Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mamita's Kappogi

I made this piece for the Young Women's Caucus Apron Show. This little apron packs a lot of memories. It's embellished with passages from mom's letters and postcards. On the pocket, a little card with a very un-momlike formal congratulations on my engagement. The only English letter that's on this apron is her description of all the types of animal excrements she encountered in Burma. The rest are in Japanese: snippets of important milestones and events.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Amazing piece by Jane Woolverton at Hunter's Point. Plastic six-pack holders and plastic strings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Low tide at Dillon Beach exposed these sand-speckled sea squirts. Gem-encrused in this photo but in reality they are rubbery and shrink back and squirt sea water when you touch them. Some were small, others huge. Fabulously creepy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Frida #2

I am responding to the first piece sent by Judy J-W. My favorite materials source, Thrift Town had a perfectly shaped pocketbook that I converted into covers for my accordion book. I tried to include all the elements in the Frida painting, from her mustache to butterflies, dragonfly, snake-like neck, hummingbird, monkey, black cat and the necklace of thorns. For the book I painted with Golden fluid acrylics, which gave a lovely transparency and used permanent black ink to draw in the faces. A very enjoyable project!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Abaca Project

Prototype transparency people inside unpapered cages

Cages covered over with paper

Cages un-nested

I found these rickety-looking cages at SCRAP a few weeks ago. They come in a nested set of 5, with the largest one being perhaps 12 inches or so, the others sized progressively smaller. I couldn't decide what to do with them - perhaps Christmas-themed objects for sale at the Art Explosion holiday show?
Without knowing where I was going with them, I dyed the cages with walnut ink, then coated them with glitter. That was a dead-end.
Then I had the idea of covering the cages with paper. I have a stash of thin Japanese rice paper bought at a Flax warehouse sale a few years ago. I also used sewing pattern paper and old Japanese copybooks, anything that was thin and pliable enough to cover these cages. I traced templates for each size birdcase, cut various types of paper and glued them with gluestick. Turns out gluestick is not the best adhesive for these things.
Sleeping over these disappointing results, I realized that gel medium might work better. Sure enough. The gel adhered the paper seamlessly and turned it into a second skin around the cage's skeleton. The afternoon sun in my studio created a lantern effect that led to the next step.
There needed to be something to illuminate these lanterns and something inside to be illuminated. I used transparency sheets and traced around photographs of people, which I filled in with black. The first batch was made with acrylic paint, which was too dry a medium. The side of the transparency sheet that has texture to absorb inkjet ink sucked the paint dry before a smooth layer could be applied. I started over using India ink and got much better results.
Right now I am researching ways to illuminate these lanterns. There are many options available in battery-operated lights - anything from tiny tea candles to neon-like lights to fanciful fiberoptics. I am still in the thinking process over how much light I want inside the lanterns and how much outside. Also being investigated are sound effects. I just downloaded an app that plays Japanese summer sounds.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Collaboration #4: Frida & Me

Our starting point on this round was a self-portrait of Frida Kahlo. In keeping with Halloween, I decided to transform Frida into a black cat. The body is made of painted corrugated cardboard and the limbs and tail can be moved. Frida's face is drawn with craypas (oil crayons). The monkey and hummingbird also have moving parts. The necklace of thorns was a challenge but I didn't want to leave it out. Thankfully I found some plastic barbed wire, which did the trick nicely. I wrapped the Frida in a large green momigami sheet which I stamped with leaf patterns. Also found some giant plastic leaves to throw into the mix.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Barcelona: Gaudi

Casa Battlo

Casa Batllo: Window Seen Through Glass

Casa Batllo: roof details

Casa Battlo: Inner Window

La Pedrera

We only had time to visit these two buildings on Passeig de Gracia. Casa Battlo was just across the street from the apartment we rented. It was a private residence and impossible to imagine it was built in 1877, the architecture and design was so modern. La Pedrera, built in 1912 has interesting rooftop touches but parts of the building look like regular apartments. Barcelona is worth a visit, if only to appreciate the singular vision of Antonio Gaudi's architecture.

Figueres: Dali Museum

The Dali Museum in Figueres has a huge collection of his work ranging from surrealist subjects to life drawings. I was impressed with the beauty of his sketches.

Colors of Barcelona


Granada Flamenco

We went to a gypsy cave in Sacramonte one evening to watch flamenco. At first we were the only guests and were served an odd dinner of Spanish omelet (lightly salted boiled potatoes covered in light egg batter). Just before the dances began, the room filled with a Japanese tour group. In fact one dancer was Japanese and spoke Spanish fluently. The older spider woman was quite dramatic and kept yelling at me to stop videotaping her. I guess my Lumix looked more like a filming tool than a digital camera.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Images of Mexico: People

Closing Ceremony at ex-Convento St Hipolito

Kiyo Akasaka and Tadatoshi Akiba
The UN Conference in Mexico City came to a dramatic close at the ex-Convento St Hipolito with a loud thunderstorm overhead. UN officials and the mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba exhorted NGOs to lobby the mayors and government officials for the abolition of nuclear weapons in their towns, cities and countries.

Night Walk on Donceles after Rainfall

It rained and thundered every night in Mexico City. One could plan on the skies darkening around 3:30 in the afternoon, then, the lightning, thunder and thick drops of rain appearing soon after. Even if the day started out dry, we knew umbrellas or raincoats would be needed in the late afternoon. Because we were in the old central part of the city, taxis were hard to get in the evening. It was a pleasure to walk back to the hotel after dinner after the rains had stopped and photograph the shiny streets cleansed of dust and trash.

Images of Mexico: Art

Amazing cougar at the Anthropological in Mexico City

Orozco Mural at the San Ildefenso

Orozco mural at San Ildefenso

We were stunned by the art in Mexico City. We had limited time and decided to see just two museums, spending an entire day in each. The San Ildefenso Museum near our hotel housed an amazing collection of murals by Jose Clemente Orozco. Built with an inner courtyard, this museum provides greenery, calm in the midst of a busy city and a feast for the eyes with the murals painted on the outside walls of each level. Inside the museum and in the courtyard was an exhibition of British artist Antony Gormley's works. Small groups of children wandered the museum, sketching and talking with each other on comfortable courtyard benches. With a natural food cafe and a fabulous giftshop, this museum proved to be the oasis we needed after three full days at the UN conference.
We visited the large Anthropological Museum on Sunday, absolutely the worst day in terms of crowds. It was crowded because this museum offers free admission to Mexican citizens on Sundays. And so the working people of this large city were taking in the arts together with their children and elderly parents. Though there were lines to get into some of the exhibitions, it didn't take long to get inside, and I enjoyed watching the parents point out artifacts and read their history to their children. The cultural wealth in this museum was impressive.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Purplesilk Fundraiser at the Legendary Palace

Maestra Sherlyn Chew with Steve Young

Tyler Thompson sings an opera solo

Satisfied fans fill the Legendary Palace

Spirited performance by the Great Wall Youth Orchestra
I attended a great fundraiser in Oakland last night to support the Great Wall Youth Orchestra & Chorus. The event was sold out and we were all treated to great music and a delicious banquet. Sherlyn Chew continues to amaze with her drive to nurture musical talent among the children of Oakland. The best testimonal came from a former student, who expressed how much her horizons were opened through participation in this orchestra. Bravo Sherlyn!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

7th Annual Altered Barbie Show

Tanya revealing her Barbie side

Crowds celebrate opening of Altered Barbie show at Shotwell 50 Studios

Jillee mc-ing the event

This is the first year I didn't participate in this annual show due to travels. Did manage to attend the opening reception last night at Shotwell 50 Studios. It's a great space for this show - lots of wallspace to show off all the dolls and photos. There were surprisingly a lot of photos at this year's event. Hope to be part of this event next year!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Images of Mexico: Dance

Dancing figures at the Anthropological Museum

Aztec Dancers

Shaman dancers in the Zocalo

Because our hotel was near the Catedral and zocalo in the Historic Center of Mexico City, we enjoyed the drumming, herb-burning and the energetic circle of dancers nearly every day. Helen noticed that the dancers' movements brought to life the gestures of ancient pottery figurines we saw at the Museum of Anthropology. Indeed I felt that we were witnessing something ancient, elemental and life-affirming in the zocalo dancers. My favorite shots were of the dancers' feet, which captured the energy of their movements.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Took a class on illuminated paper at the SF Center for Books.It was taught by Oregon papermaker, Helen Hiebert. For the round chochin, we cut molds out of foam core, then wrapped individual rings of reed around it, fastened by paper. Paper shapes were then glued to the reed skeleton. When the paper dried, the mold was disassembled. The magic happened when the chochins were lit.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday Art Happenings

Adobo Hobo at Fabric 8: marrying art with food cart culture

Octo-arm enjoys wine and art at Cityart Opening

Looking at art along Victorian corridor at 3352 24th St

Sugar installation at 951 Shotwell

Home is Something I Carry With Me is a 3-house non-trad venue exhibition. Love the idea of turning one's home into a gallery, love the idea of a unifying theme that carries across multiple venues. I hope more of these spring up in the City. Fabric8 had an interesting idea of combining the burgeoning food carts in the City with art. The venue was filled to capacity with people enjoying adobo, creme brulee, cookies and soup while viewing the artwork and teeshirts for sale. Cityart also had their monthly group show opening - their venue was filled as well.