On my way home from Spain my family and I were invited by my friend and collector, Katherine Kwun McLane, to her home in Singapore. While there one of the many things we did was tour the art complex known as the Gillman Barracks. At the Sundaram Tagore Gallery there was an exhibition of beautiful photographs by Sebastião Salgado. Images spanning the last 20 years of his work included photographs from the Workers, Migration, and Genesis series. His work seeks to document the impact of globalization and he is personally dedicated to restoring decimated lands he has photographed. The piece I am posing next to is part of a series documenting peoples and the untouched nature they inhabit.
The exhibition, No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, had traveled from the Guggeheim to the CCA in Singapore. The curator June Yap explains, “No Country proposes a reevaluation of the region and its countries based on its cultural relationships, influences, affinities and negotiations. It offers a glimpse into the region’s diverse contemporary art practices and presents the possibility of understanding its countries as greater than the contents of their political and geographical boundaries.”
My favorite show at the Gillman Baracks was by numbers, paintings by Hyungmin Moon at Space Cottonseed. Not only were the paintings visually stunning, but the idea behind them was so original. Each painting was based on one magazine including Art in America, New Yorker, Vogue, and Playboy. After scanning every page of a given magazine from an entire year of issues, he statistically formulated the most frequently used colors. He then painted 10,000 squares of the final color formula onto canvas.
My generous host in Singapore booked a three day trip for the two of us to Hong Kong. While there she made the most of every minute trying to introduce me to friends and colleagues in the art world. We were invited to a dinner party at a very posh Chinese restaurant called Duddell’s. It was like I had stepped into someone else’s life. Dressed in borrowed designer clothes, It was a surreal and intelligent evening I won’t soon forget. Somehow I managed to fit into the conversation as if I had been to many dinners before. I felt high and stimulated to be included in such an interesting and smart group of people. One of the dynamic and interesting people I met was Joanne Ooi who represents artisans creating these incredible sculptural jewelry pieces for her company Plukka.
After my quick visit to Hong Kong, I returned to Singapore to pick up the family. After leaving Singapore, we made the most a long weekend in Tokyo before our final destination in Los Angeles. It was really difficult to decide what to see and do in such a short amount of time in Tokyo. We chose a walk through Yoyogi Park to see and seek our Harajuku girls and braved an afternoon in the electronic district called Akihabara. We also spent a day with friends in the Tokyo Station area with a trip to the Fukagawa Edo Museum (the kids did not want to leave, imagine that). And of course we braved (and filmed) a walk at the famous Shibuya Crossing. I look forward to studying the neon color story of Tokyo for my next series of paintings and somehow incorporate the frenetic energy of the city into my composition.
Upon arriving back in Los Angeles for the first time in three years, I was interviewed curbside by Channel 7 News. The reverse culture shock began with the realization that TV and movies here are so ubiquitous that I was going to be on TV just steps off an airplane from Tokyo. Welcome home, I thought to myself. I remember as a kid how I was on TV a lot too. Not because I was trying, but because it was all around. I was once interviewed about what I thought of the toys made to promote the movie E.T. Or another time when I was filmed at my mother’s doctor’s office having my eyes checked on a new high tech machine. Here I am with Jaclyn Smith at the height of her Charlie’s Angels fame. In or around 1978 she was filming a commercial across the street from where I grew up and happily agreed to take a photo with me while on a break from shooting. Here is a link to all her cool vintage commercials. I was then and am rarely now starstruck but I remember thinking at the time that she was the most beautiful woman in the known universe.
There is a list a mile long of famous people I have met, have been to the home where I grew up, or whose children I went to school with. But meeting Jaclyn Smith will always top that list. I guess Hollywood has been in my blood since before I was born. Here is my mother on her wedding day with my grandmother, Marion Pike (left), at the home of Bob and Dolores Hope (right).
But more than this Hollywood I was trying to escape, was how my life in Spain seemed more fleeting every moment. I was desperate not to let it go so quickly, not to let my memories fade. Then one of the first emails I received was from the organizers of RussfArt. They sent a compilation video of the events and there I was at the very end dancing with my studio mate, José. I cannot forget.
Now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I do look forward to working in my studio again. But the funny thing is that adjusting to life back in The States might take more effort than I expected. My friends have all been sending lovely messages of “welcome home!” but I don’t feel home yet. I feel like a person of no country and no home…yet…stayed tuned.
This month’s music: Röyksopp & Robyn