Our job is to ask the questions that the audience is thinking so that we can all connect with what the artist is thinking.

-Lauren Schell Dickens, Chief Curator San Jose Museum of Art

Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

The current San José Museum of Art Exhibition, Seeing through Stone, is on view through Sunday, January 5, 2025.

The stories told by museums hold profound implications for how society understands history and power dynamics. San José Museum of Art Chief Curator Lauren Schell Dickens has partnered with The Institute of the Arts and Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos to curate the museum’s current exhibition, “Seeing through Stone,” part of their ongoing Visualizing Abolition series. At the heart of this project lies a critical examination of the agency wielded by artists, activists, and institutions in imagining a world without prisons.

Seeing Through Stone challenges dominant narratives surrounding incarceration and stands as a testament to the power of art in confronting societal injustices. Featuring the works of 80 artists, It delves into themes of prison abolition, offering a platform for marginalized voices and a vision for creating a world beyond prison walls. Through poignant imagery and evocative installations, artists provoke viewers to confront the harsh realities of the prison-industrial complex while envisioning a world free from the constraints of incarceration. By centering the experiences of system-impacted individuals and their allies, the exhibition aims to spark dialogue and catalyze action toward dismantling oppressive systems.

Visualizing Abolition extends beyond the confines of the museum walls by fostering networks between abolition activists and artists. Through public programs and engagements, they seek to deepen community involvement and amplify the voices of those affected by incarceration.

Lauren Schell Dickens, most recently featured in Content Magazine Issue 15.4, “Profiles,” was born in the South Bay and raised in Sonoma County. She received a BA in American Studies from Yale University and an MA in Modern Art History, Critical Studies from Columbia University in New York. Her original interest in lighting design for theater arts set the stage for her interest in the work required when sharing an artist’s work. As a curator, Lauren weaves together the voices of artists, creating narratives that hopefully have a transformational effect on viewers.

In this conversation, we discuss Lauren’s Journey to becoming a curator, the transformative potential of art in fostering collective imagination and social change, the importance of artists in challenging normative representations of prisons, and specific installations that guests should look out for.

Join The San José Museum of Art on Friday, June 21, for live musical performances that will activate the artworks in SJMA’s exhibition “Seeing Through Stone” in collaboration with the City of San José’s Make Music Day Celebrations. Acclaimed composer and theorist James Gordon Williams, assistant professor of music at UC Santa Cruz, will perform an improvisational piece using a sculpture by interdisciplinary artist Maria Gaspar made of iron bars from the Cook County Department of Corrections, the largest single-site jail in the US. Experimental composer and visual artist Guillermo Galindo will perform a piece on his artwork, Llantambores, an instrument made of materials found at the US-Mexico border.

Follow The San José Museum of Art @sanjosemuseumofart on Instagram and visit their website at

Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky, and raised in San Jose, California, internet sensation DaQuane Fox, better known as Flammy Marciano, tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to gaming, streaming, and even music. He began his music career in the late 2000s under the name Young Marvel before releasing viral songs such as ‘Jerry Rice’ and ‘Mood Right Now’ in the early 2010s under his current moniker, Flammy Marciano. Along with blending humor into his raps, Marciano has pioneered gaming and streaming into his musical career, building a large fanbase on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. 

Marciano credits his love for music to his late uncle, Sultan Banks, widely known as Traxamillion. This love for music and relationship with his uncle led to Marciano’s passion for entertainment outlets that resemble television and cinema. Marciano gets deep when discussing how fatherhood has molded his life and impacted his career. Despite gaining recognition in a modern world that rewards being ahead of trends, Marciano never strays from his affinity for television shows of the 1970s and anime of the 1990s. His current success as a public figure has made his potential to become an internationally recognized influencer a real possibility.

In addition to being a father, rapper, and streamer, Marciano founded his record label, 88 Entertainment, and continues to release music that displays his evolution in sound. His upcoming project, currently referred to as ‘Yourself’ (final title pending), will be released in late Spring 2024. However, Marciano has released several exclusive early-cut tracks on Patreon before the final release.

In this conversation, we discuss Flammy Marciano’s journey as a rapper, streamer, and father, the inspiration behind his work, and the evolution of his career. You can find Flammy Marciano on all major music streaming platforms, Twitch and YouTube @flamgawdfaming, and Instagram @flammymarciano.

Host Troy Ewers is a journalist and personality from Southside San Jose, CA, with a background in music, film, and sports. Hey aims to highlight art and culture through music, fashion, film, and sports. Check out Troy Ewers on the Content Magazine Podcast, Instagram @trizzyebaby, and YouTube @topkatfilms.

Enter Fitoor, Santana Row’s new contemporary Indian restaurant and lounge, and find yourself transported. The front room, a low-lit space swathed in dark-wood panels, rich earthy browns, and a plethora of plants, somehow gives the impression of a forest after midnight. The slat ceiling, carved into a wave of wood, seems almost to ripple with movement. A fire dancer mimics this motion, twirling flames in both hands as she sways to the music. When owners Anu and Vikram Bhambri, a husband-and-wife team, say they want their meals “presented in a lively and immersive setting,” they don’t mess around.

The goal, Anu explains, is “immersing guests in a sensory journey.” To achieve this, the couple collaborated with Manu Studios, the architecture firm behind MOMENT SP2 (those micro-retail storefronts across from San Pedro Square). “Each dining room offers a unique experience,” continues Anu, “from the inviting open-air facade to the sultry ‘Gold Room’ and intimate ‘Green Room.’” This suits the restaurant’s name, inspired by the Hindi word for “passion.” It’s a title that “embodies the fiery energy and soulful essence of modern-day India,” Anu shares.

But what is a restaurant without its food? Fitoor is so much more than a pretty face, and Chef Vaibhav Sawant takes obvious pride in his craft, creating appetizers and entrees that are intricately layered and immaculately plated. Each dish is served on a unique plate: cerulean serving platters, tree round boards, or pedestal trays with marble.

He’s also a maestro of texture. The Asado Branzino with coriander mint pesto is generously topped with salli (deep-fried potato straws), which, along with the crackle of the fish’s skin, adds a crunch to the buttery soft meat. There’s also a standout Indian-Japanese fusion dish that takes supple scallops in a peanut butter salan curry and embellishes them with the crunch of finely chopped onion, finely chopped nuts, and the pop of fresh roe.

“Specializing in grilled dishes infused with fiery energy and bold spices, Fitoor’s menu is designed to ignite culinary curiosity,” adds Anu. That means feisty flavors like spicy prawn balchão stuffed in fried kulcha bread and peppery lamb curry with coconut flakes and curry leaves. For some respite from the hotter dishes, the restaurant offers some creamy (and pleasingly unusual) cocktails like the Canchanchara (rum, gardenia mix, citrus, and black garlic) and the Milky Way (bourbon, port, banana, lemon, and cream cheese).

As for the sweet story behind Fitoor’s restaurateur power couple? Anu met Vikram through her parents while she was still living in India and he was working in the U.S. at Microsoft. “We talked on the phone without seeing each other for over six months before we actually met,” Anu recalls. The two became a force to be reckoned with, united in their shared dream to bring authentic Indian cuisine to the States. They now oversee a restaurant empire that also includes ROOH (which now has several locations), Pippal in Emeryville, and Alora on San Francisco’s Waterfront. Yet despite their success, the couple remain grounded, prioritizing family time by gathering around the dinner table. “Mealtime is generally family time at home,” Anu says. “We have three generations living together in the same house.” With warmth, she describes her mom making dishes while grandma makes bread in the tandoor. “During summer, it is accompanied by salted lassi or a raw mango (panna) drink to cool down the heat,” she says.

Anu and Vikram’s international concept is well suited for a place like Santana Row. “It’s a melting pot of diverse cultures and tastes,” Anu says of the area. Here, “people appreciate culinary innovation and cultural exploration.” A quick glance around the room at contented guests licking the last of the 72-hour pana cotta from their plates leaves no doubt—these seasoned restauranteurs know how to seek out the like-minded.

Instagram: @eatdrinkatfitoor

377 Santana Row #1140, San Jose, CA 95128

Photography by Neetu Laddha | Provided by Fitoor

Since its founding in 2018, Chopsticks Alley Art has been a platform that elevates the perspectives and cultures of Southeast Asian Americans through a blend of cultural events, traditional art forms education, and carefully curated gallery exhibitions. The programming at Chopsticks Alley Art has provided a voice for young artists and empowered them to create positive changes within their communities.

Trami Nguyen Cron, author and visionary behind Chopsticks Alley Art, has a personal connection to the organization’s mission. Growing up amidst a tapestry of diverse world cultures, she experienced the struggles of Vietnamese immigrants fleeing post-war Vietnam. Her journey as a Vietnamese American, chronicled in her work, is a testament to her commitment to empowering her community and reclaiming their narrative. Trami’s inspiring story has been featured in episode #31 of the Content Magazine Podcast and Issue 12.2, “Sight & Sound.”

Join Chopsticks Alley Art this summer for:

Asian American Healing Convening on June 8, 2024.

A “Makers, Music, and Mindfulness” collaboration with Creekside Socials begins June 13, 2024. Stay Tuned.

Artist Phuc Van Dang’s exhibition residency. On view through August 11.

Summer arts camps are happening through July 26.

Youth Art Submissions for an annual Youth Exhibition in the Fall of 2024. Submission deadline is August 1, 2024.

Jerry Hiura Asian Artists Fellowship. 2025 Applications open in October 2024.

“Under One Moon” Immersive Video Mapping Exhibition Opening and Moon Festival –  Opening on September 6 from 5-9 pm

Article from issue 12.2

This podcast is also available on Spotify and Apple Podcast.

Bree Karpavage and Ann Hazels are breathing new life into the Santa Cruz art scene. 

First Friday Santa Cruz is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2024. As part of the celebration, First Friday Santa Cruz and Radius Gallery, also celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, have teamed up to host an exhibition entitled “Changing Spaces,” opening on the First Friday in June. “Changing Spaces” features the work of 39 artists and is an homage to this monthly event that presents both emerging and established artists showing in small businesses, galleries, and art spaces across the county.

Radius Gallery was founded in 2014 by Ann Hazels to create a space for contemporary art with an edge. As a commercial gallery, Radius partners with other regional arts organizations while maintaining its vision for curation and creating a platform for local artists. A practicing artist herself, Hazels believes in the power of art to change the world and works hard to create shows at Radius that resonate with visitors, knowing artists are working just as hard to make the same things happen.

Bree Karpavage, the new face of First Friday Santa Cruz since 2020, has injected fresh energy into the organization. Her focus has been on uplifting venues and artists, all while fostering a sense of community. Karpavage’s vision for First Friday Santa Cruz extends beyond downtown or traditional art galleries. She envisions it as a platform that showcases the artistic talent of the entire region. First Friday Santa Cruz is a bridge that connects the community to art and small businesses, firmly believing in the transformative potential of art experiences. 

In this conversation, Ann and Bree discuss the business of art, their own art practices, advice for emerging artists, and what they hope audiences take away from their work. 

Be sure to attend First Friday Santa Cruz on June 7 and check out the opening of “Changing Spaces” at Radius Gallery. This exhibition celebrates 20 years of First Friday and features the work of 39 artists. It is an homage to this monthly event, which presents both emerging and established artists showing in small businesses, galleries, and art spaces across the county. 



This podcast is also available on SpotifyApple Podcast, and YouTube.

Zoë Latzer is the Curator and Director of Public Programs at the Institute of Contemporary Art San José (ICA San José).

Growing up in Loomis, California, on the outskirts of Sacramento, Latzer became familiar with the concept of underrepresented narratives. Specifically, she became familiar with Loomis’ history with Chinese workers and a Chinatown that no longer exists. That experience with lesser-known history, her lifestyle, which includes practices from the Vedic cultures of India, and her passion for art history are all infused in her curatorial practices.

In primary school, Latzer received a Waldorf education focused on integrating art with interdisciplinary learning. Latzer later received a Bachelor of Arts in History of Art and Visual Culture from UC Santa Cruz and studied abroad at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. These experiences were foundational in her understanding of art in relation to culture and society and its potential for social commentary and reckoning with the past. Latzer also recalls visiting Michelangelo’s sculpture of David while visiting Florence, Italy, with family as a formative moment in her understanding of art history. That visit taught her the power and sublime quality art can have on culture through aesthetics and architecture.

Latzer’s curatorial practice involves world-building by installing immersive exhibitions that provide audiences with sensory experiences. Her approach is influenced by an openness gained from practicing Ayurveda and Yoga, sister sciences from the Vedic Culture of India related to tuning into one’s environment. That approach to well-being is reflected in curation that balances empathetic conversation and art history. Latzer tries to step out of the dichotomy of “I know” and “I don’t know” when approaching art, instead prioritizing care for the artists she works with.

Latzer hopes to facilitate a platform for underrepresented artists who address narratives that provide a more complete representation of history. Approaching curation with a focus on humanity, Latzer views a successful exhibition as one that uplifts the voice of an artist and creates space for the audience’s voice, creating a blend of conversation, proximity, dialogue, and community.

In this conversation, we discuss Latzer’s love for nature, her favorite artworks, the science of sad songs, and her current exhibition at ICA San José, a collaboration with Montalvo Arts Center.

Check out “P L A C E: Reckonings by Asian American Artist,” from March 23 through August 11, featuring eleven California-based Asian American artists and two artist collectives at the ICA San José in downtown San José.

Follow ICA at icasanjose

And Zoë at zoelatzer

Kathryn Dunlevie has always possessed a magical perception of the world around her, even before she became an artist. Growing up all over the United States, Dunlevie developed a deep appreciation of what gives a particular area a sense of place. Nowadays, her artworks a connecting thread, bringing disparate places and ideas together in what she describes as “hazy vignettes are woven together.” She photographs the locales of her travels and sits on the pictures until she begins the process of collaging. Then, in construction, she finds a method of arranging her photos that poignantly displaces the observer’s sense of time and place. Being an artist located in Silicon Valley, Dunlevie is often inspired by San Jose’s diversity—not only in viewpoint but in its sense of locality. Given the difference in age and style that many San Jose neighborhoods possess, she believes that you can walk down the street and enter into a new world entirely. Alongside the San Jose art community, she happily stands with, Dunlevie’s work captures the ever-changing world we find ourselves wandering in.

“I have a fascination with history. I’ve always been riveted by old places, as if I can feel them. I’m always collecting images and trying new ways to combine them. My assignment to myself is to experiment with new approaches and see what ideas take shape. When something catches my eye, I grab it, often without any idea of where it will fit in. As for the themes of my projects, that inspiration finds me.”
Instagram: kathryndunlevie

At 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 opportunities, 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.

“Using a 3D input device can be as transformative as using a paintbrush instead of a pencil.”

Tim Thompson

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.”

Born in Mexico City and currently based in Silicon Valley, Taryn Curiel’s passion for art has been with her since early childhood and has culminated in a body of work filled with sensation and enigmatic energy. 

Techniques involving texture, lines, and a muted color palette help her in her signature use of the figure with abstract elements. Her medium is watercolor, but in her own way. With continued experimentation, she is always learning and exploring but remains true to her overall mission: to intrigue the viewer. 

Learn more about ⁠Silicon Valley Open Studios⁠.

Silicon Valley Open Studios 2024 takes place the first three weekends of May and showcases the studios of over 200 Silicon Valley Artists. Weekend three, May 18-19, will be hosted in the South Bay. Thirty-three artists at The Alameda Artworks in San José, including abstract watercolor painter Taryn Curiel, will open their studios to guests on May 18 and 19.

Follow Taryn at:

The first thing you may notice about Stephen Longoria is his gentle Texan accent. In his friendly manner, he’ll be quick to tell you about the craft of printmaking, his love of drawing his cat—or a one-eyed version of it—or his affection for his Texas hometown just north of the Mexican border.

While he doesn’t display anger on the outside, he says it drives his creative process. “Sometimes I get angry, and I just need to draw.” His stark black drawings tell the story about the sardonic state of mind in which he creates his art.

Today, Stephen is the San Jose–based owner and operator of Skull on Fire Studio, a printmaking shop downtown specializing in producing T-shirts and totes for artists and musicians. He describes his business as a punk rock business that operates more like a tattoo shop than a print studio, and he keeps his prices low to support his clients. “I try to keep it non-commercial,” he says before checking himself. “I guess that sounds pretty hipster.”

Screen printing is a complex process and supplies are expensive. It involves applying a photosensitive emulsion to a fine mesh and repeating the process for each layer of color added to a print. One mistake can cause your profit for a project to shrink drastically. Because of its cost, it’s a dying art in the Bay Area. On-demand digital printing is cheaper and faster, but it lacks the craftsmanship and vibrancy of hand-screened prints. The craft, he says, motivates him more than the money.

While his business takes up most of his time these days, Stephen still finds time to draw and make prints of his own art. His Instagram feed reveals his stylized approach to snakes, eagles, and ancient warriors. There’s no real inspiration behind his art—he just draws what he feels. “I try to draw what makes me happy. Sometimes I wake up and say I’m gonna draw snakes today, and that’s what I do.”

There’s a fantastical style to Stephen’s art that’s reminiscent of both Aztec pictographs and traditional Japanese illustrations. While he doesn’t actively emulate these styles, it makes sense that a kid who grew up in a Texas border town in an age in which pop culture was dominated by anime may subconsciously blend these aesthetics. In one drawing, a sharp-cornered cactus grows from a clay pot. In another, a roaring Godzilla emerges from the sea. 

What he is actively trying to create is art that resonates with music from his teenage years. He says bands like All-American Rejects and Death from Above were defining for him as a young artist, and the feeling of that music is something Stephen tries to capture in his art. 

His drawings—at least the ones he’s shared—are mostly monochrome, which makes them easier to print. While they look like they’re drawn in deep black ink, these days, Stephen is entirely digital. “I’ve given up on ink,” he says. Now, he draws in pencil, then traces the drawings in Illustrator and prints directly onto a film that can be transferred to a screen.

While Stephen is humble about both his art and his business, he has a lot to be proud of. Making a living as an artist in the South Bay is an impressive feat, and Stephen knows where his motivation comes from. “I’m pretty motivated by resentment,” he says again with a friendly laugh. “Being told I can’t do something has gotten me to where I am today.” Instagram: skullonfirestudio

Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

At West Valley College in Saratoga, Shannon Mirabelli-Lopez and Mel Vaughn have joined forces to launch the college’s first interdisciplinary graduation expo, STEAM’D Fest, where “Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Design” reimagine collaboration.

Guided by the collective vision of Dean of The Cilker School of Art & Design, Mirabelli-Lopez, and Dean of The School of Math and Science, Vaughn, STEAM’D Fest represents a step towards fostering future integration across traditionally divided academic disciplines and further building a culture where all disciplines at West Valley recognize their connections and contributions to problem-solving in this modern world.

STEAM’D Fest plans to catalyze cross-pollination between sciences and arts by showcasing the work of students graduating from both schools. The 3-day public event will feature an art & design industry night portfolio review, film festival, Cilker School of Art & Design Fashion Show, and Dance Caravan, as well as birds of prey raptor show, chemistry and physics demonstrations, planetarium exhibition, and moon garden tour. As educators, Mirabelli-Lopez and Vaughn believe that STEAM’D Fest creates a unique platform for students and faculty members to break down boundaries between respective disciplines and leverage the complementary nature of their fields, emphasizing user experience and human-centric approaches.

Mirabelli-Lopez’s success in organizing two previous graduation expos for her school fuels her desire to support Vaughn in elevating his disciplines, aiming for increased visibility and recognition in Silicon Valley’s tech hub. In their eyes, a successful STEAM’D Fest would allow visitors to seamlessly engage with the event’s artistic and scientific dimensions.

In our conversation, we discuss Mirabelli-Lopez and Vaughn’s journeys toward higher education, their thoughts on how teachers impact students’ lives and academic success, and the music they are listening to. RSVP Here:

Featured Artist: Kim Meuli Brown

Kim Meuli Brown is an artist and graphic designer whose journey began with a Bachelor of Science in Textile Design from UC Davis. Inspired by nature, Kim’s creations blend traditional textile techniques with contemporary innovation. Her canvas, often cotton, silk, or wool, becomes a testament to the beauty of local flora, adorned with natural dyes and botanical prints. Her current focus on fiber arts celebrates sustainability, weaving a narrative of harmony between humanity and the environment.

Learn more about Silicon Valley Open Studios.

Silicon Valley Open Studios 2024 will take place the first three weekends of May and showcase the studios of over 200 Silicon Valley Artists. Weekend two, May 11-12, will be held in the Mid-Peninsula region, and Weekend three, May 18-19, will be hosted in the South Bay. Thirty-three artists at The Alameda Artworks in San José, including textile artist Kim Meuli Brown, will open their studios to guests on May 18 and 19.

Follow Kim at:

K nown simply as “Manik” to most, Dalton got his nickname while digging through his mother’s record collection as a kid. Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 album Are You Experienced caught his eye, and the song “Manic Depression” altered his name forever. Born and raised in San Jose, Dalton describes his love for downtown: “Skaters, indie bands, hip-hop, punks—it was a very colorful underground scene. You could have one conversation with someone, and your ideas could spark

That kind of exponential spark has inspired Dalton’s most recent work. He explains, “During the pandemic, everything slowed down. That was my opportunity. I give it up to Francisco Ramirez, a friend and fellow artist. I would always start pieces and never finish them. It was great to see the process, but Francisco nudged me [with], ‘You should do a show. You should do more,’ got me to start painting backgrounds and framing pieces.”

As his nickname would suggest, Manik’s creative pursuits span multiple genres and disciplines. By day, Dalton is a craftsman, woodworking for his family business, Heritage Mill Work. He approaches his day job much like his art: “Definitely creative, but sometimes I am limited to what the client wants. I function as a manager, laborer, designer, quoter, sales, all of it.” Most of his art installations are framed in exotic wood, which he stains himself, explaining, “I am a builder, so I mixed the stains, and the frames are handmade with alder and poplar. If you don’t frame pieces with something nice, they lose some of
their impact.” 

Dalton’s artistic philosophy blends cultures of sight, sound, and spirituality. In his most recent work, he attempts to harness “something spontaneous, perfect, but perfect because it is organic. I came up with a concept called OCTMO, organic creations through mechanical operations. The perfect circle, a ray of light, waves, you see all of these things in nature.” Using his trade skills, he creates massive mechanical spinning turntables to spin his canvas. Once the mechanical processes are fabricated, he relies on meditative intentions, themes, and intuition to guide his painting. He explains, “I play really loud music, and most of the time, I start from the center. I like going with a theme when picking colors, but I also love seeing one color after the next pop, contrast, and move against the others. It never gets old. I try not to think about it too much. Just do.”

Meditation fuels the work Dalton calls “Circle Metaphysical”—his methodical practice of painting one circle after the next allows him the opportunity to zone in on the present. He explains, “Yeah, it’s hundreds of colors, but one hundred colors are nothing when you meditate.” Dalton hopes his introspective process is communicated to those who view his work, but he understands that each person will react differently, explaining, “It’s a vibe, a feeling. The colors are vibrations. Is it sucking you in, or is it blowing you out? I prefer to lightly focus on a piece and feel the pulse. If I am  in a bad mental state, I might feel differently about
all these colors.” 

When Dalton is not painting in his warehouse or working his day job, you can find him in the studio creating ambient new-wave music, producing reggae, or hosting a Sunday morning radio show on KKUP. Dalton is currently recording his own ambient music: “I have been working on a huge arsenal of sound for years. I want to do large, colorful installations of interactive art and music. Step on the ground, and it makes a noise. Sit on a rock, and it twinkles.” Dalton’s upcoming plans are to explore color theory, collaborate with small businesses, and paint murals. “I can’t spin a wall, so I will have to work backward in my process. There are a few different ways I have worked out. I think the bigger the circles, the bigger
the impact.”

Instagram: manikdub

Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

Episode #112 – Zach Waldren, Tailored By Design LLC

Zach Waldren founded his consulting business, Tailored by Design LLC (TBD), with a passion for customized user experiences. 

As a kid, Zach loved going to Disneyland, where he noticed commonplace items in the park, such as trash cans, were designed to blend in with their themed surroundings. Inspired by Dinsney’s level of attention to design detail, Zach became interested in tailor-made user experiences, ultimately leading him to open his own consulting business in 2018. TBD helps clients, from restaurant operations to hospitality services, achieve their business goals by curating their customers’ experiences. 

Zach sees San Jose as his own Disneyland, with challenges in hospitality and endless potential in the exciting and vibrant scene. Zach focuses on culinary experiences since food has a unique way of translating culture into experiences and stories. He believes food is a chance for San Jose to differentiate itself as a city through its cultural diversity. Zach connects his various experiences in marketing, hospitality, and DJing nightclubs to analyze the problems faced by his clients. 

Nowadays, food can be viewed as both nourishment and entertainment. Zach hopes to leverage both aspects of the culinary experience by producing Silicon Valley’s Taco Throwdown. Zach believes there’s no better way to bring people together than having 20 tacos in a building on the weekend of Cinco de Mayo. The plan is for people to enjoy tacos while cheering on a competition that will crown a Taco Throwdown champion.

Join Zach Waldren on May 4 from 11am to 5pm at Blanco Urban Venue for the FIRST Silicon Valley Taco Throwdown. 

In our conversation, we discuss Zach Waldren’s 20-year background as a wrestler and referee, his experiences as a DJ through his college years, and his belief in family and Christianity. 

Follow Zach on his personal Instagram, Zach.Waldren

Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

Software engineer-turned-small business owner Steven Huynh is the co-owner of Goodtime Natural Wine Bar in his hometown of San José. Steven’s love for natural, low-intervention wine began as a hobby he found through travel but later inspired him and his wife to open their own business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steven did not come from a wine or wine-making culture. Instead, he discovered natural wine when visiting a mom-and-pop natural wine bar in Portugal. He was not only impressed with the taste but also with the welcoming personalities and environment provided specifically by natural wine.

Steven’s vision for Goodtime Bar was to create a unique environment inspired by the welcoming personalities and ambiance of natural wine bars he had experienced. Recognizing the importance of food in creating that experience, he partnered with Chef Alex Whiteman to offer a menu of seasonal and thoughtfully curated dishes that perfectly complement the natural Wines.

Prior to Goodtime Bar, Steven spent over a decade working in Silicon Valley high tech., but during the pandemic, he got burnt out. He recalls the blurred lines between work and home caused by remote work as creating “one big blob of a working day.” That feeling catalyzed Goodtime, a name conceived by Stevens’s Wife and co-owner, Ann. The plan was to create a welcoming space for everyone, including parents with small children, to eat and enjoy a glass of wine.

Sous Chef Ronnie Keli’i Apolo and Chef Alex Whiteman

Born and raised in San Jose, Steven takes pride in creating a space in his hometown for the community to gather. He has expanded his vision for the community by organizing a weekly run club and hosting comedy and live music in his space. While owning a small business is more work than he could have imagined, the connection he has made with others around his love for natural wine has been more fulfilling than imagined.

In our conversation, we discuss Steven’s origin story, the life-changing effects of martial arts on his life, the lessons he learned one year into operating his own business, and his plans for Goodtime Bar’s first anniversary.

Don’t miss Goodtime Bar’s first-anniversary celebration on Saturday, April 27th.

This all-day event will feature DJs, delicious food, natural wine, and many good times.

Follow Good Time Bar at goodtimebarsj

First united by a single rare song, Anthony Perez and Stephanie Ramirez, known as Flipside Lovers, are on a mission to share California’s oldies story with the globe.

The genesis of analog DJ duo Flipside Lovers can, coincidentally enough, be traced to a single 45 record.

Anthony Perez began playing “You’re Acting Kind of Strange,” a rare soul single by the Chappells, one evening while DJing at Caravan Lounge in downtown San Jose. Stephanie Ramirez, a regular at the soul and oldies nights where Perez played, was in the room and immediately approached the DJ booth, singing along. She asked how Perez knew about the record. He had the same response. This was a song you had to dig to find. How did she know it? 

“I met Anthony collecting records,” shares Ramirez, known on the decks as Ambitious Outsider (she’s a gigantic Morrissey fan). While they had orbited similar circles, it was their deep mutual passion for collecting vinyl that kick-started their connection, and eventual relationship.  

In the years since that first encounter, they’ve built a reputation for their deep collection of sweet soul 45s. Some of those records have traveled the world with the couple, helping them share the famous West Coast sound with listeners in Paris, northern England, Mexico, and throughout the US.
Asked if they classify their sound as oldies, both are quick to say yes. Defining that sound, however, can be tricky to those not familiar.

“To me, ‘oldies’ is specific to California. It’s not defined by a genre, or even a decade. Call it a collective playlist that’s been growing since the 1950s,” explains Perez. “My dad listened to these same songs. I can’t think of another genre or movement where it’s so connected generation after generation. The classics are the classics, and we never get tired of them.”

The two pay tribute to that distinct tradition through the records they collect and play. They also take part in events where oldies are still a staple, cruising around San Jose with other lowriders as they show off their recently purchased white 1962 Chevy Impala named Blanquita.

“That’s inherently a San Jose culture—Lowrider magazine, King and Story,” points out Perez. “We’ve traveled the world and been able to show that culture to other people. I feel it’s important for us to try to do that.”

Their individual stories as collectors start at San Jose’s flea markets. While in elementary school, Perez remembers driving up from Gilroy and begging his parents to buy him rap tapes. His DJ name, Akro1, stems from his days as a graffiti writer. 

Ramirez started her collection by picking up records, five dollars a box, from people who were simply trying to get rid of them at the Capitol Flea Market. “I never knew collecting people’s trash would later be something you played out for people,” she shares. “I feel very lucky because if I tried to start collecting records now, there’s no way I would get a lot of stuff I have.”

“I’ve had the bug since I was very young,” notes Perez. “I would take anything and everything that anybody was giving away.” When his dad noticed his collecting habits, he gave Perez lists of records to track down. Once he did, Perez would record tapes for his father to play in his car.

Surprisingly, both admit they never collected records with the goal of becoming DJs. 
“I always just bought records because I loved records,” Perez says, though he adds “eventually it almost becomes a responsibility to share them.” After a few sets on local college radio, knowledge of his collection spread, and his gigs picked up.

Ramirez started by recording vinyl mixes purely to share her music collection with others. “For me, every single 45 that I own means something to me. It’s very personal, which is why I don’t like saying I’m a DJ. I’m a collector at heart,” she admits.

While they’ve performed together under their individual names for years, a few years back they coined themselves Flipside Lovers, an ode to the often slower “flip side” of a 45 record single. The two recently returned as resident DJs at Park Station Hashery, where they perform twice a month as part of the restaurant’s Two Wheel Tuesdays. They also play monthly at True Brew along The Alameda.

Their drive to share history and celebrate San Jose’s local culture seems to ground their pursuit of the next elusive 45 they’ll add to their collection. It also inspired an idea to upload some of their rare records to YouTube during lockdown. That gesture allowed them to directly connect with the families of those artists, some of whom had never even heard the music before.

“It’s like a piece of history we own,” says Ramirez when speaking about her reverence for the records in her library. “We’re archivists. We care about what’s out there,” concludes Perez. “You might just die tomorrow, and it could be trash, but I feel some weird responsibility to build this library. At this point, we’re 20 years in. Hopefully, there’s another 20 or 30 to go.”


This podcast is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

Jonathan Borca is a San Jose community leader, performer, and rapper. He is currently the Deputy Director at the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza and the San Jose District 5 Arts Commissioner. He performs poetry and rap as ‘The Francis Experience.’

From his early days in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to his nomadic childhood following his father’s Air Force career, Jonathan Borca’s journey is one of determinant care for the community. Settling in East Side San Jose at the age of seven, Borca’s progressive mother, who introduced him to hip-hop albums from Tupac and Arrested Development, ignited his passion for poetry and the transformative power of music.

Borca attended Bellarmine College Preparatory High School in his teens through an East Side pathway program. Reflecting on his time at Bellarmine, he holds two realities to be true: the program did not do enough to support the students from under-resourced backgrounds, but it also was beneficial in developing his interest in pursuing a career in nonprofits. Throughout his journey, music, performance, and storytelling have always been a common thread, sometimes for himself and, more recently, a craft to share with others.

Under the moniker ‘The Francis Experience,’ Jonathan Borca has crafted a unique storytelling platform. His live performance projects, such as ‘Color Me Gold,’ are a fusion of storytelling and various performance genres. These curated performances, featuring a blend of poetry, rap, dance, and jazz, serve as a platform to showcase local San Jose talent.

Most Recently, Borca secured a 3-part residency at the San Jose Museum of Art funded by California Humanities. The project, currently preparing for part 2 on April 5, 2024, is titled First Friday: Hip Hop(e), Jazz, & Storytelling that will offer students and diverse audiences community members new ways to engage with exhibition themes of migration, identity, self-love, and inclusion through written and spoken word. The series is presented in partnership with Francis Experience Quartet, with co-founder Gabby Horlick (drums), standout musicians Bennett-Roth (keys, vocals), and Miguel “Frunkyman” Leyva (bass). Together, the quartet blends rap, poetry, and storytelling, which will be augmented by SJ Storyboard’s digital art and will showcase with a monthly featured poet).

The residency will be offered on SJMA’s late-night “First Fridays” with open galleries, held from 6–9 p.m. on April 5, 2024 (Rasanna Alvarez) and May 3 (Tshaka Campbell).

In our Conversation, we discuss Jonathan Borca’s Background as a youth growing up in East Side San Jose, what led him to a career in nonprofits, and the vital role music plays in his life.

You can follow Jonathan Borca’s on Instagram @francisc_experience

Featured in issue 14.3, “Perform”

SVCreates Content Emerging Artist 2023

Fish swim, birds fly,
and human beings create.

In an unassuming suburban garage in South San Jose, a music studio is tucked in parallel to a parked car, storage totes, and hanging bicycles. Often, you can find a poet getting active in the studio, chipping away at refining his craft, hoping to carve Corinthian columns from a career in acting and music. This creative headquarters is home to Davied Morales, AKA Activepoet.

Davied Morales is a San Jose–born actor and rapper who has worked for numerous Bay Area theater companies, appeared in television shows, commercials, and various short films, and amassed tens of thousands of followers across social media. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed Davied to focus on the “why” behind his work. He explains, “I was able to learn more about the business and understand why I want to do this work. I want to inspire people who look like me, and let people know that they can do it too.”

Raised by a single mother after his father’s untimely passing, Davied had to grow up quickly at a young age. He notes, “I know what a bad day looks like. I always try to be extra positive because I know life’s hard.” His work’s light-hearted joy and humor can be traced back to the shows he watched as a kid. He observes, “Shows like Kenan and Kel were huge for me. They represented a space for being goofy on TV. I loved it because there wasn’t as much violence or the huge political problems you see in our community. We’re always getting killed on TV. We can be anything we want, so why can’t people of color just have friends and tell cool stories about what we can do?”

“Everyone deserves to be creative. Creativity is a fundamental truth for all of us. We say in our work that fish swim, birds fly, and human beings create. That’s what we do.”

Along with manifesting positivity through his craft, Davied also works as an improv facilitator for San Jose’s Red Ladder Theatre Company, a social justice company with whom he leads workshops for men and women experiencing incarceration. When talking about his work in California prisons, Davied adds, “Everyone deserves to be creative. Creativity is a fundamental truth for all of us. We say in our work that fish swim, birds fly, and human beings create. That’s what we do. The best feedback we’ve received was from an attendee who said that for two hours, it felt like they weren’t in prison. I want our participants to know they’re still in touch with their childhood selves. There are bright spots in this world, and I want them to see that.” Moving forward, Davied is developing a catalog of music and content focused on sustainable production and consistency that fans of his work can rely on. The work he puts in now is meant to create an infrastructure that will support more extensive projects in the future. You can follow Activepoet on all platforms for valuable information, a behind-the-scenes look at the industry, and something to make you laugh. Davied Morales continues to prioritize art in his life and wants to make art a priority in the Bay Area.

Instagram: activepoet

Also featured in issue 9.3 “Future” 2017

A Sneak Peek at Harsimran Sandhu’s Short Film Pulp

Cinequest Film & Creative Festival is back again. And stronger than ever. From March 6th to 17th, over 200 films, celebrity Q&As, and prestigious after-parties will mark the 33rd year of Silicon Valley’s premiere film fest. On opening night, a steady stream of moviegoers flowed into the grand and gilded California Theatre to kick things off with the world premiere of gothic fantasy thriller The Island Between Tides. Quite a few actors, cinematographers, and directors flew in so they could walk the red carpet—after all, the festival’s films come from numerous States and 45 different countries—but we’ve got Bay Area talent in the lineup too.

 If you only attend the festival’s feature-length screenings, you’ll miss a local gem tucked into the short film program. Pulp, a debut short directed by San Jose native Harsimran Sandhu, is a tale about the immigrant experience. Considering that 40.7% of San Jose’s residents were born outside the U.S. as of 2021, Director Sandhu’s film seems a fitting tribute to our diverse region in a multicultural festival.

Sandhu overcame quite a number of hurdles to bring his vision to the screen. In fact, it took a defeated moment while studying for a B.S. in business at San Diego State to first light the spark. “Junior year, I remember sitting in an accounting class learning about credits and debits, and I had this big existential crisis,” Sandhu recalls. Later that night, “I was on the floor, venting to my roommate. I was like, ‘Life is over. What am I doing?'” After some words of encouragement, Sandhu perked back up and was determined to make a film. “I just felt so compelled to make a capital ‘S’ Something,” he emphasizes. But there was a short window of time to realize that dream. Sandhu had until graduation to utilize his college’s film resources and connections.

So this aspiring director started walking into film classes. “I would talk to professors, and I was like, ‘I can’t enroll in this because I’m not in the major, but can I sit in on these classes and learn and observe?'” He admits that, at first, the imposter syndrome was rough. “I felt like such an ‘other,’ if I’m being honest,” he shares. “An outsider looking in.” But he stuck with it and started pouring late nights into scriptwriting.

With no prior screenwriting experience, Sandhu penned and discarded countless drafts for six months until one of his roommates confiscated his laptop and read his work. The script sheds light on children of immigrants and their experience—a story inspired by Sandhu’s own relationship with his parents, who moved to the States from Punjab, Northern India. “My roommate started crying,” Sandhu recalls. “She was like, ‘This is beautiful, you need to make this!'”

Pulp discusses how many immigrant parents might not know how to express love adequately through words but often show it through their actions. “I fell in love with the imagery of giving someone the bigger half of an orange,” Sandhu says as he discusses the film’s title and key symbol. “It’s a mother eating less so her daughter can eat more… It’s ‘I want to peel it for you. I want to do the work for you so you can reap the rewards.'”

The film also portrays the pull between finding a “responsible” job and following the siren’s song of a creative career—a divergence many children of immigrants must navigate. “You’re supposed to pay your parents back. You’re supposed to take care of them and make their sacrifices worth it—and there’s such a clash with the pursuit of your own dreams,” Sandhu reflects. “That’s something that I’ve personally struggled with: that balance.” Plenty of his peers face the same dilemma. “I’ve had so many late-night talks with my friends about ‘What can we do?’ And no one knows the answer,” Sandhu says. “We’re all figuring it out. There’s no blueprint.”

As Sandhu shared his dream for Pulp with his classmates, quite a few rallied around the project, ready to bring his story to life despite the cost. “I was shocked at the generosity of it all,” the filmmaker says. “A lot of them cited that they were doing it because of the story.” Sandhu then managed to score the Pursue Your Dreams grant by Ascent Funding. “It was amazing, but it was also very scary, because I just got a direct deposit of $10, 000!”

Everything was going swimmingly until it came to rent video equipment from the school. Because Sandhu wasn’t a film major, he wasn’t given access to it. Nothing a little creative problem solving and willpower couldn’t solve. “I’d talk to people in my class, and I’d be like, ‘Hey, just attach your name to the project, and say you’re making a movie so we can check out equipment under your name,'” Sandhu recollects.

After the film was complete, he hit another roadblock. The SDSU Film Festival rejected Sandhu’s entry on the grounds that he was a business major. “I was like, ‘Please, guys, please!'” So they made an exception. “And I ended up winning Best Director,” Sandhu says with an amazed shake of his head.

Sandhu’s success catapulted him into the film festival circuit and earned him an internship with the Emmy’s as well as acceptance into a South Asian writer’s room. He’s currently working on a feature about a mom searching for her son in the wake of the 1984 Sikh genocide. “If I can make someone feel less alone—if I can make a movie that feels like a hug—I would love to do that,” he says.

Showcasing his film at Cinequest is a special moment for Sandhu. He first attended this festival as a teen, seeking extra credit for one of his classes at Gunderson High School. “I was the only one from my class who went,” he recalls. Watching spirited shorts, then hearing directors and writers speak about their films left a long-lasting impression. “I felt so enamored,” he says. “It’s a full circle moment—because I’m on that stage now!”

Ready to make your own memories at Cinequest?

A few films to look forward to this year include The Trouble with Jessica (a comedy starring Rufus Sewell and Alan Tudyk), Ezra (a dramedy starring Robert De Niro, Whoopi Goldberg and Rainn Wilson), Puddysticks (a dark comedy starring Jurassic World’s Mamoudou Athie) and Tim Travers and the Time Traveler’s Paradox (a sci-fi staring Machete’s Danny Trejo).

Special events this year include an AI Town Hall about all things AI and creativity as well as Silent Cinema (1920s old Hollywood classics accompanied by a live organist).

Support Sandhu by watching the shorts program at 9:30AM on March 16th at the Hammer Theatre. 

Pick-Up Party 16.2, “Sight and Sound,” was the 12th anniversary celebration of Content Magazine featuring the innovative and creative people of Silicon Valley. The party was an ambitious collaboration among venue host Creekside Socials, event designers Asiel Design, Filco Events, and Illuminate SJ Now!!!, along with supplied food by Barya Kitchen ,and the dozen or so creatives featured in the magazine, who displayed their work.

Creekside Socials is a Google project managed by Jamestown, activating San Jose’s Downtown West. They have a full lineup of community events and workshops scheduled for 2024.

Our Pick-Up Party was the first event of its kind held inside Creekside Socials and was a fantastic opportunity to activate the warehouse at 20 Barack Obama Blvd. With support from our partners, we brought in a stage, lighting, and projectors that illuminated the sights and sounds of Issue 16.2. We even introduced our partnership with Needle to the Groove Records, which made our long-dreamt-of flexi-disc magazine insert a reality.

Guests were treated to a live studio pop-up hosted by Brittany Bradley, a wet plate collodion photographer, performances by 2024 Poet Laureate and Creative Ambassador Yosimar Reyes featuring Ivan Flores of Discos Resaca, Srividya Eashwar of Xpressions Dance, singer-songwriter Amara Lin, Needle to the Groove Records, and Kid Lords who closed out the night. In addition, six visual artists featured in the magazine displayed their work, including 2024 Creative Ambassadors Deborah Kennedy and Rayos Magos, Shaka Shaw, and Girafa. 

This evening brought together various genres and mediums of music and visuals, exposing individuals to creativity they may not have been otherwise exposed to. Our goals of creating a magazine real-life experience were highlighted by our fantastic community of creatives, supporters, and partners who are essential to Content Magazine’s future.

We at Content Magazine are grateful to all the artists, partners, members, and community for your support in this project to give visibility to the artists of Santa Clara County.

We hope to see you again on May 17th at the West Valley College School of Art and Design for Pick-Up Party 16.3, “Perform.”

Event Photographer: Kinley Lindsey 

Event Videographer: StageOne Creative Spaces

Event Musicians: Kids LordsAmara 林Xpressions-Dance of India, and Needle to the Groove

Featured Artists: Britt BradleyVictor AquinoSteven Free, GirafJulie MeridiaDeborah KennedyRayos Magos, and Shaka Shaw

Event Partners: Creekside Socials,  Asiel DesignFilco Events, Illuminate SJ Now!!!, and Barya Kitchen

Issue 16.2, “Sight and Sound” Featuring

Musician – Amara 林 | Videographer – Victor Aquino | Photographer – Britt Bradley | Rapper – Chow Mane | RecordLabel – Discos Resaca Collective | Dancer – Srividya Eashwar | Artist – Girafa | Rap Crew – Kid Lords | Photographer – Josie Lepe | Artist – Julie Meridian | Record Shop and Label – Needle to the Groove Records | Illustrator – Shaka Shaw | 2024 San José Creative Ambassadors – Dancer – Alice Hur – Artist – Pantea Karimi – Artist – Deborah Kennedy – Artist – Rayos Magos – Storyteller – Yosimar Reyes 

SVCreates Content Emerging Artist 2023

Putting Pen to the Past

A shoulder-hung tote swings in the mid-morning air as Keana Aguila Labra approaches a sanctuary of creative inspiration. Depending on the day, that sanctuary may be a cafe, a public garden, or a library. Wrapped in the canvas tote are tools for building historical foundations and deconstructing generational curses. Along with writing instruments to translate pain and promise into poetry and prose, you may find books written by authors such as Victoria Chang, Therese Estacion, or Janice Lobo Sapigao—literary figures outside the canon of white literature sharing stories with which Keana can relate.

Keana wears many hats and explains, “I see myself mostly as a poet, writer, editor, and creative. I am also co-director of the Santa Clara County Youth Poet Laureate program and co-founder of Sampaguita Press, an independent publishing house.” Keana’s work focuses on sharing cultural, historical, or personal knowledge to foster representation and safe spaces for readers and creatives unseen in society’s cultural hierarchy.

“I hope that I can share the knowledge that I have obtained and disseminate it freely to folks who might not have access to the education I have had. Education is power.”

Keana is a Cebuana Tagalog Fil-Am poet, and writer in diaspora. Her parents, who immigrated from the Philippines, wanted a better life for their children in the form of Americanization and careers in science. Interested in creativity and ancestral roots, familial friction fueled Keana’s interest in developing forms of self-expression. “My mother can be my biggest role model and enemy at the same time. I hope she sees I am breaking generational curses,” she shares. “I empathize with my mother a lot. The trauma of immigrating alone when she was 15 is her generational curse. Poetry is a vessel to work through the things I couldn’t articulate to my mom, not because I couldn’t share what I felt with her, but because I knew she was carrying her own weight. Our parents aren’t just parents; they’re people too.”

Keana’s poetic process is captured in a quote from William Wordsworth: “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Keana’s poetry typically begins with a thought or emotion that crystallizes in a moment and is jotted down as a note for later interrogation. “I try to sit with myself in a kind of meditation, write down snippets, and continue coming back to them. I think of them as my children,” she explains. “I don’t rush a piece if it is about very intimate emotions. I like to keep the original snippets to see how I refined them over time, thinking about craft, intention, negative space, and the flow of line.” Keana, a self-described poet-historian, writes poetry in both English and the Bisayan language of Cebuano, a regional language in the Philippines and her grandparents’ native tongue. 

Keana hopes to expand Marías at Sampaguitas Magazine from a digital to print publication, pursue an MFA in creative writing, and obtain a teaching credential while writing a book and screenplay. Keana concludes, “I hope that I can share the knowledge that I have obtained and disseminate it freely to folks who might not have access to the education I have had.
Education is power.”


Instagram: keanalabra

SVCreates Content Emerging Artist 2023

Such is Life

A wheat-pasted poster on a San Francisco sidewalk may be commonplace for 99 percent of passersby. For photographer Dan Fenstermacher, the details caught his eye from across the street: an ambiguous lower body clothed in shorts and walking shoes—leg tattoos exposed—standing on a trail with marketing copy that read “on the path to zero impact.” Dan also noticed a burly, shirtless man thirty feet away walking towards the poster; he had patchy body hair on his chest that shared an uncanny resemblance to a smiley face. Dan hurried across the street to catch the convergence of the two. The photo he captured juxtaposes a hipster on a hike with a shirtless man on a city street—both of whom are uniquely getting in touch with nature—and puts a humorous spin on the sustainability marketing technique of showing people experiencing the outdoors. The composition plays with body level, placing the lower body on the poster in line with the man’s upper half. While any similarity between those two figures could be viewed as an abstract coincidence, Dan sees potential in layering and capturing dissimilar details with eye-catching composition to create something new, authentic, and often funny. 

Dan Fenstermacher is a burgeoning photographer with internationally recognized work. He’s also a professor and chair of the West Valley College photography program, a contributor to The San Francisco Standard, and a volunteer photographer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Dan’s projects blend street photography and photojournalism with clever juxtaposition; his photos are most known for their vibrant colors, use of flash, and humorous composition.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Dan obtained a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Idaho before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in marketing. While there, he realized that advertising has less to do with creative ad concepts and more with market research, data analysis, and spreadsheets. Dan recalls, “I hated it. I started taking photography classes at night through a local community college while doing those advertising jobs. I had a roommate at the time who went off to Korea to teach English, so I figured I could do the same thing.” Dan went on to use his community college photo credits to teach fine art in China, aided by student translators. Later, he enrolled in a graduate photography program at San Jose State University.

“Traveling makes me feel alive. When you experience a new culture, it’s like getting to experience life again for the first time.”

Dan’s photography is rooted in detail and captures reality at the core of often misunderstood situations. “I have always been an observer,” he says. “I tend to notice things that most people wouldn’t consider. I like to combine street photography with journalistic documentary themes.” Each of Dan’s projects captures a range of topics and manages to juxtapose conception with reality. His project documenting seniors in Costa Rica contrasts American society’s fear of aging with the joy and experience seen on the faces of the elderly. His “Streets to the Dirt” project documents Black cowboys in Richmond, California, and shows that cowboys are not just White men in movies. Dan continues to broaden his photo expeditions, explaining that “traveling makes me feel alive. When you experience a new culture, it’s like getting to experience life again for the first time.” Dan’s career as a photography professor allows him to embrace his passion while surrounded by inspiring up-and-coming student artists. Dan aligns his trips with his school schedule and plans to travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, to document mariachi culture. His next goal is to produce his first self-published photo book. 

Instagram: danfenstermacher 

Dalia Rawson is the South Bay’s authority on all things ballet. A longtime performer with the now-defunct Cleveland San Jose Ballet Company, the Saratoga native has performed for numerous companies in addition to holding backstage management positions with the Silicon Valley Ballet. With the closure of that company, Rawson founded The New Ballet School in March of this year. Less than a year later, the school has grown to over 300 students and is the only school on the West Coast that’s been certified by the American Ballet Theatre. The New Ballet School’s first production this winter, featuring Rawson’s choreography, will be a San Jose–inspired rendition of The Nutcracker

“It’s been since 2006 that I last danced professionally. Of course, I miss it, but the career doesn’t last forever. I was just really lucky to work with people I looked up to. It’s been 11 years now, but I certainly get a lot of joy and inspiration from teaching young people and working as a choreographer and director. Our newest production is the San Jose Nutcracker, which tells the classic story with local inspiration. Set in the city around 1905, it will feature a glowing replica of the historic San Jose Electric Light Tower, as well as the historic skyline. It’s something I’m really excited about.” | Instagram: thenewballetschool

Podcast with Dalia in 2020

Listen and watch on Spotify | YouTube | Vimeo | Listen on Apple Podcast

Trevor Jones is a family man, building designer, and co-owner of Minnow Arts Gallery in Santa Cruz, California. Trevor was born and raised in Cupertino before studying economics and international studies during his undergrad and earning a master’s in architecture from the University of Oregon. Trevor describes the 15 years he lived in Portland, Oregon, as the “cauldron of his life as a creative person.” Inspired by Portland’s DIY art, design, music, and skateboarding scene, he imbued collaborative and process-oriented principles into SpaceCamp Studio, his design-build practice where he works as principal designer and general contractor. 

Trevor moved to Santa Cruz in the early 2010s to continue his work at SpaceCamp, raise his family, and, as a surfer, live a coastal lifestyle. He met Minnow Arts Co-Owner Christie Jarvis through a mutual friend and artist, Jeremy Borgeson. Christie, a landscape architect, ceramicist, and filmmaker, was looking for office space, and Trevor had an office in the barrel aging warehouse of Humble Sea Brewing. It didn’t work out for them there, but it led Trevor and Christie to look for an office together. They eventually found and leased the space that became the Minnow Arts Gallery.

Trevor and Christie began hosting exhibitions that featured work from friends and artists they were connected with. Since then, Minnow Arts has been working to create an inclusive and supportive gallery focused on supporting the local art scene in Santa Cruz and giving opportunities to local and regional artists. Rather than having a strict mission statement, Minnow Arts stays true to its DIY roots and takes a more flexible approach to exploring what the space can be through different shows and events. They also aim to make exhibiting art more approachable and demystified for artists. Trevor sees his role as a “companion” to artists.

In our conversation, Trevor shares his approach to building design, reflections on the journey that led him to co-owning a gallery, and advice for anyone hoping to ‘do it themselves.’

Join Christie and Trevor at Minnow Arts Gallery on Friday, January 5th, for First Friday Santa Cruz as they open a retrospective exhibition featuring artwork from Good Knife Studio Creative Director Juan Llorens, a Buenos Aires-based artist who designs and illustrates work for Humble Sea Brewing’s cans, bottles, and marketing materials. Frank Scott Krueger from Humble Sea Brewing is collaborating with Juan to curate the show.

IG: minnow.arts

Check out First Friday Santa Cruz for their entire lineup of participating galleries.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Podcast

The Cultivator and Developer of Content Magazine review a year of publications. Daniel Garcia founded Content Magazine in 2012 and has cultivated the longest-running South Bay Arts magazine ever. David Valdespino Jr. Joined the Content team full-time in January 2023 as a production manager and writer.

In this conversation, we discuss highlights from the year, some magazine design and layout details, hidden aspects of the production process, and contributions from some writers, editors, and photographers that make Content possible. Episode #108 is the first time our team has offered a behind-the-scenes look at producing Content Magazine. 

THANK YOU to the writers, photographers, editors, partners, and creatives that make Content Magazine possible. 

Issue 15.2 Featuring:

Tattoo Artist – Danny Fernandez | M.A.N.O.S., Jimmy Castañeda | Visual Artist – Trinh Mai | Painter – Angela Johal | Photographer – John Todd | San Jos Photo Walk – Julie Chon, Diana Mae, 35mmallie, Yvonne Yeh, Sheldon Chang | Stylist – Kelly Peters | Gathering Artisans Collective – James, Clarice, & Jafar Green | K-Cafe – Kayla Dinh | Mama Kin – Andrew Saman | Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus | Flautist/Teacher – Azeem Ward | Raue – Paige Kalenian & Jax Huckle | Album Picks – Needle to the Groove

Issue 15.3 Featuring:

Dancer – Alyssa ‘Ms. Mambo’ Aguilar | Chancellor of the West Valley-Mission Community College District – Bradley Davis | Designer – Carlos Pérez | Photographer educator – Dan Fenstermacher | Actor and rapper – Davied Morales, AKA Activepoet | Singer/Rapper – Ervin Wilson | Scholar and dance ethnologist – Farima Berenji | Hip Hop Record Label – F.R.V.R. Records, Aldin Metovic, Brevin Rowand, Vanessa Vindell | Aspiring Photographer – Iris Zimmerman | Writer/Poet – Keana Aguila Labra | Painter – Leslie Lewis Sigler | Musician – Mike Huguenor | Artist Educator – Mitra Fabian | Artist Rubén Darío Villa – Mr. Fuchila | Album Picks – Needle To The Groove | San Jose Earthquake – Niko Tsakiris | Emerging Fashion Designer – Nyr Acuavera | Graduating Architecture/Landscape Architecture – Onna Keller | Painter – Renée Hamilton-McNealy | Tattoo Artist – Sefa Samatua | ShaKa Brewing

Issue 15.4 Featuring:

Tattoo Artist – Abraham Ortega | San Jose Storyboard – Bertrand Patron Paule | Nonprofit organization – B.L.A.C.K. Outreach San Jose | Poet – Elodia Esperanza Benitez | Painter – James Mertke | Filmmaker – May Yam | Developer – Michael Messinger | Multidisciplinary Artist – Pantea Karimi | Muralist – Paul J. Gonzalez | San Jose Museum of Art Curators – Senior Curator: Lauren Schell Dickens, Assistant Curator: Juan Omar Rodriguez, Curatorial and Programs associate: Nidhi Gandhi | Artist & Illustrator – Suhita Shirodkar | Together We Create | Elba Raquel, Mesngr, Wisper, Roberto Romo | Meraki by Yaya Fashion Design – Yaya Bautista | Data Artist & Professor -Yoon Chung Han | Poet & Storyteller – Yosimar Reyes | D.J. – Weezmatic, Aaron Aquino

Issue 16.1 Featuring:

EPA Center, Nadine Rambeau | Tai Zhan Bakery, Wendy Chan | Gallerist, Pamela Walsh | Artist, Ignacio “Nacho” Moya | Musician and Painter, Ben Henderson | Artist, Miguel Machuca | Arts Los Altos, Maddy McBirney & Karen Zucker | Clothing Brand: Exhilo, Curtis Ying | Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí, Arturo Magaña | DJs, Soulmat3s | Musician, Will Sprott

The South Bay arts community rallied in Los Altos on November 30th to celebrate the release of Content Magazine Issue 16.1, “Discover.” Hosted at the stunning State Street Market food hall on the corner of State & 3rd Street in Los Altos, we invited the artists, musicians, organizations, and contributors featured in issue 16.1 to create a ‘Magazine-in-real-life’ experience for guests.

Creatives featured in the issue, such as Gallerist Pamela Walsh, Artist Ignacio “Nacho” Moya, Painter Ben Henderson, Artist Miguel Machuca, and Clothing Brand Exhilo by Curtis Ying, displayed their work in the center of State Street Market. Tucked between entrances, DJ Duo Soulmat3s performed throughout the night, spinning original mixes of eclectic genres, responding to the energy of the large crowd, and keeping the vibes right. Halfway through the party, guests were treated to performances by Will Sprott, followed by Ben Henderson with Wax Moon on drums and bass. Having made a long journey from his home in Grass Valley, Will was always within arms reach of his young son, Oz, even while performing. Will performed versions of songs from his new solo album, Natural Internet, that featured harmonica solos by Oz. Ben Henderson, backed by members of San Jose’s Wax Moon, filled the hall with warm folk music that garnered everyone’s attention.

Each of the nine food vendors hosted in the food hall generously provided delicious samples to content members. From ice cream and fried chicken to mocktails and matcha madeleines State Street Market hosts a diverse array of International cuisine.

As the night drew to a close and artists began wrapping up, you could see new connections and old friends leaning on the bar, waving farewell, or lending a hand. In the 12 years Since Content Magazine was founded, this pick-up party was the furthest distance from our home office in San Jose. We were overjoyed by the warm welcome of Los Altos, the willingness of folks from as far as Gilroy and Grass Valley to join, and the familiar air of kinship the arts community often provides. 

State Street Market often hosts community events and is open to the public Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 am to 8 pm, and Friday & Saturday, 11:30 am to 9 pm, with the bar open late until 10 pm. State Street Market also offers space reservations for groups of 15 or more. You can plan your next party or meeting with no reservation fee or food and beverage minimum. Pre-order from amazing food hall vendors and invite up to 150 guests.

Thank you to everyone who joined us and our Event Partners for making these events possible!

State Street Market & Murdoch’s Bar. Bibo’s Pizza & Pasta, Ikuka, Konjoe Burger, Little Blue Door, Little Sky Bakery, Orenchi Ramen, The Good Salad, and The Penny Ice Creamery. 

Issue 16.1 Features:

EPA Center, Nadine Rambeau | Tai Zhan Bakery, Wendy Chan | Gallerist, Pamela Walsh | Artist, Ignacio “Nacho” Moya | Musician and Painter, Ben Henderson | Artist, Miguel Machuca | Arts Los Altos, Maddy McBirney & Karen Zucker | Clothing Brand: Exhilo, Curtis Ying | Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí, Arturo Magaña | DJs, Soulmat3s | Musician, Will Sprott

Pamela Walsh is an artist of a different sort. As a gallerist, her work lives in the margin between artwork and art buyer. A gallerist’s art is not just curation but creating a space that brings people to artwork and telling those stories-becoming a conduit between artistic expression and the community that is engaging with it.

Pamela Walsh Gallery is a contemporary art space in Palo Alto’s Ramona Street architectural district. The historic building housing the gallery was designed by Stanford architect Birge Clark in 1929.

Having opened in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Pamela was able to weather the turbulence of unprecedented times and is set to celebrate the gallery’s ⁠4th anniversary with a group exhibition⁠ opening in December 2024.

The gallery’s focus on contemporary art is on creating a platform for diverse creative expression or establishing emerging artists. Having spent 20 years before opening her gallery, Pamela sold works from historical artists. Still, she decided to move forward with contemporary art as a fun and inspiring way to work with artists who are currently practicing. Small local galleries like Pamela’s are crucial to the arts ecosystem by encouraging artists, providing opportunities, and fostering a culture of art.

In our conversation, Pamela shares what it means to be a gallerist, her background in art and working in galleries, her journey toward becoming a gallery owner, and the role her space plays in the broader arts ecosystem. 

Join Pamela Walsh this Saturday, December 16th, at Pamela Walsh Gallery for the opening of their ⁠4th Anniversary group exhibition⁠

Follow ⁠Pamela Walsh Gallery⁠ at ⁠@pamelawalshgallery⁠

Listen on Spotify and Apple Podcast

In this follow-up to Podcast #81, we reconnect with Marcus Lyon, artist, photographer, and founder of A Human Atlas, after completing his Silicon Valley project entitled De.Coded, which launched in October 2023.

In our conversation with Marcus, we talk about what he learned from his time with Silicon Valley change makers, how this project differed from previous experiences, the philosophy and design elements of the physical book, and what is on the horizon for A Human Atlas.

De.Coded is available to ⁠⁠⁠order⁠⁠⁠, and a companion app is available by searching De.Coded in ⁠⁠⁠Google Play⁠⁠⁠ or ⁠⁠⁠iTunes App Store⁠⁠⁠.

Some key takeaways from his time spent with the 101 Silicon Valley change-makers featured in De.Coded are the importance of Latino/Chicano culture and history in shaping the region, the rich diversity of cultures that have come together among various waves of immigration and migrations, themes of belonging, and a constant emphasis on refining the process behind A Human Atlas with a focus on context, equity, and authenticity.

Having completed A Human Atlas of Brazil, Germany, Detroit, and now Silicon Valley, Marcus Lyon is still grounded in what inspired his first project. As an Englishman married to a Brazilian with “Brazinglish” children, his initial concept, Somos Brasil (2016), which told the story of 104 extraordinary individuals creating social change across Brazil, was intended to develop a deep cultural immersion for his family. Originally intended as a one-off endeavor, Marcus began receiving requests for similar projects after its publication and recognition.

Currently, Marcus and his crew, including Joe Briggs-Price & Camila Pastorelli, are working on a new A Human Atlas project based in Los Angeles, entitled Alta / a Human Atlas of Los Angeles. 

Keep up with A Human Atlas and their team on Instagram and at their website:A Human Atlas@ahumanatlasMarcus Lyon@marcus_lyon  Joe Briggs-Price@joebriggsprice Camila Pastorellicamila_pastorelli 

Funding for De.Coded was provided by the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.

Nomination & fiscal support was provided by the American Leadership Forum (ALF).


Human Atlas projects are research-based, interdisciplinary explorations of the people of a specified geography. They are built on extensive nomination processes. A carefully curated group nominates individuals who are championing and driving social impact in all its forms: from public servants to entrepreneurs, from non-profit leaders and activists to artists and scientists. The projects then map these remarkable humans through photographic portraits, app-based oral histories, info-graphic mapping, and ancestral DNA. Human Atlas projects take on many digital forms but always begin as a published limited edition book and an interactive exhibition.

Check out Episode #81 on our ⁠blog⁠ or ⁠Spotify⁠ for full background on Marcus and his Career

Pictured: (L to R) Marcus Lyon and Camila Pastorelli⁠

Book images provided by Human Atlas.


Tracing Roots: Trinh Mai Finds the Beauty in Life through Honoring Cultural Heritage

Heart first, Trinh Mai aims to bring people together through art. Finding comfort in
color and peace in faith, her multidisciplinary works honor her Vietnamese cultural
heritage and shine a light on larger stories
of shared humanity.

“We have to draw strength from our community work, the people we love, art, and hope. We are drawing from a transcendent source. All beauty comes from that process of discovery.”

-Trinh Mai

Trinh Mai’s love of art is deep, rooted in family history, connecting past and present. As Trinh describes, she thinks in branches—uncovering stories—in search of healing, hope, and community. Her art is a prayer, a process of discovery, honoring her cultural heritage and family.

Shaped by her family’s experience escaping Vietnam during the War in 1975, Trinh uses art as a language to connect hearts to the stories of loved ones. Having passed through many countries, including the Philippines and Guam, on their journey to the United States, Trinh’s family arrived in Pennsylvania at one of four refugee camps in the US at the time. Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Trinh moved to Southern California at a young age and lived with extended family while her parents moved to Silicon Valley during the ’80s tech boom to find work. Trinh attributes her creative energy to her parents, who were both very meticulous, creative, and clever. Her dad nurtured a green thumb and loved cultivating bonsai trees. Trinh’s love of nature and desire to connect to the land threads through her work in symbolism and materiality. Trinh co-creates her art with history, informed by the heirlooms and stories of her family and the deep feeling of responsibility to honor her culture and share that love with the wider community. 

“One of the things that the elders and people in general fear is being forgotten. And not just that they are forgotten, but their history is forgotten, the history of [their] people, the ways that [they] arrived here, traditions, food, family lineages, and the sacrifices they made. What a shame it would be to forget about the sacrifices that were made for us to be here. My fear is that their fear will be realized. It’s both a blessing and a burden to carry this responsibility to share. But one of the things that has encouraged the elders through my art is not just that they see themselves and I’m honoring their lives, but also knowing that the younger generation cares and wants to carry on the history. When families see heritage being passed down and honored, it takes that fear away. And it’s not just descendants that are inheriting that culture, it’s also the wider community that we are sharing it with.”

Trinh’s favorite mediums are oil paint and charcoal, but oil on canvas is her first true love and how she found her voice. Trinh’s love of oil painting began at San Jose State University (SJSU), creating abstract paintings. Painting on large canvases felt like creating an all-encompassing environment that she could step into. During her studies at SJSU, Trinh encountered a Mark Rothko painting at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Initially skeptical of his work, seeing it in person was a very pivotal and transformational experience for her. It opened her eyes to how art could convey spiritual essence through color and form. Finding herself standing in front of the Rothko painting, Trinh was “consumed by the cadmium red.” Describing the experience as deeply real, it opened her heart to what she wanted her work to accomplish.

“I wanted to make paintings like that, so true to what they are that they speak for themselves. I would like for whatever spirit is living inside the painting to speak. I don’t need to be a part of that conversation, but I think maybe my role is to have an intimate relationship with the work, and then the work has its own relationship with the viewer.” 

Trinh describes her relationship to art as “salvation to the fullest,” born out of a desperate need to find comfort through life’s hardships. Through abstract art, Trinh found her footing and fell in love with the comfort, light, and life that art brought about.

“As I started maturing in the art and really taking it seriously, I realized it’s teaching me to see, the art of observation. I realized that was the main lesson, and once I embraced that, I saw how free I could feel painting boxes and spheres.”

As a multidisciplinary artist, Trinh describes her use of various mediums as a beautiful and fulfilling symbiotic relationship, with each medium teaching her unique lessons. She appreciates the labor and lessons that each provides, allowing her to excavate ideas by digging deeply through experimentation. For example, stitching teaches her to slow down, be careful, and have patience. From painting portraits to writing poetry, Trinh creates her work from a place of deep intentionality. Art has opened doors for Trinh to speak to universal truths of unified humanity. “I started discovering things about my family history that are shared by so many other people, not just Vietnamese refugees, but people all over the world.” Motivated by a desire to serve the community, Trinh finds purpose in discovering the beauty of life that can arise despite tragedy. “I feel that my responsibility is to offer life to stories to give comfort to other people.” Art gives life back to objects and stories and sows seeds for future generations. Sharing these stories cultivates a shared cultural heritage. 

Driven to discover what it means to have an intimate relationship with God, Trinh is deeply thankful for her faith and the peace and purpose that it brings her in daily life. For Trinh, it all comes back to an essential question: “In the midst of life’s trials, where do we turn for strength? We have to draw strength from our community work, the people we love, art, and hope. We are drawing from a transcendent source. All beauty comes from that process of discovery.”
Instagram: @trinhmaistudios

Japanese Pastry and Desserts

IKUKA pastry and dessert shop at State Street Market in Los Altos takes its name from the first syllables of the Japanese words imo (sweet potato), kuri (chestnut), and kabocha (pumpkin). The goal of its creator and general manager, Miyuki Ozawa, is to bring the namesake flavors popular in Japanese baking to the South Bay.

Miyuki created the idea of IKUKA alongside her mother, Kuniko Ozawa, a prolific Bay Area restauranteur. In addition to Kuniko’s five other South Bay Japanese American restaurants, including Orenchi Ramen (also at State Street Market), Sumika Grill, & Ogiku Kaiseki, Miyuki is putting her stamp on Japanese cuisine in the Bay. IKUKA offers the deliciously starchy and subtle sweetness of imo, kuri, and kabocha as well as other favorite deserts from Japan such as the beloved Mont Blanc, burnt basque cheesecake, mini croissants, and mochi bread in hopes that patrons can experience delicate texture and sweetness of authentic Japanese pastries that bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients.

For more info, visit

Try IKUKA at Pick-Up Party 16.1 This Thursday, November 30th, 6p-9p at State Street Market. Content members will receive a complimentary taste as a toast to their support of South Bay Creatives.

Check out this other video featuring The Good Salad.


Video by Nirvan Vijaykar @whosnirvan

     If your Christmas season has become packed with tinsel-clogged, holly-infested Hallmark films, it’s time to shake things up with a good murder. A holiday whodunit at the City Lights Theater Company seems suitable for the season. After all, what December is truly disaster free?

     The Game’s Afoot (also known as Holmes for the Holidays) written by playwright Ken Ludwig and directed by Mark Anderson Phillips, shows at the theater from November 16th to December 17th. City Lights invites theatergoers to a Connecticut castle in the ’30s—home to American actor William Gillette who garnered fame playing the character of Sherlock Holmes.  While entertaining his theater friends on a rainy December night, William discovers one of his guests fatally stabbed. He must channel his role as Holmes to crack the case. Hazardous and hilarious circumstances ensue.

     William is played winningly by Actor Damian Vega who brings candor and heart to his performance. This marks Damian’s 8th time working with the theater company. “My favorite productions to date are all with City Lights,” asserts Damian, who has been acting ever since he scored the lead in a vegetable-themed play in the 4th grade—and has since gone on to perform in not only a number of theatrical productions but also in commercials and independent films. “I keep coming back because they really treat you like a family member while you are working there—and once you’re initiated into the family, it’s always a wonderful feeling of homecoming every time you get a chance to come back.”

     Damian is joined by a strong cast. Standout performances include Alycia Adame (who thrives in the role of eager and eccentric Inspector Goring) as well as Gabriella Goldstein (who takes the role of Daria and embraces the character’s fatal dramatic bent with such evident delight that her energy is contagious). There’s also Tom Gough who plays our hero’s roguish best friend Felix. Tom’s flustered reactions and impeccable comedic timing are sure to amuse. “[Tom] teaches acting for a living, so he’s definitely a mentor that I study while I’m working on my own character,” Damian says. “Plus, Tom has an extensive background in improv so watching him bring that out in his work has given me the courage to try it in my own.” And the two actors do a great job feeding off each other on stage. “[Director] Mark mentioned that William and Felix have an Abbott and Costello vibe to their relationship,” Damian chuckles.

    You’ll enjoy not just the cast, but the castle. This glamorous old-world manor house will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a game of Clue (it even features a secret passageway)! What’s more, there’s a foreboding wall bristling with weapons. It calls to mind those familiar questions: Was it Miss Scarlett with the revolver in the dining room? Mr. Green with the knife in the study? “Oh, we’re nice and cozy in here, but we’re cut off from the world in this horrible storm, and it’s not really that cozy because there’s a dead person in here,” Director Mark comments mischievously.

     Set designer Ron Gasparinetti’s attention to detail is also remarkable—from the textured stonework and old-timey radio, right on down to the glowing embers in the fireplace. The extended wood ceiling beams seem to draw you into the stage world. Also take a moment to appreciate the collection of black-and-white photos on the wall—which on closer inspection, you’ll find aren’t family portraits, but the faces of the many actors who’ve played Sherlock over the years (from Basil to Benedict).

     Which brings up another point. This play is wonderfully meta—meaning it’s a story that emphasizes the devices used in storytelling. And it does this from scene one: the production opens with a play within a play. You also have a City Lights actor (Damian) who performs the character of William—an actor known for his character Sherlock. What’s more, Director Mark has also played the role of Sherlock in a previous play. This blurs the line between reality and fiction. And the intimacy of this 100-seat theater takes it a step further. The audience’s closeness to the characters makes us feel like we’ve joined them in the room.

     Though The Game’s Afoot is a fairly recent script, it’s one we hope to see circulating for years to come.“Many theaters tend to stay with ‘safe and proven’ shows because they know that they’ll get a built-in audience,” notes Damian. “City Lights is willing to take a chance on new work or controversial topics. They know the value of sharing those stories with the audience. Those of us lucky enough to witness that or be a part of that are changed for the better.”

     Ready for a glittering comedy mystery during this season of twinkling lights?

Treat yourself to City Lights’ little crime before Christmas.

Tickets and show details at City Light Theater Company

Founder and CEO of The Good Salad, Sanad Al Souz, is on a mission to shake up mealtime by offering healthy and delicious signature chef-crafted salads.

Coming from high-tech engineering, Sanad noticed his colleagues’ interest in nutritious lunches in a corporate cafeteria setting and got to work on an online salad offering that allowed the public to order custom salads. Since scaling to 3 brick and mortar locations in Santa Clara, Los Altos, and Palo Alto, Sanad has formed a team that reflects the values of making good food for good people so that they can feel good. But they don’t stop there; they make it taste good, too.

For more info, visit

Try @the.good.salad at Pick-Up Party 16.1 on Thursday, November 30th, 6p-9p at the State Street Market. Content members will receive a complimentary taste as a toast to their support of South Bay Creatives.

Look out for our next video mini-profile on @I.ku.ka, which will drop next week.


Video by Nirvan Vijaykar @whosnirvan

Also available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

Rooted in the Bay Area and based in San José,  Rosé began pursuing music at 16 to bring a new era and sound to the scene. As an emerging rapper and hip-hop artist, Rosé is working hard to establish himself by performing, releasing new projects, and building a local and international fanbase.

Inspired by artists such as Drake, Future, Torey Lanez, and Bugatti, Rosé works to express himself across vocal mediums, blending styles of rap and singing to express himself authentically. Influenced by his family’s love for 90s hip hop while growing up, he aims to cultivate his versatile style like those early rap pioneers did.

Rosé plans to release a trilogy of ‘Bay Born’ mixtapes that showcase the sounds he is cultivating from the Bay and capture the sound of his career at different stages. He is also working on a project called “Last Week” that will represent different days of the week based on a difficult period he went through while doing his last project. Rosé is focused on constantly releasing new singles and videos and performing live shows to continue growing his fanbase and career.

His new project, “5” with Cam G, is an EP available on all streaming platforms, and you can also find all his other music on all streaming platforms.

Follow him on Instagram @sjro28 for updates on his music and live show dates.

In Troy’s conversation with Rosé, they discuss his journey as an artist, his new project with Cam G “5”, and the state of the San Jose rap scene.

Host Troy Ewers is a journalist and personality from Southside San Jose, CA, and has a background in music, film, and sports. Troy aims to highlight art and culture through music, fashion, film, and sports. Check out Troy Ewers on the Content Magazine Podcast, Instagram @trizzyebaby.