Saturday, October 18, 2008

Doing some Diving

Eagle Ray above Ice Cream Cone Dive Site.

Beautiful Nudibranch (Phyllidiella annulata)

Soft Coral

Spotted eel
Fan Coral-The flash lighting the front fan brightly pops the color.

Seven weeks in China had kept me out of the beautiful water here in Saipan, a place which has some of the worlds most incredible dive spots. The ocean really puts on a spectacular show when you light it up with the flash of a camera. I love the lush texture that the underwater world contains, it is just so rich...visually. There are few things that you can do that totally allow a person to move in a truly 3-D way in this wonderful world we live in. As a three Dimensional artist, experiencing movement underwater, total 3-D directional movement, really engages your senses. Bubbles fall up, your not bound to a flat rarely swim up-side down...but you can, it's just so cool. Here are some of the photos I've taken in the last month.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Back in Saipan Wasai !!! Missing CC

Harry blowing bubble rings.

Saipan's 360 Restaurant is a great place to go to see Saipan in the round.

This turtle is very comfortable with divers (as you can see).

10/03/08 Friday.
Hey, who knows what will happen. I've been back 3 weeks now, having had to jump right into teaching my classes at the college the day that I arrived on Sept. 9th. I had a great flight Asiana Air all the way. The Dean of Instruction, welcomed me back and was open to the idea of a visiting Professor exchange, that's cool.
I had to catch up the classes and meet the many new students who had waited for my return two weeks into the semester.

I have been Skype-ing alot with my fellow artists from Changchun, who are scattered all across the world, one session was with three of them at the same time, what a hoot. It was as if we were setting across from each other at the dinner table in China, we promised each other that we would prepare better and at least have beers in front of us next time.

I also looked forward to getting in the ocean at my favorite beach, Paupau, just for a snorkel...diving would have to wait. I managed to get a nasty bit from a four foot eel that was hiding under a long section of steel left over from the war. Unbelievable, first time back in the water and bam!! cloud of blood filled the area around my thumb and a jolting pain, anyway I must have tasted bad he spit me out. You know what I thought about? "I won't be throwing any pots until this heals" an artist without a thumb...bad thing. It didn't matter the water felt great, I finished the swim, keeping an eye out for the ever curious shark that would cruse into the lagoon around dusk.
It was not until last weekend that I went scuba diving at Laulau Bay with friends Harry and his wife Kelly. (Harry blowing bubble rings under water, pic above). The movie is of a hawk's bill turtle on the first of two dives, too cool (enjoy Marko and Tamara). I hope the weather warms up a bit for you two in Belgrade, before the full onset of winter.

Said Good bye to all my new friends in Changchun...But I'll be back in 2010.

9/08/08 Monday (Black Monday)

Monday started in the early morning, 0 hundred hour, you guessed it we were still partying not wanting the Symposium to come to an end. This whole time, I knew it was coming... but don’t get me wrong, I missed my family terribly, but the bonds made among these like minded people were something special. I was in my own little artist’s community and speaking the same language on a level that I don’t engage in back on Saipan…pure utopia. I knew I had to pack so the evening/morning would end soon …but not until after many toasts and hugs. A persistence of dread hung heavy as a disbelief that it was most certainly going to end, and that’s where the drinks blurred that reality. There is really no way I can express the profound sadness that I felt knowing that Monday at 10 am I would leave the hotel and all those good people, many whom I would likely never see again. There was some solace knowing that deep in my heart I knew that I would see but a few, Chun hua and Leo, HanLu, Xiao Yu, my closest friends…again.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Evening Closing Ceremony (The goodbyes would be coming soon).

Chunhua and Leo...the future looks bright.

Cathy(Mei Qi), one of the sweetest most helpful interpreters.

Sandy through the looking glass...there's snow beer like snow beer.

Carvin Marvin and Sandy

Our Bartender, she put up with a few of our late night parties in the lobby.

One of our wonderful hotel waitresses

9/07/2008 Sunday
We left the park thoroughly happy with ourselves, what an amazing afternoon, seeing the genuine interest of the people in the park toward our work. It was a high. Ryan did a wonderful photo montage on his movie site that is worth looking at. Number 39 some really interesting photos.

We returned to the hotel to get ready for the Closing Dinner, There was loads of food and drink, plates stacked three high on the table and the Mayor made it around to all the tables at least once for a toast “gambae” and plenty of photos were taken. I knew that this would be tough, I was leaving in the late morning and would be saying good bye to many of my fellow artists tonight. I kidded Sandy one more time that one of the dishes was fried butterfly wings (you see he was not our most adventuress eater) he freaked after eating frog legs. His eyes got big at the thought of butterfly wings and quickly realized…I got him again. Leo and ChunHua sat at my sides during dinner and we really had some quality time. I will miss them both dearly I feel that they will make it to Saipan some day and study there…just for the experience. They are stand up people and I know that this world has hope when I meet this caliber of young people…the future looks bright.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Second Perfect Day (Morn and Afternoon)

Model of the Sculpture Park that is on display in the Park Museum (foreground right)
The park is packed with half of Changchun-Wasai!!!
Ryan saying goodbye to his sculpture...get a room.

Tamara and Marko from Belgrade Serbia and his stone sculpture.

Twins in China

9/07/08 Sunday

The Conference was held at the Hotel and had a full schedule of guest speakers who came from all corners of the globe. The speakers from visiting countries tended to touch on non-controversial topics, like the positive direction of pubic art or historical background on the organizations they were representing. Although meaty historically, they seemed to stop sort of addressing the current trends and dodged addressing problems, solutions or what might be a means to resolving them. The Chinese speakers on the other hand tackled more relevant topics specific to China, identifying specific problems they face while trying to place sculpture in public spaces. One topic engage was directed toward a problem recognized, politicians who try to ingratiate themselves in the public eye by placing junk sculpture in road medians and intersections, highly visible locations. Many of these sculptures were nothing more than giant 3-D logos of companies who support these politicians. I thought this to be very gutsy of these professors and as far as I know, none were hauled away and certainly none were stopped from speaking their minds on the subjects. This was so unlike what I expected and really quite the reverse, those visiting, walked on eggs so to speak, and those supposedly repressed speaking openly. China is truly opening it’s doors and minds.

The day became really fun at lunch when Ryan and I saw Marko’s pictures of the Sculpture Park during his morning visit. It was filled with people, the masses had turned out for a Sunday at the park. Conference-shmonference, we were going to the park and meet the people of China. We piled in the taxi with our interpreters…it was unfreakingbelievable when we arrived, it was packed, standing room only (ok, but you could not run through the crowds). This was the most people we had ever seen in the park at one time, now we understood why the sidewalks were so big. After taking some pictures, I stood between the “twins” and smiled for the camera, shaking hands with thousands of friendly people, all wanting a picture…with the artist. It was truly fun, Chun Hua had to explain the “meaning” many times and really earned her keep that day. (she took the pics…Movie too)
Closing Dinner and party to come!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Perfect Day!

Hey, who put that Rodin in front of the Wonenberg!!

Movie during the Opening Ceremony (spin around)

Stop action Movie

The Twins!!! (Totem-Standing Together)

9/06/08 Saturday
6 a.m. I caught a taxi to the sculpture studio. The sun had already been up for two hours and glowed like an orange orb in the morning sky. I had to see if the sculpture had been moved to the park site, the last time I had seen it was at 3:00 yesterday, and the opening of the conference was at 9 o’clock just three hours away…I was obsessing the whole night, would they place them properly, were they clean, where were they placed in the park for the conference opening??? So many questions and there would not be much time if changes needed to be made. I also had another mission to attend to, a gift for Chun Hua.

I arrived at the park studio, and just as I suspected, men were working, the headman directing as they moved the large granite name stones for each of the artists sculptures…the men looked beat. He smiled, and he knew exactly why I was there, and so off we went to the exhibit site for my inspection. He sensed my angst I’m sure. Much to my surprise the twins were place very well, 1 meter apart and at right angel to each other…so he had been paying attention to me when I explained the arrangement, and Chun Hua had, with her usual expertise, translated my instructions to the letter. I thanked him and he dropped me back at the studio so I could walk to the light rail. I needed a bite to eat and there was an eatery (can you tell me the name of the place from the photo?) next to a Wall-mart about 5 blocks down the tracks. It was 6:45 and the store didn’t open until 8:00 so I had some time to kill, even after I ate. Those little moments that you spend sitting and observing people are fun, the walking of dogs (some great breeds) which is a resent thing, because Chinese incomes are larger, pet care isn’t cheap in a big city. I did some stop action video (just playing) and time flew by as the people did in the video. I got some help calling the hotel to inform them I would not be on the bus, and would meet them at the main gate of the sculpture park. I thought it went well…later, I find out …it didn’t.

“Welcome to wall-mart” it’s the same everywhere, I knew I would find the item I was looking for, I had drawn a quick sketch of it on a napkin to show the clerks…success!!

I arrive with/on the gift at the main gate of the Changchun Sculpture Park and there were thousands of people gathering and lining up for the entry into the park. The bus from the hotel with all the artists had not arrived yet (they were looking for me) but they were now en route, the interpreters are there and they saw me approach on the main road. Remember back in early August Chun Hua had her bicycle stolen…
I rode by the crowd of interpreters, waving at them, Chun Hua turned around in disbelief. “Barry what are you doing riding a bicycle what are you doing? (she was clueless) I said “I’m riding YOUR bicycle” by the look on her face and the tears welling in her eyes (she figured it out). See pictures above.

It just keeps getting better…inside a band is playing and the twins look good surrounded by spectators. We were seated in the front row, and received scroll certificates and doves flew as the conference was declared open.

Above are photos of the opening of the International Sculpture Conference it was huge.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Work is Stop and Go, Dang!

Chun Hua walks between Marko's (from Serbia) figures at Sister Cities Park.

Micheal (from Little Rock) the Head, titled "Visionary".

Victor from Russia.

9/05/08 Friday
I spent the morning putting the final touches on the fiber glass sculpture, making it look like bronze which is a bit tricky. I had to wrangle some of the head hanchos and move it out of the dusty main studio, and this happened only when I became aggressively insistent. I had to mask the surface and spray on a gold color to give it the look of polished bronze, then brush and dab a green color that gave the effect of oxidation over a blackened surface. I skipped the lunch bus ride to the hotel, working through lunch my mission was accomplished. I was so hungry that I didn’t take any pictures when I finished dang!! Anyway, I grabbed a taxi with Ryan from Aruba (he had just finished up as well) just down to the corner to a KFC (it tasted the same too) and then shopped for some chocolate for Chun Hua , she has a thing for Dove’s. We all had to meet in the lobby at three go to the Changchun Sister Cities Sculpture Park where some of the artists just had their work placed. (see above photos)

9/04/08 Thursday
Big day of presentations for the sculpture car park. Yubi looks nerves. More about that later.

9/03/08 Wednesday
Finally…color is on the fiber glass piece, then all work stops again…frustration!!!
Stainless steel plate is finished and delivered by Jiang wae, b-e-a-utiful, ok well pretty good. It can’t be welded on yet because the sculpture is too far away from the sculpture and no one can help or won’t help move it and it’s a lot of work for Chun Hua to find and convince some one to help…no luck. Maybe tomorrow.

9/02/08 Tuesday
I finished the Maquettes (little models) and did the calculations for scale with the help of Chun Hua, who happens to be a mini human calculator (really good at math). Did another interview with the ever-present Paparazzi, and shot my own footage. See U-tube below.
Hole driller is at work on the granite bases, it’s going to take him 4 hours per hole (ouch) see photo.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lots Going On!

9/01/08 Monday
Granite base stones for both my Bronze and Stainless piece have arrived, so I measure and mark where the holes need to be drilled. (see photos) With a bit of hassling the head man, I establish that the holes need to be over sized to fit the pins, I think he was on the same page but stuff gets “lost in translation”, Great movie by the way, with Bill Murry.
I set to work creating another maquette that would act as an example for a “how to” install the two sculptures at the final park site. (see photos).

8/31/08 Sunday
Work at a stand still for me, the joints need to be re textured and it is proving to be too much for the over worked fiber glassing crews. I can do some …if I can get some tools, which is proving difficult, they are no where to be found and or are in use by someone, this can be frustrating. The crew will come by and work for a half an hour and then disappear, working then on another artists piece, this goes on and on through out the day.
Sooo close and yet so far way.

I needed to have a stainless steel signature plate engraved which required a trip way up town, our drive for this mission was a nice guy, Jiang wae, and we had interesting conversation along the way. Movie of Marko carving granite with a torch.

8/30/08 Saturday
WE had a morning trip to the “car park” site for the new sculpture project…cool opportunity. We were given the afternoon off to rest before a dinner at a wonderful Chinese restaurant that specializes in dumplings. All I can think about is, I need to come up with some ideas for the proposal for Thursday’s meeting at 3:00 in the hotel lobby.

T- Minus 8 Days and Counting.

8/29/08 Friday
Walk in the Park in the morning after I messed around with the texture again and got no where. Some where along the way during the discussions about matching the texture, I was told “no problem, we do all the time” my experience is when somebody says “no problem” you got a problem, and this time was no different. Match is important in the seams and section joints, it must flow and it was not to my liking and if done wrong would look worse. So time was needed to grapple with this problem…off to the park for some think time. (with Chun Hua) Great conversation, and some beautiful art and a sunny warmish day…can’t get better than that. (see pics, found a sculpture from Palau.) Went back to the studio and the dust in the main studio was too much, I left early and caught the light rail back home (hotel) Movie at bottom.

8/28/08 Thursday
Work at a stand still. I worked on the texture matching and was not happy with the way it was going…trying to find different tools that might work was difficult because they had all vanished, to where I don’t know but it was like starting over again. After lunch I left to shop, had to get out.

8/27/08 Wednesday
Fiberglass Totem gets assembled no longer in sections…cool!! Basically they used body putty very liquid and poured it on top of one section and set the next section on top (lined up of course) and the same until all completed, then it was a matter of filling the joints. The workers sort of dropped the ball on the texture match (it happened when I was at lunch) and it’s a bitch to carve body putty…frustration time… again!!! You must remember it’s the first time any one has seen the sections on the bronze piece together, up to this point most folks were not to impressed by four blocks of clay and had trouble visualizing the whole thing, and it has a bit of a different look to it from the stainless piece.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Visit to VW Car Factory (And a Job Offer)

8/26/08 Tuesday

We found out that the group would visit a car factory in the afternoon today, what the heck we all thought, we have sculptures to finish and we are running out of time. Some squawked more than others, trying to stay at the studio, but that would not be an option as the studio gate would be locked. This is not the way to the hearts of hard working artists with work to do…we were on the bus after lunch and on our way. People here in Changchun are very proud of the fact that they had the first car factory in China, and the company is known as FAW (first auto works). It was my first time to visit a car factory and it was very interesting, very clean and well organized (German know how and Chinese labor). There are no pictures allowed so I can’t show you any company secrets. Then we went for a photo op in front of the first actual factory and the head quarters of FAW (that’s the cool looking building) looks like a wing on top. There are not a lot of old buildings in Changchun, it’s a very new city and the buildings reflect this, at times its as if a group of architects have gone wild here…and there is no shortage of empty structures as well.
We pile back into the bus and are whisked off to an other site were a large board room had been prepared for a presentation…surprise another job offer to the whole group of artists. Another large park to be filled with sculptures and we are invited to submit designs…too cool!!!!
The group as a whole was very excited as you can imagine, and the dinner following the presentation was full of toasts and great food (naturally) and a buzz of anticipation. This is truly a fantastic trip full of opportunities.
The video below is "Dinner in French", I took this at the party/dinner.

"Dinner in French"