GHOTCZ 7: buried treasure

April 7th, 2010 | Posted in - | 0 Comments

Old book stores in the Ceezy are really pretty remarkable. Partly because I’m completely illiterate in them.

Since I can barely read the language at hand, however, it tends to make me notice different things.  Last week, the P and I were just nosing around in one near our apartment when we discovered an amazing little group of  home-made scrapbooks, one of which I had to have, immediately.

Each one was just a simple collection of photos cut out of magazines, but organized thematically: one book was pictures of European cinema stars, one of Hollywood stars, another, photos of the Kennedy family. What made them so special for me was the context: it was clear that each book was collaged together by some young woman, growing up in post WWII Czechoslovakia, well into the Communist era.

None of the images in the book I chose were any later than the mid-50′s, many being of movie stars and pictures from the 40′s. Each page was carefully noted with the stars’ names: Cary Grant, Claudette Colbert, Ida Lupino, Lucille Ball, Orson Welles…I’ve been on a classic film kick ever since Bogliasco (renting movies on iTunes), and so I’ve been falling in love with a lot of these stars for the first time, myself.

But there’s something implicit in the Czech history of this  book that I found really fascinating: the sense that this was created by a girl growing up under state control, but still dreaming of the glamorous, fantastic worlds she saw in fan magazines and movies (perhaps imported well-past their show-dates in the US). And the creation of the book was so tender: the perfect script employed to write out the stars’ names, the care in organizing and gluing the pictures down, enclosing all of these treasures in a simple little book. I imagined it tucked under her bed, or on her bedroom shelf.

There was one Czech actress in the book (Libuše Zemková), whose picture on the page below was so lovely, it made me immediately curious about the Czech film industry post WWII and about the lives of, and opportunities for, actors and actresses in that era. Given how many theatres Prague still has, and what a thriving performance culture there still seems to be, it made me realize how little I know about something so vital. It made me want to know more.

Growing up in Malaysia, I absolutely fetishized American culture, and collected little scraps and images from magazines in similar ways. Later, going to community college in suburban California, aspiring to be an artist but not knowing anything about the larger world of art yet, I kept my own nerdy little scrapbooks of art I liked and cut out of magazines, too.

These days when I’m saving images, I just drag them off the internet and put them into folders inside of folders on my computer. It’s definitely still a continuation of my magpie-esque image-hoarding practice, but books like this one remind me how much more special, and enduring, a scrapbook is over a laptop.

il bel sogno

March 19th, 2010 | Posted in - | 0 Comments

A month. An eyeblink. And now back in Prague. Did that just happen?

I had thought to post every delicious detail about my residency whilst there, but as it turned out, I just wanted to immerse in it, instead. I did take a ton of photos, however: some conversations early on in the residency encouraged me to appoint myself the embedded photographer for our Feb-March session of Bogliasco Fellows, and to create a Flickr account for our group to share. (Perhaps 282 pictures are worth 282,000 words. At the very least, they’re more concise, with less likelihood of spelling errors.)

Sunday was my my last full day in Bogliasco, and I was feeling my usual mix of melancholy about leaving a place I’d grown very attached to. It was gorgeous and sunny out: the sea was calm,  sailboats leisurely poking along the shore.  In between packing, I had a beautiful, simple lunch in the main villa with an early-arrival Fellow from the group following ours, and then I attempted to soak up some sun on my balcony, since it’s likely to be a little while before I have, oooh, another private Riviera mountainside villa veranda to myself. These things don’t grow on trees, you know.

People fall in love with Italy. This is a statement of the obvious. I probably fell in love with Italy the first time when I was 15, and watched A Room With A View. Italy soon moved from background to foreground when I took history and art history courses in college, making me itch to see it for myself. As soon as I was of legal age, I backpacked through Venice, Florence, and Rome, and came back for more a couple of years later. A few years after that, I spent a month traveling around Tuscany and Umbria:  a few years after that, I spent a little time in Torino. And then that was it for about seven years. Last summer, I got my first taste of Liguria for a friend’s wedding: this past month and a half, I got the full 5-course meal.

At risk of being platitudinous, I’ve been reflecting today on a series of very simple things related to this residency experience, to the work I accomplished, and to this fantastical setting I was lucky enough to be in.

1. Living by the sea makes everything better. It’s just so comforting. It’s not just the Californian in me, it’s all the years growing up, playing on beaches in Asia and the Middle East, too. In Prague, we live by the river, which is comforting and lovely too, of course. But the seeea! The salt. The air. The expansiveness of it all. I will live by an ocean again. Without a doubt.

2. Italian food makes me believe in the divine. Any food writer can say it about a thousand times better than I, but what struck me more than ever this time around was the almost sacred (but never precious or formal) relationship Ligurians have with their food: fresh ingredients, intense flavors, and good lord, all that focaccia and pasta and seafood. My stomach has been hurting from over-use: I couldn’t stop eating because I was afraid I would miss something! The meals at the villa were amazing, but simple: beautiful risottos, soups, pastas, fresh fish, lovely desserts. I haven’t eaten with such urgency since P’s and my trip to Malaysian and Singapore in 2005. At the time, we couldn’t imagine a better eating trip, and I remember thinking that probably the only other place it could probably happen would be…Italy.

3. Good company makes me productive and inspired, especially when shared meals and excursions are also involved: communitas just works for me.  (Alienation, not so much.) While I’d slowly but surely been making some fine new friends in Prague, I’d still been craving a more intense dose of academic and creative conversation.  While some people might need a little bit more solitude and less scheduling in their residencies, the collegiality engendered by the de rigueur nightly cocktails and dinner was really critical for me. I was also the youngest Fellow in our session, which was unexpectedly nice. It was so comforting and inspiring to absorb what these more experienced, accomplished scholars, poets, choreographers, composers and musicians had to share: it was also reassuring, in the midst of my present career limbo/uncertainty, to be around folks who really have been able to make a long life of this work. And it was also wonderful that our partners were welcomed at the Center, which also invited a healthy, happy balance of the sometimes-clashing nature of our solitary and social pursuits.

4. I may never live this well again, and I’m OK with that: I can die happy and well-fed.

5. Making work in a real studio makes a difference. I’d somehow forgotten this. My first-year studio in grad school was unusable, so I worked at home. My second-year studio was phenomenal (but that was 3 years ago). After that, I did projects on-site or worked at home. I’m fine working in non-traditional studios: regular rooms, cafes, trains, but wow: space to spread out, to make a little bit more of a mess, to pin stuff up and step back to check it out, made the quality of my studio experience at Bogliasco extraordinary.

6. Respect and generosity hopefully beget more respect and generosity. I feel so utterly overwhelmed by the consideration with which all the Fellows were treated: we were living under such extraordinary conditions at the Center, and treated in ways that I don’t know we could ever afford to treat ourselves. The beauty of the villa. The meals. The views. The warmth, care and friendliness of the staff. The attention to detail. And yet, it never collapsed into just being a glorified holiday. It was simply the most optimal conditions for work that I’ve ever experienced. Little details: Bus and train tickets so we didn’t have to go find our own. When it was cold, they found another space heater to put in my studio, and there was a kettle, tea and sugar to keep me cozy, as well. Utterly nurturing, in the best way possible. The bigness of it all makes me want to be bigger, better artist and person, too.

I wrote about what I love about residencies in general in more detail here, while I was at Solyst, in Denmark, in 2008: all of my experiences with residencies have been very different, but equally rewarding.  They’re not the best environment for everyone: some are too social, others, too isolated.  For me, though, they’re a perfect fit: I enjoy the new company, and I thrive in new environments.

It’s never clear at the conclusion of a residency just what exactly  was accomplished, and this past month is no different: while I’m pleased with what I’ve thrown myself into, the work feels more the blooming of something new and exciting, rather than the culmination of  a grand gesamtkunstwerk. I’ve learned to trust that the residency experience often makes other work more possible later: Motel Cucaracha couldn’t have happened without La Napoule first: Flor 1973-78 couldn’t have happened without Solyst beforehand. So, with Bogliasco, I have faith that all of the richness provided will spur me on with imagination and vision.

One last thing I’ll say for those of you applying for residencies: apply for more than one. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t get in. I’ve written about the crapshoot that is any competitive application process, but just to put things in perspective, I applied to 8 residencies/residency-type programs in the past year, of which I was accepted into just 1. And damn, if I’m not beyond dumbfounded and deliriously happy that this happened to be the one I was invited for. I’ll happily plow through another 8 or more applications if there’s a chance that one of them might bring me someplace wondrous and inspiring like this again.

philippine handicrafts around the world

February 15th, 2010 | Posted in - | 0 Comments

From Hawaii to Hong Kong to North Carolina to Florida to Italy, I love that I can find authentic regional seaside shell handicrafts (actually crafted in the P.I.), anywhere in the world. I’ve seen these exact same designs my entire life: I can picture them in every souvenir shop in Manila I’ve ever been in since I was small.

In the U.S., legally they have to leave a “Made in the Philippines” tag on the merch, but not in Italy, apparently…These, from a shop in the coastal town of Nervi.

mind Bogl-ing

February 12th, 2010 | Posted in - | 1 Comment

Well, it’s already Day 5 of my Bogliasco Fellowship, ladies and germs: one week in Italy, five weeks still to go. I need to explain perhaps, yes?

Several months back, I found out that I was accepted as artist-in-residence at the Bogliasco Foundation’s Liguria Study Center for the Arts and Humanities.  Along with other creatives and scholars, I am working here for about a month.

After some weeks in snowy, wintry (but lovely) Prague, my California self is embracing a Mediterranean coastal climate once more: the weather’s not exactly warm yet, but it’s comfortingly familiar, and today, the sun is out, the orange and mimosa trees are glowing, and I’m revelling in this ridiculous, surreal, sublime place.


I left Prague Saturday morning, figuring to kick around Italy for a couple of days before arriving at the Centro Studi Ligure Monday morning, and so I decided to spend one night in Milano and one in Torino en route.

By sheer dumb luck, the Milano hotel I chose was some sort of alternate-universe fantasy from somewhere in my subconscious, conflating my mint-y nurse drawings, my general fixation with all things durian-green, and Motel Cucaracha.

Plus, much of the hotel staff was Filipino, so I happily delivered  some Magandang Umagas in the morning alongside my Buongiornos. (Naturally Milano, like much of urban Italy, is teeming with Filipino workers, which only made me feel even more at home.)

Having neither been to Milan nor really planned what to do there, I figured I’d just drift and improvise. I did the requisite tourist check-ins at the Duomo and the Galleria, moseyed past some large snails, then wandered over to the Teatro alla Scala Museum for a peek at that legendary, gorgeous theatre.

While there, I happened upon a postcard for—pitty-pat, heart attack of excitement—a Yayoi Kusama exhibition at PAC Milano. For all of the years that I’ve been such a huge fan of her work, I’ve seen next to none of it in person, and so to be in the presence of so much of it just absolutely broke my ribcage open.

The next morning I packed up, left my bag at the hotel reception, then took the metro over to the Triennale Design Museum. Operating words for the design exhibition: thoughtfulness. Imagination. Inquisitiveness. Intelligence. Refinement. Thoroughness. And of all things, the new temporary exhibition also at Triennale was a massive Roy Lichtenstein show, which truly blew me away. Again, for all the years in which I’ve seen his work in reproduction, and often felt uninterested in his ubiquitous place in US art history, I have to say, it was truly remarkable to experience it in person. Between the Kusama, Lichtenstein, and design shows I saw, I’ve been reflecting on a renewed sense of how scale and first-person immersion make all the difference.

Sunday afternoon, I took the train over to Torino, to reconnect with my friend Giuseppe, whom I hadn’t seen in seven years. We were in mutual-clowns-in-residence in La Napoule in 2003, and hit it off so well there that after the residency I went and crashed with him in Italy for a few days, which was when I last saw him. It was so fantastic to reconnect and resume our clowning, right where we left off. Giuseppe also happened to be composer-in-residence in Bogliasco a few years ago, so I was able to pick his brain about what to expect before I arrived there, myself.

I arrived in Genova on Monday morning, bleary and vaguely hung-over from too little sleep and too much grappa in Torino, a little apprehensive about how to present myself at such an elegant residency (I’d read that jackets and ties/equivalent dress for women were expected for dinner each night, and hello: it’s a villa on the Ligurian Riviera…). From the minute I arrived, however, it was, and continues to be, the most extraordinarily warm, welcoming experience. The early-arrival Fellows had lunch together with the staff in the center’s main Villa, (aka the Villa Dei Pini, aka the VDP), and were then escorted to our respective domiciles. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground when shown to my bedroom in Villa Orbiana, up the hill:

And let’s not even get started on my studio in the little stone cottage, nestled in the olive trees, further up the hillside. Sigh.

And then there are the aforementioned-semi-formal dinners. (Given the pace at which I’m eating all of these divine Ligurian meals, I may need to procure some elegant, elasto-waist action slacks.)

I haven’t really explored Bogliasco or Genova yet: these past few days have been about settling into the Centro Studi Ligure, puttering in my new studio, and enjoying getting to know the staff, other Fellows, and their partners. And the P arrives this evening, and stays for a week, so I’m sure we’ll do some exploring this weekend.

Sing it, Shirley:

Someone get me a top hat and a red wig. Pronto.

Scavenging the Cultural Apocalypse

February 5th, 2010 | Posted in - | 0 Comments

Well, as long as we’re on the subject of creative exchange between the US and the Philippines, let’s take a second to embrace this event, which doesn’t involve any Michael Jackson DVD promotion. At least, I don’t think.

It’s happening this Saturday in Manila at Carlos Celdran’s beloved Living Room/Syquia Apts (ground zero for Galleon Trade 2007‘s shenanigans), involving some folks I absolutely adore and miss to pieces:

Music of the Lost Cities: Scavenging the Cultural Apocalypse

(A Networked Sound and Visual Jam)

FEB 6 — 20:00, Living Room, Syquia Apartments

“Lost Cities” is a psycho-geographical, mixed-media narrative that explores pre and post apocalyptic urban landscapes and architectural backdrops through imaginary characters named “the sub-colonials” who move, dance, and tread through these past, futurist, and surreal environments. Collaborators in the project, that involves interactive computer-generated sound and video, are Chris Brown (Sound) and Johanna Poethig (Visuals) from Oakland, California; and Tad Ermitaño (Visuals), Caliph8 (Sound) and Malek Lopez (Sound) from Manila.
They will present their work-in-progress and discuss its artistic intentions and technical implementation with the audience.

Presenting the Oakland-Manila Art Exchange:

Chris Brown, composer, pianist, and electronic musician, creates music for acoustic instruments with interactive electronics, for computer networks, and for improvising ensembles. Recent recordings of his music include “Boundary Layer”, a 3-CD box set of new and old computer network music by The Hub, on Tzadik, “Cutter Heads “, duets with Fred Frith on Intakt, “Talking Drum”, binaural recordings of interactive installations interleaved with environmental soundscapes on Sonore; and “Lava”, for brass percussion and electronics on Tzadik. He is also known for his recorded performances of music by Henry Cowell, Luc Ferrari, Jose Maceda, David Rosenboom, Larry Ochs, Wadada Leo Smith, and John Zorn. He has also performed and recorded extensively with The Hub, Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Fred Frith, Rova Saxophon Quartet, Ikue Mori, Alvin Curran, William Winant, Glenn Spearman Double Trio, among others. In 2005 he created TeleSon, a composition for two ReacTable instruments performed in a joint concert between Ars Electronic in Linz, Austria and the International Computer Music Conference in Barcelona, Spain. He teaches electronic music and composition at Mills College in Oakland, where he is Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).

Tad Ermitaño, media artist, writer and filmmaker. As far as the media art goes, he is interested in algorithmic/procedural editing and composition, new uses for the moving image and have been lately drifting into elementary robotics. His work “Quartet” was exhibited in the recently concluded International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA) in Singapore.

Johanna Poethig, a visual, public and performance artist who has exhibited internationally and has been actively creating public art works, murals, paintings, sculpture and multimedia installations for over 20 years. She has worked in collaboration with other artists, architects, urban planners, design teams, arts commissions, specific communities and cultural groups. Poethig’s public art works intervene in the urban landscape, in neighborhoods, on freeways, in parks, hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, cultural centers, advertising venues and public buildings. She has received numerous commissions and awards for this work. Her paintings, sculpture and installations reflect her interest in satire, symbol, human nature, society and our consumerist culture. She has produced and participated in performance events that mix feminism, global politics, costume, props, cabaret, experimental music and video.

Malek Lopez, Berklee-trained virtuoso who is the principal composer for the band Drip, and half of the abrasive electronica duo Rubber Inc, who are responsible for establishing electronica in Manila. He is also a well-noted film composer.

Caliph8, beat smith, graffiti bomber and soothsayer. A lynch-pin of various groups and ensembles, he’s probably the most sought after sound manipulator in the Philippines. His output extends to more than just sniffing aerosol paint and flexing wrists with fat markers–he also creates visuals and projects them while manipulating audio and creates sound collage.

Feb. 6 — 8 PM

at the Living Room in Syquia Apts., MH del Pilar, Malate
Hosted by Living Room (Carlos Celdran) and SABAW Media Art Kitchen


how could iNot

January 27th, 2010 | Posted in - | 1 Comment

In light of the profound volume of middle-school giggle-fits presently happening online today thanks to to the frenzy around the unveiling of Steve Jobs’ new shiny thing, I dredged up and posted the file for this old ink drawing that I recently rediscovered:

But this, of course, naturally just set off another round of middle-school giggle-fits among the friends on Facebook, so it seemed only right to take 5 minutes to work up a further statement of the obvious:

It reminds me of my 2007 MFA show invitation. Which probably makes sense to about 7 people I can think of.


January 21st, 2010 | Posted in - | 0 Comments

GHOTCZ #4: Czech Lessons

You know that episode of 30 Rock where they suspect that Tracy Jordan is illiterate? And he plays into it, wailing melodramatically, “I can’t reeead, Liz Lemon! My shameful secret is out. Now you know why I’m always running into the ladies bathroom. I can’t read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! Nader!” For some reason this was the image in my head whenever confronted with the initial inscrutability of Czech text. Which was every day. Signs. Sentences. Menus. Magazines. And let’s not even get started on understanding the spoken language. I’m a lousy auditory processor in any language, so deciphering speech has been doubly difficult. Which I guess makes me the Helen Keller of learning Czech.

P, however found a great Czech language teacher, Jana Slavikova (Czech for Foreigners in Prague). Not only is she exceedingly patient with our gruesome, slow-death mangling of her language, she’s a great teacher and friend. And Czech is a really fascinating, if profoundly complex, language, so it’s stimulating learning it with her. P and I are making slow progress, but it’s progress nonetheless. And without Jana, I wouldn’t have met some other very cool women that I’m now friendly with as well.


GHOTCZ#5: Nov 17 1989/2009

For those of you a little shaky on European history, 1989 marked the beginning of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe,  including such dramatic events as the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. On Nov 17, 1989, thousands of Czechs took to the streets in a peaceful protest that was the beginning of a string of political actions and events that led to the demise of the Communist era. We walked with the reenactment/anniversary parade, and it was unbelievably, unexpectedly moving. Participants were for the most part, incredibly quiet and mellow: none of the hollering, sequins and bombast that would probably accompany an equivalent American commemoration. Czechs are so low-key in general, it felt only fitting that their protests would be so…velvety. Somehow, this made the occasion all the more emotional.


GHOTCZ#6: Spartákiáda on YouTube

The continuation of my enthusiasm for large masses of people up to interesting antics! In an utterly different context!
Those of you who know of my profound obsession with the Cebu Prisoners (aka the Dancing Inmates) in the Philippines will appreciate my new-found obsession with vintage footage of the epic “Spartakiada” performances at Strahov Stadium, here in Prague. These mass gymnastics displays were held every 5 years during the Communist era.

Google or Youtube the term “Spartakiada” if you want more: this one’s my current favorite. It’s not just the little white shorts I like: formally, there’s also something about all of this playing out on a dirt field the color of skin, as opposed to the green-ness of grass or Astroturf.  (It does, however, feel more like it should be the opening ceremonies for the next SF Pride, as opposed to a celebration of Czech youth and vigor. But then, I’m a San Francisco native, so I was indoctrinated a little differently).

Greatest Hits Of The Ceezy (GHOTCZ)

January 11th, 2010 | Posted in - | 0 Comments

Aaaand welcome back. New Year. All of that.

OK, so I swear I’m not writing a travel/expat blog where I try to provide you with a touching-but-funny memoir of my time among the natives. There are folks who do this in a way I can appreciate, but they’re way outnumbered the folks who churn out dreck, and I hope not to end up in the latter category.

However, I’ve been living in the Czech Republic for roughly 6 months, and seeing as this is presently a big part of my life, here are a few things/places/experiences that have really brought this place home for me, in no particular order. I’ll continue to post erratic, occasional GHOTCZs from now on.

GHOTCZ #1: Žižkov TV Tower
I will bare-knuckle fight anyone who says this thing is an eyesore. It delights me to no end. I know I’ve already rhapsodized about it, but it’s hard to stop. It’s just so big and preposterous and impossible to ignore, and it doesn’t fit in with the packaged, more tourist-friendly center of town, and I love it for all these reasons. It’s just this ridiculous, monstrous, Baby Huey of a transmission device, with a faded, Miami Vice-esque oily paint job in each of the 3 main observation towers. It would be oppressive if it weren’t so damned goofy. It has the best view of Prague imaginable. It’s got a stellar, if under-utilized, metal detector at the entrance. And the apple strudel in the cafe is, for some odd reason, the best we’ve found in the Czech Republic. Maybe it’s the extra altitude.

GHOTCZ #2:Vyšehrad
Surprisingly un-touristed, although hardly undiscovered. Vyšehrad is a massive, wonderful hilltop park, with an extraordinary history, more beautiful views, a snack bar with the nicest lady ever running it, and the most extraordinary cemetery I’ve ever been to. I’m not particularly morbid, but I’ve always found cemeteries beautiful and peaceful, and make a point of seeking them out on most trips. Partly it’s my sculpture background: there’s usually a lot of lovely sculpture to look at, too.

What I love about Vyšehrad Cemetery is the incredible variety, love and individuality put into the sculptures and the graves: the way that many are over-grown and wild, the way that some are absolutely works or art. And the way that some are just SO beyond Goth, like this one:

It’s like, “Fuck yeah, we’re dead. We’re so dead, we’re leading ourselves down into our tomb. That’s how dead we are.”

GHOTCZ  #3: Becherovka/Beton
AKA “Christmas in a Bottle”,  AKA The Beezy. It has notes of cinnamon and other spices, hence the nickname. The greatness of Czech beer is lost on me since I’m not much of a beer drinker, but Becherovka is high on my list of vaguely medicinal, herbal remedy-ish digestifs that I have a weakness for.  When you mix it with tonic and a little lemon, the flavor really shifts and lightens, and it’s called a BeTon. This past weekend, we went to Karlovy Vary, where Becherovka is from, and I made my pilgrimage to the Jan Becher (Becher-ovka…get it?) Museum, and to hug Snow White outside the castle.

GHOTCZ #4: Kavárna Slavia
It’s touristed, yes, but so what: I love Slavia. Its Art Deco design, combined with a certain Czech no-nonsense-ness CFL lighting after dark, redeems its old-school glamour by giving it a certain frumpy, Denny’s-at-3 am kind of aura. Never had a bad meal here. The desserts are super. Service has always been great. I love to sit by the window in the afternoon.

Okay, that’s the first few. More sporadic rants about excellent Czech stuff soon.


December 20th, 2009 | Posted in - | 0 Comments

The year in review! OK, the past few months, anyway. Still have some leftovers to address here before a fresher batch of woffles can be served. While I haven’t been doing my usual writing about shows I’ve been in, this is not because I haven’t been showing in the past few months. I guess that I still equate the palpable “real-ness” of an exhibition with my ability to actually attend the exhibition’s opening reception, or see the show in person. Very quaintly analog of me.

Fight, No Flight at Manilatown Center, San Francisco

How perfect is it that I got to show some of the “Flor 1973-78” prints at the legendary International Hotel? Especially the poster below”¦I also had the pleasure of meeting my co-show-ers (is that a word?) Diana Diroy and Aisha Heredia in advance of the exhibition, which was still a treat.

This & That, Triple Base Gallery, San Francisco

Christine Wong Yap organized/curated an exhibition-within-an-exhibition for “Socially, Involved”, where she created an amazing international mail-art exchange project. I swear. That woman runs circles around me when it comes to being organized and thinking big. Anyway, I contributed the drawing below:

And then received this brilliant piece by Susan Chen after the exhibition ended:

Art On Market Street, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek

Finally! My parents went to an opening of mine without having to drive more than 10 minutes from home! This was a selection of posters from SFAC’s Market Street program over the past decade or so. The gallery couldn’t include everyone who participated, so I’m grateful to have been included. While the MOB‘s 1998 posters weren’t there, for example, my 2008 Flor posters were. SFAC reprinted a few of them, and hung them quite close to the entrance of the gallery, which was nice to hear.

Stick With the Enemy, Mo_Space, Manila

MM Yu, Poklong Anading and some of my other friends there organized a very democratic, open-invitation exhibition of sticker-based art. I sent in a few original drawings and paintings made directly on adhesive label sheets, and MM then made some of them into printed stickers from files I sent her. The top image was actually 4 stickers: I cleaned up the seams so that MM could print this one more easily. The pink-ish image at the throat is a silhouette of the Czech Republic.

As The Plot Thickens, Manila Contemporary, Makati, Philippines

It was a little touch-and-go with this show due to some shipping logistics, and I wasn’t entirely sure that it was going to happen until pretty close to the wire, but I’m so glad it did. Manila Contemporary is a gorgeous new venue, and Sidd Perez, the curator, was so fantastic and diligent. The show really came together beautifully in the end. It was an honor to get to show with Brenda Fajardo, RM de Leon, and Stefanus Surya Wirawan. I presented 5 new paintings from my new “MacArthur Nurse” series.
MN pushing
pearl det
as the plot tickens 015

So that’s it for the 2nd half of 2009…I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes up in 2010.
The great Samantha Chanse is coming to Prague in January, which seems like a great creative kick-off to the year. We’re both already conspiring on a collaborative piece we’ll do while she’s in town. No other major shows officially confirmed yet, but I’m really looking forward to the artist residency I’m undertaking at the Liguria Study Center in Italy in Feb-March, where I’ll be focusing on a new body of work: a teaser sketch for the impending ridiculousness here:

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.


December 18th, 2009 | Posted in - | 2 Comments

Clearly, I’ve not been writing much in the past few months. End of year/new year is something I take fairly seriously, despite the fact that it looks suspiciously like I’m adhering to some sort of mainstream tradition. It feels like I have 2 basic points in the year where change occurs: the first is usually in September, probably due to that combination of school year beginning and my late August birthday. The second, this one, feels more like the result of the fall months: I tend to be the most productive, and/or reflective, during this time.  Granted, plenty happens at other times of year (like oh, say, moving to another country in late May), but for the most part, fall/winter is regenerative, hence the refresh.

I haven’t been blogging for a few reasons, thanks for asking. It’s been an unexpectedly hard adjustment to Prague, complicated by my inability to really let go of the Bay Area. My return back there for a month in Oct/Nov was both comforting and complicating: I’m so defined and validated by my Bay Area experiences, friends, and family that a month of unadulterated love and validation there it made it even harder to go back to being anonymous and uninvolved with a Prague community. Being a serious and regular international traveler is one thing: I’ve spent months at a time in other countries. The thing is, I’d never lived outside the Bay Area, in any open-ended, extended way, as an adult.  I found myself unexpectedly grieving a great deal for my Bay Area roots: I wouldn’t quite call it homesickness, but I definitely missed all the cozy, loving familiarity and friendship. While Prague has slowly but surely revealed itself to be a remarkable place, it has really taken me much longer than expected to understand my new raison-d’etre here.

While I was back in Cali, I went out to dinner with some friends: we got to talking about blogging, and I confessed that I’d dropped seriously off on it for a while. When asked why, I said/realized that because of my move, I felt seriously unclear on who my community, and by extension, my blog audience, might be. The things that drove Wofflings were primarily a, personal art-world shenanigans, b, repping for friends, local exhibitions and causes I wanted to support, c, Filipino stuff, and d, semi-personal reflections on creative practice. Among other things. In leaving the Bay Area, I felt unsure on how to write about some of this further. As I’m finally settling in more gracefully at long last, it seems as good a time as any to reassess the what and why of Wofflings, in order to get back at it again.

In the last two posts here, I was also feeling really awful about what had been happening in the Philippines, a place I love as much as the Bay Area, but which also feels much, much too far away again. Beyond the subjects I wrote about, I know that friends there have been undergoing other tragedies and drama in Manila and Luzon, and then in the past month, the horribleness in Maguindanao, too. I couldn’t resolve how to return to blogging about more personal, trivial matters after all of this.

And in my exceedingly slow, awkward adjustment to Prague, I felt utterly lost about how to connect to my new surroundings, let alone blog about it. I wasn’t interested in writing a travel/expat “Prague experience” blog: although I have come across some that are really nice, I haven’t felt like the world needs one more foreigner in the Czech Republic writing about it. And it made really no sense to blog about my protracted moping and flailing about.

It really only feels like I’ve settled in, authentically, this past month. Talk about a protracted adjustment period. I’m forever re-realizing that I’m a slow starter, but quick once I get going: it took well into my 2nd semester of grad school before I felt comfortable there, too. Give me about 6 months, I guess, and I finally pull it together. Partly it’s finally having a few friends and social life, mercifully: partly, it’s that my Czech is much improved (dÄ›kuji, Jana Slavíkova), putting just the daily tasks of reading and simple verbal communication within reach at long last. The Pirate’s work chaos seems to be subsiding somewhat, and I’m finally making art again and working a bit on a new gig (more on that shortly), which means he and I aren’t on such polar extreme opposites in our daily routines, either. And it’s also that we have some sublime, regular go-to spots, which make me appreciate this place all the more. It’s nice feeling like you know a place. In any case, I’ve stopped feeling as isolated as I was for quite a while there.

So. In any case. Expect an end-of-year flurry of long-overdue posts, and a return to woffling here more regularly in the months to come. I’m still sorting out a format, but in any case, I’m back at it. More soon.