Friday, December 17, 2010

The Laundry Maze

I'm tempted to make a “laundry list” (ha!) of all that has happened in the last 3 months, but I think I'll just focus on The Laundry Maze instead for now; it's the latest development, the news from today.

This was a proposal I submitted early November before I left for a 3 week vacation in Taiwan. It's for a Portland Building installation. I just got the call this morning that my proposal was accepted, and I'm scheduled for early 2012. That seems far away, but not really so much. I am thinking about 2012 already as well. So here's my proposal for The Laundry Maze:

The Chinese laundry is an iconic thread of early China-to-US immigration story. It was a small business that did not require a lot of start-up capital or spoken English, neither was laundering seen as a desirable job, and therefore the business was easily passed on to immigrants without much controversy. Although the laundry business, the US economy, and the immigration patterns have all changed a great deal in the last 100 years, it is still a line of work that many immigrants find accessible regardless of their professions in their countries of origin. It is particularly true if one looks at the ‘laundry’ business in a broader sense—from dry cleaning to housekeeping of the hospitality industry, and also private housecleaning services. As our professions are such a large part of our identities, this transition in profession also brings about a change or loss in identity.

Starting with this connection between immigrants and ‘laundry,’ I propose to install The Laundry Maze in the Portland Building. Resembling lines of clothing hung out to dry, The Laundry Maze will document these profession transitions and invite the viewers to participate and share in this loss of identity.

Clotheslines will be installed in a grid pattern; clean shirts, blouses and t-shirts will be hung in such a way as to create an entry and an exit through a very simple “maze.” I will collect data from immigrants about their professions in their countries of origin and also here in the US. Each pairing will be inscribed on a piece of clothing that is hung on the clotheslines and will be readable from inside of the maze.

When viewers find their ways through the maze, they read & share the experiences in these transitions while their faces and identities are hidden by The Laundry Maze. Only their legs and feet will be visible from outside. As our legs and feet are our most basic methods of mobility, each person is reduced from the whole to an anonymous figure that moves from place to place.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Last two weeks before Portland Open Studios

I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad, but Portland Open Studios weekends will finally be upon me in less than 2 weeks. I have spent so much time volunteering on the board (I've logged 570 hours so far this year) that I feel my own work has suffered. I've completed a bunch of the 7x7 panels and a couple of larger pieces, but that's it. I've not completed my senior's book, which I started on last year, yikes!

I know one thing, I'll be happy when my 3 year term is up. I will feel like I've made my contribution, and I can feel good about that. This is also my last year of participating in the event. Of course, never say never, and I might return in the future, but I'm definitely ready for a break.

So I got a commission from a friend, who wanted a painting of a hummingbird. Not having done humming birds before, and having those 7x7 panels that I can experiment with, I figure I'll play with some ideas here. I actually started 4 panels just as shapes and forms, without thinking that I'll put hummingbirds on there. But then, there they are, so I might as well.

I started 4 panels with similar ideas, and you see that on the panel on the right. All 4 had those seed-pod like shapes. I was thinking horse chestnut pods. But they also read like circular cages.

Over the seed pod shapes, I layered a landscape (inspired by my trip to the Steens...come to think of it, I got the horse chestnuts on one of our previous trips to the Steens too), and hummingbirds. This you can see in the left 2 panels. Then the panel on the left has been 'scrubbed'—I take a wet, stiff angle brush and I push the paint around. Before I do this, the left panel is much more like the middle panel:

Then I start to work on bringing out or pushing back the different forms & shapes that I want to work with. They're not finished, I hope to have them done this weekend though.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Steens 2010

It's the annual trip to the Steens and Alvord Desert for the Moon Festival!

(It occurs to me that I did not post the photos from Steens 2009 last year; they're on facebook, but maybe I'll eventually put them here too. For Steens 2008 and beyond, see this.)

The Good Prince and I took it easy. Did a little driving around, watched the moon rise, took advantage of Sven's preparedness and went along on the Malheur Cave tour, napped, played pool, and ate. What else is there to do on a vacation?

All photos are point & shoot.

So you've got to have the standard I was at the Malheur Refuge shot...yeah, it's really blue like that:

And of course I can't resist the grass shot:

Still can't help myself:

Gotta have the cows shot too:

Grass gets two, so the cows gotta get two, too:

At one point, we came across some cows being loaded onto the truck and I said "well, we know where those cows are going." The Good Prince replied, "yeah, well, I can see that they're going into the truck..."

After our encounter with the cows, we arrive at the Alvord playa, right around dusk:

And the moon scheduled:

Here's an unscheduled visitor kicking up a lot of dusk:

On the beach? (Hand-held at 2 seconds, it was pretty dark.)

On Mars? (Hand-held at 3 seconds.)

In Oregon! This is a lava tube cave, owned by the Free Masons who hold a jamboree here regularly:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bright Hill 2010 Book Arts Exhibit

This is my lucky year! Exhibits have been falling from the sky and hitting me on the head, which is good since I've been so crazy busy with Portland Open Studios board duties that I haven't had the time to put my work out there this year.

So the latest is the Bright Hill 2010 Book Arts exhibit. I got invited to submit 2 books. They chose two, one of which was not available, so I was able to choose the other (which they accepted). I think these two work very well together. Although both are earlier work, I have always loved both and have always been sorry that they haven't been shown more. So here they are, brand new photographs from this afternoon.

Pocket Atlas for Travelers:

Left & Right:

And this was what I sent along:

Pocket Atlas for Travelers is the story of a 15 year seeing the world for the very first time, and coming to an understanding of the lies that we are often told in the cause of nationhood. Voices compete and contrast in different versions of this journey.

Left & Right documents a long civil war, most of which was fought in the battlefields of the mind. Having grown up on one side of this war, I was able to travel and see the other side as an American. Two decks of cards, 104 toy soldiers shooting at each other, each side telling their version of four stories, with a surprising twist.

Friday, September 10, 2010

20th and 21st, among other things

Escape Velocity, diptych in gouache (and acrylic surface to be added later).

[These were really the 21st & 22nd panels.]

So these two, and the two below of the monkey king, were cut up from this piece from back in 2006, which went from bad to worse to pretty much given up for dead. Although now that I'm looking at these old photos, I think it could've been saved when I was about half way through. So I cut it up into these 4 pieces (plus there are scraps left).

I'll mount these on boards before I finish them.

On other fronts...

I'm recovering from a long streak of work, work, and more work. Between organizing and installing the Collins show, getting the iPhone app together (and the Good Prince had to get involved too), and installing For the Love of Food (opened this past Tuesday), I had my first day of 'holiday' yesterday since mid-July. I sat around and did was bliss.

Monday, August 23, 2010

For the Love of Food!

This started as an exhibit at Cedar Crest College last year. We've since then added to it and will be showing at the Arts Center in Hillsboro in September.

So, to our imaginary dining table set for four, I'm adding:

Food supplements or the variety of drugs that many of us have to take with our meals? I'll leave that to your imagination.

These are wooden plugs with about 15 coats of gesso that's been sanded and then polished with a wet rag. I'm going with the version without the cut line in the middle. The cut lines were incredibly time consuming to make, and I didn't think added too much to the effect.

Some real peach pits that I've cleaned and dried. They'll be on the table too:

There are other objects—reading materials, of course, and reading implements. Anne, Diane and Helen will also be adding their own things.

Our 4 place settings that we all made will also be on the 'table,' of course, along with a variety of other items that tend to pile up on our dining room tables.

Click the tag Critique group collaboration to see the making of my place setting, a game board with blueberry game pieces (those have been a great hit).

And now for something from the garden, a couple of days ago:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Great Bike Project of 2010 commences

Having said to many people that I would unpack Shu-mei's old bike after Andrew moved his press out of the garage (which actually happened on July 9th), and then failed to do so because the spot immediately filled up with cement and bricks for the Great Cement Project of 2010, I now feel absolutely compelled to unpack the bike immediately before the spot fills up with something else.

So first, I had to actually dig out the box, which had been hiding behind boxes of old books and gardening tools:

And here, according to the label on the box, it contained a "blue vehicle."

The Good Prince is examining the thang with a great deal more interest than he usually shows towards most of my other projects:

Various parts:

And voila! A Blue Vehicle:

It's probably about 30 years old. Three gears. A Summit Catalina 24...??? Couldn't find any information on it.

And I'm happy to report that turquoise is very much back in fashion this year.

The Great Cement Project of 2010

So here are Phase 2 and Phase 3 (and Phase 3.1, yes, revision was already necessary!) of the Great Cement Project of 2010. This is what it looked like in June, 2007; and on July 13, 2010. And here was Phase 1, from June 22, 2010.

And today, we have a seat made from a slab of sandstone I've had for ages, and those infamous water meter rings that I have had sitting around. Plus, a few years back, I got these cement plugs somewhere, and they finally got used too, as part of the reflexology path:

I'll have to see how well this pebble path lasts. I don't think I did the best job with it. It might just fall apart on the first freezing winter we get.

So this was Phase 3.1. Despite my careful reading of the cement instructions, I didn't have quite enough cement, and so it got a bit thin when I got to this part. The next morning, I was full of regrets, of course. After careful consideration, I decided the next course of action would be to chisel out the pebbles, put down more cement on top and then put the pebbles back in.

Well, like hell I was going to chisel the pebbles out. I tried. Nothing budged.

So Plan B was simply to leave everything in place, pour more cement on top and put in yet more pebbles. So now the whole thing is kind of bulging out in the middle:

A detail shot:

So no more cement for 2010. I've returned the neighbor's paver mold. And now there's a open spot in the garage for me to unpack the bike...The Great Bike Project for 2010 shall now commence.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Collins Gallery exhibit

This was an exhibit that fell into my lap 3 weeks ago. The original Collins Gallery exhibit for the time slot fell through; then the substitute exhibit fell through too. At which point, I was at the right place at the right time, and got the opportunity to put together this show.

We installed yesterday, and it all went very, very smoothly. I am very happy with how well it worked out, given that there was so little time to put it together. So in short—

I was asked if Portland Open Studios would take the slot. The board approved to do it that very evening. It took another week before we all agreed how to select the 11 artists (we ended up w/ first come first serve) and to send out the call. The slots filled in 24 hours and we had 10 different mediums covered. I ended up slipping in a 12th artist as well.

Then it was a matter of chasing down 12 artists for their statements and titles (which always turns out to be more time consuming than one might think), making a postcard graphic, putting together tour guide sales for the Friends of the Library store, scheduling installation times for everyone, writing up a contract for the artists and getting our PR guru to write up some PR materials. And installation.

We managed to wrap up early too. But of course, I forgot to take pictures. So maybe next week.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

One of a gazilion natural wonders of the day

And this one I noticed.

On my morning walk, I noticed two bees of different species, snuggled up together under the petal of a very pink rose. The rose is bright pink and very uniform in color, so anything stands out like a sore thumb. So these two bees were really noticeable. I walked up to take a look, and saw that there was a spider there, too.

Being a little slow on the uptake, I thought, hmm, what could've gotten 2 bees and a spider all interested...before it dawned on me that the spider had both bees in its grasp. A two fisted bee sucking, as it were.

By the time I made the round trip home to get the camera and got back to the scene of the crime, one of the bees had fallen down between petals and the spider had the other bee's head in its pinchers (you can click on the image to see a much larger view), and you can see a shadow of the other bee's body directly below:

And here's a shot of the spider:

Unfortunately, the lens is having some focus issues, besides the fact that I'm using a lens for a film back on a digital camera, so the image isn't so sharp. It will just have to do.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Rocks & Wings, gouache on paper mounted on board. Yet to be sprayed w/ the GAC 500.

This one has had a long wait. Here's how it started, as a pour, on Feb, 19 this year:

Then I started working on it again on July 11:

Then over the last few days, it went through several phases, including one in which a mosquito made an appearance. But I quickly swatted it out. The rocks went from pink:

To blue:

To spotted & lined:

And finally to marbled and it stuck:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The pecking order

The black chicken is always the boldest, coming right up to me as I'm digging in the garden, waiting to grab something tasty.

So in this picture, you see the brown chicken & the b&w chicken having themselves a nice dust bath, the black chicken foraging. But before long, the black chicken would go over and join the other two, start pecking at them to make room for herself for a nice dust bath too, right in between the other two.

In the background, you see the progress of the cement path around the strawberry patch. Only did 200lb of cement today. Didn't want to over do it, I'm supposed to go to the weight room tonight. Since the path curves around a crop circle, the paver mold leaves gaps in between. I'll fill those at the end. See yesterday's entry on why there're bamboo poles all around the strawberry patch...

I win!

In the battle of Shu-Ju vs Chickens to see who shall get the strawberries, Shu-Ju has won Round One. (I should note that the Good Prince placed his money with the Chickens.)

Remember that bamboo those unfortunate college boys had to remove last year? Well, they sat in a pile in the backyard until today, when they found their purpose in life:

And I did not observe the chickens going into my strawberry patch today. They walked around it, they walked by it, but they didn't walk into it. And as a bonus, it even has a slight Asian flair to it.

And please note that the chickens are walking around in a rose petal strewn path...what luxury!


Wet Spring, gouache on paper mounted on board

Again, have yet to spray it w/ the GAC 500.

Here's a shot from a little earlier:

And before that, see this entry.

Most of the 'spots' on the first layers got covered up; and then as a last step, I uncovered them by using a stiff damp brush to remove the layers on top, controlling how much of the top layers to remove and therefore, how much of the spot to reveal.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An almost perfect day

One fine spring day earlier this year (and needless to say, it was pretty wet), I was walking somewhere SE, and the sidewalks were just covered, I mean COVERED, in maple seed pods. Bright chartreuse over wet, dark, shiny cement sidewalks. I've been waiting to paint that ever since.

So after almost 3 weeks away from the studio, I've started 2 more of the 7x7 panels, two different types—a paperbark maple and a vine maple. I'm not finished, but here are a couple of progress shots of each.

First one, paperbark maple. I created the background a few months back with some gray and bright color spots. Today, I added the pods, first in ultramarine. The pods are about actual can see a real pod on the left:

Then I layered a light green and a yellow on top. They kind of look like bugs:

Then the vine maple. Until I decided to paint them, I hadn't really paid attention to how different the different maple pods are. Not only in shape, but also in color and texture, and some are really tiny. So these are starting out the same as the paperbark maple, but there's a lot more red in these pods. The wings are also a lot thinner:

This is as far as I got today. They almost look like peas. I guess they're rather similar ideas:

Monday, July 05, 2010

Harness the power of the Chicken!

Still working on removing grass, but now I have 3 chickens helping me! Here's today's progress, and you can see the chickens resting in the hollow of the log after their long day's work!

A close-up...they're pooped from their hard work.

Here's a shot of approximately the same area from June, 2007. The grassy strip on the left is what I'm removing.