Archive for July, 2008

air kisses and chit chat

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Yep, the BAN 5 opening was a blast. Not quite as jam-packed as the last one, but that’s a good thing. As is typical for most openings, it was pretty much impossible to really enjoy the art amidst all the chaos, but it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends, many of whom have been deep in the woodwork as of late. Big openings sometimes feel like class reunions in that way.

The socializing was great fun, but there were a lot of explanations to folks as to where Galleon Trade: BAN 5 wasn’t, since it doesn’t open as part of BAN 5 until September. While Yerba Buena has been staggering its exhibitions for some time now, I think that this is the first time that they’ve staggered a Bay Area Now opening, so people were bound to be confused.

Now, I know that art openings are very kissy-kissy and oh hi, how are you, and that there’s often a certain degree of, well, brightly decorated banter, but the artifice of this kind of social behavior got just a little bit more absurd Saturday: a number of people offered gracious congratulations to me/Galleon Trade, which was fine, but the TRULY awkward moments were where several people extended their congratulations into an out-and-out “I love what you did!” Um, even though there’s nothing up.

Still, I maintain that this was still people just trying to be nice, but it was prretttty funny…anyway. On to photos of what was a very fun night.

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crowds in YBCA’s foyer

BAN 5 starlet Misako, with Jesse and K.Lo
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Mr Boll Weevil and Disco Duck, reunited
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more crowd-y-ness
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Woffles, Inaoka, Houlding
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Tully, gearing up to get down for her “Syndicate” BAN 5 project:
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Tully and Tan vamping, Syndicate style:
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Linda Cole on-screen! Everything IS Better Now! (Jonn Herschend’s project)
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Il Divo:
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tongues agog at all the artsy mayhem:
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…and what big artsy social event would be complete without a picture of Eugene in his sassy pink shorts, revving the crowd up before his band performed?
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Go catch the show. And lemme know what you think.
It’s an air kiss-free zone now, so you should be fine.

Bay Area Now 5
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

bay area now and then and here and there

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Bay Area Now 5 opens tonight ay YBCA! P and I went to the artists’ preview reception last night, but this evening is the full-on dog and pony show. The show looks great: radically different than BAN 4. Much quieter, not as chaotic. Some really sensational work, as always. A number of projects do an especially lovely, clever job of unearthing hidden or peripheral Bay Area histories.

In light of my grousing entry a few weeks back regarding the somewhat problematic treatment of the Mabuhay Gardens in the Bruce Conner/BAMPFA show, I wanted to highlight an audio project that’s part of Estacion Odesia, in both BAN 5 as well as a parallel exhibition opening next week at Queens Nails Annex.
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Artist/educator Jerome Reyes and professor Dan Gonzalez created an audio piece about Mabuhay Gardens and its owner, Ness Aquino, with generous interviews from folks from the punk and Filipino communities. Make sure to check it out. It’s on the iPod listening station.
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(photo credit: James Stark)

The Pinoy Patron of Punk: Looking for Ness Aquino and his Gold Plating Machine
By Jerome Reyes and Daniel Phil Gonzales (in collaboration with the Aquino family)
radio drama/podcast album: eleven tracks, total 50 min, 2008

a project for
Estacion Odesia, Guest curated by Queens Nails Annex

The Mabuhay Gardens or “Fab Mab,” a San Francisco North Beach nightclub and restaurant widely known for its importance to Punk Rock, has Reyes and Gonzales attempt to interview its aging and adventurous Filipino owner, Ness Aquino. What starts as a simple search ends up revisiting the socio-political events and urban redevelopment politics of late 1960′s San Francisco that led up to his second restaurant, the Mabuhay Gardens. Through several heartfelt and uncensored interviews, people discuss his under-celebrated and overlooked first establishment in the 1960′s, similarly named the Mabuhay, and notably its invaluable location inside of the San Francisco International Hotel building on Kearny Street. They describe the Mabuhay’s backroom that became a community planning center, Ness himself as the United Filipino Association President, and the mass effort to save the I-Hotel’s elderly tenants from eviction.

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(photo by Tony Remington)

Interviewees also share their favorite memories of Ness in transition to the Mabuhay Gardens on Broadway St. and when it first became the Fab Mab, noting everything from cooking bands spaghetti dinners, the action-filled bathrooms, singers dressed in infant drag, and the club’s eventual close. Both artists assemble this album of found sound, recorded protests, studio tracks, dish recipes, plus playful testimonies from: former strikers now scholars, Punk Rock historians and musicians, family members, and one unexpected guest, to celebrate a well-loved figure immersed in Asian-American, Punk Rock, and ultimately, San Francisco history.

Special thanks, (and not limited to):

Julie Aquino, Dina Competente, Penelope Houston of the Avengers, Kathy Peck of Hearnet.com and the Contractions, V. Vale of Re/Search Publications and Search and Destroy, Emil de Guzman of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, Steve Seid from Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Ginger Coyote at punkglobe.com, Richard Likong, Jackie Sharp of Target Video, Curtis Choy, Al Robles and Ness Aquino

BAY AREA NOW 5: Estacion Odesia/The Pinoy Patron of Punk
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission St @ 3rd
San Francisco, CA 94103-3138
415.978.ARTS (2787)

supa dupa

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

OMG. Ask and ye shall receive!
The Journalism Fairy granted my superhero nickname wish!

Super Wofler
Bay Area Now: Hitching a ride with Galleon Trade
BY JOHNNY RAY HUSTON

San Francisco Bay Guardian
Wednesday July 16, 2008

Super Wofler! That’s as good a nickname as any for artist, curator, teacher, and creative tornado Jenifer K. Wofford. In Denmark, a Super Wofler is a mass-produced ice cream cone ”” as Wofford discovered during a recent artist-in-residence stint near Copenhagen, where she also tracked down a version of Planters’ elusive and endangered CheezBalls, as well as a school named Wofford College, founded in 1854.

But in the Bay Area and in the Philippines, the Super Wofler of Wofford College is Wofford, whose project Galleon Trade invokes and revises Spanish colonial trade routes to forge new cultural and critical exchange. Sparked by Wofford’s curatorial and organizational acumen, Galleon Trade kicked off one year ago in Manila, the Philippines, where art by 12 Californians ”” including Michael Arcega and Stephanie Syjuco ”” landed at two galleries, accompanied by many of the artists. Last year, the Guardian gave Goldie awards to Wofford and Arcega, but many other Galleon Trade participants ”” such as Jaime Cortez and Gina Osterloh ”” have made equally striking and impressive work.

Wofford has a large San Francisco installment of Galleon Trade planned for the Luggage Store Gallery next year. For the moment, the “BAN 5″ version will spotlight some local Galleon Trade”“ers, and some Filipino artists ”” like Norberto “Peewee” Roldan of Green Papaya Art Projects ”” who Wofford met last summer. “A couple artists are doing work that is phenomenological as opposed to overtly political,” she says, during a phone interview that includes an only half-joking reference to “carpetbaggers” when the touchy topic of including non”“Bay Area artists is broached. “I could see people getting pinched about the fact that we’re expanding the idea of what should be included.” Who says the Bay Area only resides in the Bay Area, anyway?

GALLEON TRADE
Sept. 5”“Oct. 19 in the YBCA Terrace Galleries.
Opening party, Sept. 4, 5”“8 p.m.

Bay Area Now 5 and Galleon Trade

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

As most of you know, Bay Area Now 5 opens at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts this July 19.
As some of you know, Galleon Trade is part of the party! (We’re arriving fashionably late, however–
Galleon Trade: BAN 5 Edition
opens upstairs on Sept 4, after Taraneh Hemami’s Theory of Survival closes)!!
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I’ve been meaning to update you folks for a while on this exciting-ness. There were a few reasons for the quiet:
1, I was completely burnt out and needed to resolve other projects first, including that Denmark thing
2, Galleon Trade: BAN5 is still over 6 weeks away, actually
3, there’s still the biggie Galleon Trade at the Luggage Store to develop in earnest, so I’m trying to pace myself.

Press for, and general public kibbitzing about, Bay Area Now is always significant, so it’s high time I let you in on how this slight detour from our trade route has come to be.

YBCA curators Berin Golonu and Kate Eilertsen were looking to expand the vision of BAN5, and invited artists to sub-curate some special projects (to this end, BAN5 also includes projects organized by Taraneh Hemami, Queens Nail Annex, Valerie Imus, and yours truly). I gave them a few Galleon Trade-related ideas, and they were most interested in one where I played match-maker, pairing a few Bay Area Galleon Trade artists who had traveled to Manila last year, with artists they had met there.

From the fancy, official YBCA wall statement you’ll soon see:

Galleon Trade: Bay Area Now 5 Edition addresses the deeply transnational ties between the Bay Area and the Philippines by pairing artists from both places. It features work by local artists Jaime Cortez, Megan Wilson, Johanna Poethig, Gina Osterloh and Christine Wong Yap, all of whom were members of the contingent that went to Manila in 2007, and met many local artists.

In the spirit of the transpacific “trade” of Galleon Trade, these 5 artists were paired up with Manila artists Maria Taniguchi, Poklong Anading, Norberto “Peewee” Roldan, MM Yu, and Yason Banal. Their works are in direct conversation with each other, each artist’s unique practice enriching and resonating with another’s.

Apparently, as is traditional with BAN (Bay Area Now), some folks are already prickly about who’s been included, and who hasn’t: the fact that GT: BAN 5 includes Manila artists who aren’t even IN the Bay Area is bound to confuse a few more. BAN is also about artists who have never shown at YBCA, so that it gives them a new showcase: this also factored into this latest incarnation of our project.

Another thing that seems unclear to people new to our endeavor is that Galleon Trade is an ongoing, multi-year project, not a one-off YBCA pet project, which means that there are still at least two, if not more, future exhibitions involving various members of our motley crew. Also, the relationships formed by our trip to Manila have continued in all sorts of organic, dynamic ways not necessarily seen by the greater public: the music exchanges that Chris Brown (Trader Poethig’s partner) has been doing with folks in Manila, the Philippines Fulbright Fellowship that Gina Osterloh just returned from, or the Futura Manila show that a few GT folks are in, for example. And, of course, there are the various ongoing email communiques and long-distance friendships many of us are still maintaining.

Sooo. Hopefully, this helps clarify.

Galleon Trade sails again, and big ups to Johanna, Peewee, Jaime, Maria, Christine, Yason, Megan, Poklong, MM and Gina as they prepare their amazing work for this next port of call!

And as for the rest of you:
Come to YBCA this Saturday the 19th for the big kick-off party (buy your tickets early NOW. It sells out.)
And, come last week of August, it’s all hands on deck to help with install for our Sept 4 opening…

BAY AREA NOW 5
July 19-November 16
*Opening Night Party July 19 8 pm!!
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission St San Francisco

tallinn

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

So I’m gonna come clean and admit that I knew jack nothing about Estonia before hopping on a ferry there. In fact, these past few weeks in and around the Scandinavian/Baltic region have been a pointed lesson in how little I really know about all the amazing history and culture throughout these countries. It’s been fun having a reason to learn. One of the nicest things about travel (including artist residencies) is the fact that it gives you a very concrete, immediate ability to understand more about a place. Being a tourist means that it’s still a pretty superficial understanding, but it’s better than nothing at all. (Kellie Pickler. Sigh.)

Tallinn is about a 90 minute ferry-ride from Helsinki. A whole new city, a whole new country. I’d known that its Old Town was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but I hadn’t expected the insane cuteness of it. Somewhere between Disneyland and Medieval Times, but actually, in fact, incredibly old, if still somewhat propped up with rejuvenating cosmetic procedures.
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The Old Town was absolutely gorgeous, with tons to look at and scads of delightful little cafes and restaurants, but it seemed to be about 120% tourist-oriented, with much of the real life of the city taking place outside the old town walls. Still, it was pretty fun navigating the divide between the packs of cruise-ship retirees dominating certain sections of the town, and the hipster backpacker-types claiming the other part. And everyone seemed to find what they needed there, despite their differences.

The medieval walls that wrapped around the old town felt like I was situated within the village in Haruki Murakami’s novel ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World‘ (a reference that will be interesting to about 1.5 of you out there).
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And what UNESCO World Heritage Site would be complete without a bar dedicated to all things Depeche Mode?
(Somehow, I don’t see this flying at other UNESCO sites like Yellowstone, or Angkor Wat.)
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On one of our afternoons there, we got out of the theme park Old Town, and wandered through the less packaged parts of the city: I wish I’d taken photos of some of the older wooden buildings mixed in with new architecture, as these were extraordinary.

We eventually found our way over to the park where the brand-spanking newish KUMU museum was:
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The mix of recent, modern and contemporary Estonian art was fantastic. And the museum was really quiet, just lovely volumes of space and time. Along with the visit to KUMU, we popped our heads into a couple of small galleries, and just leafed through some cool books on Estonian art. What little I was able to learn in our brief stay there makes me excited about finding out more about the Estonian contemporary art scene…

jyderup to helsinki

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Back on Planet Oakland now. The dulcet sounds of deep thumping base and doughnut peel-outs are once again part of my daily life… It’s actually not so bad being back: I’m really enjoying my first week of teaching summer-session drawing at Berkeley, and for the first time in a few years of returning from overseas trips, this time the Bay Area seems warmer and cheaper, instead of colder and pricier, compared to where I was traveling…

Left Jyderup on June 29. Sigh. I miss you, quiet, green roads.
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I miss you, town bakery that makes hot dog croissant-things.
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I miss you, orange lamp in green room.
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I miss you, cryptic laundry room sign.
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We caught the 7:13 am train to Copenhagen, to the 8:56 train to the airport, to the 10:45 flight to Helsinki, arriving around 1:30 in the afternoon.

Any concerns we might have had about getting enough out of our first day were quickly assuaged by 1, the fact that stuff stays open way later in Helsinki, and 2, we had one MORE hour of daylight given the latitude. I don’t think I’ll ever stop marveling at how much more daylight northern cities get in summer. (Winter, I don’t want to think about.)

First impressions: Helsinki felt waay different than Copenhagen. Still a compact, lovely nordic city, but with more hills, a slightly grittier quality, a more Russian sensibility evidenced in the architecture, and waay, waay more Goth kids. Like while the Danes are eating fresh vegetables and hanging out at solariums, the Finns are hanging out in basements dyeing their clothes black.

Still, our perceptions about the populace may have been skewed by the fact that we arrived in town on the last day of the Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, so the downtown area was pretty much wall-to-wall metalheads, goths, headbangers, and everything in-between.
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Kiasma, the contemporary museum, was goth-free, and yet another example of super-styley Scandinavian design.
Even the cafe. I definitely appreciated the design-y-ness of Copenhagen, but Helsinki had it in spades, too…
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And on a trip through a cemetery (surprisingly goth-free, too), it turns out even Helsinki headstones are super-slick!
Finnish cemeteries are where all graphic designers aspire to be laid to rest.
One tasteful sanserif font, one minimalist granite slab, for all eternity.
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If the photo below had audio, you’d be able to fully appreciate that we found a weird acoustic nook where the sounds of Slayer, performing live in the park across the train tracks, bounced right into our ears. With two rainbows, to boot.
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Helsinki at midnight
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Helsinki at 1:00 am
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We also trekked out to the Cable Factory (Kaapeli), a massive artist’s complex (no, not that kind) with studios, galleries and theatres, to visit our new friend, artist Jacob Borges, who was doing an artist in residence out there. Very cool, absolutely humongous site–used to be Nokia‘s cable factory back in the day. (Nokia is a Finnish company, if you didn’t know).
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Journey to the center of the earth: escalators down to the metro station near Kaapeli
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Finnish Trivial Pursuit! This language is utterly fascinating.
I think I need to learn Finnish just to play Trivial Pursuit.
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One last round of travel pics, then it’s back to bay area-focused fun and games…

yet another reason

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

…Denmark’s the diggity.
They make an ice cream cone called the Supa Woffla!

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A classic euro-cone (vanilla, chocolate, nuts), but with a tropical twist (pineapple).
Seriously.
Could it get any better?
When I’m a superhero, I’m SO being called Super Woffler.