Meet our passionate, insightful and entertaining contributors. These folks are arts enthusiasts just like you– but they have the awesome opportunity to talk to the biggest names in the Garden State’s arts scene and then give you the low-down!
Christopher Benincasa is an Emmy Award-winning arts and culture journalist.
Brent Johnson is a pop-culture-obsessed writer from East Brunswick, N.J. He’s currently a reporter for The Star-Ledger of Newark. Before that, he was a longtime entertainment and music columnist for The Trenton Times. His work has also been published by Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated On Campus and Night & Day Magazine. His favorite musical artists: Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, The Smiths, Roxy Music, Dave Matthews Band, The Beatles, Blur, Squeeze, The Kinks. When he’s not writing, Brent is the lead singer in alt-rock band The Clydes.
PATRICIA KIERNAN JOHNSON
Patricia, Jersey born and bred, is a lifelong arts lover, arts patron, performer and artist. One of the very few people who actually cheers when The Dreaded Opera Category shows up on Jeopardy, Patricia is also an avid Yankee fan (from birth) and is learning to become an Eagles fan (from marriage).
Jesse is a digital content producer living in New York. His work has been seen in Entertainment Weekly, People, The New York Times, Broadway.com, and 92nd Street Y. He is also the editor and founder of Stage Rush. Jesse is also a chicken fried steak connoisseur and loves a good roller coaster.
Shen’s been a Jersey girl for most of her life, other than living for a three-year stretch in Portland, Oregon, and six magical months in Tokyo. Shen loves the arts in all of its various forms – from the beauty of a perfectly-placed base hit to the raw energy of rock ‘n’ roll – and has successfully passed on this appreciation to her three grown children. Shen’s most recent jobs include WXPN (1993-2001) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003-present). Shen also has been a working freelancer for 25 years, and operated her own frame shop in Mt. Holly in the late-70s.
Dave Tavani is a freelance video story teller and photographer. In addition to contributing to Jersey Arts, Dave works mainly for nonprofit and arts organizations in the Philadelphia area. His recent clients include Visit Philadelphia, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, McCarter Theatre Center, Philadelphia Magazine, The Food Trust, Association for Public Art, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and basset hound.
Susan Wallner is a principal of PCK Media, an independent production company. She is the co-series producer of the public television program State of the Arts, a job that has introduced her to a wealth of talent and artistic diversity over the years. Susan’s documentaries and performance specials have aired nationally. Most recently, her profile of the writer, aviator, and celebrity, Anne Morrow Lindbergh: You’ll Have the Sky, won the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Emmy for Best Feature Writing (it was Susan’s 15th regional Emmy win). Narrated by Judith Light and Lily Rabe, it aired throughout the country on PBS and PBS World, and is available on DVD. Currently, Susan is working on a documentary about the self-taught city planner, builder, and artist, Kea Tawana.
Gary Wien is a music journalist from Belmar, NJ. A three-time winner of Asbury Music’s Music Journalist of The Year, his writing and photographs have been seen in publications like Upstage Magazine, Backstreets Magazine, Gannett Newspapers, and Princeton Magazine. He is the also the author of two books: “Beyond The Palace” (about the history of rock music in Asbury Park) and “Are You Listening?” (his picks for the Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists) and is the publisher of New Jersey Stage magazine.