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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.”

kathryndunlevie.com
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.”

timthompson.com

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:

https://www.instagram.com/taryncuriel/

https://www.taryncuriel.com/

https://www.thealamedaartworks.org/taryncuriel

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:

https://www.instagram.com/kimmeulibrown/

https://www.kimmeulibrown.com/

https://www.thealamedaartworks.org/kimbrown

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

Matt Kelsey, Printers’ Guild Member & Jim Gard, Chairman of the Printers’ Guild

For twenty-two years, volunteers at the San Jose Printers’ Guild have kept the art of printing alive.

In a world where books can be downloaded in digital format and sending messages is as easy as tapping on a phone screen, Jim Gard, chairman of the Printers’ Guild, and guild member Matt Kelsey, shed light on how the printing press serves as a reminder of the days when communication required a concentrated effort and skilled craftsmanship.

Jim, you have been with the Printers’ Guild since the beginning. Could you share a little history on how the Printers’ Guild came about?

Jim: The Print Shop exhibit opened in the ’70s, and although the San Jose Historical Museum had some volunteers, they worked independently and lacked organization. In 1992, the museum staff, as well as some of the printers, met and formed the Printers’ Guild to provide consistent printing demonstrations to the visiting public. From then on, the group has met monthly, maintaining a shop volunteer schedule, creating, printing exhibits, and repairing and acquiring equipment.

What types of equipment are used in the Print Shop?

Jim: Letterpress. We have small, table-top Kelsey presses, a Chandler & Price Pilot press, and some cylinder proof presses. But our main attraction is the F.M. Weiler Liberty press, circa 1884. This heavy floor model press gives visitors a close-up look at the workings of a treadle-powered “jobber.”

What are demonstrations at the Print Shop like?

Matt: Members of the San Jose Printers’ Guild continue to practice the skills mastered by printers of old, using some 200 cases of metal and wood type, including many rare and antique designs. The best experience, though, is when we put the Pilot press right up to the railing and let visitors operate it themselves.

Matt, you are the lead organizer for this year’s Bay Area Printers’ Fair, an event that celebrates letterpress printing and related arts. Does this event bring us back to the roots of graphic design?

Matt: Yes, the Printers’ Fair takes us back to the time when the printer was the graphic designer. The printer knew what sizes and styles of type were available in the shop and knew how to combine them to create the right look for the customer. A lot of graphic designers today really enjoy getting away from the computer and getting back to the roots of handling handset type and impressing ink into paper instead of manipulating pixels on a screen.

For visitors and Guild members alike, I am sure there is a bit of nostalgia that one feels when observing and participating in the printing process. What do Guild members and visitors take away from this shared historical experience?

Jim: The Guild brings together these enthusiasts with a purpose, which they can share with each other and the public.

Matt: Guild members enjoy keeping alive the “black art” using the same basic technology pioneered by Gutenberg over 500 years ago. I have taught a number of workshops at the Print Shop, and I am always energized by the enthusiasm and creativity of the students. In one day, they learn to handset type and arrange a short poem or quotation into an attractive layout. Everyone goes home with a feeling of creativity and accomplishment.

With technology constantly advancing, what does the art of printing serve as a reminder of?

Matt: The museum Print Shop replicates a typical print shop of the early 1900s, where local businesses would go when they needed flyers, stationery, business cards, labels, and myriad other forms of ink on paper. Now we think of a “printer” as a machine connected to the computer, that quickly produces copies on command; a hundred years ago, a “printer” was a skilled craftsman who consulted with the customer about their printing needs, found the right sizes and styles of type to design and compose the text from handset metal type, printed a proof for the customer’s approval, and then carefully prepared the job for press.

Jim: The art of printing serves as a reminder of the labor that was once involved in communication. With all this handset type, there used to be a lot more people involved: specialists in typesetting, press operation, proofreading.

Matt: It is a reminder that, back then, printing was an act of freedom. In the words of journalist A. J. Liebling, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

SAN JOSE PRINTERS’ GUILD
instagram: sjprintersguild
facebook: sjprintersguild
twitter: printersguild

Article originally appeared in Issue 6.2 “Device”
Print Version SOLD OUT

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.”

Instagram
flipsidelovers
akro1
ambitious0utsider
Youtube
flipsidelovers

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.

activepoet.com

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.” 

keana.journoportfolio.com

Newsletter: pamalandungon.substack.com 

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. 

danfenstermacher.net 

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.”

newballetschool.org | Instagram: thenewballetschool

Podcast with Dalia in 2020

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

     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

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.

© 2024 CONTENT MAGAZINE PUBLISHED BY SV CREATES