Jan Marie Etre was born in 1951, in Westchester County, New York, to Italian heritage parents, the third of five daughters, all born within six years of each other. When Jan was 11 years old the family moved to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she attended a Catholic mission school for 2 years, then transferred to an Episcopal private school. She graduated high school in 1969, attended the College of New Rochelle, New York, for one year, majoring in art, and Friends World College for three years, where she apprenticed to a potter and a leather worker in England for two years, 1972-74. Jan met her future husband, Kirk Foster, in England and returned with him to the U.S. in 1974. The couple lived in Chico, California, for 10 years, where they made and sold leather work at regional crafts fairs. Her craft work evolved into making women’s leather dress bags with etched metal ornaments, as well as other leather accessories. She also began a life long yoga practice.
In 1987, Jan began organizing two of the Berkeley art/craft shows in which she was also an exhibiting artist: Live Oak Park Fair and the KPFA Crafts Fair. Live Oak Park Fair was a sole proprietorship which Jan organized through 2014, while the KPFA Crafts Fair – now the KPFA Winter Crafts Fair – is coordinated as a benefit for non-profit KPFA 94.1fm, the first listener-supported radio station in the U.S. In 2015, when the Live Oak Park Fair was discontinued, Jan started a second fair benefiting KPFA Radio: The KPFA Summer Arts Fair. Both fairs fall on the solstice, are held at the Craneway Pavilion on the Richmond Waterfront, and feature the hand-made art and crafts of 200 artists. Jan also brings fair traders into these events, in addition to representatives from selected non-profit organizations.
All the while Jan continued with her life long passion for working in many art and craft media including ceramics, etching, block printing, collage, sewing apparel and quilts, watercolor and acrylic painting, and the book arts. She’s been living in Berkeley since 1983. She gave birth to son, Daniel, in 1989.
Jan’s philosophy is best expressed in her own words, “My goal is to be an advocate for artists, and it’s crucial that these semiannual events benefit KPFA Radio, which represents a myriad of communities and cultures through its music, news, and public affairs programming. I see myself as a weaver: the 200 artists are the warp – that is, the strands of threads held in tension on the loom – and the public is the weft – the threads that are woven over and under to cohere the fabric. These events are like very beautiful, tight knit, gorgeous tapestries. This is my vision, and it’s my pleasure to have my vision be realized with every show I produce.”