Cel­e­brate Im­mi­grants Im­pact on Bay Area Cul­ture with The Chron­i­cle

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - FROM THE COVER -

In times as con­tentious as th­ese, with both sides of the aisle ramp­ing up both de­fense and con­dem­na­tion of im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the other side of im­mi­gra­tion. Across the na­tion, im­mi­grants have brought the artis­tic el­e­ments of their coun­tries of birth and wo­ven them into the cul­tural fab­ric of this coun­try. Th­ese gifts are trea­sures that ev­ery cit­i­zen has ben­e­fited from in one way or an­other: a new taste of an ex­otic cui­sine, a fresh beat in mu­sic, a vi­brant piece of art. Even in San Fran­cisco, one of the friendli­est cities for im­mi­grants in the world, needs to be re­minded of the artis­tic gifts of th­ese adop­tive cit­i­zens. Luck­ily, the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle’s on­go­ing se­ries, Chron­i­cle Chats is back with their last event of the year, fea­tur­ing an evening of live per­for­mances, food, and of course, con­ver­sa­tion. “Art With­out Bor­ders: Im­mi­grants and San Fran­cisco Cul­tural Life” will il­lu­mi­nate sev­eral im­mi­grants life sto­ries and their artis­tic con­tri­bu­tions to the Bay Area. The guests in­clude some of the Bay Area’s most cel­e­brated artists, in­clud­ing bal­le­rina Yuan Yuan Tan, chef Mourad Lahlou, nov­el­ist and car­toon­ist Thi Bui, and singer Diana Gameros. Tick­ets for Art With­out Bor­ders, which will take place at the Herbst The­atre on De­cem­ber 4, ad­vance dis­counted on­line tick­ets are still avail­able ($30 at the door). Chron­i­cle Chats is a se­ries that aims to bring to­gether thought-lead­ers, in­flu­encers, news­mak­ers and trend­set­ters to dis­cuss the is­sues most af­fect­ing the cit­i­zens of the Bay Area. “The Chron­i­cle’s role in this re­gion is to prove and in­spire thought­ful dis­cus­sions about what is hap­pen­ing in our world,” said San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle ed­i­tor Au­drey Cooper. “Chron­i­cle Chats are a per­fect way of ex­tend­ing those con­ver­sa­tions be­yond the news­pa­per or web­sites.” Au­di­ences will surely ex­pe­ri­ence pas­sion­ate, thought-pro­vok­ing dis­cus­sions about the im­mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ence from the es­teemed pan­elists. Yuan Yuan Tan, widely re­garded as the great­est Chi­nese bal­le­rina of all time, is the Prima Bal­le­rina of the San Fran­cisco Bal­let. Born in Shang­hai, she was re­cruited for the San Fran­cisco Bal­let by Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Helgi To­mas­son, who saw Tan dance in a com­pe­ti­tion. At 17, Yuan Yuan be­came the youngest soloist in the com­pany’s his­tory, as well as the first Asian soloist. A true gift to the Bay Area, she was awarded the 2018 Mayor’s Art Award in April of 2018, a dis­tinc­tion that for­mer Mayor Ed Lee made be­fore his death. Tan was danc­ing with the Bal­let within two weeks of im­mi­grat­ing to the United States in 1995, and will bring an in­valu­able point of view to the dis­cus­sion. Chef Mourad Lahlou is best known for his de­lec­ta­ble San Fran­cisco restau­rant Mourad, but he first came to the U.S. from Mar­rakesh to pur­sue a mas­ter’s de­gree in eco­nom­ics at SF State. Home­sick and missing the cui­sine of his coun­try, Lahlou de­cided to recre­ate his fa­vorite Moroc­can dishes us­ing lo­cal Cal­i­for­nia in­gre­di­ents. Now, with a mas­ter’s in Eco­nom­ics but no cook­ing school de­gree, Lahlou is an Iron Chef win­ner and cook­book writer. He has deftly nav­i­gated an au­then­tic im­mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ence, with all the twists and turns that go with it. Hope­fully, he will bring his knowl­edge and some tasty treats to the Chron­i­cle Chats. Also on deck to speak will be car­toon­ist and writer Thi Bui. Bui’s Eis­ner Award-nom­i­nated graphic mem­oir, The Best We Could Do, tells the story of her Viet­namese fam­ily’s ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the Viet­nam War. Bui be­gan work on The Best We Could Do in 2005, but it wasn’t re­leased un­til 2017. Now, the mem­oir is es­pe­cially so­cially rel­e­vant in the era of Trump. She is able to cast a light on the present refugee cri­sis by hold­ing up a mir­ror to the one that hap­pened post-Viet­nam. Bui will bring a fresh and frank voice to the dis­cus­sion, as well as her own wildly in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tive on im­mi­gra­tion. Diana Gameros is a singer and mu­si­cian, but she’s also a so­cial ac­tivist, which makes her place­ment on the Chron­i­cle Chats panel vi­tal. Gameros came to Amer­ica from Ciu­dad Juarex as an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant dur­ing her teens. She has watched as her fam­ily in Mex­ico has had to deal with the ups and downs of life in Mex­ico – the drug car­tels and mil­i­ta­rized po­lice only a cou­ple of the many prob­lems there. De­spite th­ese charged po­lit­i­cal times, Gameros’ mu­sic is tol­er­ant, pa­tient and beau­ti­ful. Guests of Chron­i­cle Chats won’t want to miss her in­sights, or her per­for­mance. Cal­i­for­nia and the Bay Area are at the epi­cen­ter of dis­cus­sions on im­mi­gra­tion. The cap­ti­vat­ing con­ver­sa­tion be­tween th­ese es­teemed artists on the value im­mi­grants bring to Amer­ica is not to be missed. “Art With­out Bor­ders: Im­mi­grants and San Fran­cisco Cul­tural Life” will take place at the Herbst The­atre on De­cem­ber 4, 2018.

Yuan Yuan Tan, San Fran­cisco Bal­let Prima Bal­le­rina

Diana Gameros, Singer and Song­writer

Thi Bui, Graphic Nov­el­ist and Il­lus­tra­tor

Mourad Lahlou, Chef and Owner of MouradSF

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