. If you need respite from the screen, there’s many a Bay Area theater ready to welcome you through its doors—theaters dedicated to the Bard (Silicon Valley Shakespeare) or committed to staging new works (City Lights Theater), theaters featuring youth performers (Starting Arts) or presenting the voices of specific communities (Teatro Visión, Naatak, Arabian Shakespeare Festival), theaters offering a grand stage and high production value (TheatreWorks), and theaters providing a more intimate black-box style experience (Dragon Theatre). Whichever theater you go to, there you will find actors ready to share an afternoon or evening with you. Ready to engage with you in the moment, to invite you to disconnect for an hour or two in order to more fully connect to others and yourself.
“A CUTE BOY ASKED ME IF I WAS AUDITIONING...AND I SAID, ‘YES!’ I PUT MY NAME DOWN, SIGNED UP FOR AN ACTING CLASS, AND THAT WAS THAT. I HAVEN’T LOOKED BACK SINCE.”
“A cute boy asked me if I was auditioning... and I said, ‘Yes!’ I put my name down, signed up for an acting class, and that was that. I haven’t looked back since.”
to expose myself in such a vulnerable way, but I really grew from it. I had to just say, “Screw it. This is who I am...and now you all know.” [Laughs] It was fun!
What led you to pursue a career in theater? I actually found it by accident. During college, I had a bunch of different majors—advertising, design, graphic design, fine arts, writing—but they weren’t right for me. One day, when I was looking for a map while I was on campus at San Jose State, I saw a callboard. A cute boy asked me if I was auditioning... and I said, “Yes!” I put my name down, signed up for an acting class, and that was that. I haven’t looked back since.
What has been the most challenging role you’ve played and why? I think one of the hardest roles was being Laura in The Glass Menagerie for San Jose Rep on tour. It was such a privilege because Laura doesn’t normally get cast as a multicultural person. This role also challenged me to be emotional and play someone who had a fantasy world. I think that Laura’s world can get lost in translation if it’s not done right, so hopefully I did it justice!
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an actor? Being able to share my stories is the most rewarding. I’ve lived a pretty full life at my young age, so I am grateful to be able to share my experiences through intangible things like language and emotion. I also feel fortunate to be able to connect to people in all walks of life.
What projects are you currently working on? As an actress, my job is to audition and to always be ready for what’s next. I’ll be reading in the upcoming Bay Area Playwrights Fest as well as performing in the world premiere of Margaret of Anjou with Those Women Productions in Berkeley. Next year, I’ll be playing the character Chiz in Sisters Matsumoto by Philip Kan Gotanda at Center REP [in Walnut Creek]. In the meantime, I’m auditioning and studying. I never stop studying. I think you need to keep your instrument tuned at all times and channel a real hunger to grow, learn, and always get better. I’m also working on writing a short film that I’d like to act in and direct. It’s based off of some beautiful, quirky stories that my mom shared with me about [her experiences with] racial diversity in the ’60s. I’d love to finish writing that and hopefully produce it in the near future. Other than that, I spend as much time as possible with my husband and three daughters. I’m always finding balance in my life and enjoying every moment of it.
What is something you’ve learned about your line of work? It’s a business just like anything else. It’s absolutely my passion, my craft, and my art, but I think to be successful at it, you have to treat it like a business. If I want to be able to do what I love to do, I need to be self-disciplined, self-motivated, and diligent. Qualities that any other job requires are just as important if you want to have a career in the arts. Do you have a favorite role you’ve played and why? My favorite role was during a four-woman show for the St. Louis Black Repertory. My director at the time, Linda Kennedy, challenged us to write a show about ourselves that we could share with teenage girls. I’d never written anything before, much less performed for young people. I wrote a spoken word piece about when I had a huge surgery on my leg and almost had to have it amputated. Starting out, it was difficult
melissalocsin.com twitter: melissalocsin
“YOU WORK SO HARD, SO HARD, SO HARD AT MEMORIZING, LEARNING, MAKING SURE THE NOTES AND DIALOGUE ARE CORRECT. THEN ONCE YOU GET UP ON STAGE, YOU HAVE TO LET IT GO AND TRUST THAT YOU KNOW IT—THAT YOU HAVE IT IN YOUR BODY.”
What led you to pursue a career in theater? I totally fell into theater by accident. I wanted to go to school to be a surgeon, but during my senior year of high school, I was bribed to choreograph for a musical. I was already a part of the marching band, a dance team, and color guard. The drama teacher approached me and said, “You’re a really strong dancer, you come highly recommended and we just lost a choreographer. Would you be interested in choreographing for a musical?” And I said, “I’m sorry. Theater’s not really my thing. I’m not interested.” And he said, “Well, I’ll pay you.” And I go, “Okay. I’ll do it.” I had watched performances and opera singers, but I had never thought I’d be into theater for some reason. I had never sung a note in my life! Even though I come from a very musical family, I never thought it would be the road I would follow. But sure enough, it has turned into a dream that I have pursued into reality.
complete juxtaposition in a way. You work so hard, so hard, so hard at memorizing, learning, making sure the notes and dialogue are correct. Then once you get up on stage, you have to let it go and trust that you know it—that you have it in your body.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a performer? The most rewarding aspect of this industry is how it touches people’s lives and brings them joy. They get the chance to escape their world and their reality, even if it’s just for a few hours. When they smile or hug me or shake my hand afterwards, it makes me feel like I’m able to do something good for someone. Even if it’s not open heart surgery, I’m touching a life in a way that not everyone gets to do. I also think being creative, thinking on your feet, and having the opportunity to do justice to a text—to make it come to life in your own adaptation—is an amazing opportunity.
What has been the most challenging role you’ve played and how did you grow from it? I would have to say the role I just did in Hawaii: Contessa Almaviva in the opera Le nozze di Figaro. I don’t typically sing Mozart, but rather Romanticperiod music (like Puccini and Verdi), so this was a more "conservative" part for me, both vocally and in terms of character development. It’s very much about being contained—being poised and proper, singing clean and precise.
What have you learned from your different projects? The number one thing that I have learned is that you really can’t give a shit about what negative people have to say about you and what makes you happy. [Laughs] You have to work very hard at your craft...and then you have to let it go. It’s a
Do you have a favorite role you’ve played and why? My favorite role I’ve ever done—the role I could continue doing the rest of my life and never get sick of—is the role of Franca in the musical The Light in the Piazza. She’s a hot-headed Italian, which for me comes very naturally because I grew up with a hot-headed Italian mother from New York. Franca is such a complex character. She’s spicy and sweet, exotic and nurturing. She’s all over the map. Not only does she have a kickass singing role, but her dialogue is so dramatic, funny, and powerful.
In rehearsal, because so often you work with fellow artists at different stages in their careers or training, you’re challenged to really know your part backwards and forwards in case others drop the ball. Despite this added pressure, you always have to maintain your professionalism and confidence so others can learn and pass that energy on to others in the cast.
christinecapsuto.com facebook: christine.m.capsuto
“I GOT LOST IN THIS WORK OF EMBODYING ANOTHER CHARACTER, OF ARTICULATING MY OWN LIFE EXPERIENCES AND USING THAT AS A TOOL TO TELL SOMEONE ELSE’S STORY.”
experienced from a role recently was a short film called Warm Waves. I worked with a wonderful actress named Katherine Park. Due to the nature of the film, almost all of our acting was improvisational and focused on chemistry. It was enlightening to step into character alongside Park. I carry a fondness for the entire crew and experience.
What led you to pursue a career in acting? I always wanted to do acting, ever since I was a kid. I remember wanting to be on Nickelodeon TV shows as young as five or six. As I got older, I was exposed to film and performances with real depth. I also had opportunities in on-stage theatrical performing. I got lost in this work of embodying another character, of articulating my own life experiences and using that as a tool to tell someone else’s story.
What has been the most challenging role you’ve played and why? The most challenging role I’ve played was Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. I was 19 or 20 at the time. While it was vocally challenging, I also wanted to find a way to ground the character and make him relatable as a person. I got to a place where I felt like the performance was real and visceral and where I was able to explore the boundaries of my body and mind.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an actor? One of the aspects of acting that’s really rewarding is when you get to a flow state—when you’re so physically and mentally attuned with your character that you lose yourself for a moment. You can almost think as that person, move and react as that person. It is also satisfying when someone shares their experience of your work and how it impacted them with you.
What projects are you currently working on? I’ve been in a sort of marathon of overlapping shows this summer—from Billy Elliot to Bat Boy: The Musical and finally American Idiot. It’s been equal parts exhilarating and equal parts exhausting, but once American Idiot closes, I’m going to take a small break and focus on recording my first solo album as Boy Uomo, an indie acoustic project I’ve been working on for the last few months. Then I suppose we’ll see what shows next season holds!
What is something you have learned from your line of work? A lot of the time, acting can feel like work, but when you put yourself out there often enough, as well as commit yourself to the work deeply and authentically, you’ll achieve an experience that makes all of that work worthwhile. Do you have a favorite role you’ve played and why? I don’t really have a favorite role. Each role is a milestone, and some give more back than others. The most growth I have
joeypisacane.com twitter: joeypisacane instagram: dogsofpisa
“I REALLY LIKE CONNECTING WITH AUDIENCES. MY FAVORITE THING TO DO IS MAKE AN AUDIENCE LAUGH. THERE’S NOTHING BETTER IN THE WORLD THAN BRINGING JOY TO SOMEBODY.”
What led you to pursue a career in acting? I got the performing bug very early in life—I was a dancer when I was young, and I also did singing recitals. But what really struck me was during high school when I took a summer school class in Shakespeare. It was the first time I’d been introduced to Shakespeare or performed it. It clicked with me—that something from so long ago could still be relevant and meaningful even today. That was the moment that I thought, “If I can connect with Shakespeare who lived so many years ago, then whatever I end up doing, whether it’s performing or teaching, then I think I can do this for the rest of my life.”
Do you have a favorite role you’ve played and why? I’d say when I played Amy in Company. She had this wonderful song where she’s scared to death of getting married and she’s talking to the audience and telling everybody at the church to go home. I’ve never had so much fun performing. It was a riot to be able to be a goofball and freak out for about 10 minutes on stage! [Laughs] What has been the most challenging role you’ve played, and how did you grow from it? The most challenging role for me has been Cinderella in Into the Woods. At first glance, it seems pretty simple. Cinderella is a character we all know and it’s a story we all know. But it’s a Sondheim musical. The way he’s able to put together a score is just incredible! There usually comes a point when you can settle into a show—it’s not that you can just go through the motions, but you’re not counting every beat or thinking in your brain “OK, I have a half a beat to take a breath here”—but with Into the Woods, I never got to let up. It has a very demanding composer. It was really nerve-racking!
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an actor? Two things. One: I’m constantly meeting new challenges and new people. Whenever I start a new contract, there are new things to learn, whether it’s the time period or the subject matter. I’ve also gotten to meet so many incredible artists and people throughout my career so far. And number two: I really like connecting with audiences. My favorite thing to do is make an audience laugh. There’s nothing better in the world than bringing joy to somebody.
What projects are you currently working on? I’m currently in a Cy Coleman musical called City of Angels, which is playing at the San Francisco Playhouse. I mentioned learning about film noir and this musical has both film noir and the “new” 1940s Hollywood. The musical shows both the black-andwhite film noir world as well as the technicolor Hollywood world on stage. We run until September 17th.
What have you learned from your different projects? There have been so many amazing challenges and new subject matter to learn from. I’m working on a script right now that deals with film noir. I knew what film noir was, but now I’m really diving into it. I’ve learned about global warming... I’ve learned how to use puppets. I did Avenue Q at San Jose Stage Company, which helped me learn how to tell a story through puppets. Every time I dive into a project, it’s something new.
Cast of Much Ado About Nothing at Cafe Stritch
“I OFTEN WONDER, AS I PERFORM IN SHAKESBEERIENCE, HOW SIMILAR THIS MUST HAVE BEEN TO HOW IT WAS IN SHAKESPEARE’S TIME. I THINK THERE IS SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL ABOUT HAVING AN AUDIENCE THAT GOES ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU.” – Gendell Hing-Hernandez
ShakesBEERience Written by Charlie McCollum Photography by Daniel Garcia & Tasi alabastro
SHAKESPEARE. THEATER. BEER.
t could be just another night at Cafe Stritch on First Street. The bar is packed. All the tables are taken. Drinks are flowing. Just another night except for... An actress standing on the bar, delivering Lady Macbeth’s great soliloquies from the Shakespearean drama. Three actors spinning spells as the play’s witches. Macbeth himself shuddering at the sight of Banquo’s ghost on Stritch’s small stage. Since October 2013, Shakespeare has come to Café Stritch four times a year, courtesy of a theater troupe known as ShakesBEERience. Taking over the club on Monday nights, the company performs versions of the Bard’s dramas and comedies, from The Tempest and Richard III to The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew. From the beginning, the club has been packed for the shows, and ShakesBEERience regulars know to get to Stritch early to grab a seat. On October 24, the company will perform its 12th show: Julius Caesar, a perfect fit for the days before the presidential election. As always, the performance will be free, although donations are welcome. The idea of ShakesBEERience was brought to San Jose by John McCluggage, a theater director and former associate artistic director of the San Jose Rep, and his wife Alexandra Urbanowski, a former managing director of the Rep who is now associate director of SV Creates. While living in New Hampshire, they became involved with Seven Stages Shakespeare, which performs the Bard in local pubs. When McCluggage and Urbanowski came back to San Jose, they asked Seven Stages founders Dan Beaulieu and Christine Penny if they could take the concept with them. “They graciously (and eagerly) said, ‘Yes!’’ recalls McCluggage, noting that both Beaulieu and Penny have come to San Jose to perform with the group. Of course, McCluggage had to find a company before he could stage a play. Drawing on his 20 years at the Rep, he pulled together a group of actors with credits that include the Rep, San Jose Stage, City Lights, Silicon Valley Shakespeare, Cal Shakes, TheatreWorks, and Comedy Sportz. “Initially, I wanted to see who would be willing to commit and who would enjoy the improvisational, interactive
nature of the format,” says McCluggage who, in addition to directing Julius Caesar, is also directing Other Desert Cities at City Lights this fall. “The process isn't for everyone,” he says, “and I needed to see who took to the idea of not only the short rehearsal—seven hours over two days—but the ‘cold staging’ aspect.” Maryssa Wanlass, who is now playing Hermione in The Winter's Tale with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, was asked to be in the first ShakesBEERience show, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “I thought it sounded fun. It was and I had a blast,” says Wanlass, who became part of the company’s core ensemble. Others joined because of their love of the Bard. “There is a reason why his plays are still relevant today,” says Gendell Hing-Hernandez, another regular performer who is a drama teacher and is currently directing a show with the San Francisco Youth Theater. “This guy really hit a nerve in the experience of being human.” Hing-Hernandez was also attracted to the challenge he saw in ShakesBEERience. “Shakespeare is hard enough with plenty of rehearsal, let alone with little to no rehearsal and at a fully happening bar,” he says. “Being an actor, crazy is often on the menu, so I had to say yes.” For many American theater-goers, Shakespeare is an experience where you sit quietly and try to grasp the meaning of language that is often foreign to the modern ear. “Unfortunately, the common perception of Shakespeare is that he’s stuffy and antiquated and impossible to understand,” says Doll Piccotto, another company member who is performing this summer in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Julius Caesar with Silicon Valley Shakespeare. “He’s equated with ‘high culture’ and [considered] something for upperclass, scholarly folks,” she adds. “The complete opposite is actually true. Shakespeare was a normal, average guy. His plays were performed for everyone.” By transferring his works from a proscenium stage to an interactive environment, ShakesBEERience tries to make the language more accessible. “It's very free form as the cast moves in and around the audience, and they need to adapt to fill the empty spaces—to create scenes throughout the space,” says McCluggage.
Alicia Piemme Nelson
Jackson Davis Although Stritch has a small stage, it’s only occasionally used. The balcony at the club has become the balcony in Romeo and Juliet and the deck of a ship in The Tempest. Cocktail straws sometimes fill in for swords. Members of the audience sometimes find their glass of beer or plate of French fries transforming into a prop. “The challenge in ShakesBEERience is to bring Shakespeare’s moments to life in a very short amount of time, with very little to use,” says Piccotto. “You are forced to really concentrate on using Shakespeare’s most powerful weapon— his words.” Wanlass points out that at a ShakesBEERience production, “there's not much reverence for The Bard,” which is just fine. Even the drinking game that has become part of each show—everyone takes a swig when a certain word is said— just adds to the flavor of the evening. “I think we do more honor to his work by playing it full out, lustily, getting right to the heart of a scene so that the audience completely gets what is happening,” she suggests. “In Shakespeare's theater, the cheapest tickets got you right in front of the stage, no seats, and it is reported that these so-called ‘groundling’ audience members would eat, drink, yell at the actors, and generally have a great time. At ShakesBEERience, we go to the groundlings! We hang out with them and do the play amongst them.” Hing-Hernandez has much the same feeling. “I often wonder, as I perform in ShakesBEERience, how similar this must have been to how it was in Shakespeare’s time,” he notes. “I think there is something very special about having an audience that goes on the journey with you. Expressing
themselves almost as much as the actors. When you hit a note just right, and the ensemble often does, the audience just goes nuts. They are encouraged to do so and boy do they ever. They will cheer, yell, hiss, laugh, boo, [express] awe, drink, or even flirt right back at ya, if the occasion is right. But most of all, it feels right with the work.” The actors keep coming back to ShakesBEERience, not for the small fee they receive but for the experience and the way it stretches them as performers. Hing-Hernandez says playing with “a consistent ensemble has allowed us to play on a deeper level. All I can say is these actors are making outrageously fun and brave choices. From my point of view, it is actually quite scary. I look around and often think, wow, these people are so good. They are bringing their A game, [and] I can’t afford to do anything but bring it as well.” And Wanlass suggests, “There is a skill set beyond just being a classical actor that is needed to really make the most of a ShakesBEERience production. John McCluggage describes the style as ‘Shakespeare Jazz.’ You have to know your stuff, but you also have to be able to let it fly in the moment and respond to whatever is in front of you, be it an actor who made a new choice in the moment, or the discovery that no one is listening to the monologue you thought would be so brilliantly delivered from the balcony, or someone handing you a full shot glass.” But, most of all, says Hing-Hernandez, “It feels alive. We, the actors, are alive and present. They, the audience, are alive and present. It is an experience not often encountered in actual theaters.” facebook: BuckHillProductions twitter: McCluggage11
MR. WALKER Interview by Diane Solomon Photography by Daniel garcia
MAKING TRUTH FUNNY
f you want to visit a real-life Moe’s Tavern, visit the Caravan Lounge, San Jose’s grand dive bar. You won’t see Homer Simpson or Barney, but Jägermeister is on tap and on Wednesday nights you’ll meet Ato Walker, who hosts its weekly comedy show. Walker, 36, is a professional comedian, dad to three-year-old Atlizel, and a volunteer at Sacred Heart Community Services’ La Mesa Verde, where he helps families in need access healthy food. He calls himself “Mr. Walker.” He started out hosting comedy nights at San Jose’s Brittania Arms and now performs at the Ice House, San Jose Improv, Laughs Unlimited, Rooster T. Feathers, and the Caravan Lounge. He's also emceed Music in the Park and the San Jose Jazz Festival. Raised in Pasadena, as a child actor he appeared in NBC’s Shannon’s Deal and in Nike and Pepsi commercials. He came to San Jose after high school to work for City Year Americorps and stayed on working for nonprofits and doing comedy. San Francisco is known as a comedy city, famous for Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Cho, and Ellen DeGeneres. Is San Jose a comedy city? San Jose definitely has its own scene but I think what differentiates us is that the audiences here
like smart comedy, but they also like dirty stuff. It’s kind of a weird dynamic. Whereas in San Francisco you have to be smart and quippy and avant-garde because San Francisco comedy is very “hipstery.” I think there's more of a sense of fun in San Jose comedy. There's more of a sense of “anything goes.” We push boundaries and audiences here like that. Do you have a favorite joke? Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven eight nine. [Laughs] What makes good comedy? Successful comedians really try to connect the audience with their personal stories or something that they're really passionate about, even if it's something terrible. It started with Richard Pryor. He was the innovator of telling it like it is and telling it from your perspective. A lot of comics mimic that. I think it’s successful because it’s the most honest. It transcends gender, race, and politics, and people understand what you're saying. You tell your truth in a funny way and people love it. A theme you work with is your experience being black in liberal Silicon Valley, is that accurate? Is there a better way to say it? That's very accurate. I am a black person. I am a male. I think I identify as a feminist, as having different views toward relationships. I'm struggling with all of that stuff, but I struggle with it openly as a comic.
“SUCCESSFUL COMEDIANS REALLY TRY TO CONNECT THE AUDIENCE WITH THEIR PERSONAL STORIES OR SOMETHING THAT THEY'RE REALLY PASSIONATE ABOUT, EVEN IF IT'S SOMETHING TERRIBLE... YOU TELL YOUR TRUTH IN A FUNNY WAY AND PEOPLE LOVE IT.” _Ato Walker
they're hilarious—and it’s because he questioned and poked and prodded the powers that be during his age. He was well liked, he was controversial, and all of the different things that come with being a public figure, and he was sought after because of his opinions.
There are comedians who have achieved greatness using material that made their white audiences feel uncomfortable: Mort Saul, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Dick Gregory, and W. Kamau Bell. My whole thing is that white people have been making black people feel uncomfortable for six hundred years. It’s kind of funny that white folks laugh about themselves when we're pointing out the ridiculous nature of their privilege. It also eats into you a little as a black man because you're explaining to them “Hey, this needs to stop, it's ridiculous,” and they're like “Ha ha, we're going to keep it going.” It's disheartening. The thing that comics have done throughout the ages is always question powerful people and always point out what’s really going on. Mark Twain is one of our greatest comedians and he was excellent at this!
Mark Twain! He even wrote under a pseudonym. His name was Samuel Clemens and a lot of people really didn't know who that dude was. He floated under the radar and made fun of everybody. You have to understand that a lot of comedians do that. Comedy is this fluid, unpredictable, and challenging thing to do that's super fun when you’re on your highest high. It's hard to deal with when you don't have a good set, but it gives the comic and the audience self-awareness, and we all learn from it.
That's so profound. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was all about bigotry. All about it! Read his short stories,
MIranda Outlaws AND THE YOUNG
an independent theater troupe by and for the young
uring an advanced drama class her senior year of high school, Miranda Caravalho was discouraged to discover that most one-acts for an all-women cast were limited to the topics of pregnancy and men. This motivated her, at the age of 17, to create the Young Outlaws, a theater troupe for young actors, playwrights, and directors between the ages of 14 and 21 with an emphasis in creating roles for women and the LGBT community. As not only the founder but also the artistic director and lead playwright, Caravalho has already produced two shows and has plans for two more. Has being younger ever held any obstacles or benefits in your mission for the Young Outlaws? It’s mostly been obstacles. Most venues in San Jose and Santa Clara are expensive. Going to them and saying, “We’re struggling young artists with a mission statement that I believe would benefit the community,” doesn’t really work. [Laughs] It’s been tough. But the reason I work as hard as I do to make this happen is because there comes a point where you stop expecting that things are going to be handed to you. From that point on, you build up an intense determination. Being on a tighter budget, how have you been creative financially? To really give yourself as many opportunities as possible, you need to rearrange your theatrical business so you can do it anywhere. Our last show, The End of the World, was pretty minimalistic. Our props were a table, four chairs, and a bucket full of other miscellaneous things. We held the show in a tent. We had our last rehearsal on the side of the road, near Philz Coffee on San Antonio! How did the Young Outlaws get their name? I chose the outlaw motif because it felt like young performing artists who had no interest in musicals were on the outskirts. The very act of trying to make this troupe felt like a bit of a crime. In that way, we’re sort of turning our art into vandalism. I call it as independent as independent can get.
What show has been your favorite so far, and why? My favorite is our first full-length show called The Muses. It’s sci-fi/ horror and will be performed on August 17 at the Art Boutiki. It will be our first show inside a building! [Laughs] It’s an interesting point in life when you’re this excited by the mere concept of having a building to perform in! What is an important theme in your shows? I find myself writing a lot about the nature of unhappiness. I was in a pretty deep depression for five years of my life. I grew up in a family of recovery; we’re all invested in fixing ourselves emotionally and spiritually. So that reflects a lot in my writing—the act of finding yourself unhappy and either making the move to change it or falling into that void by deciding to remain miserable. I have a lot of stories that go against conventional, “nice” storytelling. What do you like best about the artistic director side of your work? I have a theory that when you’re young and you find an art form that you’re really passionate about, it helps you emotionally because your brain and personality are still developing. As the director, I spend less time focusing on a show or a character and more on the actors themselves. I want to make this person not only be the best actor they can be, but the most self-validated they can feel. I don’t want them walking out of a show and thinking, “I did a great job acting as that character, costuming, directing, etc.” I want them to say, “I did a good job, me, as a human being.” What are your hopes for the future of the Young Outlaws? I would absolutely love it if there came a point in time when we could do a show on a stage. More broadly speaking, I hope that the Young Outlaws can reach an audience of young actors and artists who feel like they have nowhere else to go. I hope to provide an opportunity for them so they don’t have to wait to do what they love to do. They can start right now. youngoutlaws.org
Interview by Johanna Hickle Photography by Daniel Garcia
San Jose Childrenâ€™s Musical Theater (CMT) Artistic Director, Kevin Hauge
Kevin HaugE SAN JOSE CHILDREN’S MUSICAL THEATER Interview by John McCluggage Photography by Daniel Garcia
ith 20 years under his belt as the San Jose Children’s Musical Theater (CMT) Artistic Director, Kevin Hauge can boast a host of accomplishments, including 10 consecutive National Endowment for the Arts artistic excellence awards and exclusive rights to produce and premiere shows like Miss Saigon, Aida, American Idiot, and Billy Elliot before other companies. Most recently, he was named Silicon Valley Creates 2016 Legacy Laureate. One might assume Kevin would be content to sit back and enjoy the ride. While he’s proud of all his theater has accomplished, Hauge’s creative spirit is a restless one, and he no sooner scales one artistic summit than he’s off to the next. It’s a small wonder he was able to squeeze out some time to sit down for a chat and a glimpse into what makes him tick.
It was there when I came on. John Healy, CMT’s founder, started it. And I embraced it. Casting everyone really shaped my perspective on believing there’s a way to stretch every kid. Learning how they can become successful, you find ways to play to their strengths. Often your shows include 70 to 100 kids or more. How does it work logistically, and more importantly, how does it work artistically? We use multiple casts, and scheduling is a major challenge. But once the structure is in place, what you realize artistically is that it’s possible to be inclusive and exceptional. We can and do serve the kids as well as the audience. Another aspect that’s a big part of CMT is the family buy-in. Seems everyone’s involved in one way or another. Right. Even though it’s the Children’s Theater, we’re really a family theater. The shared experience between the children and adults involved is really a powerful one. And in a way, CMT is a family of its own.
Did you follow the normal career progression from performer to director to producer, or did you take another path? In a way I did, though I believe the way to the top is never a straight path. My eye was never on an ultimate job: I really just rolled from position to position, filling a need. I did start as a performer and something might come up in rehearsals that threatened to stall the production, and the director saw something in me that made him think, “Well, this kid can keep us running.” Maybe I became a dance captain or stepped in as assistant choreographer. Later I was asked to choreograph and then direct. And I had a mentor. Gene Patrick was with the Marriott Corporation and had theme parks with shows he needed produced, and he brought me in as part of the team. He also had connections with CMT— ultimately, it’s how I wound up here.
And the parents are involved not only front of house, with ushering and concessions, but backstage as well.Stage managing, costumes, sets, run crew...everything, really. And the expectations are high. With proper support, volunteerism and professionalism aren’t mutually exclusive. You don’t compromise either in selecting the show or in the way you produce it because of the age and experience of the performers. Dumbing it down is not in us. Take your recent production of Billy Elliot. It requires a special set of skills and talent for the lead. And you went into it without knowing who would play that part. You must’ve been confident you could somehow pull it off. It’s not ego. It’s faith. Faith in the young performers out there and in our ability to bring them in and work with them toward success.
Was it then, or beforehand, that you discovered your focus would be working with young performers? Well, my parents both were teachers, so of course I never wanted to be one. [Laughs] But the opportunity at CMT, with the wide variety of talent and expertise of the kids, was something that really excited me.
That was a Marquee Show, right? Right, we have three performance divisions at CMT: Rising Stars is for ages 6 to 14; Mainstage, for 14 to 20; and the Marquee Production, which uses CMT alumna as well as other working actors.
Let’s talk a little about that. One of things that makes CMT so unique is its commitment to cast every child who auditions. Was that your concept, or was it in place when you came on in ’96?
“THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO MEASURE SUCCESS, BUT IT’S GRATIFYING TO KNOW THAT ANY NIGHT IN NEW YORK, THERE ARE CMT ALUMS PERFORMING IN BROADWAY PRODUCTIONS.”
CMT is the largest theatrical performing and training organization of its kind in the nation and the oldest performing arts organization in San Jose. Its variety of programs—classes, summer camps, audition workshops, productions, and school shows—reach over 40,000 youth and their families each year.
any rules or limitations? On the contrary, we embrace it. I’m looking for opportunities around creation and media. An idea I’ve had for three years is coming to fruition this summer with our production of Rent. We’re calling it Second Screen. On two special performances, the audience will be encouraged to bring their smartphones and tablets. In the back three rows of the theater, they’ll download an app that will allow them “backstage access” as well as special features that will play simultaneously as the production is performed.
The quality of the shows is amazing. It’s literally some of the best theater in the Bay Area. There’s so much out there. We’re just happy to be a part of it. And many have gone on to have successful careers in theater. There are so many ways to measure success, but it’s gratifying to know that any night in New York, there are CMT alums performing in Broadway productions. In Manhattan, when my wife, Kris, and I let folks know on social media that we’ve made our way to town, to see a gaggle of them here and there with some of them getting up for show call...so fun!
But the whole vibe, the dynamic of that performance, will be affected. Hope it will. Young people are 10 steps ahead of any of us in all of this, and rather than feel threatened or mourn the past, let’s be part of something new and exciting. This isn’t for every performance, but it is something to try and [it’s worth exploring] what works. We want to make a performance an event.
After 20 years, what’s something you most love seeing or doing at CMT? Oh, I think it would be witnessing the kids finding their own individual way through the process. Meaning? I like to think of stepping stones. From performance division to division, sure, but even from someone who may start in the ensemble, then move to getting to wear a mic pack (meaning their voice will be part of the reinforced chorus), to maybe getting a line or two and ultimately a role. They grow in self-confidence and ability. It’s really rewarding to see.
Just the back three rows of the audience will be involved? No, we’re going to have a backstage element as well. Cameras backstage during the show? Why not? And the stage manager may record some things during rehearsal to be incorporated. The actors may use devices during the performance. We have a unique art form. Let’s see what happens when we integrate art and technology...in real time.
Do you find screens, cameras, social media, and the like to be in competition for theater’s focus and attention? Do you have
THE FACE OF BMX Written by Josh Russell Photography by SCott MacDonald
A year later, in 1996, he was ready for his first competition: Destination Extreme in Seal Beach, televised on ESPN. He competed as an amateur on that Saturday, winning, as he says, “by a good margin,” and then he decided to turn pro— that day—because “it didn’t feel fair.” He competed as a professional in the same tournament the next day. In so doing, he was going up against BMX legends Dave Mirra, Dennis McCoy, Jay Miron, and Dave Osato—all idols of his. He decided to unleash the Backtrailer and pulled it off, beating out Taj Mihelich, a “BMX god,” to take fifth place.
Phase I: Born to Ride Born in 1979, Ryan grew up in Los Gatos. Always active as a child, Ryan remembers riding his first bike when he was three years old. “A black Kent with red components,” he says, smiling. As he got a little older, he turned to BMX. “I just took to it. I had fun with it,” he says. He and his brothers built ramps at his house, using mostly bricks and plywood, with the lawn as his “safe landing zone.” He recalls, “We would launch as far as we could…eat shit…laugh…and go again.” At age eleven, Ryan got serious. One day, a group of boys from school was waiting for him by the bike racks—to beat him up, he’d thought at first. But it turns out they’d seen his new Boss and wanted him to go riding with them at Calabazas Park after school. Ryan walked in and saw the dirt jumps. “I was, like, holy crap. This place is awesome!” From that day on, he went as often as he could. Then came the real test of his mettle: his first major crash. When that happens, Ryan says, young riders either walk away or are totally hooked. Ryan brushed himself off, got back on, and took the jump. “No matter what, it’s always an amazing feeling to land a jump,” he says.
Phase III: Soaring to New Heights When Ryan went pro, things really took off. He secured his first sponsor—Bontrager, out of Santa Cruz—and others followed: clothing, bike components, shoes. He competed in events in Chicago, New York, San Diego. Even if he was consistently only placing fifth, he felt he was a “legit dude on the circuit.” And even with substantial prize money coming in, he kept his high school job at the local Jiffy Market on Los Gatos Boulevard. In 1997, Haro Bikes approached Ryan about a deal to replace Todd Lyons, who had just left. It was, he says, the biggest decision of his life. He sat with Jiffy Dave from the market one afternoon, writing out the pros and cons on a cigarette box. The pros won out. He quit the market and became official teammates with BMX legend Dave Mirra. That same year, he was invited to the X Games in San Diego, and he took fifth place in the park/street course. In dirt, though, he went into the finals in first place—then suffered a major crash and ended in third. “I could have won,” recalls Ryan. “I was so pissed!”
Phase II: Branching Out/Turning Pro By the time Ryan entered high school, he was riding all the time, and when his friends were trading in their bikes for cars, Ryan saw no need to trade. Getting a car meant he could ride in more places. He just needed a trunk big enough to stow his bike. Ryan focused on learning new tricks, creating tricks. When he was a junior, he developed his first signature move: the Backtrailer, a 360 in which he’d throw the bars one way, catch them, and then throw them the other way.
During that time he was also attending Cal Poly, majoring in mechanical engineering and driving from San Luis Obispo to San Jose every weekend to train. But when he skipped his sociology final to film a Minute Maid commercial, he decided to quit school and dedicate himself to riding. “My mom was not stoked,” he says. “But she supported me.”
shoe deal with Adidas; he had his own action figure, his own video game, his own signature Haro Bike. “The deals were just rolling in,” he says. He was not just winning—he was dominating.
Phase V: A Family Man In 2007, Ryan and his longtime girlfriend married and moved back to the Bay Area. When their first child was born, Ryan went from riding six to eight hours a day to being a dad, with limited time to spend in skate parks. In 2008, Ryan thought seriously about phasing out of BMX altogether. In 2009 he turned 30, old age in the BMX world. He was competing against guys half his age. BMX was slowly declining in popularity. Dave Mirra was retired. Jay Miron was retired. There was a changing of the guard. But instead of turning in his wheels, Ryan got motivated. He rode by himself, pushing ever harder. Following the birth of his second and then third child, he has continued to compete—and win. “I feel like I am still a contender,” he says. “I am defying the odds of age.” As recently as 2014, at the Red Bull Dreamline event, he took first place. Nobody is doing what Ryan is doing, especially at the age of 36. He is still pushing. He is still creating new tricks. And he is venturing into mountain biking, slopestyle—he has even competed as a pro. But BMX is still his passion. “I want to compete in BMX until I’m 40. I don’t see why not. I want to set the bar for what’s possible. I still love it. There is no better gig out there.”
Phase IV: Becoming a Legend By 1998, Ryan was competing in over 20 events a year, sometimes traveling as far as Japan, and secured his first-ever first-place finish. He was cementing his role as one of the top riders in BMX. Ryan and Dave Mirra were becoming closer friends, and in 1999, when Dave moved to Greenville, North Carolina, he convinced Ryan to make the move too—they’d be the first riders there, though others soon followed. Ryan recalls competing in contests where eight of the ten finalists were from Greenville. “We ran the town,” he says. “We were all living a rock star lifestyle. We got out of speeding tickets, got free pizza. It was surreal.” Ryan even converted a warehouse in Greenville into his own skate park, where he could practice anytime he wanted. He was soon pulling in well over six figures, and by 2003 Ryan had taken first place in the X Games, King of Dirt, Gravity Games, and Vans Triple Crown—all the biggest dirt tournaments. Off the course, in 2004 he took the ESPN ESPY Award for Best Action Sports Athlete and BMX Plus! Dirt Jumper of the Year. He was featured on the TV show MTV Cribs in 2005, and was a Teen Choice Award nominee for Male Action Sports Star in 2008. He signed a
“WE WERE ALL LIVING A ROCK STAR LIFESTYLE. WE GOT OUT OF SPEEDING TICKETS, GOT FREE PIZZA. IT WAS SURREAL.” facebook: RyanNyquistBMX/ instagram: ryannyquist twitter: RyanNyquist
Future Arts Now! Written by Demone Carter, Program Director / Cofounder Photography by Daniel Garcia
Bobbie Vie, Cofounder
“NOT NOT ONLY HAS OUR WORK ENRICHED THE LIVES OF LOCAL YOUTHS, IT HAS ALSO CHANGED NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS ABOUT HIP HOP CULTURE.” _Demone Carter
ip-hop saved my life. I know that sounds like a cliché or hyperbole, but it really did. I’ve been a rapper for 20-plus years; I dabble in DJing and have a large network of friends and colleagues who represent all strands of hip-hop expression, including breakdancing and graffiti art. Being immersed in hiphop culture gave me the gift of direction that many of my teenage peers lacked. At some point in my late 20s, I had a vague idea about starting a program to pass on this gift of hip-hop to a younger generation. My friends and local breakdance empresarios, Bobbi Vie and Raymond “Nasty Ray” Mora, shared this vision, and so we formed FutureArtsNow! From the outset our goal has been to provide creative-expression classes to youths who could not otherwise afford these experiences. We are a small, for-profit entity that currently runs hip-hop–based afterschool programs in Alum Rock, Evergreen, and Franklin McKinley school districts. In addition, through a partnership with the city of San
Jose, we host an open gym for hip-hop dancers and very affordable hip-hop dance classes for youths ages 6 through 12. Our weekly gatherings at the Edenvale Community Center have become a hub for the local hip-hop dance scene and have drawn dancers from all over the world as well, including from Brazil, the Netherlands, and Canada. Not only has our work enriched the lives of local youths, it has also changed negative perceptions about hip-hop culture. This shift in perception has manifested itself in the production of two outdoor hip-hop festivals done in collaboration with San Jose Jazz and San Jose Parks Foundation. Using hip-hop as a vehicle for youth development and community building has earned us accolades; we were honored at the 2016 State of the City Celebration and received a 2013 Service to Youth Award by San Jose Job Corps. Perhaps one of the most gratifying parts of our journey with FutureArtsNow! is watching youths who took our classes continue to develop their craft and become instructors with our program, including the following staff and volunteers.
futureartsnow.org 330 Branham Lane East San Jose, CA 95111 facebook: FutureArtsNow Photographer: Markas Plato | Photo Assistant: Brooklynn Plato | Model: Vanessa Wilkinson (left) of Stars Model Management | Model: LaNisa BuenaVista (right) of Look Model Agency Make-Up: Lukas Plato | Hair Stylist: Anna Draganova, Debbie Duran, and Aubrey Brillo of Umbrella Salon | Stylist: Danielle Tavia
Joseph Scarface Felix
When we first met Scarface, he was a raspy-voiced sixth grader doing daredevil breaking moves on the blacktop at Fischer Middle School. He instantly gravitated toward our program and has orbited the FutureArtsNow! universe ever since. Fearless and freakishly athletic, Scarface brings an intensity to breakdancing that is unmatched by his peers. Our resident session wild man, he is the first to take his shirt off and howl at the moon after completing a power move. Outside of the dance circle, he is really chill, exuding a surfer vibe. Scarface is also a willing mentor, always encouraging younger b-boys to perfect their craft.
William Billy the Kid Wakefield
Billy the Kid has literally grown up in FutureArtsNow! He started off as a fourth-grade student in our afterschool program. When he aged out and went to middle school, he was our most consistent volunteer, and eventually, in his high school years, he became part of our paid staff. Billy is the first point of contact for those who visit our community center open session and knows and sees all that goes on in our hip-hop enclave. Billy is also a budding street-fashion aficionado who succeeds in making us feel really old.
Alex Prince Ali Flores
Prince Ali is one of the Bay Areaâ€™s best poppers and a master teacher of hip-hop dance. Prince Ali exudes a quiet sensei vibe, never raising his voice but somehow always holding the attention of students ages 6 to 60. Perhaps itâ€™s his ability to take the seemingly robotic movements of poppinâ€™ and make them appear seamless and fluid. His great gift as a dancer is his ability to connect with music in an intimate way. When Prince Ali is in the zone, his improvised moves seem intricately choreographed for whatever song he is dancing to.
Michael Majin Vu
Majin is as quiet and unassuming as they come. In a boy band, he would definitely be the shy one. His reserved nature belies the incredible creativity and athleticism he brings to breakinâ€™. Inspired by the leg-swipe moves performed by Jackie Chan in the classic martial arts film Drunken Master, Majin has honed a style that curves where others go straight. His ability to contort his body in unorthodox forms and create physical contours when most b-boys would be angular is his movement genius. In addition to being an amazing dancer, Majin has been a consistent volunteer for FutureArtsNow!
black sand beach
Photographer Daniel Garcia . Photo Assistant Arabela Espinoza . Model Michelle Stars Management . Stylist Elle Mitchell . Hair Stylist PJ Bedlam Beauty & Barber . Assistant Stylists Chelsea Voight and Helen Yoo Make-up Artist Zenia Marie . Producer Kristen Pfund. Production Assistant Akadina Yadegar . Wardrobe Ruti palo Alto. Location Black SanD Beach Sausalito
Striped Poppy Vest, $249 Cropped Pants, $219 Frame + Embroidery Cuff, $169
Jane Pants, $319 Montana Sleeveless Vest, $239 Ellipse Cuff, $189 Cora Accordion Earrings, $219
Tulip Dress, $269
Plaid Venus Blouse, $269 Plaid Violet Pants, $259
Black Jacket, $239 Stacked Leather Necklace, $219
HOUSE Written by Michelle Runde Photography by Walter Wagner
“THE VENUE TAKES THE MUSICIAN’S PERSPECTIVE. THIS SPACE WAS MADE FOR MUSICIANS.” _Atsuko Yamura
14577 Big Basin Way | Saratoga, CA | 408.647.2273
alking through the Village, Saratoga’s historic downtown district, on a summer evening, you can expect to see couples and families strolling the street, heading to their favorite restaurant, wine bar, or club for a fine evening out. In the suite of options available in the Village, Café Pink House, one of Silicon Valley’s newest destinations for jazz, is not to be missed. Here you’ll find a full night of lively music, delicious food, and lots of fun. The jazz club is co-owned by Matt Toshima and Yoshiko Oda, longtime Bay Area residents and close friends for the last 12 years. The two first crossed paths when Matt, a music lover and guitar player, was looking to assemble a band. “I met Matt at a party thrown by a mutual friend,” says Yoshiko. “At the time, he was gathering band members, and from childhood I’d really liked to sing, so I raised my hand when he asked.” Matt is a self-made businessman, but his passion is music. “I’m an engineer,” he says, “but for a certain period of my life, I was a musician. Even though I have my own company now, I still love jazz.” In 2001, Matt and Yoshiko started playing a seven-piece band, with Matt on the guitar and Yoshiko singing. Over time, the other members of the group started to drift away. Finally, only Matt and Yoshiko remained. At about the same time, they decided to start a semiconductor company together. “In the beginning, we used Matt’s second house, which was painted pink, for our company. So we started to host jazz music there about once a month, putting together our own home concerts for friends and fellow musicians,” says Yoshiko. Eventually their business outgrew the pink house, so in 2007 they packed up and moved to a larger commercial space in Saratoga. They continued to host small concerts in their new space, enjoying the experience too much to give it up. Over time, their semiconductor business outgrew its second home, and so they moved to new quarters in San Jose. Finding they wanted to continue throwing concerts, they decided to pursue these evenings of music as a profitable
venture. So, they expanded out from their Saratoga location, and got serious about it. On the stage sits a grand piano and state-of-the-art sound system designed to showcase large bands. And everywhere throughout the venue there are thoughtful touches, such as extra doors to block out the kitchen noise and a built-in button at each table so guests can request food or drinks without disrupting the ambiance. “Our goal is not to disturb the guests while the music is playing, but we did want to give them a way to reach us for service,” explains Atsuko Yamura, general manager at the cafe. “The venue takes the musician’s perspective,” she continues. “This space was made for musicians.” If that particular detail makes the cafe ideal for musicians, it enhances the experience for guests as well—as does another aspect of the show design here. With an hour of open time before the music begins, a one-hour intermission between sets, and an hour to socialize afterwards, this jazz club provides for a unique relationship between guests and players. Musicians can talk with the crowd both before and after a set, something that’s often not possible at other venues. “This is a meeting place for the musician and the audience,” says Matt. Jazz is not the only music you can hear at Café Pink House. The stage has seen samba, a variety of contemporary vocalists, and even flamenco music, complete with traditional dancers. Matt and Yoshiko are also starting to expand into renting the club out for private concerts, parties, and other events, hoping to attract an even more diverse clientele. “Saratoga can be a little quiet. We have our regulars who love music and know to come here, but not enough people stop in off the street. We want everyone to know we’re here,” says Matt. As part of their expansion, too, Café Pink House recently started hosting Coffee Time on Saturday afternoons, a chance for guests of all ages to enjoy live music with no cover charge. So, whether weekend evening or Saturday afternoon, if you’ve an ear for music and a taste for good food, Café Pink House is the place for you. cafepinkhouse.com facebook: Cafe-Pink-House
(L to R) Brian Sheu, guitar; Oscar Pangilinan, tenor saxophone/alto saxophone; Fred Paclibon, electric bass; Amy Dabalos, vocals; Christian Manzan, trombone/vocals; Anthony Franceschi, drums; Bennett Roth-Newell, piano/vocals.
Interview by Giselle Tran Photography by Karen Santos
NOT YOUR TYPICAL LOUNGE ACT
he key to a great sound is playing something that sounds familiar but also feels new, a sweet spot that San Jose’s The Bad Ones have managed to find. An R&B, fusion, hip-hop project with deep jazz roots, The Bad Ones is a seven-piece ensemble that has the muscle to grab you by the hips and move you into a groove. Hardly necessary— since your head turns and toes start tapping the moment you hear their tight rhythms and smooth melodies. Formed in 2012, The Bad Ones have played a number of notable gigs, such as the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, KCSM’s Jazz on the Hill, Café Pink House, and City Lights Theater. Armed with a debut album coming in late October, The Bad Ones are ready to solidify their place in the Bay Area scene and the larger jazz world. Bennett RothNewell, pianist and founding member of The Bad Ones, gives a little insight into the band’s history, future, and motivation.
So The Bad Ones play with electric instruments most of the time? Our bass and guitar are always electric, and when we play live, I play electric keyboard, sometimes even the keytar, although I play grand piano only on the album. Having that electric sound really brings out the muscle in our sound, you know? And it’s been necessary to the development of our sound. For instance, we’re all really influenced by Weather Report, who could take a standard jazz piece and make it stray away from the typical jazz sound. So for us, it’s our way of showing our music has a driving force—a vibrato of sorts. You have a new album coming out. Tell me about that. The album contains nine tracks. Seven of them are originals written by me or Amy. We also cover Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady,” which Oscar and Amy arranged for the album, and “Brother Hubbard” by Kenny Garrett. We walked into 25th Street Recording in Oakland and knocked out the album over a weekend. I think we spent 10 hours each day in the studio, which gave us a lot of time to be very detail-oriented and add some production, like overdubbed vocals. With the album, we were able to focus on each individual part and choose the most crisp takes. Still, it contains a lot of moments of fiery improvisation from all of us, over tunes with funky, soulful grooves.
Who are The Bad Ones right now? What do they play? I play piano and keys for the band. We also got Oscar Pangilinan on alto and tenor sax. We got Christian Manzana on trombone, Brian Sheu on guitar, Fred Paclibon on bass, and Anthony Franceschi on drums. Amy Dabalos sings vocals for us, and sometimes Christian and I rap. The Bad Ones used to have a core quartet and rotate different members. What changed? Well, we just think having seven members more accurately captures and represents our sound. We’re not the typical lounge act. We’re not easy listening or smooth jazz or background music, you know— we’re not off to the side. As a seven-piece ensemble, we have a lot of muscle to our sound. We have two horns, a full rhythm section, and a vocalist, which isn’t your typical jazz combo, and that opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of diversity, dynamics, texture, orchestration. We get to have different instrumental features. One song could ask for the energy of a distorted guitar solo while another sound might need the gentle side of a piano.
When does the album come out? Our release show is on October 21 at Cafe Stritch. What drives The Bad Ones to keep playing? I think one part of it is the unique camaraderie and friendship we share that really shows when we’re on stage together. You know, we all started out as friends first, and we sort of swelled into this band, and now we can’t get enough of it. The other part is the Indiegogo campaign we created to fund the debut album. Our goal was to reach $10,000, and we exceeded that with $10,350. To see so many people willing to support us that much and show so much love was truly inspiring.
indiegogo: bit.ly/BadOnes_2 facebook: TheBad456
Bob Zeidman ENGINEER | ENTREPRENEUR | AUTHOR
nside his prominent Cupertino-based consulting business, offering expertise on infringement of copyright and intellectual property, is Bob Zeidman: respected engineer, serial entrepreneur, award-winning author.
people will always crave great creative works, and continue to pay for them. Do you think the TV depictions of Silicon Valley are exaggerated or right on? It depends on the show. I don’t like Silicon Valley. I find it crude and while it has some basis for the eccentric geniuses in this place, it does a lot of things for shock value. I prefer Halt and Catch Fire, in which every character seems like someone I know—though cranked up to 11.
What’s the story behind a techie guy living a secret life as a novelist and screenwriter? Some years ago, I got fed up with the corporate world. So I left tech to fulfill my dream of writing. When that didn’t always pay the bills, I went back to tech, but as a consultant. Now I go back and forth between the two worlds. When I get frustrated with one world, I depart for the other.
How do you incorporate your technological-based life into your stories? I don’t. John Irving once told me, “Don’t write what you know.” He said that in Cider House Rules, he got one thing very wrong and it was about making apple cider, something he’d done as a kid. For some reason, when I write about tech, it never comes out as interesting as in real life. So I stopped trying.
You started your entrepreneurial writing career on a napkin that is now exhibited at the Computer History Museum. How did that happen? I like making fun of stuff. A lot of people don’t see that side of me. In the ’80s—when people were meeting in bars and restaurants, scribbling ideas on napkins, and getting millions of dollars in funding—I decided, with tongue in cheek, that I would make the process even easier with a napkin that already had the business plan on it. I had visions of it being the next Pet Rock and making millions. That didn’t happen, but the napkin was rediscovered years later by the Computer History Museum. [Now] I’m kind of a celebrity. And it’s finally profitable.
How is creative writing similar to engineering creative processes? I take an engineering approach to writing. I write a short bio of each character so that I understand their motivations. I outline it from beginning to end and break it into chapters. [That way,] I’m not writing the entire novel at any one time, but simply a chapter that gets the reader from point A to point B. These [strategies] change along the way, but I always have a roadmap. Within that structure, I need to elicit emotions in the reader with each sentence.
With the current trend of giving away free content, how does your business defend Intellectual Property? It’s frustrating. Authors refer to Silicon Valley techies as “dot communists.” Companies like Google have persuaded people that giving away stuff is good for society. Meanwhile, Google makes billions of dollars while authors and artists suffer. I hope
What’s your next novel? Everyone asks that and I always reply that I’m done writing. It’s such a hard, long process. Then some dam inside me bursts and out comes another novel or screenplay.
Interview by Ann Bridges
GOOD INTENTIONS Winston poked his head out of the huddle to look around at the electronic guardians. Below each was a sign: Caution: Electronic Equipment. Cutting wires may result in electronic shock that can be fatal or extremely uncomfortable. Breaking glass can create sharp shards that can cut and cause bleeding. Loss of blood can cause death or discomfort. Below that sign was another: Caution: Rubber Fence Pushing objects into rubber fence may cause them to rebound into you causing serious injury, possibly leading to death or discomfort. Do not push or throw or otherwise direct objects at any great or small speed deliberately or accidentally into rubber fence. Below that was yet another sign with an arrow pointing downward: Caution: Ground Ground has been rubberized to minimize injury. Note that objects should nonetheless not be thrown, launched, pushed, prodded, thrust, or otherwise directed toward the ground or caused to be off-balance such that it might fall to the ground under the influence of gravity as death or discomfort may occur. Next to those signs was yet another sign: Beware of Signs Do not remove these signs under penalty of law. Signs are placed here to warn you of the dangers of this area for your own safety. Removing a sign could cause you or another person to perform dangerous activities without the knowledge of the dangers involved, thereby causing death or discomfort. Also, signs sometimes have sharp edges that can cut you and cause death or discomfort. ...The human igloo broke wide open and Winston Jones emerged, completely naked, black unprotected skin in the direct rays of the sun. â€œWahoo!â€? screamed Winston as he broke from the huddle and ran toward the fence. Electronic eyes were pivoting wildly. Red lights atop the fence began flashing crazily."
Excerpt provided by Bob Zeidman
gatherings for culture creatives
s the sun set over Alum Rock Avenue, the evening’s guests began to arrive at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, ready for a night of color and local cuisine. The air was filled both with the aroma of wine and the mellow soulful beats of DJ Malcolm Lee of BAMN Squad. Before the evening’s talks got underway, guests mingled in the courtyard, chatting and sampling the many salad and pastries laid out so invitingly. And then it was time to begin. After guests had found seats beneath the glow of courtyard lights, Daniel Garcia introduced the evening’s presenters. First up was Juan Sanchez, founder and creative director of Baunfire Ad Agency. Sanchez walked the crowd through some of the highlights of color theory. Working in advertising, Sanchez has firsthand experience of the impact of color on branding and consumer behavior. Colors like red, he explained, can be employed to stimulate excitement and spur spending, while yellow is often associated with joy and happiness and produces a warming effect. After Sanchez’s talk, the colors in the plaza itself seemed to take on a new significance. The next journey into color came via the taste buds. Reena Williams of Kwench juice in Campbell whipped up some refreshing juice samples for guests to try as she demonstrated the process of juicing. Using a vibrant palette of strawberry, mint, and watermelon, she concocted a revitalizing Summer Refresher. Throughout her talk, Williams encouraged the participation of the crowd, plying them with humor and Kwench gift cards. The nutrition advice went down easy. Sipping the last of their juice, guests awaited the final presentation as volunteers passed out water cups, salt containers, and paint. And then watercolorist Frances Marin led a crash course on the art of watercolor painting. Building on this foundation in theory, guests painted two original pieces and a bookmark. Salt, rubbing alcohol, and cotton swabs had been provided to add texture and “color” to their work, and many took advantage of the materials. At the end of the night, guests took home their art in plastic sleeves to showcase the evening’s watercolor adventure. Although the presentations had now come to an end, guests lingered for cocktails and conversation. Garcia spoke a few closing words, thanking everyone for coming out and thanking the School of Arts and Culture for providing the location. Guests left the plaza with color theory on their mind, nutritious food and drink in their bodies, and art in their hands. Special thanks to our event partners: School of Arts and Culture, Morgan Hill Cellars, Santa Clara Wines, Lion Ranch Vineyards & Winery, BAMN Squad, Kwench, Baunfire, Kooltura Marketing, WebEnertia, Mach 7 Sound, and Redemption. Next Content LAB: BEER LAB AT THE TECH'S GEEKTOBERFEST Thursday, September 29th, 7-11pm
Written by Nick Panoutsos Photography by Scott MacDonald
SU M T W San Jose Mini Maker Faire
Showcases makers, inventors, tinkerers, artists, builders, crafters, and many more creative individuals.
History Park makerfairesanjose.com
18 People and communities come together to walk, bike, skate, play, and explore the city like never before.
San Jose vivacallesj.org
Open Mic at Red Rock Coffee
The second floor is set up for local artists to come and display their talent at this open mic. This is a great way to connect with local artists and enjoy some live entertainment. Red Rock Coffee Weekly redrockcoffee.org
KALEID's Two Buck Tuesday
Get together with great artists, and see what's up in the arts community. There will be live painting/drawing, workshops, music, and $2 original art for sale.
Kendra Scott Grand Opening
Enjoy sips, sweets, and jewels while supporting the local arts scene. From 5-8pm, 20% of all sales go directly to SVCREATES.
KALEID Gallery Every 3rd Tues kaleidgallery.com
Santana Row, suite 1070 Kendrascott.com
Free to Make
On this new guided tour, candlelight provides the only illumination through a bewildering maze of rooms.
11 Dale Dougherty, the creator of the iconic MAKE Magazine and the Maker Faire, examines the global Maker Movement and explores how making boosts our ability to learn, to thrive, and to work with purpose.
Winchester Mystery House Oct 7–31 winchestermysteryhouse.com
Kepler's Books keplers.com
Bing Concert Hall live.stanford.edu
Halloween Candlelight Tours
5 A firebrand voice of the Arab Spring protests, Emel Mathlouthi earned the title “the voice of Tunisian revolution.” Her sound mingles rock, trip-hop, and electronica with Arabic undertones.
We Are Proud to Present
This Obie award–winning play is presented in association with the African-American Shakespeare Company, and will be directed by renowned Bay Area artist L. Peter Callender. San Jose Stage Oct 5–23 thestage.org
Pick-UP Party 8.4
19 Content Magazine Pick-Up Party for Issue 8.4, Profile, celebrating the people who are shaping the South Bay.
Citadel Art Studios content-magazine.com
TH F S Street Mrkt
2 Street Mrkt is a seasonal event taking place on the First Fridays of June, August, and September since the summer of 2006.
Cukui Music Festival
SoFA District southfirstfridays.com
Great America cukuimusicfestival.com
Jtown Art Walk
DESIGN IT YOURSELF
Explore the nexus of cutting-edge technologies and creative arts through renowned keynotes, interactive demos, networking cocktail parties, and live music performances.
9 Stroll through one of the three remaining historic Japantowns in the US for an evening of art, music, and food. During this event, various art galleries and local shops stay open late with some venues hosting live music.
California Theatre Oct 6–8 c2sv.com own San Jose
Japantown San Jose Facebook: JtownArtWalk
Santana Row donaldjpliner.com
Don’t miss this special 21+ edition of Creative Collisions. Dive into the biology of beer, with tastings from local and regional craft breweries and a special VIP room for CONTENT subscribers.
The Tech Museum thetech.org
Creative Convergence Silicon Valley
San Jose International Short Film Festival
High Release in Concert
Come together with filmmakers, industry executives, Silicon Valley notables, and celebrities to mix and mingle with audiences ready to discover creative works otherwise unavailable to Bay Area audiences.
A collaborative group in which dancers take turns choreographing primarily modern works, High Release Dance Company performs regularly in venues around the San Francisco Bay Area.
CineArts Santana Row Oct 20–23 sjsff.com
Cubberley Theater Oct 7–8 highrelease.org
3 First Annual Cukui Music Festival presented by @Washhous. Featuring local favorites: Rey Res, Cutso + Goldenchyld, and Chuy Gomez.
10 Donald J Pliner’s Fall Fashion Show kicks off at Hotel Valencia at 1pm. The party moves to the store, where you can shop the new collection or work with designers to create your own custom DACIO men’s loafer.
Luna Park Chalk Art Festival
The Luna Park Chalk Art Festival attracts over 3,000 artists, students, vendors, and community members to create over 250 pieces of diverse art throughout the park’s pathways. Backesto Park lunaparkchalkart.org
United Nations 20 Association Film Festival
Anne & Mark's Art Party 24
Palo Alto Oct 20–30 unaff.org
Santa Clara County Fairgrounds Sept 24 – Oct 1 artpartysj.com
This year’s theme, “Compass for a Better World,” continues the ongoing celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and focuses on various aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Prepare yourself for an Alice in Wonderland–inspired Arts Extravaganza featuring all types of artists and performers—from fine art to fire art, and everything imaginable in between.
To have your event considered for listing, send to: email@example.com
Contributors The production of Content Magazine would not be possible without the talented writers, editors, graphic artists, and photographers who contribute to each issue. We thank you and are proud to provide a publication to display your work. We are also thankful for the sponsors and readers who have supported this magazine through advertisements and subscriptions.
MARIKA KRAUSE Marika is a Bay Area storyteller. She produced for NBC Bay Area news, penned the happenings of Santa Clara University, and is now exploring the creative forces of SV at The Tech Museum of Innovation. instagram: MightyMarika
ANN BRIDGES Former executive Ann shares her novel approach to Silicon Valley by writing untold stories from an insider's view. Her nationally acclaimed, suspenseful fiction is available wherever books are sold. authorannbridges.wordpress.com
WALTER WAGNER Walter uses photography as his way of expressing a lifelong love of blues and jazz and the people who make it happen. Walter has photographed Bay Area music events extensively since 1963.
JOHANNA HICKLE Johanna is a freelance editor and writer. She is an idealist constantly on the hunt for silver linings. Her blog, Jumping Off The Page, is dedicated to discussing fictional characters.
JOHN MCCLUGGAGE John is a professional theater director whose work has been seen around the country (Cleveland Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), as well as in the Bay Area (SJ Rep, Center Rep, Children’s Musical Theatre). twitter: mccluggage11
SARAH GERBER Sarah Gerber is a storyteller, entrepreneur, artist, adventurer, award-winning filmmaker, traveler, strategist, history junkie, advocate, photographer, wife, big sister, California native, and coffee nerd. She is the founder of Twenty Twenty Studios, a small production studio telling stories that matter. instagram: 2020bysarah
AMRITA RAO Amrita is a writer, a musician, and a professional hobbyist. Originally from India, Amrita has recently moved to the South Bay. She is the coblogger of a niche literature/art blog—The Lit Room. instagram: raoamrita
Want to be a part of the Content community? Contact us at: Editor@content-magazine.com
JOSH RUSSELL Josh has spent the last 13 years of his career in philanthropy and community engagement, previously with SVCreates and currently as the Silicon Valley Market Manager at Bank of America. He is a published children’s author, having released his first children’s book, Little Boy Soup, in June of 2016. twitter: joshieruss and littleboysoup
This issue is made possible with the support of our partnersâ€”companies and organizations who share our desire to support and develop the creative community of the South Bay. We are grateful for their contribution and support and for actively taking part in the betterment of our region.
For more information on becoming a mission partner, contact Kristen@content-magazine.com
Filco Events has been working on festivals, fundraisers, and events in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988. Each event is individually tailored to the special needs and goals of the organization. While fundraising is always a significant part of festivals, other priorities include media attention, corporate support, and volunteer building, as well as the opportunity to showcase specific programs and services to the community. In all cases, advancing long-term goals while still raising significant revenue gives each event purpose and recognition for many years into the future. From logistics to concessions to volunteer coordination, we can contract key elements of large festivals, provide consultation, or actually direct the entire production. We are also available for national and multi-city events.
Proud Sponsor of Content Magazine Pick-Up Parties for 2016
Our vision is to create a vibrant place of learning, culture, and community that nurtures the soul and brings joy, skill building, and a sense of belonging to children, families, and all who participate. Guided by an 18-month community planning process designed to reimagine Mexican Heritage Plazaâ€™s future, a new vision for a School of Arts and Culture at MHP was created, embraced by the community, and adopted by the City of San Jose in the spring of 2011. We are leveraging a $32M cultural facility by providing unique and culturally relevant educational offerings of value to children and families, while creating a â€œcommunity containerâ€? for arts programming with a network of multicultural arts partners.
Founded in 2009 by San Jose native Tony Santos, Tony Caters is a fast-growing custom caterer doing business in Silicon Valley. We pride ourselves on from-scratch cooking and impeccable client service to help clients achieve their goals and be stars in the eyes of their guests. Our team is small, but mighty. We have lots of fun, and put heart and soul into the guest experience. Weâ€™re passionate about what we do, and pride ourselves on staff who are passionate about the industry and who invest in our shared goalâ€”to satisfy our clients!
www.tonycaterstoyou.com INSTAGRAM: Tonycaters 408.263.4366
Paul Mitchell The School San Jose is a school of cosmetology and esthetics located in the heart of the downtown San Jose. The school is designed to teach students the skills to explore their creativity and passions. We take students out of the classroom and into the salon for a hands-on, interactive experience led by expert stylists who love what they do. In need of a haircut, color, shave, or beauty treatment? Let us help you look and feel your best! Guided and supervised by expert stylists, our studentsâ€”we call them Future Professionalsâ€”offer a variety of hair services and beauty treatments at a fraction of salon prices.
Morgan Hill Cellars is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Santa Clara Valley. Established in 1913, the winery is currently under its third family ownership specializing in custom crush, blending, and bottling. We have a variety of wines produced mostly from local vineyards, as well as some unique blends such as Blackberry Merlot and Cherry Blossom Cabernet Sauvignon. Our tasting room is reminiscent of Old World Italy and boasts an eclectic gift shop with tasteful and whimsical items. We have a lovely vine-covered patio where you can sip our wine and relax. Open Tuesday thru Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
morganhillcellars.com twitter: MHCellarsWinery
Stars Management, now celebrating over 30 years of business, is a full-service talent agency located in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Stars, which has consistently enjoyed the reputation as one of the largest, most successful, and respected agencies on the West Coast, provides a comprehensive list of services, representing men, women, and children. The agency also has a Sports Management division representing athletes for endorsement, film, television, theatrical, and commercial opportunities. Stars Management is recognized worldwide.
We are your gourmet juice source, using 100% organic ingredients. The objective of KWENCH is to provide a fresh, healthy drink, free of additives. Treat your body well and your body will treat you well.
starsmanagement.com instagram: starsmanagement
kwenchjuice.com facebook: kwenchcampbell
KWENCH YOUR THIRST
Established in 2009, Sonido Clash is a San Jose collective that explores the traditional, modern, emerging, and future Latino sound diaspora. Founders Roman Zepeda (Turbo Sonidero), Angel Luna (Mextape), Fernando J. “Tlacoyo” Pérez, and Thomas Ramon Aguilar (Chatos1013) sought to build a brand via creative nightlife events as a response to the lack of diversity. Sonido Clash leveraged the 2010 National Association of Latino Arts & Culture (NALAC) conference in San Jose to root ourselves to a national audience as serious tastemakers in our scene. Over the years, Sonido Clash has curated specialized events in various spaces around San Jose, and our resident DJs have been invited to play in Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Antonio, Chicago, Tijuana, and Mexico City.
The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley is a nonprofit corporation made up of member wineries who grow and produce wines in the Santa Clara Valley. Long a vibrant growing region for premium wine grapes, the Valley is now home to over two dozen wineries of every size and shape, from long-established family operations to relatively small newcomers. Wineries: Aver Family Vineyards, Blended, A Winemaker's Studio, Casa de Fruta Winery, Castillo's, Hillside Shire Winery, Clos LaChance Winery, Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, Creekview Vineyards, Fortino Winery, Guglielmo Winery, Hecker Pass Winery, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, JasonStephens Winery, Kirigin Cellars, La Vie Dansante Wines, Lion Ranch Vineyards and Winery, Martin Ranch Winery, Medeiros Family Wines, Miramar Vineyards, Morgan Hill Cellars, Rapazzini Winery, Ross Vineyards and Winery, Sarah's Vineyard, Satori Cellars, Seeker Vineyard, Solis Winery, Stefania Wine, Sunlit Oaks Winery, Sycamore Creek Vineyards & Wine, and TASS Vineyards.
santaclarawines.com instagram: santaclarawines
sonidoclash.com facebook: sonidoclashsj
Lodge and Camp 2001 Rossi Rd at Hwy 1 Pescadero, CA 650-879-1100
Banking with your best interests at heart. techcu.com
ÂŠTechnology Credit Union. Federally insured by NCUA.
wgi o r c
bike c l
n jose, ca
Professional courier service promoting sustainability and empowering women through cycling in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The moment you wished you had done this earlier...
STAY & PLAY WEEKEND PACKAGE Starting at $184 USD plus tax per night* Package Includes: • Overnight accommodations for two in a luxurious Fairmont guest room • Full breakfast for two served in Fountain Restaurant • Complimentary overnight parking (one vehicle) • High Speed Internet Access
Getaway in Downtown San Jose. Discover vibrant urban restaurants, family activities and spectacular relaxation at our rooftop pool. For a revitalizing weekend make Fairmont San Jose your staycation choice. Book your Getaway. Fairmont.com/san-jose *Subject to availability (Friday through Sunday only) and cannot be combined with any other offer. Advance reservations are required.
Home of the Official sanctioned Taco Eating Contest by
AUGUST 20, 2016 ST. JAMES PARK, DOWNTOWN SAN JOSÉ | 11AM-8PM | $10 ADMISSION | 12 & UNDER FREE www.chachostacofestival.com
Live Music • food trucks • Taco eating contest
CREATE : CONNECT : SAN JOSE
BJÖRN SCHÜLKE, Space Observer, 2010
GFK Composite, Aluminum Steel, Monitors, LCD Mineta San Jose International Airport – Terminal B Commissioned by the City of San Jose Public Art Program, Office of Cultural Affairs www.sanjoseculture.org
customize the material
YOU ARE INVITED TO
DESIGN YOUR OWN DACIO O U R B E S T- S E L L I N G LOAFER OF THE DECADE
FRIDAY - SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 9 & 10
customize the stitching
DO N ALD J P LIN ER 377 Sa nta na Ro w Suite 1025 Sa n Jose, CA 95128 408.260.2500
customize the sole
INNOVATIVE & CREATIVE
CULTURE made in sanjose, ca
CONTENT NEXT ISSUE
PROFILES 8.4 SAN JOSE 2016
WWW.CONTENT-MAGAZINE.COM social media: contentmag annual subscription
join subscribe www.content-magazine.com
When I first started CONTENT and explained to people that we were going to focus on the South Bay, several people warned me that I would run...