KQED

Ed Drew’s ‘Native Portraits’ Drawn from Talking Circles, Fixed on Tintypes

On July 21, Spayne Martinez walked into the California Historical Society at the corner of Annie and Mission Streets in San Francisco. As an Academy of Art University alumna, she probably walked past the building countless times on her way to class in SOMA, but never with a 12-foot picture of her on display in the front windows. Inside, Martinez enthusiastically greeted Ed Drew, the photographer of behind Native Portraits: Contemporary Tintypes, on view at the CHS through Nov. 27.

"Spayne"2014-2015 Tintype by Ed Drew. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.
“Spayne”2014-2015 Tintype by Ed Drew. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.

Martinez beamed as she pointed out her son strapped to her back in the portrait and her cousin’s portrait a few frames down. As a professional portrait photographer herself and a tribal community member of the Klamath Basin, Martinez has a unique insight into the photographic representations of Native people.

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KQED

Primer Stories Saves the Internet from Itself One GIF at a Time

When was the last time an animated GIF left you breathless? (And not just because you were laughing so hard you couldn’t breathe.)

Whether you pronounce the file format with a hard G or a soft J, the medium is undeniable. GIFs often feature a series of still images ripped from popular videos to create an animated loop. The result is easily shareable and usually hilarious, but rarely an example of fine design.

Joe Alterio. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Joe Alterio. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Tim Lillis. Courtesy Primer&Co.
Tim Lillis. Courtesy Primer&Co.

This is where Joe Alterio and Tim Lillis hope to challenge your idea of what the internet should look like. The designers created Primer Stories in 2015 to share thought-provoking articles that integrate text and visuals for an interactive dual narrative. Based in San Francisco and Seattle respectively, Lillis and Alterio both draw inspiration from the Bay Area’s fusion of art and tech culture. . .

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This article was originally published on KQED Arts on 27 June 2016.

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Books, KQED

Book Review: God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls by Jaime Hernandez

For a fan of comics, I have not always felt welcome in the comic book store. A bad experience actually inspired me to write an article in 2014 for KQED Arts called, “No Girls Allowed? Braving the Comic Bookstore.

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I start by writing: “Five years ago I went into a comic bookstore in the South Bay and emerged from its shadowy depths with a sexist Lois Lane comic book from the ’60s and the sense that I was definitely underrepresented and unwelcome.”

If only I had found Jaime Hernandez’s 2012 Ti-Girls first! Although Jaime is in fact a man, his representation of women is so dynamic, I never would have guessed. He is best known for the “Love & Rockets” series. Created with his brother Gilbert Hernandez, Love & Rockets follows primarily Latina teenagers in the 1970s California punk scene.

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With the Ti-Girls, Jaime clearly draws inspiration from his love of female wrestlers. His characters span different cultures, ages and classes. And while each character is pretty damn sexy, they are all drawn to be so in different and equally powerful ways.

We first learn about the Ti-Girls adventures from comic enthusiast Maggie who shares old issues with her friend Angel. What Maggie doesn’t know is that Angel knows all about superheroes, because she has just discovered her own super powers.

While sneaking out as her alter-ego “Boot Angel” she runs into the mysterious Russian woman living in her apartment complex better known as “Alarma” of “The Fenomenons.

But not everyone is so lucky to have super powers and belong to an all-star lady squad. Maggie’s other friend, Penny Century, stirs up some intergalactic trouble when she tries to achieve superdom by any means.

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Three generations of female superheroes come to the rescue and Boot Angel learns more about her own powers from each.

When the young and inexperienced Zolar Bratz fail, and the exclusive Fenomenons refuse to get their outfits dirty, it is up to the aging Ti-Girls to come out of retirement to set things straight.

The best part of this comic, is the rewriting of the superhero canon. Unlike male superheroes Angel’s mother explains that “all women are born with it, but most lose it at a really early age. It’s too subtle to notice because most blossom when much older,”  she continues, “Guys don’t get it. They gotta go out an’ have lab accidents and other stuff to get their cojones but we got it born right in us.”DSC_0401.jpg

Check out this book if you’re a fan of super ladies!

 

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KQED

Read My First Article for Bay Area Bites!

Bay Area Bites is a food blog for Northern California’s Public Media KQED. My first article for Bay Area Bites was published today, and you can read it here! The article is titled: “Pie Ranch Sells Food for Thought at Highway One Non-Profit Farm Stand.”

I first came across Pie Ranch while driving from San Francisco to Santa Cruz along Highway One. It was the first time I had taken the coast for this commute and was enjoying the wonderfully scenic drive. As I neared Santa Cruz, I noticed hand-painted signs for pie & coffee cropping up. There is no one who loves pie and coffee more than I do, so I felt compelled to stop and investigate these claims. I pulled into Pie Ranch and wandered into their farm stand.

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Can you spot the hummingbird in this picture?

Something about the late afternoon light and the surprise of this quaint roadside offering really captured my imagination. Once inside I was impressed by sumptuous produce and socially conscious offerings. I have been able to visit multiple times and have learned more about the farm with each visit.

If you live in the California Bay Area, or plan to pass through during a road trip on Highway One, you’ll want to check out my article to learn about what Pie Ranch has to offer. Their next family-friendly event is happening this Saturday, April 16!

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KQED

Struggling SF Artists Imitate Life in ‘La Bohème’ — and Yes, There’s a Bar

It’s a scene straight out of the headlines: Six artists living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district sitting in their living room, optimistically trying to scrape together their overdue rent.

Now imagine they’re singing about it in Italian.

A full 120 years after Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème premiered in Italy, San Francisco’s chapter of the high-art-made-accessible company Opera on Tap has reimagined the story, setting their production in modern-day San Francisco. For the local singers performing La Bohèmeat the Tenderloin’s EXIT Theatre, the scene couldn’t be more timely.

“We are all artists who are struggling with trying to make ends meet in a very expensive city, and that’s exactly the story of La Bohème,” explains Indre Viskontas, the founder of Opera on Tap’s San Francisco chapter, who co-manages with four other “divas.”

Viskontas identifies the Tenderloin as a neighborhood where “you can bump into people who are in the tech industry, people who are awash with money, but also people who are really struggling, and just people in general who are really interested in creating something that will change the world… We thought that our audiences would get captured into the spirit of [La Bohéme] just walking up to the theater.”

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Greg Allen Friedman as Rodolfo and Morgan Harrington as Mimi in Opera on Tap’s production of ‘La Bohème.’ (Adrienne Blaine)

But if one can relate to struggling artists, can they relate to opera? This is where Opera on Tap, a national organization with chapters in major cities from Brooklyn to Berlin, is determined to change audience’s minds. “You don’t have to be a millionaire white dude who is in his ’60s to like opera,” says co-managing “diva” Jessie Neilson.

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Struggling SF Artists Imitate Life in ‘La Bohème’ — and Yes, There’s a Bar

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KQED

Podcast, Will You Be My Galentine?

I love podcasts, especially podcasts created by ladies, for ladies. Galentine’s Day, the day before Valentine’s Day, is all about celebrating the gals in our lives. So consider putting “ovaries before brovaries,” as Leslie Knope would say, in your podcast queue this month.

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Podcast, Will You Be My Galentine?

 

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KQED, Uncategorized

San Jose’s Egyptian Museum Vibes off its Secret Society Roots

In sixth grade, students in the California public school system study ancient Egypt. And every year, thousands of these students visit the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in western North America.

Where? In San Jose at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, of course.

If you didn’t grow up in the South Bay or spend your preteen years searching for meaning in the Metaphysical section of a bookstore like I did, then this particular Egyptian museum and the Rosicrucian Order may be uncharted territory.

Sekhmet figurine: the first ancient artifact in the AMORC collection. (Photo by Adrienne Blaine)
Sekhmet figurine: the first ancient artifact in the AMORC collection. (Photo by Adrienne Blaine)

It all began with an ancient figurine of the lion goddess Sekhmet, which stood on the desk of H. Spencer Lewis one hundred years ago. Lewis, an American occultist, founded the Rosicrucian Order, Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) in 1915.

AMORC is a secret organization, and as such can only be described by outsiders as “elusive.” AMORC defines itself on the Egyptian museum website as, “a philosophical and educational public benefit (501c3) organization.” Others call it a mystical fraternity.

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San Jose’s Egyptian Museum Vibes off its Secret Society Roots

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KQED, Uncategorized

Is George Harrison at a Concert Near You?

George Harrison died nearly 15 years ago, but you may have spotted him at a show in recent months. From the ethereal glow of illuminated smartphones raised overhead, Harrison’s visage has recently graced concerts from Oakland to Santa Cruz.

I first saw Harrison’s beaming face in April at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz. While I waited for electronic musician Panda Bear to take the stage, two young men held up the same close-up candid of Harrison flashing a toothy smile. Before I could process this poor man’s Tupac hologram, four other phones joined with the same image, a legion of Harrisons aloft.

The album cover for Let it Be by The Beatles, courtesy thebeatles.com
The Beatles, Let It Be.

Normally, illuminated screens at a concert invoke nothing but contempt from me, but Harrison’s guileless face seemed to be teleported from a simpler, analog time. And while attempts to replace the lighter of yesteryear with a lit-up phone are largely unsuccessful, this Harrison synchronicity brought the crowd closer to a shared experience.

I soon learned from 23-year-old San Francisco resident Ernie Houk that he had witnessed the same phenomenon at a Tame Impala concert at Oakland’s Fox Theater in November of 2014. “People do a lot of dumb things at concerts to get attention,” explained Houk, but he, too, felt this was different.

Not sure whether it was a meme dug up from “the bowels of Reddit,” Houk was initially confused, and then amused, by the 20 Harrisons popping up around him at the Fox Theater. At the Cocoanut Grove, I was similarly curious, so after the show I made a beeline for the stage to track down the initiator: 19-year-old Russell Cowick.

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Is George Harrison at a Concert Near You?

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KQED, Uncategorized

San Jose Musicians Advocate for Safer LGBTQ Spaces

Over the last six months, a movement has been underway in the South Bay to generate acceptance and provide safe spaces for LGBTQ musicians and fans.

San Jose’s Think and Die Thinking Collective, which was founded in 2012, has organized to help marginalized musicians advocate for themselves. Bean Kaloni Tupou, a founding member of Think and Die Thinking, explains that the typical bar show in San Jose can be a hostile environment for LGBTQ communities.

Screen shot of Back Bar's facebook post, 2015. (Courtesy: Richard Gutierrez)
Screen shot of Back Bar’s Facebook post, 2015. (Courtesy: Richard Gutierrez)

In February of this year, members of the Collective met with the owner of the all-ages club at San Jose Rock Shop and neighboring Back Bar to discuss a controversial sign posted outside of the bar. In a picture posted on the bar’s Facebook page, a handwritten message on a Back Bar sign reads, “Ladies… If you want a man to leave you alone at a bar, don’t tell him you have a boyfriend. They don’t care. Tell him you have a penis. Your [sic] welcome.”

This prompted San Jose musician Richard Gutierrez to write an open letter to San Jose Rock Shop and Back Bar on Facebook. Acknowledging the “trans / non gender-conforming folks who contribute to the San Jose music scene and have supported the Rock Shop since its inception,” Gutierrez stated, “what you are implying with that ‘joke’ is something very transphobic, hurtful and creating a dangerous space.”

Gutierrez continued, “I realize not everyone is well-versed in these issues and a lot of information about these topics have been suppressed throughout the years and allowed for stigmas to grow. I myself was never taught about these issues until much later.”

Gutierrez ended the letter with a call to action: “I hope you take this opportunity to learn and maybe step up as a great example to the community of making a mistake and truly owning it and attempting to better yourself and bring some light to this […] subject.”

Owner David Nevin quickly apologized, and wrote on Back Bar’s Facebook page

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San Jose Musicians Advocate for Safer LGBTQ Spaces

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KQED, Uncategorized

‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ and his White Friend

If you were at the San Francisco International Film Festival last week, you may have seen the teaser trailer for The Last Black Man in San Francisco. As a part of the festival’s Boomtown: Remaking San Francisco program, this film-in-the-making highlights issues of gentrification through the “fantastical retelling of Jimmie H. Fails’ true-life story.” The narrative focuses on Jimmie’s dream of buying back his childhood home in the Fillmore. While the film is an accurate depiction of Fails’ relationship to a booming San Francisco, it is his real-life friendship with the director, Joe Talbot, that may seem stranger than fiction to some.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” from Joe Talbot on Vimeo.

“When people see us walking down the street together they think we’re an odd pair,” said Talbot of himself and Fails. Fails interjects, “Just because I’m a tall black guy and Joe’s white. Why would that be weird? If you know us, then you know it’s not weird.”

Talbot first recognized Fails’ “natural presence” on film when he was just a kid documenting Bernal Heights goings on with a Hi8 camcorder. Fast-forward 12 years and the duo are still at it with a bigger vision and a deeper friendship.

It was the long walks Talbot and Fails took through “the roller-coaster hills of Bernal Heights” that inspired this project. As Talbot came to know Fails’ life story — shaped by upheaval throughout San Francisco — the more strongly he felt it needed to be told.

Talbot believes it is precisely because Fails grew up in so many “different worlds” within San Francisco that he is able to have a distinct personality in this film while also speaking to the universal feeling of being an outcast.

A close up the "Where's Jimmie" t-shirt The Last Black Man in San Francisco made for the film's Kickstarter campaign. (Courtesy of Joe Talbot)
A close up the “Where’s Jimmie” t-shirt The Last Black Man in San Francisco made for the film’s Kickstarter campaign. (Courtesy of Joe Talbot)

 

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‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ and his White Friend

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