Archive for March, 2007

World Factory 3

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

I don’t even know where to begin with the lecture that Hou Hanru, SFAI‘s new Director of Exhibitions, gave at UC Berkeley last week. I seriously should have taken notes. Hanru’s international curatorial projects have put into praxis much of the stuff I’ve been grumbling about for some time now, and genuinely gave me hope for putting the rest of the world back in the art world, and vice-versa. Suffice to say, it’s a pleasure having him in the Bay Area to shake things up a bit.

My apologies for not promoting his lecture better in advance: it was pretty embarrassing that a world-class curator presented in a lecture hall containing only a handful of folks. Our Department of Art Practice sponsors the “Interventions” lecture series that brought Hanru across the bay: while “Interventions” has brought in some fantastic folks over the few years, it never ceases to amaze me how empty the lecture halls are for these events. I know that information goes out via listservs and personal emails about these lectures, but it looks like that’s not cutting it. What to do?

The opening for Phase 3 of Hanru’s “World Factory” project is this Wednesday evening: maybe I’ll see some of you folks there. While I tragically missed World Factory 1, I did get to see World Factory 2, which was pretty fantastic. Julio Morales is in this third show, as is the phenomenal Lordy Rodriguez, whom I finally got to meet just recently.

World Factory 3: Making our Place
San Francisco Art Institute

Walter and McBean Galleries

800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, 94133
Wednesday 3.28.07 opening 5:30”“7:30
runs through 4.21.07

Curated by Hou Hanru
Artists: Cao Fei and Ou Ning, Teddy Cruz, Sanja Ivekovic, Sora Kim,
Julio Morales, Lordy Rodriguez, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Zhu Jia


World Factory presents over 30 international artists whose works respond to the issues and conflicts within the global “free market” economy. The outsourcing of manufacturing from “First World” to “Third World” countries causes serious impacts on both sides: pollution, displacement of populations, excessive exploitation of natural resources, and uneven development resulting in further divisions between the rich and the poor. Concurrently, the formation of a global consumerist culture is exerting significant influences on local cultures. World factories are not only producing material goods for the consumer market but are also producing a new social consciousness and mobilization. The artists in World Factory are responding to these conditions with different models and new methods of creation. Taking the form of an exhibition-in-progress, World Factory uses a variety of strategies for presentation including the overlapping phases of the gallery installation, workshops, film screenings, seminars, off-site and site-specific projects, and web-based works.

World Factory 1 film-makers Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre’s documentary MAQUILAPOLIS is screening at a number of Bay Area venues in the next little bit, too: catch it if you can.

Tuesday 3.27.07 ”“ 7:00pm
Berkeley City College Auditorium
2050 Center Street
(Lupita Castañeda, promotora (community activist) and former factory worker, will be present for Q & A)

Saturday 3.31.07 ”“ 7:00pm
Sunset Church
3635 Lawton Street
San Francisco
(between 42nd and 43rd Avenues)
(Lupita Castaneda, promotora (community activist) and former factory worker, will be present)

Monday 4.09.07 ”“ 7:00pm
Noe Valley Ministry
Community Center
1021 Sanchez Street (at the corner of 23rd Street)
San Francisco

Tuesday 4.10.07 ”“ TBA
The Women’s Building
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
3543 18th Street, #8
San Francisco

Getting closer, but

Monday, March 26th, 2007

From BBC News:

South Korean protester shouts a slogan during an anti-Japanese rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, 21/3/07

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has apologised in parliament for the country’s use of women as sex slaves during World War II.

The apology comes after Mr Abe was criticised by Asian neighbours for previous comments casting doubt on whether the women were coerced.

Mr Abe told parliament: “I apologise here and now as prime minister.”

This appears to be part of a concerted bid to reduce the fall-out of earlier comments, a BBC correspondent says.

Mr Abe said, during a debate in parliament’s upper house, that he stood by an official 1993 statement in which Japan acknowledged the imperial army set up and ran brothels for its troops during the war.

“As I frequently say, I feel sympathy for the people who underwent hardships, and I apologise for the fact that they were placed in this situation at the time,” he said.

His statement has gone a little further than similar attempts to clarify his position two weeks ago, but is unlikely to satisfy all his critics abroad, the BBC’s Chris Hogg in Tokyo says.

Well, c’mon, now. They weren’t exactly “placed” in this “situation” at the employment office.
Evelina Galang has more to say on the matter, much better than I can say it, here:

Mr Abe’s comments about the use of coercion were made as the US Congress began considering a non-binding resolution, which calls for Tokyo to make an unequivocal apology for the so-called comfort women.

Which brings us back to the petition regarding said resolution, which can still be signed here (at my count tonight, there are 801 signatures: Evelina has a goal of at least 1000 signatures to reach.)

I know that there are about umpteen thousand things in this world of ours to be outraged about, but this is one that seems to be slipping through the cracks more than it should. If you’ve got a couple of minutes, please check out Evelina’s blog, and take a look at the petition. Please sign it, if you can: it only takes a second.

Shinzo Abe on my Sh*t List

Monday, March 19th, 2007

I’ve been royally irritated about this situation this week, so it’s heartening to see that M. Evelina Galang, one of my literary heroines, has taken quick initiative to do something about it. I met her at a conference over the summer, and was utterly inspired by her grace, presence and compassion.

Ms. Galang has authored a petition regarding the recent, disgraceful public denial by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that WWII Comfort Women actually existed under the appalling conditions that they did. (During WWII, the Japanese Army systematically forced thousands of women in Asia into sexual slavery. While many of these women were Korean and Chinese, a significant number were also Filipina: Galang has interviewed many of these women, and has been writing a book about them.) Japan has vaguely acknowledged it in the past, but PM Shinzo Abe has really pushed it lately, publicly stating that there’s no proof it ever happened.

If you’re not averse to petitions, this is a worthwhile one. Many of these former comfort women are still alive, if not for much longer: they’re my lola’s (grandmother’s) age, and at the end of their long, hard lives, are effectively being told that they’re liars, and that the horrors they endured never actually happened.

Here’s Evelina’s preface to the petition:

On March 2, 2007 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisted, “There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it (the coercion of WWII military sex slaves).” We ask Congress to urge Prime Minister Abe to look at the evidence, to see the coercion, to apologize and give appropriate reparations. The women are waiting.”

Evelina’s blog about it is here:

The petition is here:

From Evelina’s blog:

Lola Dolores Molina:


When she was 13 years old, Lola Dolor was held captive in a classroom at Emilio Jacinto Elementary School in Tondo, Manila. She was raped several times, by several Japanese soldiers before she lost consciousness. Down the hallway you can see the bathroom where she woke to find a woman washing her. This visit to the former garrison in 2001 is the first time Lola Dolor has returned.

2 Month Countdown

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

It’s officially two months from today that graduation from UC Berkeley will occur, and two months from today that our MFA Thesis exhibition opens, as well! I am hunkering down, big-time.


(“Hunkering” can often be misinterpreted as messiness.)

Lindsay Benedict, Joe McKay, Bill Jenkins, Kara Hearn, Ali Dadgar and Alicia McCarthy are the other 6 members of our tiny cohort. Our culminating project is the MFA Thesis Exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum. Much as we all like each other and get along, all 7 of us have drastically disparate practices: while we all make strong work, the two times that we’ve had small group shows together, it’s felt utterly disjointed. There’s little to no way to weave a curatorial thread through what we each do so well individually.

Miki Yoshimoto, the museum curatorial assistant, has been very diligent and patient with us. Having done MFA studio visits along with Liz Thomas, the curator, Miki then asked us to come up with a title related to time and slowness, since she felt that this was the one thread she found linking our works together. It was a pretty good call, since left to our own devices, we were coming up with Cal Bears-related winners like “Bad News Bears,” “Bear-ly Legal“, etc etc. We spent a couple of weeks batting similarly dumb (but highly self-entertaining) titles back and forth, until Miki’s guidance helped us out a bit. Yours truly came up with the winner. Result?

Our MFA Thesis Exhibition is called “FERMATA.”

A fermata (or hold or pause) is an element of musical notation indicating that the note should be sustained for longer than its note value would indicate. Exactly how much longer it is held is up to the discretion of the performer, but twice as long is not unusual. More importantly, it’s also the title for my favorite Nicholson Baker book.

Now, for those of you who aren’t Nicholson Baker fans (yet), I implore you to entertain yourself with at least one of his books. The Fermata was the first book of his that I read, and is still the one nearest and dearest to my heart. It’s just so deeply funny, twisted, perverse, sublimely detailed and strangely sweet, that since having it foisted upon me by a friend, I’ve paid it forward xfold, having foisted it upon numerous friends since first reading it back in 1998. Baker’s Fermata has utterly nothing to do with our MFA show, but I’m just beyond tickled to have the association, nonetheless.

More MFA prep hijinks to follow soon.


Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

So some of you missed a really nice little opening at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art! The show is gorgeous, and it was a lovely pretext for a sweet reunion of some sweetly familiar faces. The DJ was playing some phenomenal tunes outside in front of the museum: we were dancing (which perhaps looked more like jumping up and down in place) in the brisk evening breeze as the sun set on this blissfully daylight-savings’ed event. Kate Eilertsen, the director of MOCFA, said that this was the first time that they’ve undertaken a contemporary arts show in their space, and she was hoping to do more in the future. Not that I think that contemporary art needs to dominate all venues, but any time an institution takes a risk with new programming, it’s worth supporting. OK, maybe not any time, but certainly this time. Check out the show to let Kate know she’s made a great choice: it’s up until April 29th.

After going to the Beats Per Minute opening at MOCFA, I headed over to Intersection for the Arts for the preview reception they were having for their annual fundraiser! (I’ll continue with my shameless plugs for Galleon Trade artists Mike Arcega, Jaime Cortez, Julio Cesar Morales, Megan Wilson and Christine Wong Yap, all of whom have donated work to this auction.) Matt Gonzales even donated a piece to the cause. Swoon.

I donated the piece below, myself:

Bangka, 2007, ink and gouache on paper, 12″ x 9″


I made this just last week: initially, it seemed to be part of the series of narrative images I’m working on for my Berkeley MFA Thesis Show (more on that soon), but this one seemed to be moving into its own direction.

I was going through archives of photos I’ve taken in the Philippines over the years, and I got stuck on some close-ups I’d taken on local boats I’d been on. I really loved the weird formal tension of the bamboo and wires lashed together on these bangkas, so I thought I’d try a slightly abstracted study of one.

I confess that I kind of wanted to hang onto this since it’s so fresh, but I think that it’s the first of a small series of bangka studies, so I can let this go on into the world. Anyway, it’ll do Intersection more good than it’ll do me.

There was an interesting article in the NY Times last year about the problematics of art auction fundraisers: artists are often asked to donate their work to help raise money for an organization. Artists are also, however, usually, in the economic category of “bleeding-heart least able to financially afford to give work away”, so this sets up a bit of a stinger. And I know a few artists who absolutely refuse to donate to auctions, as they believe it devalues what they do. Personally, I find that attitude pretty selfish and market-centric, but at the same time, I’ve even had to start limiting how much I donate to auctions, myself. There’s only so much an artist can just give away. As it stands right now, I sell little of my work on my own, outside of to a handful of friends, so the few times my works sell in a public venue, I see none of this potential income.

On the other hand, I see all of the benefits of enjoying the causes I’m donating to. The organizations that I have donated to are either ones that I have directly benefitted from in many, many ways over the years (Southern Exposure, Kearny Street Workshop or Intersection‘s fantastic arts and community programming), or are run by good friends who have shared with me the value of what they’re doing (Jonn Herschend‘s work with the SF Bike Coalition, for example). I believe in them, I want to see them grow and thrive, and it’s a pretty small gesture to give a piece of art to them so that they can keep doing a lot more good locally than I’m doing on my own. (And lately, breathing down my neck is my fear that these Galleon Trade grants I’ve written might not be approved, which will necessite Galleon Trade having its own fundraiser, where I may finally be the person asking for this kind of help from friends, myself…)

There are so many worthwhile organizations in the Bay Area that deserve support: art auction fundraisers are effective (not to mention pretty fun parties), but these have to be part of a larger, more sustainable income stream. Most organizations know this, so it’s not like I’ve just come up with some phenomenal epiphany here, but until we (ie, folks in the Bay Area with the wherewithal) develop a more comprehensive culture of patronage (ie, more young white-collar types start investing in the arts instead of new Playstations), I’m a little hazy on how folks with little money donating work to organizations with little money to be bought at discount rates by other folks with little money is a sustainable solution.

I’ve been part of this system forever, and I understand it to degrees, but I confess to being unclear about some of the details. For example, I really want to know who’s out there cultivating this new generation of patrons. I’ve been deeply ambivalent about the market aspects of the art world forever and a day, so when I say patrons, I don’t necessarily mean buyers and collectors: I mean people who will sit on the boards of nonprofs, help them stabilize, be their angels, and get them the funding and infrastructural support that they so richly deserve. It’s definitely happening, and Intersection is a great example of a worthwhile, sustainable arts organization, but with all the money and potential in the Bay Area, I’d love to see it happen more.

Anyway, enough about that. Ultimately, I still donate to auctions because I do believe in them. I’m not able to donate my time or other resources yet, so if this is all I’ve got to do to help out, it’s a miniscule price to pay.

Intersection for the Arts
2007 Auction Fundraiser

exhibition: March 14-28
auction: Wed, March 28, 7pm
(live auction starts at 8:30pm)
$5-20 sliding scale admission

Beats Per Minute

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

Fun opening coming up this Tuesday, March 13th: Julio Morales (who as far as I can tell, no longer sleeps) has curated a very cool show at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art called Beats Per Minute. As the fabulous Christine Wong Yap is one of the artists in this show, with Julio that makes TWO Galleon Trade artists who are affiliated with this exhibition! Go Julio! Go Christine!

And I’m thrilled that Trisha Lagaso Goldberg is in the exhibition as well. Trisha, her husband David, and their son have been living in Honolulu for a few years now, and are dearly missed by the Bay Area arts community. It’s so nice to have her back for a bit, especially in her reinvigorated life as an artist!

Beats per Minute, curated by Julio Cesar Morales, features recent sound-based and visual artworks by emerging and internationally acclaimed artists Walter Kitundu, N. Trisha Lagaso Goldberg, Mung Lar Lam, Christy Matson, and Christine Wong Yap, and the artist collective Torolab, featuring Nortec.

The exhibition’s title refers to the term BPM, used by disc jockeys who blend sounds from various sources to create a new piece of music. Through the influences of craft and folk art, these artists make unique works that blur the boundaries of music, visual arts, and new media.

Beats per Minute: Contemporary Artists Influenced by Craft and Folk Art Practices

mocfa_bpm_144pxw.jpg March 13 ”“ April 29, 2007
Museum of Craft and Folk Art
51 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco, CA

Reception: Tuesday, March 13, 5”“9 pm

Meet the Artists
(Mung Lar Lam, Christine Wong Yap and curator Julio Cesar Morales)
Thursday, March 22, 5:30 pm

What is Your Favorite Word? Workshop:
(hosted by Christine Wong Yap)
Saturday, April 28th, 1-3 pm

All events are free with admission.
Admission: $5 adults / $4 seniors / 18 and under Free
Museum hours: Tues.”“Fri. 11-6 / Sat.”“Sun. 11-5


Worlds In Collision In Collision In Collision…

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

So I mentioned in an earlier post that Rico Reyes and I are co-teaching Worlds In Collision: Filipino American Art History at USF. It’s been pretty great: our students are super-open and engaged, and it’s been going well. I’m a little stunned that it’s already midterm break, though (at least, at USF: spring break at Berkeley is two weeks from now).


USF students working on their first project

The class is a nice mix of Filipino-American and non-Filipino-American students. Some are art/design majors, some are Filipino Studies minors, some are just curious to know more about what Filipino American art history might look like, given that it’s not been documented too well. As far as I know, when Carlos Villa started this course a few years back, it was the first Fil-Am art history class ever.

Rico and I got a great deal of support from Paula Birnbaum and Jay Gonzalez at USF, and submitted a syllabus for the class that garnered us “CORE” status in a couple of departments. The course is 1/2 seminar (with guest artists, field trips, discussion, written work) and 1/2 studio (with 4 projects over the semester).


USF student Erick Perez, studio project 1

As I got the memo pretty late on this whole “blog” phenomenon, it seems that I’m making up for lost time, and am now afflicted with beginners’-enthusiasm. Hence, Worlds In Collision has its own course blog now, where much of our work is being posted. Given the real lack of conventional historical resources around Filipino American art, and the immediacy of the web, it just seemed like an interesting way to make our process public, for anyone who might be interested.

Carlos and Rico put a great deal of effort into getting the original Worlds In Collision website launched a couple of years ago, which we’re still using in our course. This site had its own blog function, but it was a little cumbersome, so we started our new one on Vox. Vox’s banner ads are truly annoying, but outweighed by a lot of the other user-friendly niceties of their service.

One of the things I’ve found in my years of teaching is that while a great deal of any deep learning process is private and interior, certain kinds of learning really thrives when it’s made public, and truly shared and celebrated. I’m beginning to realize, slowly, that this can happily occur in both traditional (class presentations, exhibitions, or community events) and non-traditional ways. My hope is that by the end of the semester, our USF students will have really grasped the significance of the work they’re seeing, the work that they’re doing, and its place in the world at large.

Even Bindlestiff-er.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Frankus just emailed me a few more ridiculous pictures from the Bindlestiff panel discussion last week.





In other Bindlestiff news, the Studio, in solidarity with women around the world, has an upcoming show entitled “The Fountain of Youth is a 16 Ounce Jar of Vaseline,” which pokes fun at the value of youth, monogamy, and hormonal imbalances. Principal writers include Gayle Romasanta, Samantha Chanse, Lorna Velasco and Rhoda Gravador, with performances by Aureen Almario, Andrea Almario, Kat Evasco, Maggie Suarez, Nicole Maxali and Jamie Nallas. It runs on weekends, March 15-31. I’m planning on checking it out: if anyone wants to go with, lemme know.

Monster Drawing Rally revisited

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Well, the magical white cord finally returned from its vacation to god-knows-where, and I was able to successfully transfer some pics over to my laptop. Voila: last Friday’s Southern Exposure-sponsored shenanigans at the Verdi Club:


MDR 2007  in full swing: the Verdi Club was a gorgeous venue. I don’t know how the other artists felt, but I’d love to see the event return there next year. Crowded, happy, art-nerdy mayhem, with fancy lights, to boot.


The Mikes in action.


Emily, PJ, Mike A, Mike H, Ricci, me


You know, you’re just not a serious artist without a halter dress, sez two of us…

Afterwards, a crew of us ended up at the Ritespot, where the pens and paper came right back out again:



This time, it was all hands on deck: MDR artists and non-MDR artists alike. Drawing is fun, and far more social than people give it credit for. Try hanging out and just drawing with friends. It’s a lot less boring than drawing alone.

progressive women digressing

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Whew! So last night’s panel was epic in length: Frankus clocked it at 2 1/2 hours. It’s almost like people had a LOT to say…many thanks to Gayle Romasanta for organizing, to Bindlestiff for hosting, and to guests who came to listen to us!


You can’t see Golda Supernova (or her two super-cute kids) in this pic, but L to R, it’s Rhoda Gravador, Jeannie Barroga, Marianne Villanueva, Eliza “Neneng” Barrios, Reanne “Immaculata” Estrada, and Jenifer “Baby” Wofford.

The three of us haven’t been in matching outfits since last May’s lecture at Stanford: I really miss having more time to clown around with Reanne and Eliza. We’re able to get together every couple of months, but what with me in grad school, Eliza fleeing the country, and Reanne down there, it’s been challenging to start another M.O.B. project. Soon, though…soon.

In any case, last night was lively, grouchy, hilarious, and of course, deeply moving and inspiring. I’m sure that we’ve inspired the masses to rise up. Our lies were that good!

Here’s another photo of the O.G.s, post-panelizing:


Gayle, lil’ M, Golda, Jeannie, Marianne, Reannimal, EBX, moi (Rhoda had to leave a minute early)