Jen Chien

Managing Editor, Crosscurrents/KALW News

Jen Chien is Managing Editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she has had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.

Ways to Connect

Marissa Ortega-Welch

 

The city of Oakland is continuing to sort through the remains of the Ghost Ship, the warehouse in the Fruitvale District that burned down during a party on Friday night. Thirty-six people have now been confirmed dead, with about a third of the building yet to be searched. The site is now an active crime scene.

Scott La Rockwell

When muralist and painter Aaron De La Cruz arrived at art school at California College of Arts and Craft, he had trouble believing that he belonged there. Cruz grew up in Fresno tagging walls and not quite believing art could be an actual career.

Photo courtesy of Bethanie Hines, resized and recropped

Soccer, or futbol, as the rest of the world knows it can be a source of joy and release in a complicated world. Bay Area theater artist, writer and educator Marc Bamuthi Joseph knows the feeling.

The work of San Jose saxophonist and composer Hafez Modirzadeh is equal parts head and heart: He loves to delve into the theory of music as well as the mind-transcending direct experience of making it. His work encompasses jazz, new music, Persian classical and more. He also co-directs the Jazz and World Music program at San Francisco State University.

Choreographer Nicole Klaymoon uses movement to honor the human stories often overlooked by mainstream media.  Through her company, Embodiment Project, she tries to enact social change through street dance, live song, theater, and spoken word. 

Courtesy Southern Exposure

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is an artist, chef and educator. Her artwork often uses food to celebrate and investigate culture and identity, especially around people of color and immigrant communities.  

Courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California, resized and recropped

A new exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California is trying to address gentrification, one of the Bay Area’s biggest hot button issues, through a broad range of work from West Oakland residents—from school kids to aerosol muralists to documentary filmmakers—who share their own thoughts.

Courtesy of Stroy Moyd // Resized and cropped

Bay Area comedian Stroy Moyd was born in East Oakland, moved to Berkeley as a teen, and now performs all over the Bay, and beyond. The twenty-something has been doing stand-up since he was 16, inspired by his dad's sense of humor and way with words.

Photo courtesy of Aya De Leon

If you came of age in the 90’s in the Bay you might be familiar with Aya de Leon. She was a local slam poet hero who found fame touring the states with her hip hop theater show, Thieves in the Temple. Now, she’s out with her first novel, Uptown Thief, which she calls a “feminist heist novel.”

PHOTO BY CHRISTINA FLORKOWSKI / RESIZED AND CROPPED

San Francisco musician Joshua Raoul Brody grew up in a musical family just outside New York City, where he loved listening to comedic songwriters like Tom Lehrer and Allen Sherman.

photo by Carla Brava, Resized and Cropped

Joanna Haigood makes site-specific and aerial dance. Her dances take place outside, or on specially built structures, or even suspended by ropes and harnesses high above the ground.

 

Joo Wan Kim is originally from South Korea, where he trained as a classical musician. He fell in love with hip hop after moving to the U.S. as an adult. He now leads Ensemble Mik Nawooj, which brings those seemingly disparate musical styles together. He collaborates with Khafre Jay, a rapper, educator, and executive director of Hip Hop for Change, which uses the music as a tool for education and empowerment.

Ian Tervet of tervetphoto.com.

San Francisco actor, writer and storyteller Corey Rosen studied film production in college. But once he graduated he fell in love with theater — live, improvised theater.

COURTESY OF THE ARTIST / RESIZED AND CROPPED

Oakland singer and vocal activist Melanie DeMore believes in the power of song to bring people together. It’s what drives her work as performer, songwriter, and teacher.

 

Playwright Star Finch was born and raised in San Francisco, which means she’s seen a lot of change in her hometown over the years. Those changes, and her thoughts and concerns about them, show up in her work as a playwright and author. 

 

Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh is an artist and illustrator. Her work ranges from photography to printmaking to pen-and-ink drawings she does while riding BART. 

Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers have been one of San Francisco’s favorite bands since they started performing together in 1989. Their signature retro sound was right at home in the swing revival of the '90s, but they’ve made it through from “trendy” to “classic.”

 

Photo courtesy of the artist, resized and recropped

Lauren Gunderson is a playwright drawn to science, and the stories of women scientists in particular. Gunderson's one of the most produced playwrights in America these days, but most of her plays premiere right here in her home the Bay Area.

Brennan Gilroy. Cropped and Resized.

Mahea Uchiyama is the founder and director of the Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance in Berkeley. She's also the president of the board of World Arts West, which puts on the annual extravaganza that is the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.

Photo taken by Molly Raynor

At the RYSE Youth Center in Richmond, there are classes in music, video production, visual arts, writing and acting. Every year, all the students come together to create a multimedia show, and they're the ones in charge of the whole event, from the concept to the actual production.  

Courtesy San Francisco Mime Troupe

The San Francisco Mime Troupe has been performing free satirical theater in Bay Area parks for 50 years. They also run the Youth Theater Project, an after school program currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

 

Local filmmaker Amir Soltani was fascinated by the people making a living recycling bottles and cans in his West Oakland neighborhood. So Soltani and his collaborators spent spent seven years following the lives of three recyclers for their documentary “Dogtown Redemption.”

Courtesy John Givens. Cropped and resized from original.

Berkeley based guitarist and songwriter John Givens brings a sensibility for visual art into his songwriting; he used to be a filmmaker and art director. Together with his 8-piece soul band, No Lovely Thing, he also explores themes ranging from the political to the emotional. He shares the stories behind some of their songs in this edition of Bay Area Beats.

Courtesy of Anya Manes

San Francisco educator Anya Manes used to teach sex ed in her high school biology class. Now, she teaches parents how to take up the discussion at home.

Photo by Bethanie Hines, courtesy of Youth Speaks

Twenty years ago, writer and educator James Kass was in graduate school at San Francisco State University. He had a small idea: a writing workshop for city teens.

Rene Yung, by Lisa Strong

 


Multimedia artist Rene Yung was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to the Bay Area when she was 14 years old. For the past decade, she's been dedicated to uncovering the hidden history of early Chinese immigrants in the American West with her multi-platform art and storytelling project Chinese Whispers.

by Trinidad Escobar

Oakland-based poet and cartoonist Trinidad Escobar was born in 1986 during a typhoon in the Philippines. She was adopted by a family in the U.S. and  grew up an ocean away from her original homeland.

Photo: Joan Marcus (from Brava Theatre press folder)

 

Disco legend Sylvester wasn’t born in San Francisco, but he came into his own as an artist in the City in the 70s. He was a trailblazer both musically and culturally — with his high, clear falsetto and unapologetic presence as a fabulous gay black artist, he became known as the “Queen of Disco”.

Excerpt from Last Day of Freedom. lastdayoffreedom.net

The short documentary film "Last Day of Freedom" came out last year to almost universal acclaim. It won "Best Short" at the International Documentary Association awards and is now up for an Oscar.

Musician Mads Tolling lives in Albany, but he’s played all over the world. He’s a classically trained violinist and composer who loves jazz, and his goal is to remind audiences that the violin is capable of playing all kinds of music.

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