Tag Archives: Bay Area

Through the Cracks in the Groove

Photo by James Chan

By Lupita Uribe

[dropcap size=”50px”]W[/dropcap]hen you hear the words “record label,” San Francisco is not the first city that comes to mind –possibly because the commercial record labels are located in the southern region of our golden state. Though San Francisco has never been a mecca for the commercial music industry, according to Jon Bendich a former touring musician, commercial songwriter and current assistant professor at SF State’s Music and Recording Industry program, in the early 2000s the Bay Area was the highest producing region of independent labels.

The Bay Area has inspired and played an important role in past music movements; from its renowned jazz scene in the Fillmore District, to the 924 Gilman punk scene, to being the home of prominent psychedelic rock musicians such as The Grateful Dead. Unlike Los Angeles, the scene is stripped of bright lights, fake tans and auto-tuned musicians, which, while appealing to some, doesn’t exactly scream “showbiz.” Regardless of that, nestled in overpriced rented spaces or functioning straight out of homes, there are independent Bay Area record labels establishing themselves and maintaining business.

San Francisco has historically seen labels come and go with some more short lived than others. One notorious Bay Area record label, 415 Records, was a short-lived independent label that released fundamental records in the genres of new wave and post-punk. Record labels such as Prank Records, 1-2-3-4 GO! Records and Fat Wreck Records found themselves in staff changes and eventually, direction changes where some steered toward more digital music and focusing primarily on distribution. Similarly the evolution of 415 Records was guaranteed to happen; it was just a matter of what form the label would take. In this case, the label was sold in 1989 after an 11-year run, and founding members of 415 Records went on to other independent and mainstream levels of the industry.

The amount of record stores that were open throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s catering to music that ranged from punk to traditional Latin music, were clear indicators of the emergence of labels and the need to distribute. Although mail order was one of the bigger points of access for people to listen to their favorite artists from specific labels like 1-2-3-4 GO! Records opened stores to distribute titles within their label, such as Shannon and the Clams and Nobunny. However, other storefronts, such as the very popular and unique Discolandia, were central hubs for everything Latin, and connected the Mission District community to a variety of artists on local and international labels up until its closing in 2011.

Although San Francisco hasn’t always had a strong label structure for licensing – compared to other major label markets such as New York or LA – it has always had a strong core foundation in creation, production, distribution and performance of music, according to SF State’s Music and Recording Industry Program Director Robert Collins.

Robert W. Collins shows a sound board used to teach classes in SF State’s College of Extended Learning Tuesday Oct 27. Photo by James Chan

Collins, who spent many years working in the music industry, started off as a music fan simply looking over friends’ contracts with labels. He began working at record labels in his early ‘20s and later went on to be the general manager of underground hip-hop label Ground Control Records. He also managed legendary local rap group Zion I, who have toured the world.

While touring, Collins also noted how San Francisco differed from other markets with its plethora of niche markets like Latin jazz, punk and underground hip-hop. He credits the Bay Area for instilling an “independent hustle” characteristic in local music moguls that carried into other aspects of the industry.

“As you started to move around, and you started to tour, that’s where you would move that independent hustle,” Collins said in reference to how the independent labels and artists had a stronger sense of urgency to make their money without the backing of a major label.

There has also been a shift in the way record labels are established and functioning now, which affects the San Francisco Bay Area. Bendich notes that it is much easier to be a label now. Digitizing music distribution has cut the costs of what is necessary to be a label, making it much more accessible, according to Bendich. He believes modern day record labels cut down on their costs and overhead fees.

[pullquote align=”right”]“You don’t have to have a warehouse to store records, because you don’t have physical records anymore –you’re distributing them digitally.” – Jon Bendich[/pullquote]

“You don’t have to have office space because you don’t have to have a staff to do everything, you can do it all on your computer,” Bendich said. “You don’t have to have a warehouse to store records, because you don’t have physical records anymore –you’re distributing them digitally.”

The absence of physical records also cuts down costs with regards to having a distributor. There is no longer a middle man to get your records sold, therefore you make a more direct profit. In the absence, the record label still acts as the bridge between artists and platforms of digital distribution such as iTunes and Spotify, as well as tying other loose ends and doubling up as an overarching artist manager.

The industry’s new accessibility allows a variety of people to establish their own record label, and not all labels are aiming to hit fame.

Cubby Control Records is based out of San Francisco and was established not for glory, but for hobby. Owner Brian Weaver works as a librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, and established the label as a medium to bring together his previous works and continue having a creative outlet.

“When I was younger I had ideas, or ambitions, that I (was) going to make it big at some point,” Weaver said. “At a certain point I came to realize ‘I’m not making money with this, I probably won’t make any money with this’ so I had to think about a career and stability.”

Weaver has performed in several bands and had a key role in Cubby, a collective of artists and musicians based out of San Francisco, but he does not question his decision to pursue a career as a librarian. He credits his job at the library for allowing his pursuit of his hobby.

“Having a full time job inhibits my ability to work on the label and to make music as much as I would like to,” Weaver said.

With independent labels being at the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene, whether it is as a medium of self expression, desire to create, or desire to make profits, it is expected that niche markets will continue to influence those labels and keep them surviving.

Marriage equality supporters share testimonials on the historic Supreme Court ruling

A historic and emotional Supreme Court decision took place June 26, 2015 that swept the country and legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. The ruling coincided with the annual Pride weekend celebration which brought thousands of supporters to San Francisco, which has been a bastion for members of the LGBT community for decades. Here the testimonials of couples and supporters of the landmark decision during the weekend celebrations.


Inside the tiny house movement

Future tiny house builder, Alain Despatie stands on his trailer where his tiny home will be built in West Oakland. Photo by Katie Lewellyn

A worn-down barn with chipped white paint serves as the backdrop while Alain Despatie struggles to stay balanced on his tiny two-legged folding chair. He points to blueprints laid out on the ground by his feet, displaying the plans for his tiny, future home. Despatie is just one of the many counter culturists taking part in the global phenomenon known as the Tiny House Movement.

The exact origins of the Tiny House Movement are difficult to pinpoint, but the idea of tiny living became highly popularized after the 2008 recession, according to Jay Shafer, who is considered by some the founder of the movement. Since then, skyrocketing housing prices and environmental concerns have led some Bay Area individuals to re-think traditional housing scales and take part in the evolution.

Riding on his motorcycle through the outback in Australia, Despatie had an epiphany. In the first 40 years of his life he established a sedentary lifestyle; owned a home, had a six-figure income, and started a family. However, when his family and house diminished, he embarked on a yearlong motorcycle journey across Australia. “I dropped everything,” he recalls.

For the next year his home would consist of a 3-foot tall tent and the little belongings he kept, like the tiny fold out chair he sits on today. Looking for a compromise between a nomadic and sedentary life, he discovered the house on wheels. With less than $25,000 he could build a solar-powered home from the ground up. “If you really want to live green, with little impact on the planet, you may have to give up sedentary life because that’s part of what’s breaking [the planet],” he says.

According to data collected by the Census Bureau, the average size of homes built in 2013 hit an all-time high of 2,600 square feet, almost twice the size of homes built only thirty years ago. Despite bigger homes, the average household size in America has been on a steady decline for the past 50 years, according to the data.

A tiny house is defined as a home typically ranging anywhere from 100 to 400 square feet. Due to building code restrictions, dwellings of that size are prohibited from being permanently anchored to the ground. David Ludwig, a tiny home architect who has been living in his own 212 square foot Airstream trailer for the past nine years, explains that under both the Universal Building Code and California’s state building code, tiny house builders are restricted.

Architect David Ludwig stands inside his tiny house located in Larkspur. (Katie Lewellyn)
Architect David Ludwig stands inside his tiny house located in Larkspur. (Katie Lewellyn)

The building code was designed around the idea that every home is permanently built to the ground. Their main concern is safety, ensuring that rooms fit minimum sizing requirements to host full size appliances. “Those minimum size restrictions are actually impacting the Tiny House Movement because if tiny houses were built and anchored to the ground, their rooms would be too small to meet the building code,” says Ludwig.

By putting the homes on wheels, tiny houses are exempt from building code requirements and can therefore have smaller bathrooms, kitchens, and living rooms.

About three weeks ago, Despatie traveled to Oakland from Portland with a 20-foot long flatbed trailer attached to a rented U-Haul truck. Today, the forest green trailer bed lies in the midst of blooming flower buds. Long, green grass pokes through the metal frame as Despatie jumps on top of it, animatedly plotting out his future sustainable home.

“I really believe in the idea of a nomadic lifestyle. I’m going to move this maybe once or twice a year with the seasons,” he says.

Legally constructing tiny homes is only half of the battle; the other half is finding a place to park it.

While streaming “Tiny” on Netflix, a documentary about living small, Aimee Brown began obsessing over the idea of having her own tiny house. But after an unsuccessful Craigslist post looking for land to house her shed, she joined countless of others in the Bay Area who are actively trying to negotiate the use of land.

The Tiny House Bay Area Meet Up online group was created to form a community, as well as a support group, for people with tiny homes and those interested in the idea of owning their own. The most popular discussion on the page is the idea of building a tiny house village.

The executive order, Not in My Backyard (NIMBY), gives established members of the community a political voice to say they do not want tiny house villages in their neighborhood. Ludwig sees the local code as discrimination from homeowners who believe that villages will lower their property value.

“The people that are established in the communities are fearful because tiny home communities look an awful lot like the trailer parks of the 1950s,” he says.

In the 1950s, trailer parks were notorious for housing low-income individuals who had trouble with the law, according to Ludwig.

Amy Farah Weiss, who is running for Mayor of San Francisco, is proposing a village that would house 100 tiny homes as a prototype. Her proposal will create low-cost dwellings for individuals who will pay 30 percent of their income. Weiss’ ultimate goal is to pass legislation where Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs) are allowed in backyards and bypass NIMBY.

“What we want to do is create a new understanding about what a tiny house community is,” explains Ludwig. “The way it’s different is that people in the tiny house community want a communal lifestyle, which is supportive rather than isolationist.”

Until such legislation passes, Despatie is trying to stay as low-key as possible while he begins to build his home. He was able to get his hands on basic housing plans from a designer through an online trade.“It’s hard to hide a 13 foot house on a set of wheels, but we have to build it in a way that is respectful of the neighborhood,” he explains.

Tiny house illustration by Winsor Kinkade.
Tiny house illustration by Winsor Kinkade.

“I want to make it as cute as possible, and as least offensive as possible, in order to not generate a complaint,” he adds.

Despatie has been able to find community and support from the tiny house meet up group as he begins the process of building his home. “People are really into it, they want to know what’s going on,” he says.

Unexpectedly, dozens of individuals who want to take part in the movement, but may not have the courage to do so, have offered to help Despatie build.

“I found an in between, this house on wheels that can go wherever it’s suitable and I can take off whenever I want,” Despatie says. “To me, that was the lifestyle that I needed. It took me 40 years to find out what I wanted.”

From an economic and environmental standpoint, tiny houses seem to be the wave of the future. But it’s inevitable that in America we like things BIG.

For Despatie, his future is uncertain, ready to go at a moments notice. “If the city comes and shuts this whole place down, I put everything on my bike and that’s it,” he says.

May’s Bay Area Art Shows

Image courtesy of Ryan Whelan

Events start this weekend:

Friday, May 1: Having Fun by Ryan Whelan at Farley’s East.

5-9pm, 33 Grand Avenue, Oakland. RSVP here.

Friday, May 1: Golden by Sarah Deragon at Rare Device.

6-9p, 600 Divisadero Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, May 1: ‘Grow a Pair! Ovaries, Art, and a History of Creative Expression’ at Incline Gallery. Featuring work from Astrea Somarriba, Verse, Sofia Victoria Gonzalez, Jasmine Conrad, Elizabeth Iversen, Ari Takata-Vasquez, Erika Myszynski, Jennifer Kang, Virginia Barrett, Taylor Smalls, and Isabella Woods.

7-11pm, 766 Valencia Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, May 1- Sunday May 3Art Market San Francisco at Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. Including works from 70 galleries.

Friday and Saturday, 11am-7pm, and Sunday, 12-6pm. 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco. Tickets available here.

Friday, May 1- Sunday May 3: stARTup Art Fair San Francisco at Hotel Del Sol – a Joie de Vivre Hotel. San Francisco’s independently produced contemporary art fair for unrepresented artists.

Friday, 12-7pm, Saturday 12-8pm, and Sunday, 12-6pm. 3100 Webster St, San Francisco. Tickets available here.

Saturday, May 2: Parking Lot Art Fair. Featuring work from over 100 artist.

8am-1pm, Location announced at Midnight on May 1. Follow Parking Lot Art Fair on Instagram for more updates.

Saturday, May 2: CCA Oakland Craft Fair at California College of the Arts Oakland Campus Oakland.

11am-3pm, 5212 Broadway, Oakland. RSVP here.

Saturday, May 2: Wonderland SF 5 Year Anniversary reception. Featuring work from Joshua Lawyer, Matthew Robertson, Mj Lindo, and Sergio Lopez.

6-10pm, 1266 Valencia Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Saturday, May 2Terra Incognita: 2015 Mills College MFA Exhibition at Mills College Art Museum. Featuring work from Megan Enderschmidt, Jackie Farkas, Sara Kerr, Kevin Keul, Malena Lopez­-Maggi, Dani Padgett, Christine Patterson, Rachelle Reichert, Miranda Robbins, and Jess Smith.

6- 8pm,  5000 Macarthur Blvd, Oakland. RSVP here.

Sunday, May 3: Build It Up / Break It Down: Headlands Graduate Fellows Exhibition at Headlands Center for the Arts. Graduate Fellows: Sarah Ammons, Michael Bartalos, Heather Engen, Joy Fritz, Victoria Jang, Lauren McKeon, and Joyce Nojima.

Wednesday, May 6: Keith Boadwee‘s Club Draw collective at Aggregate Space gallery.

6:30-9:30pm, 801 West Grand Avenue, Oakland. RSVP here.

12 – 5pm, 944 Simmonds Rd, Sausalito. RSVP here.

Thursday, May 7: Virtual Prism by Erin Mitchell reception at Hang Art Gallery.

6-8pm, 567 Sutter Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Thursday, May 7: Lets Go All The Way by Ben Venom at Ever Gold Gallery.

7-10pm, 441 O’ Farrell Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Thursday, May 7: Jennifer Locke performance at SFAQ[Project]Space.

6-8pm, 449 O’ Farrell Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Thursday, May 7: A Ritual Telling by Maritime Art Collective at Red Victorian.

5:30pm, 1665 Haight Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Thursday, May 7: Photojojo new office party.

7-10pm, 1844 Market Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, May 8: Fake Hippie by Gaelan Baird at Turpentine Gallery.

7-11pm, 557 Forest Street, Oakland. RSVP here.

Friday, May 8: Work by Kiana Endres at Stanza Coffee Bar.

7:30pm, 1637 Haight Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, May 8: Zzzzzzz: Works by Morgan Miller at Bell Jar.

6-9pm, 3178 16th Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Saturday, May 9: Action Packed by Peter Harris at NAID Art Center.

12:30-3pm, 551 23rd Street, Richmond. RSVP here.

Saturday, May 9: Drifting Forest by GATS at Hashimoto Contemporary.

6-10pm, 804 Sutter Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Saturday, May 9: ‘La couleur de l’étrangeté: Jeunet & Caro’ at Spoke Art. Featuring work by Adam Ziskie, Lauren YS, Greg Gossel, Monica Garwood, Adam Lister, Nan Lawson, and more.

6pm, 816 Sutter Street, San Francisco, RSVP here.

Saturday, May 9: Joys of Jello by Jennie Lennick at Alter Space.

7-10pm, 1158 Howard Street, San Francisco, RSVP here.

Saturday, May 9: Rapid Density by Cannon Dill and Ian Hydeon Ferguson at Campfire Gallery.

7-10pm, 3344 24th Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Tuesday, May 12: Transfer 109 Release Party by Transfer Magazine at the SFSU Poetry Center (Humanities building, room 512)

7pm, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Wednesday, May 12: directions taken – directions given #2 at Southern Exposure.

7-9pm, 3030 20th Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Thursday, May 14: 2015 CCA MFA Thesis Exhibition at CCA SF Campus.

6-10pm, 1111 8th Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, May 15: Edge Effect –  SFAI’s 2015 MFA Exhibition at Fort Mason. Featuring work from 100 graduates.

7-9pm, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Saturday, May 16: ‘We Are All In the Gutter But Some Of Us Are Holding Flashes’ by Mark Whiteley at Seeing Things Gallery.

7-10pm, 30 North 3rd Street, San Jose.

Saturday, May 16: Variety of (N)one by Clemens Berh at Mirus Gallery.

6-10pm, 540 Howard Street, San Francisco.

Saturday, May 16: Raised on Promises by Helen Bayly at White Walls and Shooting Gallery.

7-11pm, 886 Geary Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Thursday, May 21: Doubled by Shaun O’Dell at Gallery 16.

6-9pm, 501 3rd Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, May 22: Recology San Francisco AIR Exhibition at Recology SF. Artists-in-residence include Michael Arcega, Ma Li and student artist Eden V. Evans.

5-9pm, 503 Tunnel Avenue, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Saturday, May 23: ‘Drawing On Youth’ by San Francisco Arts Education Project’s (SFArtsED’s) Interdisciplinary Arts Program (IAP) at SFMOMA Artists Gallery at Fort Mason.

2-5pm, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco. RSVP here.





The Man With the Neon Crown

Jim Rizzo of Neon Sign Works shows his collection of signs he has hung up in his shop in Oakland, Calif., Monday, March 16. Photo by Daniel E. Porter.

His name may never be in lights, but he will always be the man who makes the light. No, Jim Rizzo, the craftsman behind Neon Works, isn’t any sort of divinity, however he would hold the “Neon King” crown, if there were one.

Over two decades ago, Rizzo had a thought. He always loved neon, hell, he even went around the city asking applicable establishments for scraps of it to hang up in his apartment, so why not turn his passionate hobby into a full-blown business? Twenty-thousand clients later, Rizzo is still following his passion, and succeeding. Neon Works has done notable neon work in the Bay Area, with standouts that include the Castro Theatre and five years running as the Macy’s Union Square holiday display. If you’ve seen neon in the Bay Area, chances are, Rizzo was behind it.

“We are well-known for our neon and I don’t know why, but we are,” says Rizzo.

Neon Works’ warehouse is located on the industrial outskirts of Oakland. Housed between like-storefronts, one wouldn’t be able to pinpoint Neon Works from the exterior. However, upon arrival, Neon Works’ interior truly stands out. With squinted eyes, the warehouse, or better yet museum, shines with amplified colors and extravagant bright neon lights. On the walls of the open-office styled workplace hangs once-retired neon signs brought back to life by the hands of Rizzo and his team. If restoration is any indication of the endless possibilities that Rizzo can create from scratch, there’s no question how he was able to make his way to the top of the neon industry.

“We love what we do, and it shows,” says Rizzo.

The rise of neon signs is widespread in the Bay Area, let alone nationwide. Why? Because retro-chic is in, and nothing is more retro, and chic, than neon.

“Since last summer we’ve seen an influx of sentences in office buildings,” explains Rizzo. “They want neon on the wall because it’s fun.” According to Rizzo, companies like Pinterest and Eventbrite are requesting neon signs from Neon Works to go alongside their stylish modern-esque office spaces.

But with the recent booming desire for neon, like any other fad, will it fade away?

“There’s no question that neon is incredibly attractive, just the colors, you get attracted to the colors, there’s energy in it,” says Rizzo. “LED is super popular but it doesn’t have any soul to it, you know, it’s crap made in China.”

Neon tubes wait to be used in a project as owner of Neon Sign Works Jim Rizzo takes a call for an upcoming job in his shop in Oakland, Calif., Monday, March 16. Photo by Daniel E. Porter.

With complete devotion to his art, Rizzo is able to pump out handcrafted neon signs to whoever is interested, and currently, those who are interested already have invoices floating around on Rizzo’s desk. However, Rizzo, and Neon Works, won’t be around forever.

“When I’m done it will all go away,” says Rizzo.

So get it while it’s hot, but remember, don’t touch it when it’s hot…

April’s Bay Area Art Shows

Image courtesy of Good Mother gallery

Events start this weekend:

Saturday, April 11 – Channing Morgan: Off The Surface Curated by: Patricia Cariño at Burnt Oak Gallery.

2pm, 306 15th St, Oakland. RSVP here.

Saturday, April 11 – Dystopia Toyland by Peter Adamyan at Good Mother gallery.

7pm, 408 13th Street, Oakland. RSVP here.

Saturday, April 11 – Building Blocks at Campfire Gallery. Featuring new work by Chris Vogel and Julian Watts

7-10pm, 3344 24th Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Thursday, April 16LPP + Residency Artist Talk with Dorothy Santos at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery.

8pm, 3130 24th St, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, April 17 – ‘Lush Francisco’ zine release by Little Paper Press & Photoworks SF at Firehouse 8.

7-11pm, 1648 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Saturday, April 18/19 – ‘Fair Enough’ zine and print fair at Good Mother gallery. Featuring ArtSFBlog, Book & Job Publishing, Tiny Splendor, Rhino Press, Keep Eyes, and more.

408 13th Street, Oakland. RSVP here.

Sunday, April 19 – Spring Open Studios at Headlands Center for the Arts.

12-5pm, 944 Simmonds Rd, Sausalito, RSVP here.

Friday, April 24 – New Normal Two hosted by Guerrero Gallery at New Normal Brewing. Featuring work by Harley Lafarrah Eaves, Alexandra Toledo, Pablo De Pinho, Terry Powers, Lana Licata, Joey Enos, and more.

7-10pm, 4115 Telegraph Ave, Oakland. RSVP here.

Friday, April 24 – KeFe “Inside Voices” by Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock at FFDG.

6-9pm, 2277 Mission Street. RSVP here.

Saturday, April 25 – 4×40 at Southern Exposure. Performances by Cliff Hengst, Dale Hoyt, Nolan Jankowski, Tim Kopra, Lee Lavy, Christine Lee, Mads Lynnerup, and more.

6-10pm, 3030 20th Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.



How does the port strike actually affect us?

Port of Oakland. Photo by Mark Hogan/ Creative Commons
Port of Oakland. Photo by Mark Hogan/ Creative Commons

If you’ve been somewhat paying attention to the news, you know that the west coast ports, yes even the one in Oakland, are currently on strike and it doesn’t seem likely that it will end anytime soon. Currently, the ports are congested with backed up vessels waiting to be unloaded and taken to their final destination, but for nine long months, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 20,000 workers, and the Pacific Maritime Association have been at war over contract disputes. If an agreement is not reached, the ports could completely shut down.

So why should you care about this? Really, why does it matter to you if a bunch of people are on strike? Well this strike is actually pretty significant and can begin to affect us all in a major way. The ports are where we receive our goods, like spices, clothes, and boxes that store your food, basically anything that is not manufactured in the United States is coming by boat to these various west coast ports and then put onto our shelves. You know that the goods we receive from Asia, like video games, have been affected by 70 percent – yep, this strike is making those precious video games hard to obtain.

With the ports on strike, we could be looking at prices of our favorite things skyrocketing. With not being able to receive goods from other countries, that means we are in limited supply here. So places will either just run out of what they are selling, or have to up-charge what they have to make a profit since they have to buy the goods from a United States based company at a much higher cost then an oversees manufacturer.

Here is a list of just some things that aren’t manufactured here in the United States:

  • Converse sneakers
  • Levi jeans
  • Televisions
  • Barbies
  • iPads
  • Spices
  • Video Games
  • American Flags (that’s right – we don’t even make our own flag)

No one knows when the strike will end and if it will end in a good way. All I know is I won’t take my video games and salt for granted anymore. You never know how precious something is until you can’t get it off a truck or boat sitting in the middle of the ocean. #soclosebutsofaraway

***UPDATE: As of 7p.m. Friday night it looks like the ports have reached a five year agreement. Hopefully, the ports will begin to open but who knows how long it will take for the back up trucks and vessels to unload.

The Perfect Fit

Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief, of Fiterazzi Magazine performs a sidekick, one of the many moves she uses when teaching her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante
Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief, of Fiterazzi Magazine performs a sidekick, one of the many moves she uses when teaching her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante

SF State alumni, Jackelyn Ho, has an insane schedule for someone who has already graduated college. When she is not at Crunch Fitness training people to get the body of their dreams, she is sitting at her house or Starbucks, running the magazine Fiterazzi, which she created with her sister, Cassey Ho.

“I do have a crazy schedule,” Ho laughed. “But it’s not hard.”

Fiterazzi currently doesn’t have its own office, which is perfect since not all of its staff is from the Bay Area. The magazine’s contributors come from all over the country, including Canada and Australia.

“We did an open call for Fiterazzi and got a lot of feedback,” Ho said. “From 14-year-old girls, to college students, to 30-year-olds, all giving their advice on fitness. We were looking for diversity.”

Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief, of Fiterazzi Magazine performs a sidekick, one of the many moves she uses when teaching her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante
Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief, of Fiterazzi Magazine performs a sidekick, one of the many moves she uses when teaching her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante

Reaching out to the community has always interested Ho. When she first came to SF State, she thought she was going to be a news anchor and graduate with a degree in journalism. Although the journalism major didn’t pan out for Ho, she was still interested in the classes offered by the department.

“I like my [broadcasting] major, it’s cool,” said Ho. “I really wanted to take the 300 [journalism] course though! That’s the boot camp for journalists, isn’t it?”

She laughed when she saw the horrified look on the faces of my photographer and myself. For journalism majors, the JOUR 300 Reporting class is where you make it or break it. It’s known to have ended many journalistic dreams before they had barely begun.

Ho admired how different the gym is now compared to where she used to teach her classes, noting the trailers that used to be outside are now gone. Although SF State was not her first choice, she was happy with her decision to stay here and graduate.

“I originally wanted to go to a school on the East Coast, because why not?” Ho said. “I dreamed of being ‘big’ in New York City. Unfortunately, we were in the recession when I started college and a $40,000 per year tuition wasn’t doing it for my parents. So I opted for SF State, which was the only school I applied to in California. I paid off my tuition with a scholarship and never looked back. It was a great experience and I am happy that things worked out that way.”

While attending SF State, she taught a kickboxing classes under the campus recreation department. You can even find her SF State profile here.

“I’ve been playing tennis since I was four years old, and after high school I wanted something different,” Ho recalled. “I took my very first group fitness class when I was 17 and fell in love with it. As soon as the clock struck midnight on my 18th birthday, I applied to teach at a gym. It’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Teaching gives me that excitement and motivation to do what I do. My students are my best friends and I can’t think of a better job in the world.”

Ho noted that she can relate to people who are self-conscience of their bodies and it helps bring her closer to the students she teaches in her class. She even noted that her students are her best friends.

Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief of Fiterazzi Magazine performs yoga pose, one of the many moves she uses when instructing her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante
Jackelyn Ho, editor-in-chief of Fiterazzi Magazine performs yoga pose, one of the many moves she uses when instructing her fitness classes. Photo by Martin Bustamante

She decided to turn the negative light from fitness magazines, into a positive outlook for her fans and readers. Creating the magazine Fiterazzi was her passion and dream. She wanted to build a publication that helped people with their health and fitness in an encouraging way.

Ho says there is more to being healthy than just a number on a scale, adding that she hasn’t stepped on a scale for years because she feels great and healthy, so what’s the point?

“When you see fitness magazines, they read like, ‘lose 10 pounds in 10 days’ or, ‘melt that muffin top,'” Ho said. “We wanted to be with people who were doing fitness but doing so in a positive light, as it is.”

Ho says that it makes her sad when people ask about negative parts of their bodies.

“I had a client come up to me after a class and ask how to get rid of thigh jiggle and back fat,” Ho recalls. “And I was like ‘You just finished an hour kickboxing class that was hard!’ It makes me sad that they are worried about that.”

For her magazine, Ho says that some of her successes come from when she receives emails from readers.

“When I receive email from people, it makes me feel better about the magazine,” Ho said. “I wish I knew more about the business portion of it though — more of a business plan and funding.”

Ho’s special outlook on fitness sparked Fiterazzi magazine, and it has affected people in many good ways. It has helped teach people that their bodies are perfect the way they are, and that losing ten pounds in ten days should be the least of anyone’s worries.

February’s Bay Area art shows

Events start this weekend:

Friday, February 6 – “Packrat’s Paradise” by Tim the Optimist at Le QuiVive.
7pm, 1525 Webster Street, Oakland. RSVP here.

Friday, February 6 – “Portraits of Strangers, Someones, and Nobodies” group show at 111 Minna.
5pm-late, 111 Minna Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, February 6 – “Not For Sale” group show at Cell Space.
7pm, 2050 Bryant Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Image courtesy of Rare Deivce.
Image courtesy of Rare Deivce.

Friday, February 6 – Aquatint Etchings by Julia Lucy at Rare Device.
6-9pm, 600 Divisadero Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, February 6 – “Campanions” curated by Keyvon Sadit at Seeing Things Gallery
7-10pm, 30 North Third Street, San Jose.

Image courtesy of Hashimoto Contemporary.
Image courtesy of Hashimoto Contemporary.

Saturday, February 7 – Limbus by 1010 at Hashimoto Contemporary
6-10pm, 804 Sutter Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Saturday, February 7 – Third Annual Prism Collective show at Spoke Art
6-10pm, 816 Sutter Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Sunday, February 8 – Second Sunday Art Show at Fog Lifter Cafe.

Featuring work by Luca Mcgrath and live music by Whoraigh Kayado and James Mitchell
6-8:30pm, 1901 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Thursday, February 12SFAQ Issue 19 Release + SFAQ [Project] Space Preview Party
6-9pm, 449 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Image courtesy of Book & Job.
Image courtesy of Book & Job.

Thursday, February 12 – The photocopy club x Michael Jang “Let’s get Xeroxing” at Book & Job Gallery
6pm, 838 Geary Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, February 13 – Young Hots: Zine Release by Shannon Fry & Sara Mcgrath at The Night Light
9pm, 311 Broadway, Oakland. RSVP here.

Image courtesy of Alite Designs.
Image courtesy of Alite Designs.

Friday, February 13 – #Lovemytinyatlas Photo Show by Tiny Atlas Quarterly at Alite Outpost Store
6-9pm, 3376 18th Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, February 13 – Colorado by Mike Giant at FFDG
6-9pm, 2277 Mission St, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, February 13 – Extended hours for Keith Haring The Political Line at the de Young Museum
5:30-9pm, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco. Tickets available here.

Thursday, February 19 – All Girl photo show at Ritual Coffee.

Featuring photographs by Amy Harrity, Molly Matalon, and Vivian Fu.
1026 Valencia Street, San Francisco.

Thursday, February 19 – Art Auction to Benefit Artist #2 at Incline Gallery
5-9pm, 766 Valencia Street, San Francisco. RSVP here.

Friday, February 27 – Artist’s Assistant: Straight Out of Rivendell at City Limits
7-11pm, 300 Jefferson Street, Oakland.

Art for Profit

As he works on a large scale, lavish mural project on the blight-ridden streets of West Oakland, artist Joshua Mays is approached by a local business owner. The middle-aged owner of one of the over forty liquor stores in the neighborhood asks Mays if he would be available to produce a mural running along the side of his store, an over fifteen-by-twenty foot area. After palpable hesitation, the man offers a couple hundred dollars compensation and bribes Mays with the exposure that he would get. Mays declines graciously, only to be to be lashed back at with outrage and a sense that he has just declined an opportunity of a lifetime.

“My rule number one is to never accept exposure as payment,” says Mays. “Too many artists rely on that potential exposure to be fair exchange.”

Raised in Denver, Colorado, Mays has spent eight years in Philadelphia, time in Mexico City and Puerto Rico, and some self-described nomadic years spent in and out of the Bay Area. The 38-year-old, living on his own with an in-home studio occupying one of his 2-bedroom apartment, moved permanently to Oakland two years ago following an exhibition he had at Oakland’s Old Crow art gallery, Mays has found a home in one of the state’s most prominently creative regions.

“California is just where there is more of a healthy cycle between money, commerce, and creativity and artist careers,” says Mays. “Our media is paying a lot of attention to the art scenes out here.”

Although The Golden State is known for and has long proven to be a place where many artists have honed there creative talents and been able to launch a career making a decent-to-wealthy living, the vast majority of artists are not given the same credit or compensation for their work that other occupations provide inherently.

San Francisco, the beloved city centered and built upon art culture, is now pushing artists out to make room for the rising tech domain and those making the wages within it. Just last year, over sixty tenants living in a building at 1049 Market Street, most of whom are starving artists and many who have resided there for decades, were sent eviction notices. The lofts just down the road from Twitter’s new headquarters, all affordably leased for under nine hundred dollars, were deemed unlivable and were to be made workspaces costing more than double the price.

But while gentrification in San Francisco has reportedly pushed artists out and into the East Bay, cities like Oakland, too, are becoming less financially available to those trying to make a living through their creative skills Oakland had the highest apartment rent growth in the U.S., at 9.1 percent this year and tied New York for the tightest occupancy, according to MPF Research, a Carrollton, Texas-based rental-housing market-analysis company. And unlike in San Francisco, landlords in Oakland are not even obligated through the Ellis Act to give their tenants move-out cash upon eviction.

As a self-taught painter, illustrator, and muralist, Mays sold his first commissioned piece in high school—fifteen dollars and lunch for a caricature illustration for a group domino tournament. That moment, however insignificant it may be now so many years into his career, contributed to Mays imperative perspective that his work holds value.

Mays, who has been fortunate enough to be able to make a decent living through his art, is urging other Bay Area artists to rid themselves of the preconceived notion that pushing for monetary payment correlates to one ‘selling out.’”

“They are easy to either throw you on the side of ‘you’re whoring yourself out’ or throw you on the side of ‘you’re just as corrupt as the bankers and the politicians who just want to extract whatever from their own greed’.”

In a day where one must spend many thousands of dollars for a legitimate full-sized tattoo, hundreds of dollars to listen to bands while quickly dehydrating in desert heat, people will pay no matter the cost. It is a flawed concept to treat these forms of art as a greater service more deserving of the public’s hard earned money.

Artists like Mays have been commissioned internationally because of how incredible his work is. People love to look at it, but do not actually support it. Creating murals for little or no commission is not worth the time for him anymore. The circumstances over the years have made Mays realize that he would rather just work in his studio and sell his original artwork through exhibitions, set fair prices for the immense hours of work he puts into his work every single day.

If looking at the broader sense of artistic industries compared to other career paths, there is again, no inherent average or scale to measure what is worth what. Mays likens this argument to a hypothetical situation where a third of a said city’s auto mechanics decide to give their services away for free.

“A ton of people would go to a guy who would do it for free and the whole industry would collapse,” says Mays. “I think that is what the artist’s community has to deal with all the time.”

Mays has come up with his own chart depicting what he believes is fair exchange of artistic services based upon years of experience and exactly what is being commissioned. According to this chart, with his experience and skill he should be paid upwards of five thousand dollars for a mural. His goal is to bring the self-esteem and confidence to the artists that he knows and to others in the future that they are providing a service, and that that service is not beneath everybody else in the world’s service and therefore deserves a paycheck.

Social media, from MySpace to the evolved Facebook, have been Mays’ chief marketing tools. He is able to connect with people and sell his work in ways that no other platform could provide. Because of their unsurpassed promotion abilities, they are also providing that much more competition within the art industry. People can make their own business to expose people from all over the globe to their artwork and to promote their art careers.

“The Internet is the new record labels and art galleries of the past,” says Mays. “I think that it puts so much power into the artist’s hands if the artist is willing to do it.”

The issue at hand is that artists are not being paid for their time and money. Yet the fact is that artists need to be more business savvy in their careers and use the marketing tools available to get commissioned work.

Also, at the same time, if making enough money to keep up with the cost of living in the Bay Area is what artists are searching for, picking and choosing clientele’s based on hatred of ‘the man,’ is not going to work. That will only hinder the capability to make a decent living and continue to grow artistically in the Bay Area.

One in a Million: A day in the life of student activist, Brittany Moore

Brittany Moore (left) joins thousands of protestors out front of the City Hall at the end of the Millions March in San Francisco on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (Sara Gobets/Xpress Magazine)
Brittany Moore (left) joins thousands of protestors out front of the City Hall at the end of the Millions March in San Francisco on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (Sara Gobets/Xpress Magazine)

Words and Photos by Sara Gobets

While many students are locking themselves in their rooms or living in the library until finals are over, SF State student Brittany Moore is using study breaks to take to the street and continue her work as a student activist. Moore currently holds a 4.0 GPA in her five courses and hopes to finish the semester strong, but that doesn’t mean shirking her responsibilities as founder of the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition on campus or diminishing her active dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement. Scroll through the photos and take a walk in her shoes as a student activist attending in the Millions March in San Francisco.

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  • SF State student activist and founder of the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition Brittany Moore pours over her notes in her apartment on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. She currently holds a 4.0 GPA in her five courses and hopes to finish the semester strong.
  • Moore texts other members of the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition to coordinate a meeting place on the way to the Millions March in San Francisco, Saturday Dec. 13, 2014.
  • Moore and other SF State students spot more members of the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition in the crowd as the Millions March protestors make their way down Market Street.
  • SF State student Imani Davis (right) picks out a poster from a stack made by the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition during the Millions March in San Francisco.
  • Moore starts a chant while marching down Market Street during the Millions March.
  • Moore (left) joins thousands of protestors out front of the City Hall at the end of the Millions March.
  • Moore raises her fist in solidarity out front of City Hall.
  • Moore hands out Black and Brown Liberation Coalition pamphlets in front of City Hall.
  • Moore offers cuties to fellow protestors out front of the Civic Center after the Millions March.
  • Moore rolls up her poster at the end of the Millions March.
  • Moore takes BART with other protestors in search of food after the the march.
  • Moore and other protestors gather to eat, drink, and unwind at Cava 22 restaurant in the Mission.
  • (From left to right) Yesenia Mendez, Yuri Clark, Mekdes Clark, and Brittany Moore watch footage protestors outside of a Bart Station.
  • Yuri Clark (left) and Moore walk home after a long day of protesting.
  • Back at her apartment, Moore rubs her tired eyes while checking the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition Facebook.

Travis Garland delivers an electrifying performance at the Red House

Travis Garland performing at the Red House Studios on Saturday, November 9 in Walnut Creek, California. Photo courtesy of Edrick Oteyza.
Travis Garland performing at the Red House Studios in Walnut Creek, California on Saturday, November 8. (Photo courtesy of Edrick Oteyza/ Xpress Magazine)

With his soulful voice and bad-boy charm, Travis Garland is living the indie solo artist’s dream. As a line of his fans are seen along the outside walls of Red House Studios in Walnut Creek, California on Saturday night, one could tell just how dedicated of a fan base Garland has. Some fans have been standing in line hours before doors opened, whereas others have come to see their favorite artist perform for probably the billionth time.

Garland is a young man whose career launched by being the lead singer of the boy band, NLT (Not Like Them). Amongst Garland, he was also joined by Glee’s Kevin McHale, Justin Thorne, and Vahe Sevani.

Three years after NLT split in 2006, Garland decided to fly as a solo artist. Currently, he works with a production group called, The Stereotypes, but is not signed to any record label. His self-titled debut album, which was released in 2013, was widely-acclaimed by his fans.

Once the doors opened, a long line of people were funneled into a small, intimate room where they waited for Garland’s opening act, Jeremy “Passion” Manongdo, to perform. Otherwise known as “Passion,” this young man has been known by Garland since the “MySpace days.” He has since been an opening act almost every time Garland is set to perform in the Bay Area.

As he graces the stage with his melodic voice and kind personality, Passion readies the audience for Garland’s performance. After beautifully covering several mainstream songs — such as Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One” and Nick Jonas’s “Jealous”—he exits the stage and leaves Garland’s die-hard fans impatiently waiting for the main act.

As Garland’s band comes on-stage, excited shouts can be heard from the audience. After several minutes, Garland finally emerges and the crowd explodes.

Garland performed many of his own songs off his self-titled album, such as “Motel Pool,” “Blue Electric Roses,” and “Neighbor.” With each song, he entertained the crowd with his soulful voice while also hitting some smooth falsettos. To add some flavor to one of his songs, Garland gave an ode to the king of pop, Michael Jackson, as he sang a couple lines from “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.” 

Mid-way into his show, Garland and his band experienced some technical difficulties before performing one of his newer songs, “Mr. Rogers.” However, it was quickly resolved when an individual from the crowd asked if Garland can perform “Didn’t Stand A Chance,” one of his  popular acoustic songs.

Without uncertainty, Garland decided to perform the song despite it not being on his setlist; however, he could not sing the song alone.

“We gotta have my boy Passion help me with the song,” Garland exclaimed as the crowd cheered and started to help look for the artist’s opening act.

Within minutes, Passion and Garland were on-stage together performing the acoustic song as if they have been singing together for ages. At first, it looked like Passion was experiencing some nervous tension, but with the help of Garland and his band they were able to pull the performance through.

As the concert started winding down, Garland and his band wanted to end the show with one of his favorite metaphor-filled songs to perform, “Homewrecker.” With much enthusiasm and sing-alongs by the audience, Garland was able to end his intimate concert with a bang. Through this last song, his audience is given a great example of how live singing should sound. 

Many Garland fans left with excitement and joy after seeing one of their favorite artists perform on stage as the small concert space in Red House Studios began to empty. Upon leaving the venue, many of Garland’s fans were left with the echoes of his soaring vocals and his electrifying success as a solo artist.

*Video clip by Janelle Moncada