The flight over was uneventful but bumpy. Not enough sleep and the food was not very good. Luckily I slept through dinner. I was sitting with a library professor from Ithaca College, who was invited back based on a prior visit because the Chinese were way behind us on how to run a library. They were also going to do some touring.
After my traditional stop at Jenny Lu’s for orange juice, eggs, cereal, cheese and wine, I arrived at my studio. My front yard looked like a jungle. I needed to make arrangements to have Lau Shan come over to clean up the front yard because it was unfair to my neighbors. Fortunately, the sculptures created during my last trip to Aimei had recently been delivered. Huang and Mung stopped by as Mung had just finished unpacking the unfinished sculptures -- 10 were broken in shipment. She had also started on the final finishing the other sculptures. Although the shipper from Beijing to my studio had agreed to do it for 650 RMB, they actually charged 1500 RMB with Huang having to go to the bank to make up the difference. It was time to get a new shipping company.
Peter and Harvey had both called while I was in the U.S. to tell me about an important opening by F2 gallery in this chic new hotel in downtown Beijing. The Outbound Hotel was extremely modern and the lobby holding the show for F2 and another gallery was very elegant. There was a high class bar and waiters passed around fancy hors d’oeuvres. F2 was featuring an artist who created large insects utilizing porcelain and stainless steel. They used a shipper to bring the works to the hotel. They were very helpful in giving me the information for the new shipper, which they highly recommended. I met some interesting people. John Mulligan-Whyte, an expatriate lawyer from Bermuda, and his wife, Dai Min, a former opera singer, were working on a project emphasizing the need for greater operation between China and the United States. They write a financial column for China Daily. They were very enthusiastic about my flag series and they were to come out to the studio on the following day to see my two large sculptures. They were going to feature this as the background and introduction for a new television series in China concerning relations between China and the United States, which apparently has the backing of the Chinese government.
I was quite jet lagged so I did not go out to the traditional gallery opening night dinner. Peter was feeling under the weather, and his former student Miilka and I shared taxi back to 318 Art Park. Peter was unable to join us for dinner but we tried the new restaurant in front of Art Space, which is right in front of 318 Art Park Although it was not very late, the staff initially indicated that they were ready to go home. I explained to them that I just got off the plane and was extremely hungry. Miilka caused quite a stir as he was dressed in a pink top with black tights, with unusual boots and his hair was all done up in the latest chic hairstyle. Although he was here on an interim bases, he was looking for modeling work to support himself and postpone moving back to the states.
My air-conditioning was working but almost immediately after coming home, there was a truly ferocious rain storm. It shorted out some of my lights, but there was no way I was going out into the rain storm in the dark to try to fix the fuse box. It did not short out the circuit with the air conditioning. I spoke to Leslie and got a good night’s sleep.
I wanted to boil water make some tea, but the stove did not work. The gas cylinder had gas and was working, so apparently there was a problem with the starter mechanism for the burners. I took the stove apart with Huang who had dropped-off Mung to work on finishing the sculptures that had been just delivered. Although the place was dusty, Mung is such an enthusiastic worker that I have to put up with her unwillingness to really clean the studio. Once she is finished finishing this group of sculptures, I asked her to give the studio a very thorough cleaning. Her response was not enthusiastic. We took out the old batteries in the stove and I hope that the new batteries will solve the problem.
It was time to run errands and get art supplies, including boards and more acrylics. We drove by BIAC and the entire area has been flattened. All that is left is some rubble and isolated people selling vegetables and the expensive items by the roadside. Before I had my own studio and after my initial visits at the Pickled Art Institute, I used studio space in BIAC. It was a real community with Li Gang as the unofficial mayor. Now all of the artists were dispersed throughout the Beijing area. Now I have no way to contact many of my friends who used to live there. Not only are the buildings transient but so are the people.
When we got to the art store district across from the Central Academy of Fine Arts , I noticed that the building that contained all of my favorite supply stores was closed. There was no sign to indicate where any of the shops in that building had moved. But there still were some stores in the alleyways behind this building. We were able to find a limited number of boards and some more acrylics. Each of these stores had very limited materials and I now have to find a new source for the materials needed to finish my Shattered Dream series. When I returned my next-door neighbor , Hong, invited me to join her and her father for lunch which he had prepared. He is a retired doctor and did not speak a word of English. Hong thought he was still working two or three days a week but he told us that he had not worked a day as a doctor in the last four years. He enjoyed hanging out in his daughter’s studio and doing calligraphy paintings while his wife lived in the family home where the son still lived while he was getting his masters degree. Hong and Richard had set a tentative wedding date. She was extremely busy on the hotel project in Southern China and the project was awaiting funds for the furnishing of the restaurants that were to house my four glass sculptures.
After lunch I did some more work on preparing the painted boards for more of the Shattered Dreams series, which I originally called the Smash Series. I took a break to deliver some orange juice to Peter Lewis, who was still feeling under the weather. After a brief visit with him, he went back to bed and I hung out with Laurens Tans for a while before going back to work. Peter was going to be on a sabbatical and was no longer interested in subletting a portion of his studio. Laurens was asking my advice on whether he should pay for a studio that someone else had built out or build one out himself. He was using me as a sounding board which was just fine. He really wasn’t going to save any money by doing it himself and by purchasing someone else’s finished studio he can focus on creating his own art. The fact that the prior tenant was getting back some of his costs was irrelevant. On the way back to the studio I saw Jing and Qing, who invited me into their studios to show me their new works. Jing, who had always used beautiful soft colors was now doing everything in predominantly black saying that these were now tranquil meditation works. In contrast, Qing , previously used almost all dark colors was still doing large paintings but they had a lot more light. But it was time to do some more work on the boards for the Shattered Dreams series.
When I was visiting Peter, he was so under the weather that he offered me his tickets to the Martell’s annual artist awards opening at the Today Art Museum, where I had previously seen Xu Bing’s two “Phoenix.” Laurens was going too and apparently it was a big deal. Peter asked me if I would coordinate with two of his students, Lily and Miilka, to get to the opening. Because it was so hot out I did not want to walk about 3/4 of a mile to where the local taxis were. So I decided to ride my electric bike 4 miles to meet them. First I forgot the invitation, then the lock dropped out of my bicycle basket and just before I got there the battery went dead. So I knew I had to pedal a 50 pound bicycle four miles at the end of the evening. Initially, we were to go to Giorgio’s and Venetia’s for cocktails. Waiting for Miilka and Lily to get their acts and outfits together was aggravating as we started out over one-half hour late. In the taxi they discussed their makeup, outfits and their agenda for the opening while the Chinese taxi driver and I had our own conversation in Chinese about the rapid changes in Beijing.
Georgio was trained as a lawyer in Italy, but he previously had been in the publishing business. Although the practiced law with an Italian firm in Beijing for a few years, he found the law useful in reestablishing his publishing business. Venetia was also in that business before they got married. He made a terrific pasta salad, which was greatly appreciated since there was no food at the opening. Their apartment in Beijing is quite elegant. When we got to the museum, it had taken down Xu Bing’s Phoenixes. The museum was extremely crowded with lots of people from the fashion industry. There was lots of cognac but I was still suffering jet lag and there was supposedly another big party at China Doll after the opening. In fact, there was no food at this opening.
There were three award winners, two of them being photographers. The painter’s work was at best less than ordinary. One of the photographers, a woman from Europe was quite good but her individual subjects, which were all women, were all depressing. The other photographer was into topless girls just reaching puberty surrounded by characters in devils and animal masks. The photographs were extremely large and had very many people, which I felt detracted from the basic idea. It seems like the same types of people attend various museum and gallery openings... the Beijing art scene. After a while I withdrew from this scene to focus on the art. Unfortunately, in this instance it was not very good. It also seemed to be the general impression of most of the other persons who attended. Why were these artists chosen for the award? Who was on the selection committee? What were the criteria that were used? Most of the art was that bad.
Because of jet lag, and there was more work to do at the studio, I decided not to go to the night club. Lily also wanted to work back in her studio so we shared a cab. She was worried about Miilka who apparently had found a soulmate. While we were at the opening it rained heavily. Fortunately, I put my bike under a tree next to the Imagine Gallery and it was relatively dry. But the battery was dead and I had to pedal it intermittently all the way home. The bicycle was designed to recharge the battery when you manually pedaled the bike. This design does not equal reality . Immediately after I got home it started to rain very heavily. But for the next two hours I was able to focus on work and then finished a Swedish mystery before going to sleep. It was hot again. Fortunately, the air conditioning in the bedroom was really working so I could get a good night’s sleep.
It was extremely hot even very early in the morning as I continued to work on the boards. Basically, I do a number of under coats in white and then on top of that I do a number of coats in the final color that I want to use. It takes at least an hour for each coat of acrylic to properly dry. I was supposed to have dinner with the Wangs that night but they had a change in plans because they had been summoned by the grandparents for a dinner. Also John Mulligan Whyte and Dai Min had a change of plans, so they did not show up at my studio in the morning. After a while you get used to everyone in China changing their plans at the last second. Either they are not sincere when they originally make their plans or something came along that was better or more urgent. Whatever it is you have to get used to it no matter how aggravating it is.
It was extremely hot but I was still able to get a lot of work done. I was also able to get Lau Shan to start working on cleaning up the front yard. After working for 20 minutes he said it was too hot and would come back later that afternoon to continue cleaning up the front your. I understood. Mung brought over some watermelon and that is what I had for lunch. Prior to lunch I was able to finish two of the shattered dreams series.
It was so hot that you could feel the sweat dripping down your back. All of your clothes stick to you. Although Beijing is supposed to have a dry climate, this was a moist heat.
Although Peter was under the weather, I asked him it come over because I was having concerns about “The Woman” series. He is the former head of the painting department at the Massachusetts College of Art and in looking at my new Shattered Dreams series pieces he commented that he could see the underlying effects of using a white base. He then gave me a brief tutorial on the use of color by the masters and then by the Impressionists as a base for all of their paintings. I learned a lot.
Helen Lan, who was in charge of a new gallery being constructed in 798 came by the studio to look at the new works. The gallery is scheduled for completion in August or September of this year and is considering furnishing a contract to me to exhibit some of the new Shattered Dream series and possibly some of the new glass sculptures. As of now, it does not have a name. She was previously involved in the Beijing art community before she decided to move back to Hunan province to teach and be nearer to her family and boyfriend. Her boyfriend was no longer and she decided to come back to Beijing and become involved in the art world again. The new boyfriend is also from Hunan province but he is starting a restaurant in Beijing specializing in food from that province. He already has a successful restaurant near a university in Hunan province.
I was supposed to have dinner with the Wangs but although that was canceled, they came over while Helen was still at the studio, to deliver my train tickets to and from Zibo. Apparently, the railroad had changed its rules. Previously, you could only get train tickets for the high speed express 10 days in advance because of the problems with scalpers. Now they have put on more high speed trains and will sell tickets much earlier. The Wang’s had to use a ticket broker because it was so difficult to get tickets and I was lucky to get a coach ticket for my trip to the Zibo. Helen went to Tsing Hua University and took some classes with Prof. Wang. Xaio Ou Wang was a student there at the same time so they had a lot to talk about. They took Helen home and I went back to work.
A family of birds has a nest on my front roof. The baby birds had just started to learn to fly and they spend much of their time in my front yard. When I first came to Beijing I noticed that I never heard any birds, but that is no longer the case. I did some more work and then heated up some leftovers. With a glass of wine that was my dinner. After starting a new book, I went to sleep quite early.
I was supposed to have an early morning meeting with a Chinese businessman and his entourage about a project in Mongolia. However, I received a message on my cell phone that they were meeting with the accountant first and would then come to my studio after 12:00 o’clock. I explained to them that my train was leaving at 4:00 p.m. from the South Station so I had to leave my studio no later than 2:30 pm. I knew this was cutting things very close. I was not going to miss the train because they decided to unilaterally change the schedule. I decided that the first thing to do was to pack up everything for the trip. I wanted to upload images of the new sculptures just received, including the broken sculptures in transit, but for some reason the camera was not charging so I decided to bring the camera with me and solve the problem in Boshan.
I did some more work and some people came in to look at my work in the studio. The liaison for the Chinese businessman wanted to change the plans again to meet downtown for lunch. I have been discussing doing business with these people for over a year and I wasn’t about to switch the plans again. If the meeting had to be postponed until I returned, that was okay with me. They did not arrive until 1:30. So I made arrangements with Mung to instruct her husband to pick up my luggage at the studio first and then meet me at Jin BinWai, where we were going to have lunch. Unfortunately, something got lost in translation and Huang came 30 minutes after he was supposed to came directly to the restaurant. We then had to go back and get my luggage. I knew we were cutting it very close. On Sunday, the traffic is much lighter than during the rest of the week. But we still encountered traffic problems on the Second Ring Road. When we got to the station the entrance that the GPS told us to use was closed. So Huang had to turn around and was concerned that we could not get to the alternate entrance in time. So we left Mung sitting in his car and we ran to the station. I made the train with about four minutes to spare. I was really sweaty and slightly winded. I’m getting too old for this type of brinkmanship.
The coach car was extremely crowded and someone was sitting in my assigned seat. Many people buy cheaper tickets for standing room only and then hope to find an unoccupied seat. They have redone the area around the Zibo railroad station. It is no longer a zoo for almost 100 taxi drivers hawking the exiting passengers. It is now very organized with taxis in line and a dispatcher. My taxi driver was not sure about how to get to Boshan. Fortunately, even at night I know how to get there. He had his doubts that I knew. I said that we should have a wager. If the meter is under 80 RMB he will only charges me 50 RMB and if the meter is over 80 RMB he can charge me 100 RMB. He did not take me up on the bet and the final meter reading was only 76 RMB. The hotel check-in was smooth and everything was working in my room, including the air-conditioning and the Internet. This was one of the rooms that was assigned to me last time with the Internet not working. The room was much cleaner and it looked like the hotel was getting its act together. I slept very well.
I was so anxious to start work that I got up an hour before the wake-up call. I started to plan out my day at the foundry. The wake-up call was on time and breakfast was served promptly at 7:00 AM. There were a number of people already in the breakfast area. The hotel looks like it was getting its act together. The attitude of the employees was also much better. This was a dramatic change from my last visit. It was raining and the taxi driver was complaining about the traffic jams caused by new road construction. They are widening some of the main streets.
Both Sun Jie Jie and Sun Yun Hao were at the foundry. I wanted to show them pictures of certain equipment used by Dale Jihuly’s studio as well as images of some of his recent works. Sun Jie Jie smiled and waved to me to follow him. We went to the new showroom. Aimei had already copied some of Jihuly’s sculptural forms. There were big signs in the showroom – “No Photographs”– which I thought was quite ironic. His son, Sun Yun Hao, was very interested in the images of the equipment and he made copies of only those images. He agreed with me that this equipment could be very useful to Aimei.
The form I wanted to start with was not ready because almost all of the clay had chipped away. So we started on one of my early forms. There was an interesting quartz like block of glass that we made into frits. I then used those frits on a black and then white background. We made a total of six spermoids using these frits. There was the color that they called “shuaze,” which looked like a transparent brown with a reddish hue. I combined this with a small amount of black frits to create three more sculptures before lunch with Chen and Soya at the same restaurant we always go to near the foundry. We talked only Chinese about work and family. The foundry has been very busy the last few months but the kilns for producing the molten glass have been breaking down. In some instances it has caused a shortened workday.
After lunch I wanted to do more sculptures with a white base over clear glass using two colors of frits, with one color being predominate. I had done three or four of these last time and I was very happy with the results.
I used a design of the frits based on a concept of how small reef fish are colored which I wanted to extend to new color combinations. The third layer for the first five sculptures were predominantly yellow frits with a small amount of blue frits. I then did three sculptures utilizing the same basic technique except there were predominantly blue frits with a small amount of yellow frits. Finally, I used the same clear and white base with predominately blue frits and a small amount of red frits. It was extremely hot and muggy and I could feel the beads of sweat rolling down my back and legs. It must’ve been 100° outside. When this is combined with the heat of the foundry you really sweat.
After a brief nap and a long shower I met Sno Cao for dinner. His mother was much better, and his wife could not join us because she was going over to help care for his mother. The daughter was still engaged and both she and her fiancee were working out well in the business. He thinks his future son-in-law is smarter than he is and is looking forward to early retirement as he is only 51 years old. He wants to be able to come in to work when he wants and to work on smaller projects leaving the business in the hands of his daughter.
It was raining very heavily and the main streets of Boshan looked like a series of rivers. You’re resigned to the fact that you were going to get your feet wet if you wanted to cross the street. We decided to check out the hotel restaurant, and although the lights were out the restaurant was open although there were no customers. So we decided to go outside to one of the restaurants across the street. I suggested the restaurant where I had terrific small clams last time. Cao said that the simple restaurant was very good and was open 24 hours a day which is very important because all of the other restaurants in Boshan tend to close very early in the evening. But, he wanted to try the restaurant on the third floor in the hotel across the street, saying that it was a notch above the simple restaurant.
Sno Cao’s business is doing very well since May. He has new orders in from Sweden, Argentina, Nevada and Florida. Many of these companies he had known for years because of his participation in the Hong Kong Trade Fair. In addition to his knowledge in English, he believes that he often helps his clients improve the design of their mugs and cups, while the competitors merely copy what they are given even if the design is flawed or could be improved upon. He also emphasizes quality control and his daughter and her fiancee are still spending much of their time working with the production factories to ensure high-quality.
Sno Cao also had a number of comments on the local government. According to him they had no central plan to improve the city and authorized many projects which were totally useless. For example, a few years ago they decided to put in fancy mosaic tiles on the sides of the river that runs through the center of town. For much of the time the river is empty and at that time the mosaics are covered by dirt and mud. When the river is full you cannot see the mosaics. They also built a number of bridges across the river, but only some of them are used. Proper planning would’ve anticipated which locations would be used by cars and pedestrians. They are still having environmental problems with some of the factories resulting in continued poor air quality. He wants to come up to the Aimei foundry to see how the electric generated facility is working. He previously worked at a large mechanized glass factory, which is quite different from one-of-a-kind handwork done by craftsman skilled in glass blowing. During our visit last year he was planning to come to the US this fall. Yet, he did not mention his proposed trip to the United States. I assumed that he was so busy here that he did not want to take the time off to sight see in the US. It was good to see him again and to hear that is mother is recovering well from her stroke.
I tried to stay up to speak to people back in the United States on Skype but was unable to do so. I spoke to Helen Lan about finalizing arrangements for the use of my sculptures for the initial opening of the new gallery in 798. The discussions are to continue on my return to Beijing. Peter Lewis admitted himself to the hospital where he was diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia. As he put it, this is an enforced vacation. He is scheduled to be in the hospital for three days and had to use his American Express card to pay the bills hoping that his insurance will reimburse him when he gets back to the United States. The rain was continuing when I went to sleep.
It was heavily overcast and there was a threat of another torrential downpour. The double curved steel mold was now ready for use. Gao was available to work with us again because there were no large complex pieces that needed to be formed today. Because he is such a skilled glassblower, it was very easy for him to coordinate with us and he very quickly adapted to the concept of what I was trying to accomplish. Basically, I would design the color scheme. Then Soya would gather the glass in the sequence needed to implement the color scheme. He would bring over the gathered molten glass to the steel mold. Initially, Gao and I would position the gathered glass so I could form the head portion while Gao could guide Soya as he drew the glass along the steel form to make sure that the body of the sculpture was properly centered on the form. Soya would then continue to draw out the glass which would be the material for the tail. He would then cut the glass and I would form the tail for each sculpture. Because there are so many variations to forming the head and tail there are tremendous differences between sculptures when you look carefully at the sculptures using the same generic form and color combinations. It reminds me of the design concept utilized by the African weavers to create kuba cloth. In fact, this concept is central to my creation of groups of the sculptures as installations of three, five, seven and in one instance nine pieces. When we were done creating the basic glass form, Gao would take the form to the annealing station. Four to five days later,the sculptures will be ready for cleaning and basic finishing. The final finishing is done in my studio in Beijing.
After lunch, where we talked politics in Chinese, we started to work on a tiger pattern over the clear and white base. I designed it so some of the white would show through the predominantly orange frits with black frits used to roughly create the tiger stripes. We did three of these before the clear glass ran out. So we had to call it a day and I went into town to look for some art supplies. In particular I was looking for the metal units to insert in the back of a frame for hanging. I was unsuccessful although the owner of the shop really tried and even called her daughter at home to translate. I did buy a practice calligraphy pad to help me learn my Chinese characters. After a long nap, I decided to start entering the diary from my notes and to catch up on some reading. At 7:00 p.m. I was thinking of going out for some dinner but was not really hungry, so I passed on dinner. After 7:30 p.m. I did not even notice any hunger and was looking forward to speaking with everyone on Skype. I was determined to stay up long enough to do this.
It was raining again but not very hard. Unfortunately, the hotel forgot my wake-up call, but my personal alarm got me up at 6:45. Breakfast tasted good and then it was off to the foundry. We finished the Tigers series and I wanted to work on the Woman series. I had given a lot of thought to how I wanted change the design to get rid of the clunky look of what I did last time. The discussion with Peter had resulted in doing some sketches of how to modify the design. My final sketch adopted an Erte type feeling to the new form. Unfortunately, when we got the form out to work there were some serious cracks in the clay so I made the decision to repair the clay foundation rather than utilizing this mold in the morning. By the afternoon it should be ready. So we went back to the double curved form utilizing new color combinations based on what was available.
There was a beautiful dark blue and I decided to do three sculptures with a white base and three sculptures without the white base. There was also a very good dark red available so I did the same thing with that color. Then it was time to have lunch. The amount of food we had at lunch is getting smaller, which is far better for me, especially in the hot summer. In the afternoon we started working on the new Woman form. In New York I purchased a wood dough rolling pin with ball bearings to use to widen the glass at certain points as it was being drawn out rather than using conventional paddles, which leave marks that did not make me happy. Because of the ball bearings, the thought was that this would be a better tool to accomplish what I wanted. Both Soya and Gao did not like the idea as they have used paddles all of their lives in forming glass. They turned out to be correct for sculptures based on the spermoid mold as it flattens out the form. Those sculptures will be destroyed. But this tool works extremely well as an indentation device for the new form for the Woman series. Gao was unavailable since he was forming some very large vases. Chen, who normally performed what Gao was doing, came back to work as part of the team today.
After finishing three dark blue Woman sculptures without a white background, I wanted to do three in red. Unfortunately, the foundry was out of clear glass. So I returned to the hotel to take a much-needed shower, do some reading and bring this version of the China Diary up to date. My big decision was whether or not to take a walk and go out to dinner or skip dinner again. I really wasn’t very hungry and I like walking around downtown Boshan as it is a very bustling little metropolis. There is also a a lot of new building construction of large apartments going up the hill towards Aimei in addition to much new road construction. They are intravenously feeding the trees that are going to be moved when they widen the roadway. Apparently, Boshan is recovering from a period where it lost a lot of industry.
I finally decided eat at a nice restaurant partway up the hill that I had eaten at in the past. It had the advantage of letting you choose your dishes from a selection of examples with prices. Although I can read a little Chinese to get me into the right areas on the menu, I do not know enough to identify the particular type of dish. For instance I can read the word for pork but I cannot read the words describing the various pork dishes. A picture is worth 1,000 words under these circumstances. I had a very simple meal of 1,000 year old eggs, followed by one half of a Beijing duck along with sautéed cabbage. It was washed down with a nice cold beer. When I got back to the hotel I did some more reading and studied some Chinese.
Because I was subconsciously concerned about not getting a wake-up call, I was up on my own at 5:30 AM. After checking my messages and responding to some of those messages, I received my wake-up call. It was not a machine and she apologized for not giving me a wake-up call yesterday. After a hearty breakfast I tried the shortcut to the foundry and this time the cab driver did not get lost.
We did some more work on the Woman series. Chen told me he and Soya did not like this series of sculptures as much as the spermoid series. His reasoning was that he liked the form and movement of the latter. Maybe he was used to working with it. I tried different color combinations on the redesigned “Woman” form. In one series of combinations I used a white base, while in the other series I used just the colored glass because I like those particular colors that were available today; a very dark blue, a very dark red and an nice green.
Just before lunch we switched to the crocodile mold I had used in my second visit to Aimei. I used the green glass with black frits and want to compare this series to a similar color pattern used in series 2. Technique wise we have come a long way and the comparison should be interesting. But some of the series 2 using a similar color scheme really came out very well.
It was very hot and muggy again. While we were working in the morning, the company handed out free iced popsicles to the glass blowers. It was a nice break. On the way to lunch someone had prepared a big pot of corn and she gave pieces to the three of us as we marched off to the restaurant eating them. I now know why corn is planted among the new landscaping. When Soya and Chen were finished they just threw the corn cobs off to the side of the road. I explained to them that if I did that in America I would be heavily fined for littering. But Chen pointed out that there were no garbage receptacles so that’s how it’s done in China. Chen has been to Beijing on a number of occasions but Soya has never been to Beijing. Neither of them has ever traveled outside of China. They hope that their children can see more of the world.
After lunch I changed the color pattern for the crocodile fish mold switching to a white base with black frits and then a white followed by a blue base with yellow frits. In between creating the actual sculpture, I repaired the high temperature clay around the Woman mold. I was about ready to switch to the newest spermoid mold when I heard the all too familiar cry “mei you boile” (no more glass). I spoke to Yun Hao about getting to the Zibo train station in time to catch the train back to Beijing tomorrow afternoon. He had appointments and the driver was not available, but he would make arrangements for a taxi owned by a friend to pick me up. He wanted the taxi to pick me up at the hotel. But based on past experience this was cutting it too close, especially if we were going to have lunch together. So the taxi is supposed to meet me at the foundry at 12:30, which gives us over two hours to get to the station. Without traffic it is a 45 minute drive. But there is always traffic during the weekdays. I also want a taxi that actually knows how to get there as I previously had some bad experiences with local taxi drivers not knowing where the Zibo railroad station is located.
His wife offered to give me a ride back to the hotel. When I got to the hotel and paid for tonight’s room in advance,the desk clerk told me that there would be no electricity until 4:00PM. So I had to walk up seven flights of stairs. The hallway was dark. Fortunately my room was relatively cool. I tried to take a shower but apparently the electricity controls the shower. So there was no water to take a shower. However the sink faucet worked and I took a European bath. I put on my iPod and tried to go to sleep. It worked. By the time I woke up the electricity was back on and I could take a shower. I was able to get in touch with Lou Mu by text messaging to make arrangements for him to come to my studio on Sunday to get the woodcut of East Meets West, the prior version getting lost during the last time you worked on a series of woodcuts.
I also exchanged text messages with Madeleine O’Dea. John is coming back from Australia on Saturday and they have to fly out to Guizhou on Thursday, which is the same day I fly back to New York. Tentatively, we are to have an early dinner on Wednesday. I also exchanged text messages with Li Gang concerning getting together for lunch and to return the broken glass sculpture that was to be in the auction for the school for the children of immigrants. I wanted to use the glass as part of a new shattered dreams mixed-media piece. But even more important I want to study this sculpture to see why it broke. The air-conditioning in the room feels good and I am now going to read some of my mystery.
I kind of like the idea of only eating two meals a day, especially when the weather is extremely hot. My solution is to drink lots of water and hopefully I can lose some weight. My room is in the back of the hotel so it is extremely quiet. The front of the hotel faces a major intersection and the bus depot, so a room on the back side of the hotel is preferable. It is difficult to get to sleep with that kind of cacophony in the background, so I always ask for a room facing the back.
The sun was out and it was extremely hot. Again, no wake up call. I got up early to
pack and I wanted the option of leaving directly from the foundry to give me more than enough time to catch the train from Zibo to Beijing. At Aimei we started with the steel mold with two distinct bends that I brought to the foundry last time. That mold consistently produces sculptures that I like. Initially, we did a few in yellow frits and a lesser amount of blue frits. Then there was a light red I wanted to work with. Black frits were used as the secondary movement color . After three of those I noticed that there were some left over quartz-like large and small fits on one of the tables that was not being used. These were similar to the frits I used the first day at the foundry. I received permission to use them and decided to construct a series using dark blue and dark red, without a white base, and combining that with these frits. The hoped for effect was that gold coloring in the fritz would provide very thin strands of movement, somewhat like the movement of a comet. These looked very good in the formative stage and I am really looking forward to seeing how they look as finished sculptures.
Sadly, it was time to wash up and get ready for the trip to the Zibo train station. After settling up my account and a brief farewell lunch, I took a taxi. After almost missing the train on my last visit, I left myself plenty of time just in case there were traffic problems or the driver did not know how to get there. Of course, none of those occurred and I was at the train station almost one and a half hours before departure time. But it is better to be safe than sorry and Leslie is always after me to leave more time when we are traveling The train ride was uneventful, except for the removal of the squatter sitting in my seat. He pretended not to understand my Chinese even after I showed him my ticket. Eventually, one of the conductors asked him to vacate my assigned seat. He then decided to stand next to me to express his displeasure. Fortunately, some of the other passengers objected and he was escorted to another car.
A bunch of us biked to the new Sichuan restaurant near 318. Laurens Tans stated that he was familiar with the menu and knew the good dishes, and we decided to let him order for everyone. Brian’s girlfriend Chao, who did not want to go with this restaurant even though the group had previously decided to go to this restaurant complained about everything. Some of the dishes were exceptionally good; the Chinese potato salad, thinly sliced cucumber, a specially prepared duck and some of the vegetables. A cold beer, which I have not had for a week, was especially refreshing in view the oppressive heat. My electric bicycle was on good behavior . Upon my return I spoke to Leslie, reviewed my e-mails and worked until 1 a.m. Thankfully, I got the air-conditioner in the bedroom to work and afer a cold shower went right to sleep.
I had a full agenda of errands to complete. Unfortunately, Huang forgot to come at 9 a.m.. I plenty to do in the studio and after four or five calls he showed up after 10:00 with Mung. Initially, working with Huang and Mung, I positioned the metal inserts into the sculptures which she had finished all of the cold shop work while I was in Boshan creating new glass sculptures. She far prefers working on the sculptures than cleaning the studio. But, she is honest, trustworthy and hard working. She is also a nice person.
First Huang and I went to the Central Academy of Fine Arts area to look for a color wheel and more boards and acrylics for my “Shattered Dream” series. I really want to focus on that for the remaining time I am in Beijing. Unfortunately, no one had a color wheel and I could not find the right kind of acrylics. I also could not find the right type of boards which I was able to find last week, but I found adaquete substitutes. I brought one large board for the orange and white fragments, which may not work, and 8 small boards. Helen Lan indicated to me that the Shattered Dream series appeared to be the primary interest of the new art gallery in 798 she was going to manage.
So off we went to 798 because I heard there was a very good art supply store near the UCCA Museum. Unfortunately Brian gave me the wrong directions. When I should’ve made a right-hand turn I was told to make a left-hand turn. No one in that area knew of an art supply store. I called Miilka because he had raved about the quality of the paint in the 798 art supply store. He gave me the name of the street. Using a 798 map that was available to look at in UCCA we got near the street, but it did not allow automobile traffic.
Although the store did not have a color wheel, the sales girl told me that they only had four acrylic colors and no white. I found it hard to believe so I looked around the store myself. I found an area with many acrylic colors in various sizes, as well as a color chart for those acrylics. I had brought some of the glass fragments with me so I could match the colors that looked good to me. Although I am partially color blind, everyone says that my sculptures have a terrific sense of color. Peter also had given me two complementary colors. Along with that limited knowledge, I picked out some of the background colors for the shattered fragments. When I get back to the United States I will try to find my color wheel. We then went to the bank so I would have sufficient RMB for the remainder of my stay. There was no line but the procedure took 15 minutes including the rejection of three of my $100 bills. We then went to the framing market to buy the hinges for the metal inserts to the glass sculptures to be delivered hopefully in August for final finishing. These errands took almost 4 hours with no break for lunch. Huang had to take someone to the airport, so the other errands, which are local, can wait until tomorrow. I can use my electric bicycle to do them fairly quickly.
Li Gang came by to pick me up, along with Peter, Brian and Chao. He brought a friend, Huang, who is a painter from Sichuan Province. The car was very small and since I was the most nimble, he asked me to sit in the boot. The ride to his studio, which is over half an hour away, was extremely uncomfortable as I was sitting on his new catalogues. I received an extremely important business call out of the blue and between the poor reception, the noise of the other passengers talking and being extremely uncomfortable, I said I would call back in one half an hour. Although Li Gang has been in this studio for less than five months, it looks like he’s been there for many years. It is incredible the amount of stuff he has accumulated and how it is totally disorganized. But he knows where everything is and he loves working surrounded by that kind of chaotic disorder. He teased me about how neat and organized my studio was by comparison.
Li Gang had sublet a portion of the studio to some German artists who were also having a barbecue. They even brought German beer for them to drink. Oxy was doing the barbecue portion for both parties, which I understood was a joint party. It was good to see Oxy again. He is excited about the upcoming NBA season. The German side was very organized with plates, knives and forks, along with salads and cold vegetables. The German group ate all of the lamb chops, most of the steaks, and most the German wurst. Li Gang’s group ended up with toasted bread and continued with the appetizers since there was very little of the main course available after the Germans devoured just about everything. We will leave hungry, but that did not bother me since I had a light lunch. A few beers as well as some of the appetizers kept me happy.
When we got back to 318 Peter was supposed to call me because he was still hungry and wanted to go out, but he wanted to take a nap first. So I went back to my studio and started to work on more of the Shattered Dreams series. Lu Coral sent an e-mail confirming dinner on Monday night and confirming the details of the purchase of one of my White Beach woodcuts. Peter, who is just recovering from bronchial pneumonia, apparently did not wake up, so this gave me the freedom to continue to work, do some reading and bring this diary up-to-date..
It was another very hot and muggy day in Beijing. After breakfast I spoke to Leslie and the twins on Skype. They could see and hear me and I could see them but I could not hear them. When I switched my speaker connector I could hear them but they could not hear me. It was difficult communicating. But the twins asked me to bring over some of the new sculptures and when they really liked something they would clap. I was getting honest opinions, even if it was from two 5 year old girls. I know Leslie dislikes Sara Palin and she does not think that my Sarah Palin sculpture is humorous or wants to understand the message. However, that sculpture got gasps and enthusiastic clapping from the twins.
I told them that I would check my audio connection on Skype and they asked Leslie to run a test call to see if the problem is on Jeff’s computer or speaker attachment rather than mine. After the call I ate a quick breakfast because I wanted to get to work on preparing more boards and to complete a dark blue background with yellow glass with blue stripes.
Lou Mu came over to pick up my East meets West woodcut to print. I only had this one wood cut because I was unable to communicate with him on the Internet. He had dropped his prior email services and gave me this new Internet address. I have a number of ideas for some more wood cuts which I will work on when I return to the United States as I had too much to do to finish enough of the new Shattered Dream series. Mung only has to apply the second epoxy coat to the glass sculptures to complete series 6. I have not named any of the series, except the generic Woman series, which includes Sarah Palin. Lou told me that his wife’s operation was a complete success and he is very happy with the modern Western medical technologies which made this operation possible. His six-year-old son is very active but does not like to do is homework. Yelling does not seem to work so he is going to try different approach. Some problems are universal.
After Lou left the studio, I applied another coat of white paint to a few of the boards, I then went to Zeheng Shao, the metal fabricator, for more inserts for the glass sculptures . I had previously purchased 100 hanger units to weld onto the inserts. Shao was not there so I wrote out the order in Chinese and left the hanger units. I will stop by tomorrow to encourage him to finish the job prior to my return so that Mung can complete series 7, assuming they are shipped more promptly than series 6. I then went to the hardware store to buy some more wet and dry sandpaper. From there I biked to the French bakery and Jenny Lu’s. While replenishing my cell phone, I tried a sample of an organic pear that was being offered as samples. It was delicious. So I purchased two as well as salami to entertain Lu Coral and Shen Jing Dong tomorrow night. I then bought a 12 inch long baguette at the French bakery.
In the meantime I made arrangements to meet Peter Lewis for lunch. I can see why he is an exceptional art teacher. I listened carefully to his theory of using gesso as primer before layering white acrylic as a base color. I commented to him that Lu Mu, who is an oil painter, thought that my Shattered Dream series were really paintings. He commented upon the underlying layers and how it made the piece really work.
I told Peter that when I put on a base white over the wood, the wood would absorb the paint and become rough. His proposed solution was to use gesso first. He then described various types of gesso and suggested that I did not need the highest quality. Also, the highest quality was very expensive and difficult to find in Beijing.
He suggested that he would give me a small amount so I could experiment with it. After lunch I went to his studio to pick up some gesso and we talked about the upcoming show for his two students who were artists in residence under the Red Gate program. I went back to the studio to do some more work and completed a blue/white glass on blue Shattered Dream mixed media piece.
It was extremely hot. I decided to take a shower before going to the opening for these two young artists. Brian Wallace, who owns Redgate, told me that Simon Kaan was doing very well as an artist in New Zealand. He now has two children and has not been able to visit China in the last few years. There were grilled polish sausages, some French bread and cold beer. This was going to be my supper. Some of the people were going downtown for a foot massage. I passed as I wanted to do some more work. I was no longer hungry for dinner.
It was extremely hot in the studio but I was still able to focus on the work. A Russian physicist who was at the opening and some friends, including Peter, stopped by the studio before going downtown to get a foot massage. I spoke to the twins and Leslie. Skype was now working much better. They have not yet eaten breakfast so it was a fairly short call and they promised to call back after breakfast. I went back to work and took a break to post the diary and write some emails. As promised they called back and they told me all about their upcoming day and what they were doing at summer camp. It is also very hot New York City and they went for a swim yesterday in their pool. They are both now good swimmers and like to jump off the diving board. Now it is time to go back to work as the prior coats of gesso on 3 boards are now dry as well as the acrylics on three other boards. Even with the fans going, it was brutally hot. But I knew I was running out of time to get things done before my return. I worked until almost one a clock a.m. It was very quiet. It was pitch black outside except for the very large Long and Slender, which was lit up. I have to get up from my desk to see the lighted sculpture to take 5 – 10 minute meditation breaks. It was time to take a shower and try to go to sleep in the air-conditioned bedroom.
I got up early to make sure that I could get everything done. When Mung applied the epoxy, some of it seeped from the insert hole and ended up on the top of some of the sculptures. We had to go through each sculpture to see which ones need to be refinished to eliminate any trace of the epoxy on the top of the sculpture. When she started on that, I was able to speak when Zheng Shao about the completion date and time of delivery for the metal inserts. In the meantime I was also able to complete two red shattered glass on lemon yellow boards and to continue preparing other boards.
In the morning Peter Lewis wandered over and we discussed some more ideas. One of the ideas he had was that I should overload one board to the maximum and see what the minimum number of pieces are on another board. Although each of my pieces in the Shattered Dream series as now being done is very impromptu, I think I understand the purpose of the exercise and intend to try it with the orange and white glass on the cobalt blue background. While all of this was going on I was preparing four more boards. It takes approximately 15 coats, 3 to 5 of gesso, 5 to 7 white and then up to eight coats of the final color. Lunch consisted of four pieces from a small baguette roll with some salami and cheese accompanied by a glass of wine
By 3:30 p.m. I was exhausted and took an hour nap before going back to work. I laid out the large orange and white shattered glass on a cobalt blue background and then a smaller version of the same combination. I also finished a shattered yellow and blue glass on a blue background.
By then it was time to take a shower to have dinner with Lu Coral and Shen Jing Dong. Initially, they were come to my studio to pick out a particular print of the White Beach woodcut they had previously selected at the New YorkBJ restaurant/gallery opening last March. Peter, the owner of New York BJ had given me permission to sell to them directly. Unfortunately, she got held up in traffic and Jing Dong was driving separately from the studio. He ended up in a collision with another car so he was spending his time at the roadside filling out reports with the police. She came over one hour late, but I was reading a good mystery so the time just flew by.
She picked out the particular print that she wanted, which was an artist proof, and off we went to dinner at a seafood restaurant in Wanjin. It was beautifully decorated but halfway through dinner they decided to turn off the air conditioning. My arms were totally soaked in sweat and stuck to the table cloth. The fish was very delicate and without much flavor, but the vegetables were excellent. We then went back to her apartment so I could help her with the visa application to the United States. First she asked me to review the facts sheet, which was for much more information than China asks from Americans who want to visit his tourists. Then I helped her compose a letter setting forth what their daily itinerary was going to be what I was staying in New York City. I am not good word processor. We finished after midnight and I was able to find a taxi to take me home.
I got up early to apply epoxy to the two orange and white shattered glass on blue cobalt. On a smaller version, which I epoxied first, I tried a new technique and it seemed to work.
I used a modification of that technique on the second Mixed media piece. At 9:30 Lou came by with my East Meets West woodcut prints.
We had some puar tea, which I know he likes. He majored in woodcuts in art college. He not only went to art college with my next-door neighbor, Hong Chen, but often collaborated with her on art projects. Before he left, he went to the car to give me a gift , which was totally unexpected.. It was a terrific woodcut print of Man with Whale.
Kindness like that does not exist in the United States. He thanked me for my moral support while his wife was going through difficult health issues. This was one way of celebrating her recovery. Huang came over to drop off Mung and he took me to the framing complex. It was then back to the studio where I can continue working. It was time to create the hanging apparatus behind each of the new Shattered Dream series. Grace was supposed to come to the studio at 3:00 p.m.
I was hungry and decided to go to Jin BinWai for a light lunch. As I was being seated, I noticed Zheng Shao and his family sitting at the next table. They invited me to join them for lunch and even though I declined at first, both he and his wife insisted. Also at the table were his older sister and her seven-year-old daughter and his father. The two-year-old daughter was dressed only in a T-shirt and was sitting on the table where she was eating food and keeping her grandfather occupied. None of them spoke English, but we were able to have a nice conversation about family and my working with Shao over the last six years. We also discussed the current project which he was working on for me as well as his other current projects. One of them, which consists of a bronze casting for a huge rhinoceros has been very lucrative since he has made a number of those pieces at a price of approximately US $10,000 each in the last year.
I received a phone call from Grace at 2:45 p.m. saying that she had been sick all day and could she come tomorrow morning. So I went over to Oasis Gallery to install and photograph one of my new sculptures, which they wanted to include as part of the installation .
I then took some photographs of the completed Shattered Dream series and the heat got to me. I understand why siestas are so popular in the summer, especially in warm climates. My hour nap could have lasted much longer but there was too much to do. While I was asleep Mung wrapped five new sculptures to either replace or add to the existing installation at the Moon River Museum in accordance with Grace’s request. I also received a call from Dia Min on her China American cooperation project and they were coming out to my studio tomorrow afternoon to coincide with my return from the installation at the Moon River Museum.
It was time to clean up the studio since the Wangs were coming over to my studio before dinner. I also needed to take a quick shower as the heat today was especially oppressive. I was also waiting to hear from Leslie about the results of a medical procedure she was having done in New York. I should’ve received a call this morning, but I did not and was concerned. This afternoon I received an e-mail that said she did not leave the hospital until after 8 PM and went right to sleep. I guess I will get report later tonight if she decides to go into the office today.
Professor Wang was able to join us for dinner. He had just come back from England accompanying some of his students on a guided tour of England and Scotland. He was still jetlagged and tomorrow he was going off to Dailin for a conference of major artists, which he was the chairperson. So we decided to skip cocktails at my studio and go directly to a local restaurant. As the Chairperson he was charged with the responsibility of making sure the conference resulting in a conclusion, but he had no idea what that conclusion would be.
His daughter, Xiao Ou is very happy with her new job in the finance department of a governmental nuclear power agency. There are only two lawyers in the department and she likes her boss who went to the same law school in China that she did. She was specializing in drafting contracts but since the boss was away during the past week she was not too busy.
Professor Wang did not like the way the British Museums present their art. He thought that the American museums do a much better job. He also wanted to discuss the South China Sea situation and I responded that I did not know enough about the situation to comment other than the general United States policy towards the Far East. He thought President Obama is very smart but he could not understand why Obama was not accomplishing more, especially since the Democrats also controlled both legislatures. I said it was a good question but that each elected representative is independent of the political party he belongs to and was not required to always agree with the president. My private thoughts were that the Democrats were missing a golden opportunity and that the Republican minority was much better organized and disciplined. The Republicans were more interested in destroying Obama than in doing something constructive. The result was a virtual standstill which was hurting the American citizens. But I did not voice these thoughts. The Wang family is thinking of taking a vacation to the United States where they can see the sights. The few times each has been here were very focused on specific projects or school.
Even though I was back at the studio by 9:30 p.m. I was too tired to do any more work. The heat, when combined with the humidity, is oppressive. I had difficulty getting to sleep and the mosquitoes were especially ferocious. I did not have a good night’s sleep.
It was another scorcher. Grace Young was supposed to arrive 9:00 a.m. to pick up some more sculptures for a continuation of the show at the Moon River Museum. She arrived at 11:00 a.m., but Mung and I had plenty to do in wrapping up the completed sculptures in series 6, photographing the eight new Shattered Dream series and in switching a number of the sculptures on display in the studio so that some of series 6 could be exhibited. Grace showed up with one of her assistants and her three-year-old son Eric. She was very happy that the sculptures were already wrapped and also took one of my large woodcuts “Blackfish over Whitefish” for the continuing exhibit.
Grace had lots of ideas for new exhibits. She also brought over one copy of the article about me in Zhong Guan Cun Magazine. It is two full pages and I have to figure out a way to copy it and put it, including an English translation, on my website. Since it is in Chinese and my ability to read and translate Chinese is still quite limited, I will try to get it translated in New York City. She also wanted to discuss a number of future projects and advised me that the Enchante Club, which is backed by some very wealthy people, decided to completely renovate the facility before formally opening it. So my sculptures were placed in temporary storage at the Moon River Museum.
Because of the heat, Grace suggested that I did not need to come to the museum and that her staff would install the new sculptures and the woodcut. I asked her to send me pictures of the new installation and was very glad to avoid 2 to 3 hours of travel for 20 minutes of installation work. I suggested that we go out to dinner. Eric is extremely bright and has an outgoing personality. We enjoyed talking with each other and made me think of my grandchildren and the twins. The moral is that two persons with a limited vocabulary can comfortably communicate. He also sang some songs in English, which he is learning at preschool. Grace and I discussed some more projects and it was too bad that I was leaving Beijing tomorrow and I told her that I have no idea when I would return. Hopefully, that will be within the next 3 to 4 months as there is a lot going on. After lunch I went to Zheng Shao’s fabrication facility to find out the status of my steel inserts that he should have delivered that morning, but mysteriously no one was there.
As I drove by the New Science Tec Mall I could not believe how full the parking lot was, which holds over 1,000 cars and there is additional parking across the street for another 1,000 cars that had a few hundred cars in it. The name is a misnomer, as this is a mall of high-end retail stores such as Cartier, DuPont, Hermes, and Donna Karan, selling name brands at a discount. The subway station near this mall is still under construction. The market for luxury brand-name goods in China seems insatiable. I hope as the Chinese economy matures that some of this disposable income will be devoted to the arts.
I came back to 318 and visited with Peter for a while. In the interim I called Madelaine O’Dea to finalize plans for dinner. She told me that John had some kind of food poisoning and they would have to cancel. I spoke to John for about 15 minutes. His job was going well in Australia and her new job is going well in Beijing so it is a difficult situation which they are doing the best they can. Laurens Tans stopped by and said that as a result of my Moroccan chicken dinner we had for Laurens in New York, his friend, Gordon,was going to cook rosemary chicken based on his mother’s recipe – a Beijing style cook-off. I volunteered to bring the wine, cheese and salami. Because of the heat no one really wants to go out.
John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min came to the studio and we discussed China American relations in both the political and business context. He was formerly a successful lawyer in Bermuda and his new focus was on writing a column for China Daily, the major English speaking newspaper in China, and focusing on the two countries acquiring a better understanding of each other. He wants to find a way to get his ideas before Pres. Obama and Hillary Clinton concerning a new structure for General Motors. He showed me on the Internet the article in today’s China Daily where he proposed a European-based joint venture for General Motors to be owned 45% by Chinese government, 45% by the American government and existing shareholders and 10% by the Europeans. The concept was that cars and trucks are to be built in the country where they would be sold. I told him that I did not have to those kind of direct connections but I would give some thought to the type of people who would have the President’s and Secretary of State’s ear.
Notwithstanding the brutal heat, he was dressed in a business suit and she was all dressed up. She is a former opera singer and is apparently very well-connected with a number of key political and business figures in China. It is difficult to tell who in China has really good connections and how strong those connections are. They invited me to join him at an art opening, which was in a Philips Stark building, which also showed art. Peter Lewis was going to the same opening. I passed as I needed some sleep and was going to join Laurens, Grodon, FeBi and whoever else was coming to this cook-off feast that Gordon and FiBe were preparing.
Qing came by the studio to visit. I asked her about her boyfriend and she told me that he had walked out on her and she was very unhappy about that. She inquired about using my studio when I was back in the United States as she was thinking of not renewing her lease at 318. She was thinking of taking a small place in the city and when she needed studio space to paint she would use a friend’s studio. I told her that my studio is not available because this was my private sanctuary. She is an interesting painter and I am sure that she will work things out.
Before dinner Laurens took me to his studio work room to explain his view of three-dimensional art and how he intends to organize a future program for graduate students that is now being considered by art schools in Australia and Belgium. He showed me some of his animations. Dinner was excellent but because of the heat I was not really hungry. After dinner Cindy came over to Lauren’s studio and we saw some of her video work, which she was gong to exhibit in Macao, where she comes from, and Hong Kong. There was a piece on 60 burning cigarettes arranged in four rows that was very interesting. Lawrence is in the process of curating a video art show in Beijing. He has whittled it down to 27 artists for 12 to be selected. We saw some of those artists’ videos.
Because of the heat and I was getting a cold plus the lack of sleep last night meant that I was running out of steam so it was time to call it a day.
On the last day there was never enough time to clean up loose ends and prepare the studio for when I am not there. It was yet again another blistering hot day. The temperature was again to go over 100° and it was muggy. When Huang dropped off Mung, I asked him if he could drive me to the framers to pick up two new framed wood cuts. They each looked good and I hung them up in the studio.
I was still smiling at the thought of Lou’s present. I then took my electric bicycle over to the fabricator to try to get the inserts before I left. The shells of two large apartment buildings very near to the fabricator’s place which had been an eyesore for three years were now being completed and a row in front of these apartments was being created. What had been eyesores for three years were now going to be the residences for 60-80 families. The inserts were ready and he agreed to drop them off at my studio.
Bringing in the outside lights, making sure all of the electricity is turned off, making arrangements for winter coal and the stoking of the furnace in my absence, delivering the signed lease to the landlord, completing the packaging for the sculptures to bring home as baggage, wrapping and moving the sculptures in the studio, etc. kept Mung and I busy. I was totally soaked in sweat. Peter Lewis stopped by and we decided to have a farewell lunch even though I was pressed for time. Li Gang decided to join us. They wanted to go to the Sichuan restaurant located near the Orchard. I was able to keep them company for about 20 minutes when I had to get back to the studio to take a quick shower and go off to the airport.
Miilka had called and wanted to of share a taxi as he was going to Tokyo to renew his Chinese visa. If he did this in China you have to pay a 5,000 RMB fine, which was the cost of a plane ticket to Tokyo where he could buy clothes and visit friends. I heard all about his new boyfriend and the upcoming show to be curated by Peter Lewis and Georgio, whose theme was to be fetishes. He thought red spermoids would fit in nicely with his part of the installation. I told him that I had an installation of red spermoids in my studio. At his suggestion, I subsequently contacted Peter and Georgio to advise them that I had an installation six red spermoids in the sitting room outside the master bedroom suite at my studio in Beijing. They could make arrangements with Mung to get access and she was working tomorrow at my studio.
The ride to the airport was without traffic and everything went smoothly. The flight back was quite smooth and I was able to sleep for a good part of the trip. But I know I will still feel jet lagged. For some reason, the jet lag is much worse going from east to west. Now that I know that my printmaker can be located and wants more work, I am anxious to do some more woodcuts. I had sketched out some previously and want to sketch out some more.
I am also thinking of creating a presentation to give to Grace to present to museums for a one man show. The initial theme that comes to mind is called Dreams. There will be happy, sensual and sad dreams. At the same time there is so much to do back here that I realize that there’s just not enough time to accomplish everything I want and need to accomplish.
I am looking forward to spending time with Leslie and family. I would love to be able to share some of my experiences in China with the grandchildren in China. Also, although I would like to go back shortly, I realize that I probably will not be able to go back there until December at the earliest. Until then I will just have to create and plan my projects to be completed in China on my next trip.