Stuff keeps happening. It gets it the way of keeping up with blog postings, because new stuff happens before I have time to work up the photos and descriptions to post about the past stuff. On top of that, we keep periodically losing our wireless connection to the world. They have been retarring the roof of our studios, and I think our access must be through one of those dish thingys on the roof that they have probably tarred over.
Then my phone time expired, so until I realized that and bought one of those phone scratch cards, I was completely isolated. Nothing digital worked. I’m sure Patricia thinks I have gone native or just given up on the world.
A week or so ago (my, I have neglected this blog!) I was riding my bike through a rather grungy semi-industrial area, and suddenly came upon this proclamation of the Deshan Art Space. So I was peering through their glass doors to see what it was, with a yappy dog barking at me from the other side, when an older Chinese gentleman, Kao Yunqi, came and invited me in. Not much appeared to be happening, but they have an immense display space, many large paintings in storage, and Kao Yunqi was photographing some amazing art that he had created. It is frustrating to fall into situations like this and not be able to explore them sufficiently because of the language problem. Still, stuff keeps happening.
These objects are all made from folded paper and can be pulled like an accordian.
This rather unsettling collection of heads was in a standing walnut cabinet and they looked like they might be floating in a liquid. The photo on the left indicates the huge scale of their main exhibition space, although there is little evidence of its use.
The gods were smiling on us for our Open Studio event on March 19th. The day was warm and sunny, blue sky and not a trace of pollution. Our display studio had been patched and repainted for the occasion, and everyone had an appropriate area to display their work. We had wine and beer, snacky stuff, and two street vendors making shish kabobs and bing (see definition of Ba-Da-Bing). That attracted some 80-100 people to mix and enjoy the activities outside and the art inside. People came early, and many stayed ‘way beyond the announced 6:00 closing time. Matt was there, Louise too, and her friend Jennie interviewed all the artists for a report in “The World of Chinese” website. The Red Gate owner, Brian Wallace, said it was the best open studio event in years. Hooray for us.
The following day I was surprised to receive an email from the Jing Gallery in Beijing, complementing my work “which is motivated and interesting” and inviting me to visit their gallery. I then had a very frustrating day of trying to contact them to set up an appointment (see digital/wireless problems, above) for tea and discussion. On arrival, I was surprised to see Tiyan was there – and she was equally surprised to see me. Yes, we did have tea and some innocuous discussion but that was the extent of it, and then we went together to another gallery so see a very interesting photography there.
At the end of March we all went out to a good restaurant in Beijing for a dinner in honor of the Residents who would be leaving. Anne back to Australia, Dagur and Petra back to Iceland, Mika to the UK. It was a fun evening, with excellent dishes of all sorts circulating among us on the Lazy Susan. Suzanna had commissioned a wonderful cake from a local baker, with three whipped cream cats created to order. But the topper was the flaming lotus that then dropped its petals to reveal eight lit candles while it played Happy Birthday over and over and over again. So the birthday bit was a little hokey for a going away dinner, but it fit in well with the party atmosphere.
I so much like the mobility of a bicycle. Last week I rode beyond FeiJiacun to discover that the adjoining town is similar but about 4x larger. There was this great statue In a schoolyard – the girl is pointing and leading upward carrying a book, and a boy follows brandishing a rocket and holding a soccer ball. Must harken back to the Mao era.
Beyond that town the road continues under a railroad bridge into an absolutely surreal territory. Acres and acres, if not square miles, of nothing but rubble and in the distance, gleaming skyscrapers. The only people in the area are a few gleaners, chipping morter from bricks for re-use. I guess it is the Chinese version of Urban Renewal, but this one seems to have gotten stuck in the Urban Removal stage.
It would seem that our Feijiacun could suffer the same fate. It certainly wouldn’t take a bulldozer very long to blow away these rickety buildings, and the million dollar Villas in gated communities just across the main highway and the International Shopping Mall down the road must chafe at this decadent unruly village with its scrap yards and construction supply shops so close by, taking up such valuable subdivision space. One theory is that such a transformation can’t happen until the huge electrical power transfer station and the tower complex that arches over the town is somehow removed. I’ve completed two paintings that feature these towers and lines – they really are the major feature that you notice everywhere.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of new construction – pretty shoddy downtown, but also quite utilitarian and substantial buildings for yet more artist studios. Like just about everything else in China, it is all confusing and seems to be going in several directions at once.