SF Yerba Buena Center for the Arts honors Fil-Am artists and leaders
SAN FRANCISCO — Filipino Americans are among this year’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100, the institution’s plaudit to artists, activists and leaders who are “committed to building regenerative and equitable communities.”
This year’s YBCA 100 honorees include poet and publisher Aileen Cassinetto, community organizer Lolita Kintanar, theater director Ely Orquiza, choreographer Alleluia Panis, DJ Guerrilla Pump, journalist and musician Rocky Rivera, visual artist O.M. France Viana and visual artist Jenifer K. Wofford. The list also includes the South of Market Community Action Network and SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Heritage District’s Kapwa Gardens.
Opened to the public in 1993, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts was founded as the cultural anchor of the Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood, spanning contemporary art, performance, film, civic engagement, and public life.
At the program recognizing this year’s honorees, Rivera headlined performances with her singing. The event also featured poetry, drag and other music performances. SOMA Pilipinas held a graffiti installation by the TDK Collective, which was founded by the late graffiti artist Mike “Dream” Francisco.
Cassinetto is a poet and cultural organizer. An Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, she served as poet laureate of San Mateo County from 2019-2022. She is also the author of two poetry collections, and the founder of the independent literary press Paloma Press. She is currently a Commissioner on the Status of Women for San Mateo County.
Kintanar is known for her work as a former Director of Canon Kip Senior Center, providing food, jobs, and other services for seniors, people with disabilities and unhoused people. She is active with the Felton Institute and serves on the boards of the Pilipino Senior Resource Center and API Legal Outreach.
Orquiza is co-founder and co-artistic director of The Chikahan Company, a Fil-Am theater company focused on Filipinx history, politics and psychology. As the director of education and community at Magic Theatre, he works in arts programming for marginalized groups such as previously incarcerated individuals, immigrant and refugee families, Black and brown artists, and LGBTQIA+ elders living with HIV/AIDS.
Panis is the Artistic and Executive Director of Kularts, a performing arts group focused on contemporary and tribal Pilipino arts. She has choreographed over 20 full-length dances staged in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Panis has served as a member of National Performance Network’s Artists Committee and as a board member of Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, Brava! for Women in the Arts, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, and Dance Bay Area.
Afro Filipino American Guerrilla Pump is the Bay Area father of the all-trans DJ collective New World Dysorder. He is a founding member of the DJ crew We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For, known for its initiatives with communities targeted by state-sanctioned violence and socio-cultural marginalization.
Rivera has released albums with Beatrock Music and a mixtape series with DJ Roza. Her latest album, Rocky’s Revenge, was created in collaboration with Women’s Audio Mission. Rivera’s book Snakeskincollects autobiographical essays chronicling her artist journey and includes complete lyrics to all of her albums.
Viana is a visual artist, art historian, curator, writer and mythologist who chronicles how Filipino immigration is redefining what it means to be American. She founded and runs ARROZidency, an artist residency program nurturing Fil-Am artists.
Wofford is one third of the Fil-Am artist trio M.O.B. She has been exhibited in museums in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Philippines and Hong Kong. She serves on the Board of Directors of Southern Exposure and teaches art courses at the University of San Francisco.
The South of Market Community Action Network is a community-based organization serving low-income immigrant youth and families in the South of Market (SoMa) area since 2000. It is composed of community leaders from youth, senior, veteran, Filipino and housing organizations. It offers education, direct services, and referrals.
Kapwa Gardens is a community health and wellness space that showcases activities that heal the mind and body such as vendor pop-ups, live music, public screenings, cultural activities, and more.