Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lines, Balloons and Fear

OK, I'm not so impressed by the title, but because it is so linear, it was really hard to photograph it in an interesting way.  It is another addition to my new sculptures which Mikel worked his butt off to get onto my website along with new paintings (thanks, Mikey!)
Yesterday I received my package from Art House Co-op for the Scavenger Project.  I have to send back 24 images made according to 24 moments on a list they have me.  Some of the moments are, "fear", "there they're their" and "a dog with his head out the car window."  I am taking this as a challenge to combine my abstraction with recognizable imagery, like landscape painting and cartoon-like bits.  Here was my first try.

(This is based on a balloon they sent me.)

Here is my second try:


I don't know if I will send either of these images.  They are so awkward, but there is something refreshing about them for me.  Illustration is not in my comfort zone so it is nice to play with it.  

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mutually Parasitic

"Mutually Parasitic"

Must... stop... looking... at... the... computer.
Time to catch the bus!
Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hot and Cold

"Green Landscape"

This is one of the paintings I finished this week.  Even though I am fighting a cold (my weapons being raw garlic and lots of water) I am really excited to get applications out to the BEMIS and Irish Museum of Modern Art tomorrow or the next day.  I learned a lot about painting last weekend.  I didn't do anything particularly different (like go to a gallery or residency) except that I had a critique with Mikel.  We both decided it is really important to have official critiques with each other.   It was great to work toward the crit time.  I haven't done that for a while and it really forced me to make smarter decisions as I was working.  It allowed me to work faster and didn't allow me to overwork my paintings (as I usually do).  

I have been working on little sculptures that will be displayed in a dark room with (hopefully moving) spotlights.  I installed a couple pieces in our bathroom (which has no windows) so that each time I hang out on the porcelain throne I play with the lighting.  The pieces are really magical when the light moves a certain way so I am really excited.  The only problem is that I have no ability thus far to do anything with machines, even simple ones, so this will be a learning curve for me to be able to make a light that moves the way I want it to.  

Here is a test photo of one sculpture:

It's not lit well enough or the way I want it to, and it doesn't show that magic I'm talking about (which can only be seen in person!) but the image is interesting to me anyway. I'm really proud of my sculptures and really excited about the direction my work is going!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fake Barns and Flippy Floppy Fish

(This blog is dedicated to my sister Jaime-- hi Snr. Flippy Floppy!)

Four hours of watching a volleyball class match can really make me think.

What do I think about?

1. Japanese students are expected to be both fully competitive and yet NOT at the same time. The opposing teams stand facing each other and take turns cheering themselves on. No homecoming ruckus or even wild and crazy running around the gym to fun warm-up tunes like I used to do before basketball games ("It`s the eye of the Tiger, it`s the thrill of the fight...") They cheer when told and stop when told... Do they really get excited by this?

2. Pre-adolescent BO is such a mixed bag. There are the ones who still have a sweet baby-like smell and then there are the stinky ones.

3. Students look like floppy fish as they fling their bodies toward the ball.

4. "one should 'govern a country as you cook a small fish.'" This is from Lao Tzu`s Tao Te Ching. I`ve been reading "The Tao of Abundance" by Laurance G. Boldt off and on for a LONG time. He quoted this idea about governing with a light hand which being in Japan allows me to fully understand-- not because the government is light handed AT ALL, but because they really know how to cook fish. They have a certain je ne cest quoi nuance-ification about natural flavors.

5. I wonder if I can sneak out and eat come crackers, stealth-mode... yes, I can. These are delicious.

6. I should make pizza for dinner with the leftover pasta sauce I made last night. I should make a list of what to put on it so I don`t forget. No, that`s stupid. I`m just bored.

But NOW, I am no longer bored but scheming excellent plans for my REAL job: making art.
I found some great websites that have lists of "calls for artists."
Check `em before you wreck `em:
I am especially excited about Art House Coop because they have international collaborative projects like the one I am participating in called The Scavenger Project.
Since it`s Friday, I am ALLLLLL set to get cookin` in the ol` studio: make some more blartwork and apply to some residencies and shows, and kick back with Mikey who is also on a fiery roll in his studio.

**If I were to give his studio a name (like mine is "Craft Land") I would probably call it "The Fake Barn Menagerie." I might go back on that declaration later but this is why for now: It kind of smells like a hay-filled barn due to the tatami mats he stacked under the bed, and the walls are wooden like a barn. Also he has lots of fake taxidermy animals in progress, strange things hung on the walls and floor (fake wigs, microphones, papier mache stumps...) and lighting that can only be made by free hanging yellowing light bulbs which seems very barn-like to me.
I wonder what he thinks about this name.**

Time for the volleyball "closing ceremony." Bye!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Butter-less Chicken-less Butter Chicken

Last night, in the middle of making our "butter chicken" recipe (which contains neither butter nor chicken...) Mikey decided to make his delish sake juice smoothies for us. We had no juice so he walked up to the little shop near us to pick some up along with tofu. A few minutes later I hear him groan at the door, "that was NOT a good experience." It turns out, the shop owners, who have recently taken to giving us free stuff when it is almost out of date, slipped a few choice items in his bag before he left. One of which was horse meat. YUM. We couldn't find our downstairs neighbor-- affectionately named "Double Wide" (almost a direct translation of the kanji in his name)-- so we had no choice but to put it in our freezer with plans to throw it in the woods on the way to school this morning.

At the moment, I`m in school being asphyxiated by the oil based paint that is being applied to the outside of the building. Why didn`t they decide to do this on the weekend? I have two ideas: 1) We must ALL suffer, and 2) Everyone will be in school this weekend so it wouldn`t matter anyway.

In general today, despite the seemingly negative story content, I`m having an OK day... but that might be because I am high on house paint... TGIF!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Studio Babies

In The Valley
I finished three sculptures and a painting this weekend and I am totally thrilled about them! 
Thank goodness because starting tomorrow it's off to the "bad" school for me.  That means more time spent running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and less time contemplating the World Wide Web and all of it's connections to things such as residencies, yoga retreats, and vegan blogs.   Actually, tomorrow will be more interesting than "bad" because it will be an irregular day.  Mikel will be "performing" a model lesson with one of our English teacher supervisors.  100+ people will show up to watch the highly scripted, terribly stuffy class and then critique our school's English program based on that...  not exactly a reasonable way to do it, but why change tradition now?  (I would say change it for the students, but tradition almost always wins.)

Soda Machine In The Woods

This mini sculpture is so named because of walks I took with my buddy Tony before he left for the beauty of Vermont (lucky!).  We walked in the woods to a few abandoned houses and would find old rusty soda cans on the ground a joke that they were vending machines... ok, you had to be there... 

Yay for new art babies!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mad Libs, Voodoo Studio Seances, and Tokyo Hair Gone Wild

Here are two artists (one who's long dead and one who still makes work) whose powers I am going to channel while doing my voodoo studio seances.  I don't know their names.  
Mikel, any help?

It's rare that a painting will kill me in a spiritual-ride-on-a-motorcycle-with-a-gin-and-tonic-in-my-hand sort of way.  It has been happening more than I am used to here in the 'ol land of sushi.  Life is good.

I think someone played Mad Libs with this sign.  One might ask, what was the point in writing it in English at all?

This is a seriously beautiful photo.  Props, Mikey.  This is one of the millions of arcade games that no one ever wins but cost about $4 to play. 

Tokyo hair gone wild!
Helooooooo handsome. 
I thought I was out of interesting photos to entertain you (and myself) with but lo and behold, Mikel has a sweet stash of them from his solo trips to Tokyo and Matsumoto during Natsu Yasumi (summer vaca!)  More on the way for our entertainment, even if it is mostly mine.

Where are images of my studio babies? 
Good question... ask me again later.

This is an offering to ancestors at a shrine in Kyoto.  I forgot to add it to my blog about our trip there but I wanted to add this profound musing to the day:

What makes someone choose vending machine bottles of green tea or Snoopy cups for their oblation? (good word, huh? I just found it on dictionary.com)  Beer cans I can understand. They really like their beer here.  


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yuba-sen, Pepsi Skittles and Atomic Bombs

This is a meal we ate in Kyoto made of Yuba, which is the skin that forms when you boil soy milk. It was delicious!! A bit sweet and a nice soft texture. The sauces they serve it with were interesting. I crave it now that I am away.

Mikel and I were taking a break at a Starbucks in a Jusco (large shopping building-- kind of like a mall). Mikel is posing so I can take a photo of the lady behind him in the yellow. She has fluorescent hair extensions. They were amazing! At this Starbucks (which looks the same as in the US) we were kind of celebrities. The young man who was working at the counter kept waving at us afterward when we were walking around the building. It was really fun.

Anyway, I guess Wednesday is my blog day lately. At work, when I am not teaching, I have been in a researching frenzy, finding art residencies that I want to attend, and getting organized around how and when to apply. I have a list and a marked calendar to keep me on track.
Mikel and I decided that we will stay here through next May, just enough time to get what we want out of our experience and also to be driven crazy by what we struggle with (i.e. our jobs) Residencies are the light at the end of the tunnel for me.

Two interesting things about this week:
First, I gave Skittles to my students as souvenirs for my trip to the US. We did a taste test. None of my students had tried them before as they don't exist in Japan (except at foreign food marts). It was hard for them to guess some of the flavors as they have grown up with slightly different popular flavors and their color associations. The most interesting guess was green. One student guessed cola, specifically Pepsi. At first I giggled at the answer, as it was kind of funny and random, but then I tried a green Skittle and was blown away at the observation. Try one! They taste more like Pepsi than lime!

Second, I taught a class yesterday based on a new chapter in the text book. It's about WWII and specifically about the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I never thought I would be standing in front of Japanese teenagers, explaining why the bombs were dropped by my country. The feeling was heavy. The more I think about it, the more it seems to be one of the most important moments in my experience here.