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

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.

Education can take many shapes - just ask Phoenix Paz. She's a teacher of contortion at the San Francisco Circus Center, and says she made her home in circus arts because she wanted to push her body to its limits.

Courtesy ShadowLight Productions/Resized and cropped

Larry Reed is a master of shadow puppetry. He learned the craft the traditional way in Bali in the 1970’s. 

By Amy Snyder

Oakland-based visual artist Zarouhie Abdalian makes art work that examines how people interact with their surroundings. She spoke to KALW’s Jen Chien about using “unremarkable materials” to create memorable experiences for the viewer.

Kate Willett, by Anja Ulfedt, from katewillett.com

San Francisco comedian Kate Willett is used to not fitting in, which makes her perfect for stand-up comedy. Willett takes her weirdness to the stage to challenge ideas about what women can and cannot do.

Dancing with Mama Diouf

Nov 25, 2015
diamanocoura.org

Oakland-based Diamano Coura West African Dance Company celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

"Oakland Murals 14th St and Alice", by William Newton, used under CC license, resized and cropped

Oakland-based muralist Desi Mundo is on a crusade to change the negative perception of artists who paint using spray cans. 

Peter Dobey

Alva Noë  is a professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley with a background in cognitive and brain science, so it makes sense that he writes about the nature of consciousness and human experience.

Lisa Keating

Comedian and event organizer George Chen talked to KALW’s Jen Chien about how he came to make laughs for a living, what’s unique to the San Francisco scene, and his recipe for making culturally relevant humor.

Pat Mazzera

Classically trained composer and pianist JooWan Kim's new performance piece, The Town on Notice from Dimensions Dance Theater, is about Oakland’s gentrification. Together with his group Ensemble Mik Nawooj, Kim fuses hip-hop and classical elements together to make what he calls “hybrid music."

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