Friday, June 26, 2009

Musings and My Obsession with Japan

I have been brooding over where to start with the blog posts of my study tour to China and Japan. My partner, Chris Miner, has been doing a great job writing about the trip from his point of view.

He has been diligently resizing photos, photographing and scanning mementos and taking text from his journals. He has been blogging about each day and you can see in his blog, the Raw Materials of Music Making, that he has been trying to capture the long and complicated days with pictures and words.

What have I been doing? Not a whole lot!

I definitely feel like I'm having a harder time adjusting back to my normal life. It just seems so boring compared to two weeks of exploring new places. My mind has been processing all that I experienced and how it is going to change my life. I am feeling restless in my normal routine and am ready to shake it up again. But how?

Our sensei planted a seed in my head while we were in Hangzhou, China. She said something along the line of "You should do the exchange program for a semester or year. Take the whole family." She then pointed out the China Academy of Art which nestled into green trees, just down the street from the beautiful West Lake. She said something about how both the schools that SDSU had an exchange program with for art majors in China and Japan were excellent and that I would learn a lot. It would definitely be an experience.

I fell in love Hangzhou, China and could see myself studying there: riding my bike around the West Lake, and learning how to sculpt in traditional ways that my university has forgotten how to teach. The language would be a barrier, but it is so inexpensive there, I could afford to live. The idea of study abroad in China buzzed in my head as we left Shanghai. And then I went to Japan.

Japan is much more Americanized and super modern compared to China. Since we didn't have Miranda (our tour guide), sensei was to be our guide. This led to a whole different experience of Japan than in China. Sensei did not gather the group by yelling out "S.D.S.U!" like Miranda did. She would just take off and we had to follow her. Most of the trip was spent making sure that sensei was close by, and counting people. She had a tendency to want to leave people instead of waiting for them. It would be comical if most of the group spoke Japanese. But since most of us knew no or little Japanese, we would be very lost without sensei.

Sensei at Meiji Shrine (Shinto)

Long story short, this lack of a tour guide telling us information and a comfy tour bus to ride in led to us having to integrate with the culture more. I had to pay attention while I rode the bus or train to make sure I got off in time. I listened and recognized names, especially in Tokyo - Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ueno, Yoyogi, Ginza and Shibuya. I not only knew where they were on a map, but also how to get to them by train and what was there when you got there. I yearned to be able to read the signs that were around me, and to say more than just "Arigato" to others.

Add to this my absolute fascination with the native religion of Japan - Shinto. The first night in Kyoto we came across a Shinto shrine at night and it was luminous and mysterious. I won't go to far into Shinto now because I am going to devote an entire post to it soon. It is more than love with Japan now. It is almost an obsession to find out more about this magical place.

Sensei's talks with me about studying in Japan became more real as I imagined myself studying the traditional arts and their relationship to the native religion of Shinto. There are many more details that I would need to work out and to consider before a decision is made.

So the next blog posts about my trip will be focused specifically on the parts of Japan and China that moved me. Just the images that are blazed into my brain and the art ideas that have sprung from that. I may add some pictures of experiences that were just fun and unique, such as "Geisha Hunting." Hopefully you will understand why I am now obsessed with Japan.

Until then, Happy Art-Making! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

David Fobe's "C-Scapes" at Cannon Art Gallery in Carlsbad

"C-scape #2 (C-men)"
color duct tape on panel, 32"h x 48"w x 3/4" d

2009 Copyright David Fobes

Another show opening on this Saturday, June 27, from 6-9 pm!

Artist and designer David Fobes and three other artists, assemblage artist Joseph Bennett, painter Tara Smith and painter Duke Windsor, are showing at the 2009 Cannon Invitational at Cannon Art Gallery in Carlsbad, California. Mr. Fobes is a design professor at SDSU and is my mentor for launching a career as a visual artist. He is also an amazing artist, craftsman and designer. His website, Mister showcases his talent to mix form and function and his utilize his spectacular color theory!

Here is an excerpt from the 2009 Cannon Invitational Press Release:
"A well-established designer and craftsman, San Diego artist David Fobes creates his brilliantly-hued images of modern buildings, furnished rooms, “C-Scapes,” and satellites with an unlikely medium. Upon first glance, his artworks look like paintings – but the hard-edged planes of color that criss-cross the flat surfaces with formal simplicity are precisely cut and painstakingly applied layers of duct tape. With a wry sensibility, Fobes describes his duct-taped pieces as color-saturated objects – not two-dimensional, not three-dimensional, but both."
read more

Just like I said in May-Ling's blog post, I HAVE to get out of my house sometimes and see how contemporary artists are hanging and showing their work. I have promised Mr. Fobes that I will attend this show, even though I probably won't make this opening this Saturday. The show runs from June 28 to August 18, 2009.

Hope you can come check it out!

Happy Art-Making! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Monday, June 22, 2009

May-Ling Martinez's "Measured Resistance" art show at Seminal Projects

All this talk about my trip and myself and I almost forgot what my blog is about - Artists supporting Artists. Enjoy a deviation from the talk about me with today's blog post!

"Friction, 2009" (Mixed Media on paper)
copyright May-Ling Martinez

Want to see the most compelling art work being produced in San Diego? How about new art works that will challenge your perceptions of the world around you? Come to Seminal Projects!

Luis De Jesus - Seminal Projects is a contemporary art gallery in the Little Italy section of San Diego. Many of San Diego's emerging, up and coming artists, and established show in this gallery. I have heard so many good things about this place, yet I never had a "good reason" recently to step outside of 10 mile radius around my house (I am, sadly, really an introvert). I hear all the raves about the work in this gallery, and I do view it online, yet I never go. Well here is my chance.

A previous instructor of mine (and spectacular contemporary artist), May-Ling Martinez, is having a solo art show at Seminal Projects for her new body of work "Measured Resistance." The opening is this Friday, June 26 from 6 - 9 pm. Now I finally have a good reason to go to Seminal Projects! Yay!

The show runs from the opening night of June 26 until August 1, 2009. To whet your appetite here is an excerpt from the Seminal Projects' "Measured Resistance" Press Release describes the work:

"MAY-LING MARTINEZ’s new sculpture and works on paper serve as a metaphor for an innate desire to understand and control our surroundings under difficult circumstances. The works in Measured Resistance engage in the larger domain of relations—among ideas, objects, and the human heart—in order to gain a deeper insight into existential issues, such as the need for security and balance." read more

Sounds interesting, right? I think so too.

Please come by Seminal Projects to check out May-Ling's show. It will be an experience you won't want to miss.

Your turn: Have a show, art event or opening that you are so excited to attend? What about it draws you out of your house and studio? Are you showing your work somewhere that is a hidden treasure trove of contemporary art (especially in San Diego county area)? I would love to hear about it. Post a comment and link for us all to check out!

Happy art-making and Show-attending! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

China and Japan - Chris Style

Chris in Tienanmen Square, May 2009
photo by Jaime Lyerly

For anyone who is not aware, my partner, experimental musician Chris Miner, has his own blog where he writes about the process of his music and other experiences. We have a different niche of blog readers, but it is wonderful when they can cross-pollinate.

Chris has been so great as to start sharing his experience on our study tour to China and Japan. Since I have been holding out on you and not sharing my experiences, I now offer you China and Japan - Chris Style!

Promise to share some of my own experiences soon.

Update 6/22/09: Chris is doing a great job on his blog of showing a visual summary of our experiences. If you haven't had a chance to check it out, it is worth it!

Until then, happy art-making! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back from China and Japan! Now what?

Dragon Well Green Spring Tea from the Tea Plantation in Hangzhou, China
photo by Jaime Lyerly, May 2009

Back home from our long, exhausting and exhilarating study tour to China and Japan. It was a wonderful experience to say the least. It was the first time in over a year that I was completely taking in visual and auditory information instead of producing art work and ideas. Only during the last few days of the trip did I start to get ideas of ways to incorporate what I was seeing and experiencing into visual art. More about these ideas to come in later blog posts.

I had no access to a computer or even a phone most of the time while we were way. For someone who is on the computer hours and hours a day - this was a huge change! I learned I can live without the computer, Facebook, Twitter and all that jazz. But coming back....yikes! Lots to catch up on. I also feel like I neglected all my duties as an artist and blogger, so I will try to get connected again.

Coming back from such a huge, life-altering trip I am having a hard time dealing with the reality of my normal work and mom schedule (luckily no college classes for a month). Two of our four cats hissed and growled at us when we came home. I missed my kitties so bad when I was on the trip because they are such a part of daily life. Coming home to have them mad at me was hard. Also, two days after I got off a plane after 24 hours with very little sleep, I had to go to work at my clerical job and later that night a middle school band concert to watch/listen to my 12-year-old son Xenneth play the baritone. This does not sound like much, but add it to a pile of bills, correspondence and a messy house and you have quite a lot to deal with. How does my body deal with this stress? It gets sick - which is where I am at now.

So please bear with me as connect back to the real world again. The only thing from our trip that has easily integrated with my normal routine is the drinking of green tea. The picture above is from the Tea Plantation in Hangzhou, China where they teach you about the qualities, customs and benefits of green tea. This is spring tea, which is picked the first week in April when it is most fresh. The tea is mild but invigorating, and I love it. The only big purchase I made in China was the tea. Therefore, I have been enjoying pots of green tea each day since I returned home.

Sorry to give you such little information, but I am still figuring out how best to blog about my experiences. I did keep a travel journal for each country and wrote about my experiences daily. I did not do any art while I was there. This is mainly because we were in a group setting and running non-stop all day. The time it takes to sketch never seemed to fit into the agenda. While I am disappointed about that part, I do feel that my travel journals and photographs will provide me lots of inspiration for years to come.

Thanks to everyone for the well-wishing on my trip. It was great! Looking forward to sharing my stories and pictures as soon as I recuperate.

To your health and fantastic journey! ~ Jaime Lyerly