Archive for April, 2007

Overmapped pics

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Someone asked me how Thursday night’s Overmapped opening was, and the first thing I said was “A gallery full of art and Filipinos? It’s like a dream come true…” Obviously, not quite as big a fantasy if the gallery is, say, in the Philippines, but here in the US, these moments have been few and far between.

I think about how not so long ago, a show like this was unthinkable: when I was studying with Carlos Villa in the early/mid-nineties, the dialogue was very much around the utter lack of (documented) Filipino-American art history, and what could be done about it. We’re now at this point where not only is there more and more of a paper trail for that subject, and more art shows (curator Koan Jeff Baysa has done a particularly significant job in this regard) but because the post-1965 Immigration Act generations are finally coming of age, the groundswell is really finally underway. I can only be excited about where this work will expand to, as these next generations keep comin’ up like they are…

Rico put together a really lovely, multi-generational, multi-faceted show: it felt like the best kind of family affair. There were folks from a wide range of life-experience, art practices, backgrounds, places, all mixing and making new alliances. It was such a fun night: the after-party was at Poleng Lounge, where a number of us kept up the carousing and connecting for a few hours longer.

Overmapped is only open until April 25th, so catch it while you can. Since SomArts Cultural Center is right next to the shopping complex that houses Trader Joes and a couple of other businesses, it may just be the only time in your life that you can A, see a great Filipino art show, B, stock up on hummus, salad-in-a-bag and Vanilla Almond Crunch, and C, go to Bed Bath and Beyond, because, you know, you will have enough time.

OK, on with a few photos:


Curator Rico Reyes, Carlos Villa, Jeff Jones


Overmapped, the Overview


hot new emo boyband “Bittermelon” (mike, christian, kenlo)


the silva-syjuco coalition


the worlds in collison USF crew (charles, woff, miki, nancy)


d’oh! karla threwed it in the trash…Al Gore’s pissed.

SomArts Main Gallery

934 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
exhibition: April 5-25

Motel Cucaracha Gets Overmapped

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Pinally. A Pilipino art show, pronto! Curated by the fabulous, brilliant Rico Reyes, the show, OVERMAPPED, opens this Thursday at SomArts Gallery. Rico and I have been co-teaching Filipino-American Art History at USF this semester: our students are helping install OVERMAPPED this Wednesday.

I hadn’t been mentioning the show because in a typical dent in my logic, I equate blood, sweat and tears with preparation for an exhibition, and since my contribution to this show has involved none of those bodily fluids (hallelujah) for a change, I’ve been spacing it.

I’m showing my DVD of Motel Cucaracha, which is a piece I made a couple of years ago (which involved copious amounts of blood, sweat and tears at the time). The video was part of a comprehensive motel room-like installation/performance at a.o.v. gallery in 2004/05. It will be interesting to see it out of its original context, on an utterly unadorned monitor.

Here I am, in all of my roachy glory, in the original installation:


Rico pulled OVERMAPPED together on a shoestring budget (wait a minute: no budget), so it’s one more testament to the dedication of grassroots nonprofiteers that this show is even happening. It shouldn’t have to be done this way, but it’s proof that it can and should be done…Rico seems to do everything so gracefully and thoughtfully: I learn a ton, just watching him in action.

He put together a really fantastic, diverse array of artists, including Galleon Traders Johanna Poethig and Eliza Barrios, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the work, and meeting some of the talented folk I’ve admired for a long time!


Rico wrote a lovely curatorial statement for the show, pasted below:

Overmapped: A Cartography of Filipino American Visual Arts is an exhibition looking at the vital and vibrant visual arts community with ties to the Philippines. The artists presented in this exhibition are Filipino, Filipino American, American Filipino, scholars of Philippine Studies or Pinoyphiles. This exhibition is an informal and incomplete survey and by no means an exhaustive study. However, the growth and development of the Filipino visual arts community needs to be marked; there is a need to pause, to look, and take stock of what is happening with young artists coming out of school, with established artists and their career trajectories, with hobbyists who find themselves deep in serious artmaking, along with many others. This moment is as good as any!

The artists included in this exhbition represent the various points on the arc of Filipino:American visual art production. The points are defined by both artists and the academia and institutions. There exist the myriad points addressing gender and sexuality, the points of race, ethnicity, or otherness, the points of material and formalism, the points of conceptual and avant-garde, the points of the established and the up-and-coming, etc. There are many points on the arc and one artist may occupy many points simultaneously, or a point might be occupied by more than one artist. The artists included in this exhibition are Melba Abela, Terry Acebo-Davis, Matias Aguilar, Yason Banal, Genara Banzon, The Barrionics, Eliza Barrios, Elaine Benisano, Leo Bersamina, Emily Caisip, Danilo Cuevas, Ariel Erestingcol, Vince Golveo, Robert Gutierrez, England Hidalgo, Mary Rose Mendoza, Allyn Nobles, Marcius Noceda, Johanna Poethig, Carlos Ricafort, Angela Silva, Alberto Vajrabukka, Charles Valoroso, Carlos Villa, Mel Vera Cruz, and Jenifer Wofford.

The title of this show is the product of intellectual synergy and confusion. The word “overmapped” is derived from the interplay of ”˜overlap’ and ”˜mapped’. The concept behind the exhibition is to layer on top of the topographical map of the psyche, as developed by Sigmund Freud, with an imaginary topographic sketch of the colonized mind of Filipinos. This overlapping of maps creates a new terrain that shifts with migration and memory, desire and resistance, embodiment and dismemberment, love and hate. These maps are continuously being drawn and re-drawn to charter a course to unknown coordinates. Thus, the act of organizing an exhibition under the theme of “Filipino” becomes a cartographic exercise, redrawing the boundaries of the community and repainting the lines of visual art, in an attempt to speculate a heading and to propose a new course.

Coincidentally, the term “overmapped” is also used in computer programming language. An “overmapped error” describes a situation when 1). two or more data directories exists in a hard-drive and each script in the directory competes and confuses the logic of a given set of memory, or 2). the memory chip is overloaded with a datafile that is too big for it. Either phenomenom describes the condition of Filipino artists. From which “directory” does one process information, or is one’s colonized experience too much to handle within a mainstream framework? The psyche of the Filipino artist is like that of the computer chip overloaded with cultural data from two conflicting sources, always alerting its viewer of a process being OVERMAPPED.

SomArts Main Gallery

934 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
exhibition: April 5-25
reception: Thursday, April 5 from 5:30-7:30 pm
post-reception: Poleng Lounge, San Francisco

Group Critiques

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

I’ve been in my studio for the better part of the weekend. No vacation till graduation. The MFA show is coming up fast (May 18), but before that, I still have one more group critique of my project, and a Final Review (April 26) with Berkeley professors and my MFA committee members.

Wednesday night, my work receives its final group critique of my grad school career. For those unfamiliar with the group critique, it’s essentially a process in which an artist presents his/her work to a group of his/her fellow students, usually facilitated by a faculty member. Each artist in our program has his/her work run through “group crit” once or twice a semester. It’s an integral part of the critical process: it trains (by example) artists in how to talk about work more deeply, and it gives the presenting artist access to feedback otherwise unavailable to him/her in a solitary studio practice. It’s often stressful for the presenting artist, as private work is suddenly laid relatively bare to public opinion. At its best, it’s a productive, thoughtful, well-structured forum for giving and receiving feedback that will help work grow: at its worst, however, it disintegrates into a messy, destructive free-for-all, where individual agendas and egos actually compromise the process altogether. It can go either way, at the drop of a hat. Good facilitation is key.

Grad school, as most of my friends know, has been an intensely challenging experience for me. (Apparently this is many people’s grad school experience, as it turns out). While at this point I feel much more charitable about my time at Berkeley, there have definitely been choice points of deep frustration, one of them being how group critiques have been handled at times. In comparing notes with friends in other programs, it doesn’t seem as if our process was particularly awful, so I can’t single out our program for condemnation. There has certainly been bad behavior in our group crits on occasion, but in the end, it’s been mitigated by other much more pleasant moments, for the most part. It seems to be endemic to the (historical) structure of the group crit process itself, which hasn’t really evolved much over the decades.

Given my background as an educator, I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that I have different expectations of crits than others, and that I’ve not been in a position, as a grad student, to implement change. It’s been painful, however, sitting in situations that I’ve seen multiple solutions to, but not been empowered to do anything about. It’s been doubly painful, watching artists default to classic patterns of dysfunctional artist behavior, in situations where they’re utterly capable of doing more, and doing it better. To be fair, I’ve been mostly grateful to learn from my peers and their creative processes, and I don’t regret grad school at all. I just hope that when I start teaching again, I’m able to dismantle some of the dopeyness I’ve witnessed/experienced, and bring better, fairer processes to my own students.

The process has gotten enormously better this academic year, and it’s been such a pleasure to see how the conversations about work have shifted and deepened. People are much better about treating each other respectfully, while still challenging the content or weak spots in artwork. This is a group critique at its best: where enough safety and respect has been established that people are able to speak candidly and productively about one another’s work. I could write a long essay on the dynamics of art school group critiques, but I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice to say, I’m actually looking forward to Wednesday night, and also looking forward to being done with it.