Archive for April, 2009

May be so

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Your Bay Area weekend art fun for the beginning of May! Things that are awesome, and worth attending.

East Bay goes first:
My good friend Mr Hot Dog is finally fully cured, and has been packaged for release from the factory! His (and his fellow grads’) MFA show at Mills College opens on May 2.

Mills College MFA show:
Young Americans

Saturday May 2, 2009

Over yonder in the west bay, SF has a new biennial, it seems!
And it’s called PRESENT TENSE: ARTISTS REFLECT ON CONTEMPORARY CHINESE CULTURE. Presented by Kearny Street Workshop and the Chinese Culture Center, this  exhibition showcases vibrant and diverse perspectives on contemporary Chinese culture. Based on the roster of artists and the savvy of the curators (Kevin Chen, Ellen Oh, and Abby Chen), I’m also delighted to see that it hasn’t been curated along predictable lines of authenticity and/or ethnicity. Featuring artists from the Bay Area and beyond, the show includes a wide array of media at the Center’s main gallery and in storefronts throughout Chinatown.


Present Tense:
VIP Preview & Reception: Friday, May 1 @ 6:30pm
General Opening Reception: Saturday, May 2 @ 1pm
Exhibition runs from May 1 – August 23, 2009
Gallery Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays 10am – 4pm & Sundays 12 noon – 4pm
Chinese Culture Center Gallery
750 Kearny St., 3rd Floor (inside the Hilton Hotel), SF

Meanwhile! Back at the ranch (by which I mean the 77 Geary corral), Patricia Sweetow Gallery is showing 3 excellent artists: Jina Valentine, Weston Teruya, and Arnold Kemp. It seems to be 3 solo projects, as opposed to one unified thematic: all 3 make smart, insightful, cryptic work, so I’m thrilled to see how their projects exist in conversation, nonetheless.


May 2-June 13
reception May 2, 11 am-1pm
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
77 Geary St Mezzanine, San Francisco 94108

San Francisco Diwang Pinay has put together an event/showcase at Bayanihan Community Center.
I’ve donated a suite of the ‘Flor 1973-78′ mini-posters to help with fundraising for the silent auction.


SF Diwang Pinay
Sunday May 3
5 pm on
Bayanihan Community Center
1010 Mission St, San Francisco 94103

Joy Luck Hub: Johanna Poethig

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Here’s another Asian-American immigration narrative for the Joy Luck Hub blog carnival, from dear friend and galleonista-in-arms Johanna Poethig: American-born, raised in the Philippines, who moved to the US as a teenager.

Johanna (Poethig)”Putik”

My name means mud. My first venture across the big ocean was at 4 months old.  My family took a ship to Manila and arrived in early 1957. I grew up in Malate to the sounds of roosters in the morning and pigs screaming at fiesta time. The rain stung my skin before the big typhoons. I got H Fever during the 1960’s epidemic from the mosquito with white stripes on its legs.  I believed in aswang and the spirits of dead teachers roaming school halls.  My first profanity was “putang ina mo”. My best friend in 3rd grade got mad at me after she learned the Americans killed Aguinaldo.

My parents had their customs. My Dad taught us the tricks of New York city street life as we made “hot mickies” over carabao grass. My mother tried desperately to keep me from eating with my hands. My mouth still waters for sour salty food on my fingers.  In 5th grade I finally got to be in a school performance. The Ifugao ceremony where we all moved together around a fire did not require pairing me off with a boy half my size.

Fifteen years later I immigrated to Chicago. My batik dresses did not keep me warm in the sub-zero weather. I sprained my ankles walking in my winter boots. My fellow waitresses at the Mellow Yellow lunch spot in South Chicago called me a “virgin white”.  I wore my malongs off my shoulder and snake vertebrae on my head. The lack of food at parties confused me.  As time passed I searched for what was familiar to me; warmer weather, mixed up communities, Tagalog and nicknames. I have been back to Malate where the acacia tree of my old school still shades the children at recess.


Friday, April 24th, 2009

Something that I learned a couple of years ago when I attended a weekend-long professional development workshop for artists is how desperately many of us need these kinds of services (and we don’t even know it!). Many other careers consider professional development an integral part of success: somehow, in the arts, there remains this bizarre romantic notion that success happens by magic because artists are special creatures, and acknowledging that this is a career, not just a life-pursuit, might compromise the mystique of what we do.

Granted, many of us have long been leery of cheesy Anthony Robbins-style corporate motivational seminar hokum, which never looked all that related to our endeavors. And granted, some creative personalities really don’t want or need PD. But for many others, it might have made things a whole lot easier a lot earlier if the process were demystified a bit, by other folks from within the arts.

Most of us who did that workshop (run by fellow artists and creatives from Creative Capital‘s professional development program) were overwhelmed by how much it helped, and how little we knew (about what we didn’t know we even needed to know): at the time, I remember feeling like we had all just been air-lifted out of our own chaos! It felt way more like liberation than indoctrination, that’s for sure.

I’ve been thinking about a Seth Tobocman quote lately, which was intended in a slightly different context:
“You don’t have to fuck people over to survive.”
To paraphrase:
You don’t have to fuck people over or self-sabotage your life as an artist to succeed, either.

Therefore, it’s truly splendid news that the Center for Cultural Innovation and the San Francisco Creative Capacity Fund are supporting a number of affordable workshops for artists and arts orgs to learn how to grow and sustain themselves more capably.  (I’m going to the Strategic Planning workshop this Monday the 27th: hopefully, I’ll see some of you there?)

Some of the offerings are below: a more comprehensive list of California workshops are here, at the CCI website, and local Bay Area workshops  here, at the CCI/SFCCF website.


Strategic Planning for Individual Artists:
From Vision to Reality

Amy Kweskin

Evolving your arts business begins with articulating goals that are ambitious, inspirational and accomplishable. You will learn how to use coaching tools that provide a foundation to the strategic planning process, keeping it grounded and solution-focused.

This workshop will cover:

* Strategic planning
* Mind-mapping, past, present and future
* Articulating goals in your stretch zone
* Using the GROW3 coaching tool to create a plan
* Thinking partnerships: peer coaching

Date: Monday, April 27, 2009
Time: 6:30-9:30pm
Location: SF State, 835 Market Street, 6th floor, San Francisco 94103
(next to Westfield Shopping Center, Powell Street BART/Muni stop)
Cost: $35 (BOA / CCI Members) / $40 Non-members


Marketing 101: Creating a Marketing Plan that Works for You
CCI’s Marketing Plan Seminar for Individual Artists

Nancy Hytone Leb

Marketing is the key to developing any business. You know you need to do it but where do you start? Understanding the basic fundamentals and creating a marketing plan is the first step. In this 2-day workshop, you will begin to:

* Explore strategies that will help you identify your target audience
* Learn to communicate what your work is about
* Analyze the ever-evolving list of marketing tactics so you can determine the most strategic way to reach your audience.

We will cover the planning process in detail and provide you with definitions, concepts, tools and resources that you will need to create a marketing plan that meets your needs as an artist entrepreneur.

Dates: Wednesday, May 27 and Thursday, May 28
Time: 6:30-9:30pm
Location: SF State, 835 Market Street, 6th floor, San Francisco 94103
(next to Westfield Shopping Center, Powell Street BART/Muni stop)
Cost: $105 (BOA / CCI Members) / $120 Non-members

support SFWAR

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Double-duty on the strong women front, all around!

I just discovered that two other fierce friends of mine, Nicole Hsiang and Sasha St Denny, are both participating in this weekend’s San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) fundraising event, Walk Against Rape. They are both soliciting donations for their participation in the walk.

I’ve learned more about SFWAR through Nicole, who worked there for a long time. It’s an organization well-worth supporting. And Sasha put the need for supporting SFWAR simply and eloquently in her donations message:

As some of you may know,  I recently started an internship with San Francisco Women Against Rape, the primary provider of rape crisis services and sexual violence prevention education programs in San Francisco. I had a sobering moment during one of our training sessions when the group of about 15 people was asked to walk across the room if they or someone they knew had been a victim of sexual violence. Without a moment’s hesitation, every single person walked to the other side of the room.

Rape is a difficult subject to talk about, but it is an epidemic that we cannot ignore. Please sponsor me as I join many others in the Walk Against Rape event to benefit SFWAR this Saturday, April 25th. By donating to SFWAR you are not only supporting survivors, but making a statement that rape will not be tolerated in your community.

No donation is too small!
Skip that cappuccino or pack your lunch for the day and know that your donation is helping us to make a difference!

You can make a donation to Sasha’s and Nicole’s fundraising pages here:

Or here:

Single Shots Apr 23 – May 2!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

I’m going to this! Hopefully, some of you are, as well.
Given that the phenomenally talented Sam Chanse and Nicole Maxali are both on the roster (and I’ve heard great things about Sarita and Dennis, as well), I’m thrilled to go catch this show!


Bindlestiff Studio presents

A collection of solo performances featuring new works from
Samantha Chanse
, Nicole Maxali, Sarita Ocón, and Dennis Rodis.

Samantha Chanse:
Back to the Graveyard, about a family dinner derailed, a reluctant artist, and an involuntary volunteer.

Nicole Maxali:
Identification, Please, about a search for self through drugs, sex, shoes, & Jesus!

Sarita Ocón:
Compromise, a darkly comic solo work about the performance of cultural identity.

Dennis Rodis:
Click, an eerie, twisted monologue about obsessive infatuation, Stevie Wonder, and frappuccinos, written by A. Samson Manalo.

Tickets $10 in advance (online), sliding scale $15-20 at the door.

Thursdays through Sundays, April 23-May 2
8:00 PM
The Thick House
1695 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

we be joy luck clubbin’

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Joy Luck, show me loove, up in the club!

(That’s the line Ice Cube forgot.)

(Which, come to think, is a song from the soundtrack to Mr. Cube’s cinematic masterwork “The Player’s Club“.)

(Which naturally, begs the question:
Does Joy Luck Club + Player’s Club = Movie:
1. The Joy Luck Player’s Club
2. The Mahjongg Playazz Klubb
3. The World of Suzie Wong
4. Fight Club?)


My 300 words, in response to Claire Light’s ‘Joy Luck Hub’ Blog Carnival call:


Not long after WWII, my lolo (grandfather) decided to move from Manila to Guam with his wife and 3 kids. He was offered an engineering job there with an American contractor at a time where good jobs were hard to come by, plus he was fed up with Manila cronyism, and wanted to make something of himself on his own terms.

Tito Sonny, Tita Lety, Mom, Lolo, Lola in Guam, 195os

My mom, tito and tita spent their preteen and teen years on Guam, attending a tiny missionary school there. It’s a little unclear financially how, but somehow Lolo sent all 3 kids off to college in the U.S.. My mom and aunt were probably the only 2 Filipinas/Asians in Walla Walla, Washington in the late 50′s: they quickly bonded with 2 Japanese-American sisters there as well. (The foursome have stayed dear friends their whole lives: Nobe and Kaz are very much my “aunties”, which actually brings this narrative dangerously close to JLC territory.)

After Walla Walla, my mom and Aunt Kaz moved to Portland to complete their nursing degrees. And then, in a reversal of the classic Filipina nurse immigration saga, Mom moved back to Manila, to work in the 7th Day Adventist Hospital there. My grandparents had gone back to Manila for  awhile as well, so as their unmarried bunso, she was obligated to be with them, since my tito and tita had both married Americans and settled in the US.

Eventually, Mom returned to the US, and worked at a San Francisco hospital while living with her sister and her sister’s husband. My lolo died early of a heart attack not long after, leaving my lola alone on Guam: she soon moved to California to live with her children. Residency in Guam qualified everyone in the family for U.S. citizenship once they reached adulthood: my mom became an American citizen soon after she turned 18.

Tita Lety, Mom, Lolo, Lola, Tito Sonny in Guam, 1950s

The J.L.C. is almost old enough to drink!

Monday, April 13th, 2009

It’s been twenty years, yo.
Aunties An-Mei, Lindo, Ying Ying and Suyuan have got to surrender the torch one of these days, right?


I absolutely adored Joy Luck Club (book and movie) as a wee pup long ago, when both first came out. But both have been subjected to their fair share of critique, particularly vis-a-vis representations of the Asian-American experience, in the twenty years since Amy Tan‘s book was published.  While I kinda doubt I could ever shake the sentimental hold that the J.L.C. has on me, I definitely wonder how I might respond more critically to it now, in a re-read. (Is it possible to be sentimental and critical simultaneously, I wonder?)

Therefore, this  J.L.C.-inspired “Blog Carnival” project by writer Claire Light couldn’t be better timed:


From Claire, via Hyphen:

Help us honor and argue with The Joy Luck Club on the 20th Anniversary of its publication AND celebrate API Heritage Month in May! Send us your immigrant story in 300 words or less!


This year is the 20th Anniversary of the publication of The Joy Luck Club, the book that, for better or for worse, defined Asian America to a generation of readers, and opened up mainstream American fiction to Asian immigrant stories. (I celebrated its 15th in an essay in Issue 4.) I say “for better or for worse” because, although it was wonderful for people of my generation — who were reaching adulthood just as Joy Luck was hitting the bookstores — to finally see Asian immigrant families in fiction, the book also limited a generation of writers to a particular narrative.

We don’t all suffer an immigrant generation gap with our parents; many of us are 1.5s, and many of us are 3rd generation or deeper; many of our parents are culturally competent in the US; most of us didn’t grow up in Chinatowns. Half of us aren’t women; we aren’t all Chinese … or Japanese, or Korean; our cultures of origin don’t always center around cooking rice, or mahjong games in the kitchen, or the insulting mistakes our white boyfriends make at the dinner table; the racism we experience isn’t always the blatant kind.

So, for a book that didn’t intend to cause all the controversy or inspire all the ambivalence it has, I can’t think of a better way to honor its birthday than to talk back. For May, Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let’s tell more stories … stories that aren’t like The Joy Luck Club at all.

I’m declaring a blog carnival of short, personal Asian American immigrant narratives.

These will be YOUR families’ immigration stories in 300 words or less.
Very short, so don’t try to tell the whole thing.
Pick out one important anecdote or detail that you think is unusual.

Some questions to get you started:

  • What about your family’s immigration experience is unusual, not like the stereotypes?
  • Did your family immigrate all at once, or over several generations, and just to the US, or elsewhere? Did anyone go back?
  • Did your forebear/s have a goal in immigrating? Do you think this was their only purpose?
  • Did something funny or strange or sad happen when they got here?
  • Has your family been here so long you’ve forgotten the immigrant experience? Tell us another story, then!

We’re looking for a diversity of stories: East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, Central Asian, North Asian, women, men, transgendered people, all ages and generations, all regions of the States (and we’ll fudge “American” if you’re not from the States or even from North America), all kinds of stories, all ways of telling them.

Here’s the process:

  1. Write your immigrant story of 300 words or less.
  2. Post it to your blog or somebody’s blog.
  3. Post the URL in comments below, or send me the URL at claire (at the domain) hyphenmagazine (with a dot) com. Please put “Joy Luck Hub submission” in the subject line.
  4. Deadline is May 1.
  5. Depending on a number of factors, we might reprint a few here on Hyphen Blog (with permission). Or we might not.

Please post questions, comments and suggestions below in comments …
and PLEASE FORWARD THIS CALL for submissions to your Asian American friends!

Folks, start your engines.

(A direct, easier to cut-n-paste link to this same post on the Hyphen Magazine blog is here):


(woff confession: I went on Youtube loooking for The JLC clips right after prepping this post, and got ALL kinds of choked up watching it! OY. I’m still a sucker for it…)

I’ll post my family’s (well, my Mom’s side, anyway) story on my blog shortly, too.

finally, a church for me

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

I have some questions about that last line, though.

Swedish parishioners unveil Lego statue of Jesus
Sunday, April 12, 2009
(04-12) 08:20 PDT STOCKHOLM, (AP)

Parishioners at a church in Sweden celebrated Easter on Sunday by unveiling a 6-foot-tall (1.8-meter-tall) statue of Jesus that they had built out of 30,000 Lego blocks.


It took the 40 volunteers about 18 months to put all the tiny plastic blocks together, and their creation shows a standing Jesus facing forward with his arms outstretched.

The Protestant church was filled to capacity with about 400 worshippers on Sunday when the statue went on display behind the altar, and some of the children in the congregation couldn’t help but touch the white art work.

Church spokesman Per Wilder said the statue at the Onsta Gryta church in the central Swedish city of Vasteras is a copy of Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen’s “Christus” statue on display in Copenhagen.

He also said that even though the statue is all white on the outside, many of the donated Legos that the church received were of other colors and were placed inside.

not done yessing yet

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

All artsy-yessing aside, how about two more big old YESses for the big green globs below representing Iowa and Vermont!

And a big YES to Steven Thrasher’s lovely piece in the New York Times.
Iowa’s Family Values


Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Renee Gertler at blankspace gallery=yes!
Arteri Malaysia=yes!
SoEx‘s impending new digs=yes!
Tekniq at Marx & Zavattero=yes!
Woffords Paint in Guangzhou=yes!

Ooh, that’s a lot of yessing going on.


So. First things first: if you haven’t gotten a chance to see Modality Room, Renee Gertler‘s solo show at blankspace gallery in Oakland, get on it! It’s only on until April 27.

I got turned on to Renee’s work by Christine Wong Yap a couple of years ago: it’s smart, funny, imaginative, and ethereal. And, as with much sculpture, it doesn’t translate well in photography (at least not my crappy pictures taken opening night–Renee’s pics on her website do much better). The few times I’ve been lucky enough to see Renee’s work in person, I’ve fallen in love with it.


Next on the YES list is ARTERI, a fantastic new website/blog focused almost entirely on one of my favorite combo platters: contemporary art, Malaysia, and Southeast Asia. Since some of my favorite foods are nasi lemak  and halo-halo, it would only stand to reason that this mix-mix is right up my alley, too.

My friend Simon  is one of the creators of the site, and has invited me to post something on it, so perhaps I’ll get to participate on it as well (and nooo, that’s not why I think it’s awesome. Go check it out. You’ll see for yourself. It’s like the SEAsian sister to the Bay Area’s own Stretcher).



And then there’s everyone’s favorite local/peripatetic space, Southern Exposure, staggering around the Mission from location to location these last few years. At long last, SoEx will be moving back in to permanent quarters over near the old Alabama Street ‘hood, sometime later this summer! YES. Staff and board have been working like demons to make sure that SoEx isn’t going anywhere for a long, long while, which given all the instability in the air these days, is truly comforting/delightful to hear.



And then there are the fine ladies of Tekniq, self-billed as “the Bay Area’s best almost amateur dance troupe”. Yes! I’m so one of their new groupies!  In honor of “I Want You To Want Me,” the new group show at Marx & Zavattero Gallery, the girls (Hunny-B, Spand-X, Swiz-ILL, Lunch Boxxx, and Sha Bang-Bang) put on their best faux semi-animal costumes, and broke it down for the crowd at the opening:


Heather and Steve let me hang out behind the gallery counter to shoot photo and video, since the crowd (to the left, off-camera) was pretty crushing already, but my photos don’t do their ridiculous choreographical majesty justice. I’m sure that if you join their Facebook page, there’ll be more Tekniq goodness posted there soon, though…


Lastly, a big YES to Justin Hoover for organizing “Girls On Film“, a video screening at Ping Pong Space in Guangzhou, China, this Sunday! Justin was kind/delusional enough to include Woffords, Paint in the screening. (Because that’s what Guangzhou needs to see on Easter Sunday: Woffords making jackasses of themselves, eating paint.) The screening features works by Lucy Kalyani Lin, Gina Osterloh, Margaret Tedesco, and a number of other California artists.


That’s a suspicious amount of affirmation for one post.
Maybe I should do a NONONONONO post, next.