Now in its fifth year, Gathering the Embers brings the spirit of Día de los Muertos to the stage and is part of SOMArts’ annual Day of the Dead exhibition and accompanying public programming. Gathering the Embers, Friday, October 23, 7–9:30pm, is an opportunity for artists to openly pay tribute to love, life, loss and resiliency.
The evening’s curators, Amanda and Natalia Vigil, encouraged emerging and established writers, interdisciplinary performing artists, media makers and musicians to create tribute pieces centering around this year’s Day of the Dead exhibition theme, Today is the Shadow of Tomorrow. The theme is a call to respond to institutional racism and violence, inviting artists and visitors to honor those who have unnecessarily lost their lives and to look toward the future we want to make for ourselves.
Amanda and Natalia grew up in San Francisco as part of a vibrant Chicano arts community and learned after their father’s passing that mourning crosses many boundaries. It is with this understanding that they are honored to curate this intentionally multi-racial/cultural event. For them, Gathering the Embers is a family project, a way to engage their San Francisco community, and to celebrate their Mexican heritage.
Guests may wish to arrive early to spend time with the altars and installations in Today is the Shadow of Tomorrow: Dia de los Muertos 2015. Inspired by cherished relationships, current events, and personal and collective histories, the free exhibition features more than 25 altars by over 80 participating Día de los Muertos artists to build a dense environment of creativity that makes way for meaningful reflection.
Alzara & Brother Spellbinder play well-crafted songs with old world ache and modern angst. Sometimes described as Cabaret Folk-rock, they veer off the beaten track with plaintive vocals, unusual arrangements, and a variety of textures. The daughter of Big Brother & The Holding Co.’s original drummer, Alzara grew up in a rock-n-roll scene and learned early that music could move mountains. She works as a therapist/social worker in public health with low income SF residents and has a deep interest in how people evolve through hardship and how they heal from loss. She formed Brother Spellbinder with roots guitarist and local fisherman Jamie Wilson in 2012, an early graduate from San Francisco’s School of the Arts High School. The group currently features a rotating cast that may include cello, violin, flute and harp.
www.reverbnation.com/alzara and www.facebook.com/brotherspellbinder
Jeremy Christensen is a Bay Area native who began writing as a way to pass time in his high school study hall. After losing his father at age 9, he began to pour himself into his passions, competing in figure skating competitions across the US and studying Japanese. He credits his interest in language to his lifelong friend Elena, who showed him the wonders a good conversation can do for a kid with a curious mind. Jeremy has recently moved back to the Bay Area after living in Tokyo, Japan for two and a half years and is now working in Digital Advertising Sales. On the weekends he enjoys cackling with friends at a good bar, watching melodramatic television, and long scenic drives. In the future he plans to continue writing as a means of self-reflection, skating as a means of self-expression, and working as a means of self-actualization.
Lyndsey Ellis is a St. Louis native who received her MFA in Writing from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA in 2007. She’s a VONA/Voices Alumnus and was a writer-in-residence at Vermont Studio Center. Her work appears in Monday Night – A Journal of New Literature, The Offing, Quiet Lightning, Crick!Crack!: Poems and Stories by Emerging Writers and forthcoming in Nomadic Journal. She’s currently part of an all-female film collective, We Tell Our Stories, that’s working on their debut documentary about East Bay activism.
Mason J. is an Artist, Activist, and recovering A-hole. Inspired by life as an SF Native, 2nd Generation Punk, Grandson of Immigrants, and Trans Man of Color his work blends an unlikely pairing of tenderness and arrogant flippancy with influences that range from listening to “Wind Beneath My Wings” in the frozen food aisle to Tamuzi poetry. His musings on Gender, Pop Culture, Ableism, Race, and Fashion have been published in many a zine, all around the internet, and in print for Vice, Dude!, Veuxdo, and Bitch Magazine. As a 12 year fixture in the Bay Area Lit Scene he has performed, lectured, and workshopped at SFSU, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Radar Productions, National Queer Arts Festival, CellSpace, 826 Valencia and YouthSpeaks.
Mayra Lopez is a queer Chicana originally from the Bay Area. She is passionate about her Latino and Queer communities and has worked with several queer, immigrant rights and HIV/AIDS nonprofits in San Francisco. She is also an avid film photographer and is currently working on a project exploring queer identity in Mexico City.
Tricia Jameson-Rainwater has been taking photographs since she received her own camera at the age of 6. She proudly found her exhibition start at the Lodi Grape and Wine Festival. She grew up splitting her time between a cattle ranch in California with her mother and grandparents, and the Navajo reservation in New Mexico with her father. These two very different places sparked her love of people and portraits. She lives in San Francisco where her art expresses the struggle of staying traditional in an urban environment and exposes the places where her heritage thrives, even when not easily found. She has worked as a photography teacher at School for the Arts Lodi, California, Lodi Boys and Girls Club, and Lodi Middle School. Her art has been exhibited at Traditions in Motion in White River, South Dakota, The Empire Theatre Stockton, The Queer Arts Festival, Artists Against Rape and other venues around the Bay Area.
Danny Robles is a writer, poet, performance artist, but most importantly, a native San Franciscan who grew up in the Mission district on 16th & South Van Ness. He vividly recalls his magical kaleidoscope of a childhood while attending Leonard R. Flynn Elementary on Army & Harrison Streets. Danny earned a BA in English literature and Creative Writing with minors in African American and Chicana/o Studies from UC Davis. Born to Salvadoran and Filipino parents Danny blended in well with the multilayered, multicultural tapestry of the old school Mission district. Danny’s writing has appeared in publications such as the Kartika Review, La Bloga and Poets Responding to SB1070 and was featured in Bay Area literary events such as Still Here San Francisco, Gathering Embers, Where Do You Belong, and Stories of Queer Diaspora Berkeley. Danny is currently a master’s student of counseling psychology while working on a chap book dedicated to his Filipina grandmother. Danny believes in the power of the word to heal and transform and envisions a socially just new Mission District that embraces the richness of Mission’s cultural history.
Nina Reyes Rosenberg is a multidisciplinary filmmaker and visual artist. Born and raised in a Mexican and Jewish family in San Francisco, she has a BFA in Film Production from New York University and has professionally directed and produced many short films, documentaries, music videos and videos for nonprofits and brands. She is passionate about creative expression as a tool for empowerment, working with several community organizations to provide arts education for underserved youth. Nina is currently the resident Video Storyteller at Change.org, empowering social change around the world through video. She is also a fine art painter, photographer, and curator living and working in San Francisco.
Cassandra Rockwood-Rice is a Mother, Birth Doula, Activist, Artist and Writer. Her poems have been published in The New Delta Review, Savannah Art and Literature Magazine (SALit), Understory, and Cirque. She is currently enrolled at California Institute of Integral Studies furthering her Creative Inquiries. Cassandra self-publishes her small Art and Literary Zine called “Rag,” which includes the works of artists and writers from all walks. You can find it locally at City Lights Bookstore and Pegasus, among other places.
Natalia Vigil is the oldest of five sisters and a 7 year old brother. As a proud Chicana born and raised in San Francisco she is inspired by the city she grew up in and by the resiliency of her loved ones and community. She captures these stories and voices in her multi-genre writing. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and shows around the Bay Area, including SOMArts, Mission Cultural Center, Intersection for the Arts, Kearny St., the National Queer Arts Festival and more. She loves collaborative projects and is proud to be curating Gathering The Embers for the 5th year with her sister Amanda in the city she loves por vida.
Amanda Vigil is a San Francisco born and raised filmmaker, educator, & media artist. She began working as a video artist at the age of 17 with the Young Artist At Work program (YBCA) and now holds a BFA in Film/Video from the California Institute of the Arts (CALARTS). She has proudly focused her talents as a video production educator for the last 8 years and is now the Media Arts Director at Mission High School.
Tickets are non-refundable. There will be a cash bar and ATM on site. This event is all ages & ADA accessible. If you have specific questions, please contact info[@]somarts.org.
Image: from Gathering the Embers: The Spirit of Home by Eliana Cetto (2014)