Celebrate Immigrants Impact on Bay Area Culture with The Chronicle
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