Todd Thomas Brown is a multidisciplinary artist and cultural connector, immersed equally in his artistic practice as with his organizational work in developing hybrid models of merging small-scale arts presenting with social networking and community building. He is founder of San Francisco’s Red Poppy Art House and the Mission Arts & Performance Project/MAPP, a multidisciplinary neighborhood arts festival that has produced over 75 festivals since its inception.
With a painting practice in mixed-media, Todd has participated in artist residencies with San Francisco’s de Young Museum and Residencia el Otro Lado, Chiapas, MX, and was one of three artists selected to initiate the de Young Museum’s year-long Artist Fellowship Program in 2011, funded by the James Irvine Foundation. As a performing artist, Todd has been awarded grants in disciplines of music and theater from the San Francisco Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Todd was recently named to the YBCA 100, an annual compilation of the creative minds, makers, and pioneers that are asking the questions and making the provocations that are propelling new culture-making across the nation. Todd is presently the Project Director and Music Curator for Flying Under the Radar Biennial Festival of the Arts, an interdisciplinary lab/festival that facilitates collaborative work between artists of the San Francisco Bay Area and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
MICHAEL WARR / LEADERSHIP
Michael Warr‘s literary awards include a Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poets Award, a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship for Poetry, and The Beat Museum Poet of the Month. He is a co-editor of Power Lines: A Decade of Poetry From Chicago’s Guild Complex and his first book of poems, We Are All The Black Boy, was honored by the Illinois Library Association.
His poems are widely anthologized, including such collections as The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip-hop & the Poetry of a New Generation, Unsettling America: Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary American Poetry, Voices From the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Scars – Poetry In the Face of Violence, Changer l’Amerique, Anthologie de la Poesie, and Protestataire des USA. His digital photo/poetry performance, Poetic Aperture – An African American Interprets Africa, based on his poetry and original images created as a photojournalist in Ethiopia and Mali, debuted at Chicago’s Field Museum.
Since returning to his native San Francisco in 2007, Michael has performed spoken word at venues ranging from the Red Poppy Art House to the de Young Museum with Nefasha Ayer. Most recently he has collaborated with instrumentalist Keenan Webster on the performance From Baton Rouge to Bamako, featuring the poetic-storytelling of his travels within the African-American and African experience, with Webster’s performance on the kora, m’bira, and balafon.
ASHWIN BALIGA / LEADERSHIP
Ashwin’s interests in arts and music started as a child in India, where he grew up absorbing and studying any music he could get his hands on. He is a mostly self-taught vocalist, influenced heavily by exposure to Indian classical music.
Ashwin formally studied Engineering in India and later at ASU, leading him to the Bay Area where he now serves as Director of Engineering at Google. Through the Red Poppy and other Bay Area cultural sites, he has continued to enjoy and support up and coming musical artists, particularly those exploring the intersections of different cultures. As a vocalist, Ashwin performs for charitable events hosted by South Asian organizations in the South Bay.
In 2014, he completed his MBA at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and became a part of revitalizing the Red Poppy – his favorite music venue. He encourages his fellow techies to feed their inner artists by lending their leadership and organizational skills to SF arts and music entities.
Ashwin resides in Sunnyvale and is a newly minted father of twin sons with whom he looks forward to sharing his love of music, travel, food, tennis, and pub trivia.
MEKLIT HADERO / LEADERSHIP
Meklit Hadero‘s music is imbued with poetry and multiplicity, from hybridized sounds of Tizita (haunting and nostalgic music) drawing from her Ethiopian heritage, to the annals of jazz, folk songs, hip-hop, and art rock. Drawing from the concept of the “inbetween,” Meklit’s music transports us to the post-national space of Africa and the Americas, inspiring us to bridge the frontiers between language, tribes, and disciplines. Her songs celebrate the newness of life and the hyphens that bring us together.
Meklit has released four studio albums, tours regularly, and is currently signed to Six Degrees Records. She is a TED Senior Fellow and has served as an artist-in-residence at NYU, where she curated a performing arts series at the Lincoln Center Atrium. Meklit has completed musical commissions for the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Fund for Artists, Brava For Women in the Arts, and the de Young Museum. She is currently working on a body of music steeped in Ethio-Jazz thanks to a grant from the prestigious MAP Fund. She is the founder of the Arba Minch Collective, one third of the Ethiopian Hip-Hop Space Opera trio CopperWire, and former Co-Director of the Red Poppy Art House. In 2011, Meklit co-founded the Nile Project with Egyptian Ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis. She holds a BA in Political Science from Yale University.