Sunday, October 31, 2010

Getting refreshed by Atlanta art folk

It's going to be quite intense til the end of the year. Whew! Y'all know I hardly ever go out and even worked through Halloween weekend. Plus a slight agoraphobia has hit so just not really in the mood to be around large crowds either. lol Crazy deadlines; so much to do and prepare for, but it's all so exciting!

I gotta admit y'all, I was not excited about coming back to Atlanta. But I had no choice. Fate works in mysterious ways and I know now that I'm meant to be here for the next year or so. I hope to be back to LA sometime, but Atlanta is home. It's where my parents are and where I come to remind myself where I came from (besides Tallahassee).

Whatever Spirit thing is up there explained to me that I'm supposed to be in Atlanta for now- to rest; recooperate; strategize; reinvent; appreciate; grow; give and contribute. I gotta admit my first week back I just felt so beat up. Felt like a complete loser cause I had to move home due to one little snag. No matter how hard I fought seemed like I'd failed. But slowly, the Atlanta community gave me some CPR and brought me back to life. lol

It started with Felicia Feaster (Y'all Google her there's so many links I don't know which one to link,). We had coffee at "our spot" Intermezzo where we'd had coffee eight years ago when she interviewed me for a feature article in Creative Loafing. We'd kept up with each other over the years by phone or Facebook but haven't seen one another since then so I was very excited to be able to spend some time with her. It's just great to see people face to face, feeling their energy, having them absorb your giddiness (y'all know I'm giddy!). Eight years had flown by yet it didn't feel like it one bit. "You haven't changed Yun", she said. I hope not. I hope I didn't lose my bubbly attitude or my sincerity. I'm 31 now- the last time we sat at Intermezzo I was 23. Yup, it's great to be back.

That same week my pal Jiha Moon took me to Iona Rozeal Brown's artist talk at Saltworks Gallery. It was awesome to view her work as I'd never seen it in person yet. Her talk was fun, engaging, informative. Most of all everyone there including the gallery owners were so friendly and hospitable. I wasn't used to all that sincere friendliness, lol. The only thing I was disappointed in Atlanta, was the turnout. The turnout was good for Atlanta, but not good enough consider how awesome Iona Rozeal Brown is. To have someone like her come through Atlanta is a huge deal. I'm glad the art community appreciated it and came out to support but shame on the rest of the city. Plus, the talk was free so y'all definitely didn't have an excuse! *Another sad reason why we need more contemporary arts education in the system

I also stopped by my alma mater Agnes Scott College at the Dalton Gallery on my way to pick up some wood panels and bumped into Susan Bridges of WhiteSpace814 and Lisa Alembik, the Director of Dalton Gallery. The show that was there looked fantastic. I always knew the caliber of artists coming out of Atlanta are just as great as anywhere else in the country- the group show "Quadrennial" that's currently up proves just that. Also stopped by to see my life drawing/printmaking professor Anne Beidler. Aw....memories.

Y'all know I'm one of the most positive people ever- sometime to a fault. lol Aside from all my supportive friends who have helped me through this shit time both in LA and ATL, Jiha Moon went out of her way to bring Bunny back to life. She's the type of artist every artist should strive to be- hardworking, great attitude, family oriented, contributive, supportive. We went out for Thai and she literally breathed some life back into Bunny with her enthusiasm. She also introduced me to a lot of people in the Atlanta art community I didn't know since I'd been gone for so long. That's what we gotta do- lift others up when they're down. Confident people like Jiha did just that. I know I'm not the only one grateful for her support and encouragement. She reaches out to so many within the community here. Let's put it this way - you're a lucky bitch if you have the privilege of having her friendship. :)

Next I went to the Kehinde Wiley talk at the High Museum of Art. Now that was impressive. The house was packed! I first learned of his work in 2005 when I was in a group show with him. See, you can never think you know it all because I was on the fence about whether to attend the talk or not (my agoraphobia started to talk me out of it, lol).

Note: Y'all know I'm just kidding about being agoraphobic right? I think we all go through times when we feel private and not in the mood to deal with too many people. I'm definitely a one-on-one type person who likes to spend quality time goofing off being silly. ;)

Well I'm so glad I went cuz Bunny learned lots! He talked about how he developed the idea and incorporated global influences into his work. Y'all just have to learn about this dude and his work cuz I don't want to misconstrue anything since writing isn't my forte. lol The point is if I didn't go to this talk I wouldn't have been inspired nor learned as much as I did. So proud of the High Museum for bringing innovative contemporary programming to the City of Atlanta. Afterwards there was a book signing. I felt like a neanderthal coming back because the museum was completely different than I remembered after its renovations. I didn't know where anything was!

The next day I went to my friend Kojo Griffin's house. Y'all need to just Google dude if you don't know who he is cuz there's just too many links on him and I didn't know which one to link here. lol I hadn't seen Kojo in years either since 2005 maybe? We caught up and brainstormed; shared viewpoints; and each got something out of bouncing ideas off one another.

That's the thing about us artists- we are our separate brands doing our own unique thing so I've never felt threatened by other artists. "Oh Yun do you know there's this dude named Jonathan Yeo out there making flowers out of porn?" certain friends have shared out of concern for me. "He's stealing your idea! Aren't you worried?" they ask.

First of all, there are tons of artists out there that have used porn in their art. Chris Ofili has used it in his work as well. Porn to me is just another medium- like the colors red, yellow, or blue. How ridiculous would it be to say, "Man that dude (Yeo) is copying me because he uses the color blue in his work too". You know? How stupid does that sound? That's what I mean that artists are our own specific brand. I actually like Yeo's portraits and collages. They're neat and his technical skill is very admirable. Why would I be threatened by his technique?

I can honestly say that there isn't another artist out there in the world that's Chinese-American that makes flowers out of porn magazines with a feminist message of hope derived from a real-life experience as a stripper when her mom had cancer. I'm sure Jonathan Yeo and Chris Ofili would agree. :)

So you see why it's not a threat whatsoever to reach out to fellow artists as Jiha and Kojo have done to show love and support in helping one another? I think too often artists are way competitive with one another than they should be. Regarding these art competitions that are everywhere, we shouldn't be threatened either. We should go in with a focused mind to only compete and push ourselves- to present and create work to push ourselves into a more refined, developed being. Next time you apply for an art competition, residency or grant, keep that in mind and give it your best shot in sharing with the world what you do best- cuz you should be that confident enough in your work that it's that original. Otherwise, keep thinking. lol

After I left Kojo's house and went to a friend's house that I'd gone to college with at Agnes Scott. She just had a baby so we sat with her husband and some of her other friends to a evening of laughs and wine. Ah, simple joys.

Last week I went to the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center for another lecture hosted by Stuart Horodner (Artistic Director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center), with Michael Rooks (Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, High Museum), Brian Holcombe (Director of Saltworks Gallery), and artist Gyun Hur on the panel. The subject was about "role models". They shared what inspired them to become who they are today through the many mentors they had in their own journeys.

Afterwards Deanna Sirlin, her intern Emily and I went out for lunch and stopped by EK Huckaby's show at Poem 88 @ Tanner-Hill Gallery. Poem 88 is an art collective composed of Robin Bernat, Karen Tauches, and Jon Ciliberto. Jon used to help me with my art projects when I lived here before and we used to go to Oga's (this Southern restaurant that was owned by Mr. Kim, this Koren dude) when I was experimenting with photography doing a series about being "Asian & Southern". So whenever Jon goes there, he would take a picture of his food and tag me on Facebook, hee hee. All great fun.

So all in all I'm getting adjusted. I was pretty crusty; beat up; and bummed out about being back. But the city has changed lots in the last six years that I've been gone and being the positive go-getter Bunny that I am, y'all know I make the most of everything with whatever is given to me. The hospitality and support from all friends on both coasts not to mention the support of my family has been priceless. I'm really happy.

The thing that I've really learned throughout the last few months is the important lesson of how crucial it is to contribute where-ever you are. Whether it's lifting someone's spirits up; or donating to an art auction; or sharing resources / contacts, or teaching a group by sharing what you've learned- we must do it. Which brings me back to a conversation I had with Felicia Feaster right before I moved back.

I called her to see if I could put her down as a reference for something and let her know I was moving back to Atlanta. I admitted that I wasn't excited and that I was just going to hide out in my Bunnyhole and not let anyone know I was even in town, lol. She told me to get out, be out, and go do things as Atlanta has grown lots and to not be afraid to get out. I'm so glad I listened along with Jiha and Deanna urging me to go do stuff.

Through all this support I've gotten, it's inspired me to further contribute. To keep giving to the community where-ever I am whether its here or LA. It just feels good to contribute- to share and learn. Just gonna focus on helping others, losing weight, and getting that Bunny money! lmao Where-ever Bunny is at, get ready to get some big love. I'm ready! Are you?

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