Wednesday, November 21, 2007

an army of floats

Walking along 81st St and Central Park West, you see half blown floats slowly filling with air. I walked by and gawked at the tourists and the floats slowly taking in their fill of air for the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. It's like they're slowly gathering and getting ready to take over the city at sunrise.

Tomorrow, I should finally sleep in since it's such a rare chance. However I'm a little tempted to actually attend the parade. I've only been once, and that was special because I was actually IN the parade. No one would have recognized me as I was one of the clowns. My friends don't even recognize me in the pictures. It was pretty fun being in a mask of sorts in one of the biggest traditions of the country.

Other than that, I've only seen the parade on TV growing up. I wonder if I should wake up early with my sketch book. It's a perfect opportunity to sketch some studies. I guess I'll see how I feel.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

[dilemma of the painter/poet...artist]

a big dilemma of the artist is their parents. i think many of us often wrestle with the emotions from the fact that our parents want us to come home. we run away to big cities like new york, paris, berlin to find ourselves and when we do, we realize that we like where we are or where we are going and we don't want to go home but keep going forward. we run after this (un)attainable, romanticized dream to write the great american novel, paint the ultimate masterpiece, become a rockstar, contruct a book of poems that will transcend and help bring Poetry back into the hands of the people. but the truth is, many parents wonder when we will outgrow this "phase" and finally come home. many think once we find ourselves, we will fly back to the nest.

and it's not always true that all artists escape home and runaway. many would like to return to the nest, but it is not an option. we wonder if we are being selfish, but really we know deep inside that it's self-sustaining. we are running toward the end of the rainbow and though we may or may not be disillusioned by what is found there, the journey is what keeps us going. and this is life. this is why we continue to wake up every day. there have been many artists' letters where the artist expresses this dilemma and write home expressing what they've discovered, explaining why they must stay and will not be returning home just yet, if ever. these letters document how difficult it is to deal with these emotions and to mend the rift caused by their "great escape".
and even if parents wait hopelessly for their child to leave this childish dream behind and finally get a real job, or if they convince their child to come back and write or paint in the attic, the truth is as difficult as it is, it's worth the stay. there may be no heat and there are days we live off coffee and cigarettes, but isn't it worth it?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Michael Ondaatje/Asian American Writers' Workshop

An Evening with Michael Ondaatje
Thursday, October 25, 2007

6-7:30 pm Private VIP cocktail party ($100)
7:30 pm General public reading, Q&A and booksigning ($15)

Tickets at 212.494.0061

@ Moti Hasson Gallery

535 West 25th Street (btwn 10th and 11th Avenues)
Chelsea art gallery district, Manhattan

The Asian American Writers' Workshop presents an exclusive event featuring
Michael Ondaatje, award-winning author of The English Patient (Knopf, 1992),
Anil's Ghost (Knopf, 2000), poetry collection Handwriting (Knopf, 2000) and
other major, internationally-renowned works. Michael has selected and will
read from his favorite passages, including his latest novel, Divisadero
(Knopf, 2007), and will discuss the impact of film, mixed media and moving
images on his writing. Audience Q&A to follow.

Ticket info:
VIP and general tickets may be purchased only over the telephone with a
credit card through the Workshop. Please call 212-494-0061. Tickets will be
held at the door under your name. A limited number of student tickets are
available for purchase in-person, in advance with current ID for $7 at the
Workshop (Tuesday - Friday, 12 noon - 7pm). There will be no tickets
available at the door as we will sell out. All proceeds from the event
support the Workshop, a 501(c)(3) non-profit literary arts organization.

This event is offered in partnership with The Consulate General of Canada -
New York, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation and Moti Hasson Gallery.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the Workshop at
212.494.0061 or click .

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

literary reclusion

As if you couldn't guess where I stood on the matter, I think literary reclusion should be a more common occurence. Others in our fame-obsessed culture are skeptical about it, think it's some PR tactic in developing a fan base or a way of getting the spotlight by avoiding the spotlight. Are these writers playing hard to get or using some literary reverse psychology to attract their readers? I think not. Maybe, just maybe, their novel or short stories are just that good. Perhaps the work is enough and defies the modern cult of me me me. Read the article, it's interesting.

PS-And if you don't know or haven't heard of these writers, you've either been living in a cave or perhaps they have succeeded in avoiding the spotlight. (As opposed to, say, Paris Hilton. And if you haven't heard of Paris Hilton, then you do live in a cave.) Point is, look these authors up and read them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

poem by Anne Sexton

For God While Sleeping

Sleeping in fever, I am unfair
to know just who you are:
hung up like a pig on exhibit,
the delicate wrists,
the beard drooling blood and vinegar;
hooked to your own weight,
jolting toward death under your nameplate.

Everyone in this crowd needs a bath.
I am dressed in rags.
The mother wears blue.
You grind your teeth
and with each new breath
your jaws gape and your diaper sags.
I am not to blame
for all this. I do not know your name.

Skinny man, you are somebody's fault.
You ride on dark poles --
a wooden bird that a trader built
for some fool who felt
that he could make the flight. Now you roll
in your sleep, seasick
on your own breathing, poor old convict.

                                                            -ANNE SEXTON

Saturday, August 11, 2007

why a hammer?

So another piece of artwork was attacked with a hammer, this time at the National Gallery of Art, in D.C.. They cannot speculate on the motive of this criminal act, the glass was broken, as well as part of the canvas underneath. The spokesperson says it can be repaired. Now, they're tightening up on security measures -- as if we needed more of those.

Besides the high popularity of the sitter and the artist, this is my only speculation on why someone would have wanted to attack a piece of art. It is considered as one of the National Gallery's important pieces in their collection.

My questions is: Why is it often done with a hammer instead something say, like, a crowbar, a Maglite flashlight, or a cane? A hammer isn't a common object to be carrying around in your bag and isn't less conspicuous than, say a Maglite. I guess, a crowbar would bring a raised eyebrow from anyone, and a hammer is insured to complete the job, whereas a Maglite wouldn't. Imagine an attacker running with a mad look on their face, like one of those actors in the movie Braveheart, and barely chipping their target, then getting arrested for criminal attack.

Art attacks in history (with a hammer):
- January 2006, Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, Paris (note: the same attacker also urinated on the piece when it was exhibited in Nimes, so he clearly had an obsession with Duchamp's urinal. In fact, he considers it performance art. Any thoughts from performance artists on this?)
- October 1997, Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, Australia (8 times! Did they know that the attack actually brought more publicity to something they didn't want to exist? I think not.)
- May 1972, Michelangelo's Pieta, Vatican City

Art attacks in history (not necessarily with a hammer):
- July 2002, marble statue of Margaret Thatcher, London (Okay, a cricket bat.)
- December 1999, Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary, Brooklyn
- October 1997, Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, Australia (The day before those teenagers attacked it with a hammer 8 times. Again: Did they know that the attack actually brought more publicity to something they didn't want to exist? I think not, again.)

On why people choose to attack art:
- Attackers may want their 15 minute claim to fame, and instead of making a masterpiece they'd rather attack a popular piece of art.
- Religious or political reasons.
- Madness. (eg/ Laszlo Toth)

On why with a hammer:
It does the job.

On visiting museums:
Bring your pencils and drawing pads, leave the hammer at home.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dramatic Drawing of the Male & Female Form

8PM - 4AM, $13 (2 - 3 NUDES) & (2 costume models)
Live Music at 12AM
Draw the Nude from 8pm-12am
Costumed Models 12-4am

draw, paint, sculpt, create every Friday. This workshop will feature 2-3 of your favorite nude female and male Draw-a-thon Theater models as performance artists doing dramatic and intense short and long poses of love, anger, and relations between men and women. This is a great opportunity to make art and become a part of the Draw-a-thon community.

When: Every Friday in August
Where: Rebar, 147 Front Street, DUMBO Brooklyn
F Train to York Street, walk one block down hill to Front Street, 2nd floor of Retreat
Time: 8pm - 4am
Cost: $13 per session


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

stolen Picassos

The two paintings and one drawing stolen from one of Picasso's granddaughter's apartment in Paris this past February have been recovered.

Three thieves, I guess each one took a piece in the middle of the night, then ran off.  Did they have time to pick the piece they stole, or did they just grab anything?  I wonder how it feels to have a stash of some of the most expensive and sought after artwork lying around in your apartment, and the thought of fearing thieves instead of mice each time you hear scurrying in the middle of the night?

Monday, August 06, 2007

On Not Selling Out

National Media of the Arts

"New artists, young or old, need education in their art, the tools of their craft, chances to study examples from the past and meet practitioners in the present, get the criticism and encouragement of mentors, learn that they are not alone."

from Why I Refused the National Medal for the Arts by Adrienne Rich

When the Administration gains some courage, perhaps one day, she'll be recognized as our Poet Laureate -- a recognition well overdue. Here are a couple of her poems:

From an Atlas of the Difficult World
I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

-Adrienne Rich


Burning Oneself Out

We can look into the stove tonight
as into a mirror, yes,

the serrated log, the yellow-blue gaseous core

the crimson-flittered grey ash, yes.
I know inside my eyelids
and underneath my skin

Time takes hold of us like a draft
upward, drawing at the heats
in the belly, in the brain

You told me of setting your hand
into the print of a long-dead Indian
and for a moment, I knew that hand,

that print, that rock,
the sun producing powerful dreams
A word can do this

or, as tonight, the mirror of the fire
of my mind, burning as if it could go on
burning itself, burning down

feeding on everything
till there is nothing in life
that has not fed that fire

-Adrienne Rich

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Millennium Park, Chicago

Check out these pics by Thinking About Art -- makes me want to go back to Chicago just to experience it myself, since I had no idea this even existed!

art for art's sake

In response to Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland's study regarding the role of the arts in school curriculum, I highly agree with their reasoning in support of the findings in their research. Art should be seen as a subject strong enough to stand on its own. Our society often rationalizes the subject of art as a worthy subject to study in school (excluding art schools, of course) only because it supports the other "more essential" subjects such as math and science (sometimes, literature).

Being a teaching artist at one time and going into public schools, my lesson plan for each session often had to list the multi-disciplinary aspects of each art lesson, which subjects my lesson was reinforcing, and more specifically, which specific skills such as reasoning, spatial intelligence, etc. I was teaching. I was there to teach art, not math through art, yet sometimes we had to tweak our lessons to help students prepare for their standardized tests. I found myself teaching the math in patterns instead of teaching the kids how to appreciate and see the pattern's aesthetic value through repetition and colors of say, Islamic Art.

I don't deny that learning how most compositions in paintings that we find pleasing almost always follow the golden section, is very fascinating and helpful -- especially when it comes to creating your own composition -- this fact should be seen as how math supports the art, the visual, instead of the other way around. Studying abroad in Europe, I also discovered that this unique perspective was very American. I found that my visual intelligence and creativity skills were severely impaired compared to those who were just out of high school (some were still in high school). I didn't think that this was due to talent/"artist genes," but more to the European outlook on art as a subject. Therefore, I did a lot of "catching up" and tried to make up for the lack of art I had in high school. One thing's for sure: they took art and art making seriously and it was a subject that was seen as equal as calculus or chemistry, not an extra class convenient to skip when you needed to go to the dentist and have your wires tightened.

Lastly, I believe this is the reason many people look at modern/contemporary art with a blank stare. (There are other reasons, of course, which is another topic and I won't get into now). High schools and universities do not teach us about visual intelligence. Most of us are not taught how to look at a painting and see. If the argument is, how will this help me in my life, the same can be said of calculus. Not everyone uses calculus in their career of choice, but we still have to learn it. Why should art be different? GEs often include such subjects like intro to Classics, Philosophy of Ethics & Morality, basic intro to chemistry, biology, physics, etc....., perhaps even art appreciation, but we do not have classes in visual intelligence. At least with writing -- I believe all schools have GE courses in expository writing, but many, many college graduates finish school without really learning the skill of basic essay writing despite the requirement. It's a deficiency in the system, more than with the individual. Many people enter the modern art/contemporary section on the MET or go into the MOMA and say, "I don't get it," or "I can do that," more often than they try to stand there in silence and think visually about, or really try to see what's in front of them -- especially when it comes to Rothko's color fields, abstract art, in general, and many contemporary pieces.

The same is true with some art buyers, they want to be told what to buy and instead of actually looking at the paintings, sculptures, photography, etc. themselves to see what they really like looking at and seeing on a daily basis. I mean, it's going to be a presence/part of a room in their apartment/house, so why not pick something you like instead of what something someone says you should like? But that's for another blog entry, for another time.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Thursday, August 02, 2007

New Poet Laureate Assigned: Charles Simic

How timely, my previous entry was just about a former poet laureate (Billy Collins--for 2 years in fact). Simic wrote an excellent essay in one of those Poets on Poetry books series, the title of which I cannot remember right now. But check out the article. Here's the text for those who may not be NY Times subscribers, for the link expires after a week.

August 2, 2007
Charles Simic, Surrealist With Dark View, Is Named Poet Laureate
By MOTOKO RICH, The New York Times

Charles Simic, a writer who juxtaposes dark imagery with ironic humor, is to be named the country’s 15th poet laureate by the Librarian of Congress today.

Mr. Simic, 69, was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and immigrated to the United States at 16. He started writing poetry in English only a few years after learning the language and has published more than 20 volumes of poetry, as well as essay collections, translations and a memoir.

A retired professor of American literature and creative writing at the University of New Hampshire, he won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1990 and held a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant from 1984 to 1989.

He succeeds Donald Hall, a fellow New Englander, who has been poet laureate for the past year.

James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will announce Mr. Simic’s appointment. Mr. Billington said he chose Mr. Simic from a short list of 15 poets because of “the rather stunning and original quality of his poetry,” adding: “He’s very hard to describe, and that’s a great tribute to him. His poems have a sequence that you encounter in dreams, and therefore they have a reality that does not correspond to the reality that we perceive with our eyes and ears.”

Mr. Simic, speaking by telephone from his home in Strafford, N.H., described himself as a “city poet” because he has “lived in cities all of my life, except for the last 35 years.” Before settling into academia, he held a number of jobs in New York, including bookkeeping, bookselling and shirt sales. He originally wanted to be a painter, he said, until “I realized that I had no talent.”

He started writing poems while in high school in Chicago, in part, he said, to impress girls. He published his first poems in The Chicago Review when he was 21.

Mr. Simic said his chief poetic preoccupation has been history. “I’m sort of the product of history; Hitler and Stalin were my travel agents,” he said. “If they weren’t around, I probably would have stayed on the same street where I was born. My family, like millions of others, had to pack up and go, so that has always interested me tremendously: human tragedy and human vileness and stupidity.”

Yet he balks at questions about the role of poetry in culture. “That reminds me so much of the way the young Communists in the days of Stalin at big party congresses would ask, ‘What is the role of the writer?’ ” he said.

Mr. Simic said he preferred to think of the point of poetry in the way a student at a school in El Paso put it when he visited in 1972: “to remind people of their own humanity.”

Reviewing his collection “The Voice at 3:00 A.M.” (Harcourt) for The New York Times Book Review in 2003, David Orr said Mr. Simic was “a surrealist with a purpose: the disconcerting shifts and sinister imagery that characterize his work are always intended to suggest — however obliquely — the existential questions that trouble our day-to-day lives.”

Mr. Billington said he admired Mr. Simic’s work because it was “both accessible and deep,” adding that “the lines are memorable.” He referred to a stanza from “My Turn to Confess,” a poem from Mr. Simic’s 2005 collection, “My Noiseless Entourage,” also published by Harcourt:

A dog trying to write a poem on why he barks,

That’s me, dear reader!

They were about to kick me out of the library

But I warned them,

My master is invisible and all-powerful.

Still, they kept dragging me out by my tail.

The post of poet laureate has existed since 1987, although there were 27 consultants in poetry to the Library of Congress before that. Laureates receive a $35,000 award and a $5,000 travel allowance.

The position does not come with any specific responsibilities, although previous laureates have used the platform in different ways. Robert Pinsky, who held the post from 1997 to 2000, initiated a Favorite Poem Project, inviting poetry fans to share their favorites in readings captured on tape and video. Billy Collins, laureate from 2001 to 2003, began Poetry 180 (, a Web site where high school classes can access a poem of the day. Mr. Hall joined Andrew Motion, the British poet laureate, for a trans-Atlantic reading program sponsored by the Poetry Foundation.

Mr. Simic said he had not yet figured out what he would do. In the meantime he continues to write for The New York Review of Books and is a poetry editor of The Paris Review. He has a new collection, “That Little Something,” due from Harcourt in February 2008.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


"A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens -- second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day's events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths."
--Reynolds Price

animation/film + poetry = graphic word poetry (?)

I've run into something new on YouTube. What an excellent way to illustrate poems, via animation. Is this poetry performed electronically? Just kidding. Either way, it's an interesting way of mixing/juxtaposing text with the visual. I think it brings more life to the poem. Not to say that it wasn't a complete work before the collaboration, but that the visual element brought the poem to a new state of completion, made it fuller in a sense. Much like a song or music can bring up a poem to a new level in "performance poetry".

Forgetfulness, poem by Billy Collins

However, the poem would stand on it's own whereas the animation doesn't make much sense with out the text.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


most people start over in january, make resolutions and whatnot.

but people start over when they're ready, not because it's the first of the month, or the first day of the week, or the first day of the year. so, this blog is reborn and will concentrate on work. more writing, more artwork, you get the point.