I Talk To Four Walls - an online journal

Sun April 22-  Artropolis & Vancouver Sun Run 

Links of the Day:

Yen's journal. Her site's beautiful-looking and her stories are mesmerizing. No wonder someone copied her design. I've barely skimmed the surface of her journal though, as I've just found it. It'll take awhile to read through everything and soak in her gorgeous photos. You get a sense of what the present 'Filipino diaspora' is like for the Filipino people (and this makes me feel even more spoiled and immature for taking all that I have for granted). 

Also, check out HandSpeak: A Sign Language Online. I've wanted to learn sign language ever since I attended a conference one summer when I was a teenager. One gal, who had been a counselor at a summer camp for deaf kids, taught a few of us to sign a song for the talent show. The movements were so expressive (I would dig out the grainy video, but then I would have to see myself in it. Blah.). I wish I could remember the signs now. And when you see 2 deaf people in public signing with each other, their facial expressions are so animated too. I wish I could eavesdrop on their conversation.

Artropolis 2001: On Friday, I went downtown to get my reimbursement for my fingerprinting procedure as well as to pick up my Sun Run t-shirt and race package. I also headed off to the basement of the CBC News building, which was the setting for this year's Artropolis exhibition of contemporary B.C. visual art.

As soon as I entered, I encountered 502 artworks in the Self Portrait section. Basically, anyone could summit an 8 by 11 self-portrait and it would be exhibited. Something for me to strive for next time !?! I really enjoyed this section and wanted to slowly savour all the different ideas and renditions. I want to start drawing and painting again! These people can REALLY draw and  paint. Many people didn't just include their faces (actually, someone just drew a trolley bus and some Chinese characters), but they included pictures of other objects or places that were integral to their identity. If I were to make a self-portrait, I wonder what would I include? And what colours would I use? Would I draw in a realistic manner or in a cartoonish way or in an impressionistic style? Some man had 2 copies of a photograph of an outdoor setting placed one on top of the other. The top photo though, had a silhouette of himself running cut out. And one woman drew herself, her home, her family, and her church which she then covered with strips of white tissue paper which represented prison bars. Just some interesting ideas out of the many.

In the juried section, some of the artworks I enjoyed include:

  • Haruko Okano's Drawing Breath: an eerie sound-and-motion sculpture, inspired by the Queen Charlotte Islands, of bare branches, deep moss, and long, dangling roots. The roots are made of those rubber tubes reminiscent of those from stethoscopes. At the bottom of the tubes are attached these wires. The sculpture is hung from the ceiling and roots reach the floor. They move merely as a result of whatever gentle air that's moving in the room. The wired ends make scratches on the sand at the bottom, and the rubber tubes of the roots make a windy noise. And on the floor of the display stall, the artist was detailed enough to cover it with more sand, presumably from the QC Islands. The brief write-up that accompanied the display was the first truly well-written and useful one that I had ever read. The display was beautiful on its own, but the explanation seemed to enhance its significance even further.* 
  • The other top favourite of mine was this zen garden patch made with different coloured and sized stones from the river bed. I'm so inspired to create beautiful designs in the garden with stones too. One blonde woman even followed the instructions and took off her shoes and socks to enter into the centre of the garden. She brought in a stone and placed it in the middle. And she brought her palms together and bowed.
  • This and the following are just interesting ideas that I picked up, not necessarily favourites.
    • making cutout designs in the fabric of umbrellas
    • using the same colour of thread as the colour of the fabric to sew on a design. e.g. sewing beige leaf design on beige fabric makes it more organic looking
    • along the same lines of painting the foreground (almost) the same colour as the background, there was a painting called Dice Throw # (some number I can't remember). There was a black background. And on the foreground were many many beans. They either were black (with highlights for 3-D effect) or dark purple. Sometimes you had to shift positions to see some of the purple beans under the light. I just thought the painting looked neat. And doable. It would be kind of fun and calming (sort of a brain-dead exercise) to paint different versions of this painting, this time with blue or red or green, etc. in place of the purple beans. I suppose some people would consider this plagiarism though.
    • making art in the dark room by placing various images onto photographic film without the prior use of a camera

In the curated section, some pieces that stood out were:

  • dried cow placenta was hung on a couple of clothes lines. The body of a woman hanging 'clothes' was also made with wire and covered with cow placenta. The artist will likely use cow placenta again for other displays, as he likes the idea that it symbolizes nurturing, birth, life, and other maternal ideas.
  • wire and paper sculpture hung on the wall. It was a live casting of the fronts of several men in various poses. What struck me was the size of their penises. Live casting, eh? 
  • A multi-coloured velvety/ lace fabric constructed of many different shapes of leaves. Imagine wearing a dress made of that fabric. It'll be wearing artwork. 

I noticed that a lot of the artists derived their inspiration for their artwork from nature, which is very understandable. However, because this was so common, some of their ideas were no longer unique.

*There were some displays that didn't seem like art to me, including those that looked like garbage and seemed to have no meaning until you've read the supposedly enlightening accompanying write-up. For example, there was a display of several hundred small white cardboard boxes piled randomly on a table. On the cover was printed the word Open. When you opened them, you would find some junk inside and the boxes would each be lined with a slip of paper with the word Fill. Too symbolic and not artistic enough for me, dude. And read what some art critic liked: "Gwen Curry's sorrowful and incantatory 'Void Field (after Kapoor)', an installation of large wooden tiles, each inscribed with a date and the name of an animal that humankind has brought to extinction." Yeah, but what was so artistic of a bunch of wooden tiles on the wall? I believe that in general, a good piece of art doesn't need any superfluous words to explain it. If you don't like it just by looking at it, then it's not good VISUAL ART in my books. 

Note to self: Next time that I attend an art exhibit, bring along pencil and paper so I can jot down cool ideas before I forget.

There was a group of high school students at the exhibition carrying drawing pad and pencil to either sketch or write down ideas. I wished I was doing the same as them too. I have fond memories of attending art galleries with my grade 10 art class. And one of my biggest regrets in high school (aside from not trying harder in my senior years and not bothering to meet more people outside of my group) was to have not taken art after grade 10.

I really enjoyed the exhibition. Any exhibition that injects interesting ideas into my head and gets me excited to create artwork of my own is deemed a good exhibition. (Just like any teacher that gets me excited about something, makes me think, and makes me feel empowered about progressing further on my own in a particular subject area is a good teacher in my books. Oh, if only all teachers are like that though.)

Reinforced in my mind: Whatever guy I end up with (if any) must appreciate the visual arts. Not with big words and BS, but with his eyes and heart. He must think artists are cool and understand why I think hanging around an art supplies store is akin to hanging around a candy or toy store for some kids. And also, there's no way I'm going to make a living making my own art. There are many talented, talented people out there. My fear of deadlines and my perfectionism would drive me crazy and render me hungry and broke.

*~*~

1 hour and 22 minutes, baby! That, my dear, is the time that it took me to amble from the Start Line to the Finish line of the Vancouver Sun Run today. Yes, I beat last year's time by a couple of minutes despite not having trained as much. It might have had to do with starting more near the front of the over 45,000 crowd this year. (I started with the faster green group b/c I was there with my friend A and her bf who belonged with that group. Oh yeah, no wonder I hadn't heard from A in so long. Isn't it usually the case when people have new bf's? Not that I totally excuse it or anything, but then again I hadn't kept in touch with her either.) Hence, there wasn't as much bottleneck in narrow areas. (And it only took us 5 minutes to reach the Start Line - when I started timing the run.) Plus, it was sprinkling and cloudy which might have helped slow down heat loss and the onset of dehydration.

Yesterday, I was so apprehensive about today's run that I turned down an invite to play tennis and frisbee in order to conserve my energy for the run. My friend couldn't believe it. "Are you serious?!," she exclaimed. But hey, I didn't want to end up with too embarrassing a time for the run. Having your name and time listed in the newspaper the next day is a bit of a motivating factor to finish with a decent time.

The first kilometer seemed really far. The maximum length of time that I jogged was for about 5 minutes and then I would walk a bit and then jog some more. I don't feel at all guilty about walking now. Taking a break helps slow down my heart rate to a controllable rate and helps me find a second wind (or 3rd or 4th or...). Last year I barely walked yet I didn't finish any faster. Plus, jogging throughout the length of the run made my quads sore and made me gasp for breath. Also, when my friend did a long race last year, he ran for 10 minutes and walked for 1 throughout and ended up beating his friend who was of similar ability but had run nonstop. 

I was feeling pretty sick from the 1st to about the 3rd km though. I needed to go to the can, in fact. It was good that I didn't drink any water at the first water station. Otherwise, I might have felt worse. Somehow, I managed to feel better after awhile and soldiered on. Having so many thousands of people passing me by and seeing this sea of people in predominantly white shirts bobbing up and down in front of me got me moving too. (There was also this section in which I had just run down from the Aquarium at Stanley Park and rounded the corner to see the Lion's Gate Bridge and a mass of white shirted people in curving ahead of me in the distance. I think that image ought to be imprinted on the Sun Run t-shirt in the future.) There were some slight downhills which I of course had to jog instead of walk down. Gotta take advantage of the momentum. Along the way, there were bands playing music. You can't help feeling more energetic hearing the music. And since it was raining, I took my glasses off and put them in my pocket. Since people's faces were then blurry, I pretended that whatever guy standing at the side of the road was actually cute and cheering ME on. That helped to get me moving a bit when we emerged from Stanley Park and onto the streets. 

I had quite a a lot of self-defeating thoughts in the early stages of the run. I seriously didn't care that other people, older, younger, fatter, whatnot, were beating me. All the power to them. I truly wanted to regress to my naturally lazy self, and just live life sitting on my butt on my sofa. So what if other people achieve more than me, in runs and in all aspects of life. It's damn painful pushing myself so hard. But fortunately, some remnants of competition in me kicked in. Some other thoughts that went through my head: What, that old woman is ahead of me? No way, I gotta get in front of her. Hey, this woman has a really big butt. As in really big. I can't let her beat me. I've gotta get in front of her too. Gee, this old fat guy is wheezing too loud. Don't have a heart attack, ok? Overall, running a long race is a metaphor of life. Don't quit. Keep moving even if you have to walk. Eventually, you'll get there. If you stay still, you won't reach your goals. Don't give up now, you're half way. And especially not now that you've only got 1km to go! 

Yeah, yeah, doing the 10k wasn't actually that bad. The jogging in some parts was kinda easy once I got into it. And when I finally finished, there was still some energy left in me to run some more, not that I did of course. I also noticed that I wasn't as hot and soaking in as much sweat as I was last year.

I was kinda annoyed that the meeting area at the end of the race was so compacted that it was difficult to find people. I ended up missing out on getting free tapioca and rice pudding 'cuz I had to wait around a long time for A and her bf, who were sitting somewhere else other than what A had designated as the meeting spot. Geez. I hate being a third wheel. Every where they walked, they had to hold hands too. Surprised they didn't jog while also holding hands.

Physically, I'm feeling ok at the moment. As soon as I got home, I took a hot shower and then soaked in the whirlpool. Then I slathered on lots of Tiger Balm and Aloe Vera lotion onto my legs. Talk about mentholly-invigorated. We'll see in the next few days whether I'll still be able to bend down to sit on the toilet. Or to even participate in my dance class Wednesday. Didn't want to push it by attending this free ultimate frisbee clinic for beginners this afternoon. Ah, if only I had a book like Bridget Jones's Diary to read this afternoon. That would've capped off a good day.

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