Month: October 2015

Three Decades of Dance in the Mission

In 1980, Sears moved out of its building on Army street (renamed Cesar Chavez in 1995) and the building became legally zoned as ‘live/work’ – a major coup for artists at that time.  Deborah Slater’s friend, Judith Lit, heard the news by chance, and the two were able to visit the building and pick their studio. Founded by Jenny Debouzek, Deborah Slater, Judith Lit, Michelle Larsson and soon joined by Helen Dannenberg, the space was named Studio 210 and very quickly became a favorite rehearsal location for San Francisco-based dancers, theater troupes, musicians, and other performing artists.  Since then, more than two hundred artists have used the space for various purposes. Currently, the studio has a few main functions: It houses Studio 210 Summer Artist Residency Program, established in 2012. They offer space, mentorship, and performance opportunities to emerging and established artistic talent in the Bay Area.  It is also home to Deborah Slater Dance Theater, founded in 1989 and offers space for classes in improvisation, rehearsals of all stripes, and the Bare Bones Butoh Festival. Deborah Slater Dance …

Rethinking Logevity with Repair Revolution

I slung a nine-year-old pair of jeans (yes, nine) over my left shoulder and my camera over my right. My mom’s 46-year-old watch was on my left wrist and a great aunt’s old, old opal ring on my right hand. Longevity, for me, means keeping stuff I want, either for its meaning or for its worn in perfect fit. But keeping stuff and not having to buy “new” means the need for periodic fixing. It goes like this: You have that thing you need to repair, you are too lazy, ill-equipped, unaware or unskilled. So, that great thing just sits there, busted. Or, you go to Target and buy a sad substitute. More waste, more unneeded acquisition of stuff. Multiply this scenario by a ton of people. In comes Repair Revolution to help us keep the stuff we love and reduce waste. It aims to bring repair under one roof where skilled craftsmen repair a range of goods. On Saturday I took my broke-down jeans to the Repair Revolution pop-up salon, hosted at OwlNWood in …

Don’t Doubt Yourself – Says The M Machine

Contribution by Lilit Barseghyan, Sophomore at Lowell High School. As a high school student interested in music production, there aren’t many resources available to help expand upon this interest. I spend a good amount of time trying to find classes or teachers around San Francisco to help me learn the programs and skills I need. While searching for classes, I stumbled upon a music production school, Pyramind, and spotted an announcement about a special event they were going to host at their campus. The M Machine, Ben Swardlick and Eric Luttrell, former graduates, were returning to Pyramind to host a small group session where students and others could come join and listen to how they started their career and ask questions. Seeing as how this could be a useful experience for me, I signed up and went to the event. Once I approached the building and stood in line, the first thing that struck me was how much older everyone was, either college aged students or older. As I walked into the main room where …

mural artist oakland graffiti

Protecting the Artist and Rejuvenating Community

The corner of Alice and 14th Street in Oakland has always drawn me in. When I moved back home to the Bay Area in 2000 I took dance class at Alice Arts Center. It was in a neighborhood I didn’t know, but as soon as I entered, it owned me. Alice Arts seemed like the heart of Oakland, and in its high flung rooms I felt I could fly. Years later when I had to move from Temescal (the house was about the collapse, I was told), I moved here instinctively, two blocks from Alice Arts, now Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. I don’t live here anymore, but find myself in the area now and then. Recently a mural arrested me. It flashed its colors and held me fast. The first thing I thought – “Of course” and “a long time coming.” Dancer Ruth Beckford’s image rises high from the center, surrounded by the neighborhood’s historic layers of arts and advocacy. I had only lived through a shred of it, and my stay coincided …

Filming the Love Hate State of Home

It’s official. I can tell you. Rami Alayan’s Love, Theft and Other Entanglements is making its California debut here in the Bay Area. The Arab Film Festival brings it to us for two screenings, one in San Francisco on October 18 and the other in Berkeley on October 25th (with another screening in Los Angeles on November 15). Rami and his brother will be taking questions after the San Francisco show. After interviewing Rami this summer (here), I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. Now I can. Here’s the second part of our interview from July: Why do an independent film about Palestine? We didn’t need to do a European co-production for this film. Independent productions happen all the time there, for documentaries, but not for features. There’s something to be said for independent, do-it-yourself film making. It’s been done in America, Asia, Europe, why not Palestine? What’s true in Palestine, and it is true in other places, as much as people want to make a film, they have day jobs that pay the …

Youth Speaks, hip hop Oakland music festival life is living

How Life is Living with Youth Speaks

What does a community celebration look like? Through our lens, it embraces the arts and the outdoors, music and information about how to grow stronger together. This year’s Youth Speaks Life Is Living festival at DeFermery Park in Oakland shows us how a community can activate its youth, make and share art, build unexpected partners, showcase storytelling, and raise awareness about environment and health justice.  Did we mention, this is a party? Take a look:    

On the left, Haig Patigian with the bust of Helen Wills and on the right, Helen Wills. 

Greatest Bohemian

Contribution by Peter Garland. Peter Garland, a native of Dublin, Ireland, became interested in San Francisco history through the statues of Haig Patigian while living in North Beach. He researched the sculptor’s life and career and for many years lead two walking tours of Patigian’s works around San Francisco (Patigian created more of San Francisco’s statues than any other artist). When Haig Patigian was six years old, he told his twenty-three-year-old mother, Marine Hovsepian Patigian, “I want to be a sculptor.” He was particularly interested in human figure. His wish would be granted, often against a background of bloody persecution and death, both for his own family and for the Armenian people. His father, Avedis Patigian, was interested in visual art, too. He was the first person in Van to take up the fascinating new pursuit of photography. When the Turkish authorities spotted him walking about photographing  the picturesque city, surrounded with tall rocks that make it look like a castle, they accused him of selling photos of the towns fortifications to the Russians. Avedis Patigian, in 1888, …

“How Others See Us”

I’ve been following the work of photographer Ken Holden since the day I saw his exhibition at the de Young Museum’s Kimball Gallery in San Francisco a few years ago. The range and potential of the artist were overwhelming, considering he was a relatively unknown fine art photographer. At the exhibition, I realized that I had seen Ken wandering the museum almost every Saturday, (I used to take my kids to a Saturday morning art class there), and shoot non-stop, visitors, architecture, and textures, but not the artwork on display. Ken was also interested in how people looked through a shattered glass windowpane, or through a raindrop covered plastic tent, or the slow environmental changes throughout the museum – through this, through that as he studied the environment. It’s hard to talk about what this artist likes. But it’s rather easy to figure out what he doesn’t like: the obvious and perfect reproduction of reality. Ken doesn’t photograph the “postcard” image. Rather, he captures what lies in our imagination on the sidelines of our vision. Ken and …

fairytale players golden thread productions middle east youth

Escape with the Zany Fairytale Players

This past weekend, the Bay Area was bursting with events that snarled roads and packed public transit. It happens this time of year. I found myself at an all-day theater forum, motivated, honestly, by the kids’ show.  The Golden Thread Fairytale Players enthralled.  As very grown up as I am, I’m still under the spell of children’s theater. It started when I was seven and saw a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in a garden (ok, not exactly a kids’ show). When the winged fairies burst into the crowd and pulled us kids onto the stage, I was terrified and thrilled. I’d been drawn into wonderland.  It happened again on Sunday. Here’s a taste. Golden Thread’s Fairytale Players creates and performs a repertoire of educational theater performances based on stories and traditions from the Middle East. The Players employ epic story-telling, physical theatre and circus arts techniques and are trained in various theatre disciplines including traditional Middle Eastern performance styles and folk dance. Performances are designed to travel and are booked at schools, libraries, …

urban farmers san ramon harvest

The Urban Farmers Broaden Harvest

Some good grows from crisis. The idea for The Urban Farmers sprang up in the wake of the 2008 economic crash when Siamack Sioshansi’s son and his college roommate returned home to find their jobs as YMCA counselors eliminated. They decided to design a social justice project. To learn about their mission and how it’s evolved, I joined Siamack for a harvesting in San Ramon where he guides Boys Team Charity Lamorinda League in shaking down some trees. He tells the story: Social justice and environmental justice are one and the same. If someone says, I want to feed this group, but I’m going to import food, if they are destroying the environment, the first victims of that action are the poor. So environmental stewardship was a big part of the project. We asked, why don’t we plant a garden in people’s backyards, give them a basket of food, and donate the rest to people that need it? I was worried that nobody would let us in. The boys wrote a business plan, and what …