Archive for March, 2007

does art + blog= arg or blort?

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Well, the time has come, in my burgeoning wofflings, to blog about someone’s blog about my blog. How funny is that?

The piece I put in Intersection’s auction fundraiser was purchased by a woman who’s collected work by MOB and a number of my friends. She and I have occasionally emailed in the past, but have never managed to connect. Given the incestuous nature of the Bay Area’s cultural social life, we basically know each other by proxy, through the numerous mutual friends we’ll inevitably sort out that we have. It’s nice to know that my piece went to someone with whom I already feel some kind of friendly connection!

She found my post about Intersection, and about patronage and support of the arts in the Bay Area in general, and responded on her own site, in return:

She expanded on my ramblings about the Bay Area’s bizarre schism between art and money (or other kinds of professional support) in some thoughtful, interesting ways, from the perspective of someone who is both an artist (poet) and patron herself. I’m sure that similar ruminations/ conversations have been happening in a variety of official and unofficial ways, but I would sure be interested to hear from other folks who ponder similar matters, or have come up with good solutions in their professional practice or their involvement with a nonprof that has been able to evolve into a more sustainable organization. I’m not sure if it’s just some function of my own slow maturity into finally looking at the dynamics of the Bay Area art community more comprehensively, but it does seem like I’m hearing/noticing these conversations more and more. Where do we go from here?

I’d write more about this at the moment, but (speaking of professional behavior) I’m getting off-task out here at my studio, so I need to get back to the drawings I’m working on. More later, I’m sure…

Auction tonight, Reading next week!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Whoops! In my excitement about the World Factory opening this evening, I forgot to put in a reminder about tonight’s Art Auction at Intersection for the Arts, in SF. I rambled about this in a post a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps this is why I thought I was through.

Galleon Trade mafiosi Mike Arcega, Jaime Cortez, Julio Morales, Megan Wilson, Christine Wong Yap and I all have work in this exhibition/auction. You can even preview our work online! Both events have conveniently staggered times, so the plan of attack is World Factory first, Intersection second.

Intersection for the Arts 2007 Art Auction
Wed, March 28: live auction at 8:30
446 Valencia, between 15th and 16th Streets

Also! Speaking of Galleon Trade (ahem), the ever-elegant, multi-talented Jaime Cortez will be doing a reading of his work next Tuesday, April 3, in San Francisco’s Main Library. The fabulous Michelle Tea is hosting this installment, and baking fresh cookies for it!

Radar Reading Series at the SF Main Library
Tuesday, April 3, 6 pm to 7:30 pm
Main Library Latino/Hispanic Community Rooms A & B
100 Larkin St (at Grove)
hosted by Michelle Tea
featuring Ric Royer, Anne E. Woof, Heathen Machinery and Jaime Cortez

World Factory 3

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

OK, so 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 unproductively 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 that I’ve attended them, 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 (so maybe he still hasn’t slept, after all), 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 Castañeda, 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

D’oh! 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!

Dubai, 1978

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

So the bad news is that those aforementioned Mardi Gras pics are slides, according to Pops Woff. Mom Woff thinks differently, but I could turn up no examples during my foraging earlier today. The good news is that I did find a few other Dubai pics, nonetheless, all of which corroborate prior claims…

Home, sweet home. We lived in the left half of this duplex unit in Jumeirah: a nice Egyptian family, and then a nice Indian couple, were our neighbors during the time we lived there. School was literally across the street: somehow, I managed to be late, anyway.


There was an enormous empty lot beside our home: neighborhood kids would cut through it, and the occasional camel would stroll through, grazing on dates from the palms in the background.


Check out the fat backrest on my glitter-green banana seat hoopty! This was my first real bicycle (paving the way for future motorcycles…) Ever the child-entrepreneur, I earned the dirhams ($$$) for my bike, running my all-girl carwash. Yeah, yeah. I know.


Anyway, cars get very dusty in the desert, and there weren’t any car washes. With a little bit more business infrastructure, I coulda made a killing. I live with my regrets, daily. The street I’m on was right in front of our house, and is one of the streets that the Mardi Gras parade came rolling down…

Our family lived in Dubai from 1978 to 1980. I still think back on this era as the best part of my childhood: simple, safe, innocent, with tons of space and time for imagination and play. We all idealize aspects of our childhoods to degrees, but without a doubt, this was the pinnacle of the fun for me.


me, camille, and camel

Far Out, the Tiger Said

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

I’m having a serious “Free to Be You And Me” session in my art studio tonight. (Yes, yes, I know, I should be breaking things, acting out, being drunk, etc. Sorry. Maybe later.)


(In hindsight, perhaps it’s not the best studio music choice, since whilst singing along ecstatically to “Parents Are People” a few minutes ago, I accidentally drooled on the gouache painting I was working on, and ruined a section of it…)

This post might seem a little irreverent, coming right after my last one. (Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes. Walt Whitman) Anyway, a friend of mine had given me a CD copy of it a while back: we used to listen to this over and over again at the photo lab we worked in years ago and laugh and laugh and laugh about it.

Having just re-discovered it this month, I’m not only totally in love with it all over again, but acutely aware, as I listen to it, just how influential it was in shaping me as a child. The more time I spend with friends’ children, the more I feel that palpable sense of how hard-wired we are by our childhood experiences, for better or worse. Lucky me: this fantastic, subversive kid’s album helped hard-wire me into growing into a confident, eccentric, feminist, highly independent woman. (Erm, and having great parents, too. Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad.)

Free To Be You And Me came out in 1974, but it found its way into my life when I was growing up in Dubai in the late 70′s. By some strange miracle, this album got played at my school there (the Jumeirah American School, now the American School of Dubai), then circulated around the homes of many of the American kids living there at the time. Sort of surreal, in retrospect, but I’m beginning to suspect that surreal childhoods make for solidly entertaining adulthoods…

Growing up in Jumeirah/Dubai back then was more like growing up in a small, dusty town: it was nothing like the cosmopolis/Vegas of the Middle East that it is now. It was a strangely innocent era: no TV, no VCR, lots of sand and space for one’s imagination. There were tons of expats from Texas and Louisiana in our little neighborhood, which naturally meant that the only Mardi Gras I’ve still ever experienced was a bunch of sandy trucks filled with seriously fun rednecks and their kids driving down my block in clown makeup, throwing beads and candy to a handful of the rest of us. All this, fronted by an Arab bagpipe police band.

This really doesn’t have anything to do with Marlo Thomas, of course, but in trying to contextualize my experience with this wonderful, bizarre album, it’s bringing back a host of other wonderful, bizarre experiences. If I can scan some old family photos, I can prove all of this. I swear.

Shinzo Abe’s on my Shit List

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Okay, so Wofford’s in cranky-pants mode right now. I’ve been royally pissed 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 the majority 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.

I don’t know how much any of you go in for petition-signing, but if you’re not averse to it, this is a worthwhile one that a lot of Americans don’t know much about. 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. Gulp.

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

Eeek! So 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 of 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 since paid it forward tenfold, 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…

Kala tonight!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Dang. I’ve got class at UC Berkeley tonight, so I can’t make this event at Kala Art Institute, also in Berkeley. So close, so far away…

The amazing and talented Packard Jennings and Stephanie Syjuco have a 2 for 1 special this evening at Kala: they’re both giving a talk there at 7 pm. I’m sooo cranky that I can’t go!


Intersection for the Arts’ 2007 Annual Fundraiser

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

So some of y’alls 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, Megan and 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 wanna 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! Phew! 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 gotta 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