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Artiste Focus 2019 

Alka Rao.jpeg

Alka Rao


Alka has been a Human Resources professional by education but her heart is set in the field of art. Having grown up in a family of literature and theater artists, Alka went on to join professional theater groups and dabbled in television while in Bangalore, India. She moved to the US and a corporate life, but her calling beckoned her again in art forms. In San Diego over the last 10 years she has helped organize, promote, and host many cultural shows including the popular Unity in Diversity and Festival of Lights. Alka also serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Pacific Arts Movement, one of the largest media arts organization with the intent of tying in the South Asian community into the Asian community at large.

She was a YKB patron in 2015 and joined and helped at Ahaana's SAWEN launch in 2016. Alka has directed Artiste Focus in 2016, 2017. She is excited to showcase Artistes in 2019 and is looking forward to presenting them at the 4th annual Ahaana Festival. 


Sheela Kinhal Shah

Dance Art

Sheela has studied the graceful Vazhvoor style of Bharatha Natyam intensively for several years with renowned guru, Padmini Ravi from Bengaluru, India. She has performed widely (with her sister Anita) popularly known as the "Kinhal Sisters". Sheela has also performed extensively in the US and abroad and has also choreographed several full-length dance productions. Today in addition to being a mom to 3 wonderful kids she has an established dance school, “Kerani Performing Arts,” and teaches Bharata Natyam, various Indian folk/fusion, and traditional Bollywood styles.

Please join us in meeting Sheela, talking to her and watching her perform a short Bharata Natyam piece.


Priyanka Haldar


Stunning is not the word when you see her photographs. It seems so full of life as though the photographs are trying to convey a message. The natural world is full of beautiful sights, but capturing them in the way they look is notso easy. Priyanka grew up trekking in the Himalayas, and taking in all the natural beauty that an interest in photography came naturally. And now living in San Diego she feels blessed as that has presented her with a wide variety of subjects, beautiful landscapes and cityscapes.


Though she mostly captures landscapes, her 4-year old has opened up a whole new world and she has now taken a keen interest in newborn and toddler photography. Her repertoire today includes maternity, couple photoshoots, and some photo shoots done for dance academies.


Priya Swamy

Food Art

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Priya got exposed to cooking and all the tasks that comes with it, after losing her mother at a tender age of 10. And then talk of converting the opportunity of chores into something positive, she made the most of the situation and started learning the art of cooking by using whatever was available to her at that time. And there, in that small kitchen in Mumbai, India Priya started her creativity and before she knew she was cooking large scale meals for her relatives and neighbors.


After coming to the US (Bay Area) when corporate life did not agree with her, she knew she could pursue her dream of cooking and catering as that had already become her strength and interest. What started off as a simple cooking project for a school event completely turned around, and before she knew she was taking small scale catering orders. Then when she moved to Southern CA she realized her dream and today she is all set to open her brand new restaurant, "Turmeric Hut".


Mugdha Naik Patil

Visual Art

"Painting takes my mind to places of peace and focus, where I forget everything else, and it brings me tremendous content."

Introducing Mugdha Patil, a passionate self-taught artist, who describes her work as impressionist and expressionist influences. Her inspiration comes from variety of areas and capturing emotions in art is where she looks for ideas for her paintings. She believes the same art can be meaningful in different ways to many individuals and is most interested to learn what people see in the same work. 
Apart from painting, Mugdha's hobbies include traveling, cooking, tennis and spending time with her family. She is an engineer by profession in supply chain management. 

Come and be intrigued by her display of paintings she has named 'Netra', 'Skyline' and 'Lost in Simple Pleasure'... at Artiste Focus segment of the Ahaana Festival on May 4th, at 5:00pm.

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