I imagine this is probably the same in most cities: having to move artist studios every few years.
I’ve moved studios every couple of years, and each time it doesn’t get any easier. Sometimes I moved because a shared studio space wasn’t working out anymore, other times because the studio was going to get torn down for new developments. And each time there’s a certain amount of stress of trying to find a new fit, followed by the actual act of moving all of my art work and supplies.
The new studio search can feel like I have all my art belongings in my arms and I’m wandering the city to find it a new home. This past December I was lucky to move to Gene Studios, which is part of an artist community in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver.
Next Friday, I will be taking part in ROVE, an art walk through Mount Pleasant that takes visitors through 8 different art spaces open for one night to the public. From 6 to 10 pm, people can visit different galleries and artist studios. Gene Studios houses many different studios, so come say hi while you check out all the different artists here.
It’s been a quiet few months on my blog, but things have been busy this summer. Between exhibitions in Vancouver and Edmonton, there have been travels as well as dressmaking and a wedding! I’ve just recently started a new painting in the studio, and with the sudden change in weather here in Vancouver, I’m reminded of that back to school feeling. So I guess you can kind of think of this blog post as my first day back to school, and here’s what I did this summer.
Now & Then – Pendulum Gallery, Vancouver
The group exhibition, Now & Then, at Pendulum Gallery was well received, with their new gallery walls and light system in place. It’s a great place to show work as I think it receives more foot traffic than many galleries I’ve shown at, and the more eyes, the better.
You can read more about the exhibition and gallery space in Vancouver is Awesome here.
A Conversation: With Mary Porter – Latitude 53, Edmonton
For the last year and a half, Mary Porter and I have been collaborating on a project. We’ve known each other for almost 15 years now, meeting when we were both on exchange in Paris. Over those 15 years we have perhaps only lived in the same city for 12 months total. But we’ve managed to keep in touch and stay good friends, as well as collaborate on smaller projects on and off over the years. This culminated in our project, A Conversation, which we showed this summer at Latitude 53’s ProjEx Room.
Working from images found through Google Image Search, Mary and I made digital collages based on our text conversation using the first 20 images for each search. The results were convoluted but patterns emerged through common images and text. We showed the images as a video projection on opposite walls in the space, where viewers sat in the middle as we “spoke” to each other from either side of the room.
A Conversation will be showing in December at Truck Gallery’s Window Space in Calgary, Alberta.
A Wedding & A Honeymoon
Last but not least, my fiancé and I got married this summer. Early on in the planning stages, I saw a dress I loved but it was from a few years back and impossible to get a hold of, not to mention way out of my budget. Against my better judgment (or despite it!), I decided I was going to make my own wedding gown, even though the last time I sewed a dress was when I was 14 and in Home Ec class. I figured…how hard can it be? It was just another art project to tackle! The thing is, I wanted a simple shaped dress, which I had a hard time finding in shops, but I also wanted flowers on it. So I got down to painting with watercolours, practicing roses in a painting medium that I wasn’t used to. After many botched attempts, I finally worked it out and scanned the image and had it printed onto satin.
From there, I made a mock up dress in a cheap fabric using my own pattern that I created by looking at photos online of the original dress I liked and, no joke, Gwyneth Paltrow’s pink dress that she won her Oscar in. I think all my problem solving skills for creating art, from the planning stages to the end results, helped me a lot in trying to figure out my dress.
Working on my kitchen table at home while trying to keep the dress a secret was hard, and it also meant doing fittings and trying to see what the dress looked like on and from behind meant many awkward selfies in the mirror. In the end, after a couple of fitting hiccups, I finished the dress and even made it convertible into a shorter party dress for the reception.
The wedding couldn’t have been more perfect. And after a happily stress-free wedding, my husband and I left for a quick honeymoon in California. We spent a few days in Ojai, and all the cacti we saw inspired my new work, which has been commissioned by The New Gallery in Calgary for their fundraiser later this fall. The drawing will be made into a silkscreen print. I will post more details in upcoming months.
My blog has been a little quiet lately as I was working on a project, which unfortunately (or fortunately for that matter) I am no longer a part of. Without going into too much detail, I was commissioned to do a large mural for a new store in downtown Vancouver. I was very excited about the prospect of working on such a large scale, as it would have been just under 30 x 30 feet of blank wall for me to play with.
I was initially under the impression that I had a bit of creative freedom in the process, but in the end it turned out that they wanted someone to hand paint a very specific visual (a wall full of their best-sellers). The mural had to be painted in a specific style completely foreign to my work, but I still had to do press and media events relating the work back to my practice in order to promote their company working with a local artist. I was very uncomfortable with this, as it had not been what I originally thought the project was, and after much back and forth attempts to compromise, it came time to walk away.
When I was first awarded the project, I was given a few themes to work with and to look at the artist Cézanne’s work. While my first sketch was rejected right off the bat, I wanted to share the sketch and some ideas behind it.
The day I found out I got the commission, I wase visiting the Seattle Art Museum. While in the Japanese section, I came across a Hokusai painting, Five Beautiful Women:
I was immediately drawn to the way that the kimono patterns were painted, the flat graphicness with the black lines, and the clashing yet complimentary array of patterns. With this image in mind, I began researching for the mural, studying Cezanne’s work. In the process, I found some mention of his influence by Japonisme, and his paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire in relation to Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.
With these ideas in mind, I went to work and created a sketch that both worked in the company’s visuals and themes and also stayed true to my work. I created an image inspired by the Three Graces:
I’ve had to change the sketch a bit so that I’m able to put it on my blog without revealing the company that had commissioned me. I’m hoping that I will be able to use this idea in another work in the future as I’m quite fond of the image and feel like it could exist on its own.
I’ve painted commissions in the past, and I have to say, after this experience, how grateful I am to have worked on those commissions, as my clients wanted me to create freely and use my creativity in interpreting their ideas. Working on this project has been an eye opener for me. Challenging and frustrating at times, it’s helped me understand how dedicated to my art practice I am. I’ve worked hard to get to where am I now, committing myself to my full time practice for the past 10 years. And never one to dwell too much on the negative, I now have time to dedicate to my own work in the studio and to preparing for my upcoming exhibition in Calgary next month.
My exhibition Of Myth and Men, at Initial Gallery, came down a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve now had the time to digest everything. Thank you to everyone who came out to see my solo show. The exhibition’s opening night and artist talk were both well attended, and there was a steady stream of traffic throughout the run of the show. It’s always interesting to hear what others think of my work, and on a few occasions, I met people at the gallery who talked to me about their experience of my work. One of the great things about showing at a gallery with high visibility is that the walk-in traffic varies so much from young to old, students to artists, locals to tourists. I found the ones who asked the hardest questions were often the youngest children! They weren’t inhibited by anything and would ask question after question, dissecting the work with their curious minds.
I spend months, if not years, creating a series of work in my studio, and I often feel anxious to get the work outside of the studio, so that it can be seen by people. While creating the art, it’s a very private and personal experience, as I’m in my quiet studio working alone, one on one with the painting. Putting it out in the public can be both nerve wracking and liberating. Once it’s out there, it’s out there to do its own thing. And it’s out there to be seen. And on this occasion, it was seen and chosen to be featured on the cover of the new summer issue of Ricepaper magazine.
Liger, Liger (Chimera) was chosen for the front cover of the newest issue of Ricepapermagazine. Ricepaper is a quarterly Canadian magazine which has showcased Asian Canadian literature, culture, and the arts since 1994. You can find Ricepaper in stores across Canada.
This issue is also available to purchase online here.
Next up, I’m busy preparing for my two-person show in Calgary at The New Gallery this October. This will include an artist talk at the University of Calgary, and I will be in attendance for the opening night. I will post more details on this show soon.