6:10 pm - Here I am, at Space 180, the office and gallery space that Kearny Street Workshop shares with LocusArts and used to share with Derek Chung's Tactile Pix, before Derek went off to New York to do grad school.
I get a certain bittersweet charge every time another APAture starts. I say "bittersweet charge" and not "nostalgia" because KSW has been such a geographically nomadic org for so long that every few years, APAture is run out of a different building. There's no longtime there there. KSW has been at Space 180 for about three years now, so they're building a history here. But that history largely isn't mine. I've been to shows at this space but I haven't actually done my own work here. In fact, this blog will be the first time ...
6:21 - So the internet went down for a second so I ran around like an idiot until Chris Brown (KSW board member) suggested I turn off my airport then turn it on again. Duh. Now I'm using Scribefire, so if it happens again, I won't lose anything.
6:35 - Just restarted the 'puter to clear out all the crap and was approached by Jason Mateo, carrying one child and monitoring another one running around. Yes, his own children. That's how long it's been since I've seen this spoken word artist. He doesn't look any different, and says he's still teaching at Youth Speaks, and working on writing for performance. His kids at Youth Speaks will be performing at Manilatown Heritage Foundation for APAture on Saturday.
6:41 - Lucy Kalyani Lin just came over--she insisted I use the "Kalyani" even though it's her middle name because "do you know how many Lucy Lins are on the internet on porn sites?" She's the lead curator of the APAture visual show this year (together with Lyman Yip and Jack Cho)--to check and see if I was writing good stuff. I told her she'd have to bribe me with regular glasses of wine. Told Ellen Oh the same thing. Ellen is KSW's new Executive Director; this is her first APAture, poor sucker!
I grabbed artist Christine Wong Yap as she was cruising past -- she'll be in the APAture ten-year retrospective later this fall/winter (as will I be.) She was one of the artists in KSW's 35 anniversary show Activist Imagination and has blogged at KSW's blog herself. Christine was originally known in the community as an "activist artist," making explicitly political work in printmaking and painting/muralism. She's remade herself as a conceptual artist and has work up at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as we speak, in the Galleon Trade gallery of Bay Area Now 5.
I also spoke briefly with game designer and skratch DJ Michael "MercuryBonez" Cheng, who was on the organizing committee for APAture 2000. He recently moved back to the Bay Area from ... Texas? He used to perform with the lamented Dhamaal. Now, I just don't know.
6:52 - The gallery looks different tonight. Slightly different. We're on the third (top) floor of a loft space and it looks like the attic up here. There's a fire escape, and warehouse windows, a wooden floor with paint drips everywhere (begging to be sanded and finished) and pipes and electrical conduits worn externally. Gordon Lee made two movable walls during the Activist Imagination show and they're being used to good effect, but somehow, there's something about the installation or the lighting that makes the space look a bit ... cleaner--more gallery-like--tonight. It's the versatility of the space, the potential versatility that hasn't been entirely tapped yet, that makes this space a prime candidate to hang nostalgia on. You can do things here. It's not just an office and meeting space like the last four spaces KSW has had.
6:59 - Ellen just called everyone to order to start the announcements and welcome part of the evening. You know the drill: "thank you for coming, this is APAture, thanks to Lucy Kalyani Lin, our curator, thanks to May Briosos, the APAture Coordinator, thanks to our sponsors, blah, blah, blah." Okay, I'll link to the sponsors here later. (ETA: go look at the postcard image for the sponsors, there's no listing that I can find.) Oh, and there are twenty artists in the show. She also gave a shout out to me, sitting here in the corner, bloggin'. And Sam Chanse, former KSW Artistic Director, thought she'd be a smartass and shout "death to blogger!" (I think.) WTF?
Then Lucy: thank you, happy , thank you to may, ksw board, lyman, took so much work to prepare gallery, ellen, artists, hope you like the way the show came together, those who worked with her personally and trusted her enough to see how she envisioned the show; audience thanks for support; all artists have nametags green with blue collars, go up to them and talk about their work, can't encompass this herself so won't try; many intricacies, ask them where they'll be showing next.
Vid: board chair of KSW, doesn't usually use a mic; quick intro; thank everyone; artists, organizers; vips--funders, supporters, potentials; forget that folks who present here this is their first exposure to the world, ksw makes this possible; pitch for cash; please please please, thanks for coming and supporting in person; hope you'll come back and think about giving us an individual donation today here or online. if you're a funder, hook us up with a grant; to support this we really need your help.
Damn, no wonder everybody was excited about Vid when he came on board rather randomly. That was a good pitch. Short, to the point, included all the talking points. And he even came back to say "Bar is open!"
Jay Jao is in the hizzouse, documenting with photos. Jay is a digital photographer, who goes to all the APA events (and has for YEARS), taking photos of people and of the work at the events themselves. It's his service to the community, and his photos are awesome. Here's a link to his website, where he posts everything he shoots. I'm trying to be a text Jay Jao with this liveblog, documenting all these events with the proficiency and volume with which Jay documents our world.
7:13 - Bob Hanamura is here, talking to Sam. Bob is an interesting guy: an architect, designer, and artist, he was in an internment camp and studied in Chicago (I believe; I could have this all wrong) after the war. You can see him in the KSW publication Pursuing Wild Bamboo: Portraits of Asian American Artists. Bob is the only member of the older generation of KSW adherents who makes it out to (I swear) every event. He still curates shows and knows what's going in with da Youtt. I see him at every APAture.
Speaking of the "older generation" (we're talking about any generation older than those who started APAture, by the way. But those of us who started APAture are already a generation older than a lot of the artists showing in APAture. Just thought I'd point that out.), Nancy Hom is here and so is Genny Lim. Nancy joined KSW in 1974, two years after its founding, and has been active with the organization for about 33 years. She was the executive director from about 1995 to 2003, and it was on her watch that APAture was founded and established. Her presence at every subsequent APAture is like a secular benediction ;) Nancy's printmaking work will be shown at the Chinese Culture Center in collaboration with the De Young's Asian American Art show this fall.
Genny is part of the Bay Area's cultural treasure as well. A longtime poet and interdisciplinary collaborator. She was teaching at New College for a long time but when New College went under recently, she found herself out of a job. It's a terrible pity when our great poets have to scramble to support themselves. Here's someone (Nancy too) who has earned her place. Why don't we have a more socialist (yeah, I said it) government that supports artists?
7:20 - Just met Mimi Wong, newest member of the KSW Board. Had to explain who I was. Wow, it's been a long time since I've been down KSW way ;)
And then it's Min Jung Kim! Amazing! I haven't seen her since I spaced her wedding over a year ago. Min Jung is a longtime Bay Area APA fixture, a blogger with iistix, with minjungkim.com, and a writer for Koream Journal (which is in financial trouble, y'all. Go support.) I haven't seen her since she got married and now she's moving to Seattle. Boo! Min Jung is organizing an APAture event: "LAP-POP," a blogging event in which bloggers *gasp* perform live. "Kinda nice to have a digital media showcase as part of APAture." I agree ;) One complaint: MJ had to pay to get into this event though she's coordinating an event in this APAture. Typical of APAture. Organizing low budge.
7:50 - Rania Ho comes by. Wow. It really has been years. Rania was a member of the awesome sketch comedy group 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors for years, but now lives in Beijing with her husband (who is Chinese, that's why.) They run a gallery called Arrow Factory in the center of Beijing near the Confucius Temple. She's back in town because her sister just gave birth to twins; funny, because the last time I was in Beijing it was because my sister was giving birth (though not to twins.) We talked about her gallery--self-funded, not commercial, all new work; and the Beijing arts scene, which Rania said is somewhat tainted by commercialism. Promised to have brunch soon.
8:05 - Ellen again, no longer a VIP announcements but the general one. Come to the events. Follow along online with moi. Please comment. If you just can't get enough of APAture we'll have retrospective from October 24 to January 23. Exhibition in gallery, perf, lit, music, panel. Info at the front. All sorts of programming year round. Stay with us. Thank yous. Twenty artists. (applause). Took a lot of work by volunteers and amazing support staff. May Briosos APAture coordinator, Lucy Kalyani Lin Visual Curator, Coordinating committee of 8 people. Thank sponsors.
Lucy: screaming over the noise of the crowd. (I'm shushing people.) Usual thanks. Board did all the gallery work. Thanks to Ellen. (Wow, there are a lot of people here now.) Artist green name tags. Talk to them. Some of the work here is priced to sell.
8:20 - And here comes Manami Kano, apature OG. Manami was part of the 17-person original APAture committee. I got to know her at the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival (whose director, Chi-hui Yang, is also here tonight). She's a nonprofit hack, like me, like you, and was in New York for a while, going to grad school. (right?) She just moved back to the Bay Area and did NOT announce her return. She also complained. Manami's name was not on any list downstairs. Also, she's looking for a job. She's a highly trained nonprofit hack.
Former KSW Board member and graphic designer Choppy Oshiro was so taken with my French pedicure that she gave me a (half) foot massage. APAture OG and recently formered Chinese Culture Center executive director (writer and highly trained nonprofit hack) Sabina Chen also flitted by.
8:39 - APAture OG Robynn Takayama comes by, with big headphones around her neck and a mic tucked into her shirt. Robynn's a radio producer. I ask her for a quote and she gives me a big smile. "I feel old now that I'm a KSW 'alumni'. I would rather have been a 'KSW veteran'."
Sabina would have preferred "APAture OG." Me too, obviously. Nancy's also an "alumni." (The lack of proper grammar, of course, horrifies me.) Nancy should be something better. Manang, maybe.
8:45 - Poet Pireeni Sundaralingam stops by, her fingers in her ears, to see what I'm doing. She can't stand the noise (there's a DJ playing now) so we don't really talk. Pireeni's another friend I met through KSW. She and her partner, violinist Colm O'Riain, formed a performance group many years ago called Dhaia Tribe--mostly spoken word performers, which is now defunct.
8:49 - Ebony McKinney from the SF Arts Commission stops by and embarrasses me for not remembering her. Amy Ho is dressed as a durian. No shit. A durian. I actually thought she was dressed as a hedgehog.
8:52 - Ebony likes Weston's piece. A three piece excerpt (?) of a series of paper drawing/collage. Very intricate, layered, the pieces that have windows ... (conversation goes on but I don't record it.)
8:54 - Artist Suzanne Husky takes Ebony's place. Suzanne's opening a show in the South Bay in early October. She made dolls of her friends for her last piece and put them in a miniature SF scene. I complain to her that my doll was wearing checks and I haven't worn checks since the eighties.
Lisa Leong, APAture Intern comes by. She lets us know the drinks are really strong tonight. I ask her for another white whine. K. Lo comes back. He fled when he saw me blogging before. K. Lo's quote: *a shrug*. Lisa comes back with a kamikaze shot. It tastes like lemonade.
9:32 - I'm very done with this. I'm about four drinks into the night and tired of trying to blog and talk to people at the same time. I just took a long break. It's hot in the gallery and noisy. The music is way too loud! I'll reflect on the show tomorrow. Goodnight.