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Selections from 'Forage From Fire,' a photo series by Norma Quintana of items found in the ashes of her home in Napa after the October fires. Norma Quintana
Selections from 'Forage From Fire,' a photo series by Norma Quintana of items found in the ashes of her home in Napa after the October fires. (Norma Quintana)

The Year in KQED Arts

The Year in KQED Arts

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If 2017 taught us anything, it’s that Bay Area artists are stronger and more creative than ever. Below, you’ll find samples of our coverage in KQED Arts from the moments, movements and stories that defined the tumultuous year.

The Inauguration

At Bay Area Women’s Marches, Creativity Out in Force

The year began with massive marches in protest of President Donald Trump, with no shortage of artists, dancers, musicians and other creatives in the streets. Our live coverage from around the Bay Area captured it all; from the anti-abortion demonstrators met with singing to the Bandaloop dancers descending down the face of Oakland City Hall.


Black Lives [Still] Matter

America — and Colin Kaepernick — Need a New Contract

No Bay Area athlete transfixed the nation more than Colin Kaepernick this year, as the quarterback’s #TakeAKnee protest of police brutality sparked long and necessary conversations. As Twitter allowed neo-Nazis to run rampant, East Bay rapper Lil B shifted the free speech debate after Facebook banned him for speaking out against white supremacy. Meanwhile, a school district in San Jose removed Black History Month art from its offices, and the artist bounced back with a series of political postage stamp art. And after East Bay rapper Mistah F.A.B. alleged racial profiling by the police, his store was mysteriously firebombed — fortunately, his business made a quick recovery. Black filmmakers also thrived in Oakland this year.

Trump’s First 100 Days

Art in the Age of Trump

As massive changes shook the country, KQED Arts documented the resilience and resistance from artists in daily stories all through Trump’s first 100 days. This included at least 13 different protest songs from Bay Area musicians; reversed images of the American flag; a deaf photographer’s protest series; and a “prayformance” combating Islamophobia. Even classical musicians stood up for their rights, as did composer John Adams.

Summer of Love 50th Anniversary
A portrait of Elaine Mayes by Suki Hill, circa 1968.

She Photographed Jimi Hendrix Without Knowing His Name

Did you hear? The 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love was this year, and virtually every art institution commemorated the event (sometimes with mixed results). At KQED Arts, we prioritized the under-reported stories of 1967: the young woman photographer who shot the Monterey Pop Festival, the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival and the Haight-Ashbury scene but never became a household name; the way Bill Graham took over the Fillmore Auditorium from a black entrepreneur who wound up mysteriously dead within the year; the amazing underground LGBT magazines in San Francisco from 1967; the women who worked behind the scenes at concerts, festivals and communes; and what two disparate generations can learn from each other through a shared love of 1960s rock.

A Year of Women’s Voices

Women to Watch

From the Jan. 21 Women’s March to #MeToo, women’s voices got louder throughout 2017, and KQED Arts amplified them with our second annual Women to Watch series, profiling 20 brilliant, creative women in Bay Area arts and culture — writers, musicians, actors, comedians, podcast hosts and more. The year also brought reports of gender inequality in Bay Area art galleries, and continued stories about how the media keeps slowly killing talented women, over and over.

Arts and Tech
Elle Varner performs at a Sofar Sounds house show in Brooklyn. A new partnership between the house concert company and Airbnb has been criticized for providing musicians exposure but little to no pay.

A New Guest at Your House Show: The Middleman

While technology continues to drive virtual reality and AI in the arts, the relationship between arts and tech is still a fraught one in the Bay Area. When Mayor Ed Lee died this month, his arts funding was overshadowed by his friendliness to tech, which translated into an exodus of artists from the city due to high rent and evictions. A world-renowned classical festival just minutes from Facebook HQ isn’t seeing attendance from coders, and funders are scarce. But no story encapsulated the conflict between Bay Area arts and tech quite like Emma Silvers’ award-winning longform expose of a startup company valued at $22 million and how it promoted house concerts in partnership with Airbnb while paying the musicians nothing — a sign of the times.

The Far Right
Solange performs Aug. 13, 2017, at the Outside Lands music festival in Golden Gate Park. Solange specifically offered support for her black, LGBTQ, and Muslim fans in the wake of the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville.

On Outside Lands, Charlottesville, and Conspicuous Silence

Amidst the violent protests at UC Berkeley and groups like Patriot Prayer descending on the Bay Area, artists did what they do best: either mocked them outright, or fought back with flowers. A day of canceled protests in San Francisco turned into a citywide party in August; meanwhile, it felt strange and disconcerting to be at a carefree music festival like Outside Lands during the deadly violence in Charlottesville at the hands of neo-Nazis.

North Bay Fires
A photo from 30 seconds before we evacuated.A photo from 30 seconds before we evacuated.

My City is on Fire

When our senior editor evacuated his home in Santa Rosa at 4am on Oct. 9, he still wasn’t sure just how widespread the destruction would be from the fires. Over the next month, we profiled the artists who’d lost their homes: a sculptor, a violin shop owner, a radio host, a landscape painter, a guitarist, a photographer and more. After the national media left town, leaving the region in a strange purgatory, we continued to follow the lives of those affected — especially the undocumented workers who make up the backbone of the region’s labor force. We also hosted a panel that raised $5,000 for fire relief, but that’s nothing compared to the Santa Rosa artist who drew a simple, perfect rose of resilience and raised over $20,000.

The Year in Review

What Got Us Through The Year

Now that the year is drawing to a close, we’ve been looking back at our favorite local albums, movie moments, theater productions, art exhibitions, books and more. Read up on the good stuff here.

In the meantime, good luck fishing in Lake Merritt, y’all, and remember: resist psychic death.

See you in 2018!


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