2010 Hot 20: Michelle Blade, Painter, 2010 SECA Art Award Finalist and Owner of Sight School Gallery
Artist Michelle Blade is the first to admit that she has rightfully earned her role as the token black sheep of her family. Instead of staying in LA to join their restaurant business, she fled to SF in 2006 to pursue a master’s of fine arts in painting at California College of the Arts. Soon she was organizing social experiments such as group hugs with strangers in Golden Gate Park and a full moon feast and fire ceremony that entailed burning bits of paper scrawled with people’s wishes and burdens. “In grad school, I started painting large groups of individuals going out into nature and doing crazy things,” says Blade, whose canvases nod to Romanticism and German Expressionism. “A teacher of mine asked, ‘Michelle, why is this just a painting?’”
Wassana Korkhieola, 37, and Lalita Souksamlane, 39
Owners, Osha Thai
Ask Thailand natives Lalita Souksamlane or Wassana Korkhieola about the time Radiohead dined at Osha Thai, and they’ll look at you blankly. The sisters’ idea of a celebrity is more like chef Charles Phan of the Slanted Door, whose take on Vietnamese food has provided inspiration for Osha’s own mini-empire.
If Jane Kim looks familiar, it could be that you recognize her as the SF Board of Education president, not to mention the leading candidate in the race for District 6 supervisor (a post held by controversial legislator Chris Daly since 2000). Or you might know her as the electric-bass player in a female indie-rock band called Strangely, which performs at venues such as Brainwash. “After politics, my second love is definitely music,” says the Stanford grad.
Meklit Hadero was born to sing. “I always wanted to be a singer,” says the Ethiopian-born, U.S.-raised cultural activist who studied political science at Yale and ended up serving as the director at Red Poppy Art House for two years. “You hear singers say all the time, ‘When I was barely talking, I was singing, and I always felt like something was missing in my life.’ That was me. When I got to San Francisco, I realized it put up or shut up.” The result is Hadero’s new album, On a Day Like This ... .
Aaron Patzer, 29
To become the man he is today, Aaron Patzer gave up seven months of his golden 20s to lock himself in a room and write code. At the tender age of 24—frustrated with the multistep process of the popular financial-planning program Quicken—he decided budgeting didn’t have to be such a burden. Three years later, Patzer launched his solution: Mint.com, a website that keeps track of financial transactions, no manual input required.
Millions of users caught on—as did Mint’s undisputedly bested competitor, Intuit (which owns Quicken). All’s well that ends well: Last year, Intuit bought Mint for $170 million.
Camelia Aveloaei Skikos, 35
Fashion designer and illustrator
For Camelia Aveloaei Skikos, teenage rebellion came in the form of altered hemlines and multicolored leggings. “For this, I was sent home from school for a few days,” she says of growing up in communist Romania. “But it only gave me more time to sketch ideas for dresses.”
Part of her country’s first wave of fashion school graduates, Skikos relocated to SF in 2003 and became head designer of Levi’s customization department. Not bad for a girl who barely even had jeans growing up. “They were almost impossible to find, and if someone did, we thought it was the most amazing thing,” she says.
Aida Mollenkamp, 30
Host, Food Network and Cooking Channel
In the new millennium, becoming the next Food Network star is the dream of many and the reality for few. But Aida Mollenkamp, who was discovered in 2007 while working as an editor at foodie website CHOW in SF, might just be on her way. With both brains and beauty, she’s clearly got the one-two punch. That’s not to say there wasn’t a learning curve. “I completely didn’t know what to do the first time something caught on fire,” says Mollenkamp. “I thought I should just keep talking.”
Vernon Davis, 26
Tight end, San Francisco 49ers
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