the rest is still unwritten

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Little Things.2

So recently, I've been spending a lot of time tending to my family's garden. No joke. It's something I absolutely love doing. You get to clear your mind, get a tan, and flowers and healthy plants everywhere - YAY! I've already started composing an entry on my garden, I'll post it in the next couple of days.

Anyway, so what made me smile today was that while walking around outside, I noticed a tiny plant growing from between the cracks in the cement next to a broom and a dustpan with poop in it. This always make me smile - the plant, not the poop part. Granted, plant root systems probably ruin buildings' foundations... But still, I love seeing plants in unlikely places. It reminds me that life always finds a way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

People Watch: Maria Venus Raj

It should come as no surprise that my concept of winners and losers came not from supporting sports teams, but was learned by tuning in to the yearly Miss Universe pageant as a child. Before knowing what second place and bronze medals were, I fully understood what it meant to be a runner up to the newly crowned Miss Universe - almost won, but not quite.

Yesterday, I was among millions glued to the tube, watching with baited breath as this year's 83 glamazons strutted their stuff in Las Vegas for the coveted title of Miss Universe 2010. Despite not winning the crown, I have to hand it to the Philippines' own binibini -


Venus literally glided through the competition proving to be an early favorite among viewers and judges alike. Venus possesses a quiet but undeniable dignity and grace, belying her humble beginnings. According to Venus, one of her greatest accomplishments is graduating from college with honors - despite a very impoverished background. A segment on the news following the pageant showed a clip of the home she grew up in - a hut. Venus is proof that glamazons really could come from the jungle - I mean this in the best way possible. Here is a woman, with the odds stacked against her sharing her beauty, experiences and pride with the universe.

With amazing carriage and presence, Venus stood out from the pack. With only one spot left in the top fifteen, the crowd roared as the Philippines was finally called, making her the only Asian contestant to advance. The 15 semi-finalists were further narrowed down to 10. And from 10, there were the final five. Venus again found herself among the six women who waited for the last name to be called as one of the five finalists. It was Venus. One of the hosts commented that the whole country of the Philippines must have been in the theater as Venus took her place in the final five with an overwhelming applause from the audience.

And then there was the question and answer portion.

Now, some have harshly criticized Venus' performance in this round- that this is where she blew it. Her answer probably did cost her the crown. But people should stop dwelling on the shoulda woulda coulda's. Venus is the first Filipina in over a decade to hold a position in the top five of this pageant. Besting over 70 other beauties from around the world is no small feat. We should celebrate and be inspired by this non-win victory.

In truth, if asked the same question, I would have responded with an answer similar to Venus. The question was what is the one biggest mistake she has made and why. Venus responded that in her 22 years of existence there "was nothing major major problem. That she was confident in the love her family gives her and that she was very happy to be there". So... I guess she didn't really answer the question. But I would feel the same way if asked, only in different words.

Hardships, difficulties and mistakes are all part of life. But we should never regret any problem we face, any mistake, any loss. If one thing in our personal history was altered, then how can you learn from it? And how can you guarantee that the person you are now would be the same person had the mistake not been made? Be thankful that you made your choice, and that you were given a choice to make in the first place. Learn from it and grow.

So, Ms Raj. Do not regret this 'mistake'. You are a winner in my, and many other people's books. From your small-town roots in Camarines Sur to your finishing in the top five, I am sure your future will be very bright. I can already smell the money you will make from a surplus of guest appearances and product endorsements. Advertising gurus should have a field day with your q&a 'blunder'. I mean, you already have a slogan. You will forever be MAJOR MAJOR.

Image from:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Art Attack

So earlier this week, I was commissioned to do a painting, a big one (more on the actual painting in a later post). Excitedly, I tried to unearth my paints and brushes and shizz which I carefully packed away over a year ago. Luckily, some of the paints were still in good condition. The brushes and canvases on the other hand, were a different matter.

The brushes were whittled down to skewers. Their, and the canvas' fibers were arranged in the most peculiar circular fashion. I also noticed a very distinct smell. My art stash was now a rats' nest. I mean literally nested in by rats.

I later explained my predicament to the, uhm, commissioner, who was very sympathetic (and generous) - and voilà- a stipend to restock my paintry. So now, I'm pretty much set with brushes, more paints, pencils and charcoals, canvases and a new sexxy jet-black easel - still unnamed, but ready for the ride.

As I did my supply shopping, I found myself strolling through the mall's little cul-de-sac of galleries. The stores were closed, but I decided to take a few photos of some of the windows:

Here are some of the pics I took from outside the gallery windows.

Seeing all that art crammed into those tiny spaces made me realize that there really is so much talent (or commercial value) out there. All these pieces vying for the attention of potential patrons. It made me think about why I do art, which I do a lot - think about art, and what it means to be an artist.

I think I'll write more on my Art and how I operate as an Artist at a later time. For now, here's my take on what Art is:

I really do believe in Art (with a capital A), and I do believe that I am an Artist. Many different definitions of Art exist. There's good Art and there's bad Art. There's art and Art. But to me it's ALL Art.

Art is a manifestation of what an individual stores in their heart, in their mind. It is the kinetic to potential. When that stored thing leaves the individual, and becomes shared with the world, it is Art. When an idea or feeling is evoked by the product or actions of one to another, man that's Art. It's in the outfit you wear, the house you build, the picture you take,the letter you write, a song, a movie, a painting, a chat, a kiss.

Everyone is an Artist, or at the the very least could be an Artist. I really do believe that. The Art is in the difference between intention and empty gestures. We each have the potential to change someone's mind, to influence how someone feels based on what we do, what we say, or what we make. There is also Art in how we do what we do, how we say what we say, and so on.

Well, if everyone's an Artist, then how is it special? It just is. - If most women can thrust a baby out of themselves, then why are mothers special? They just are. Whether they are loving and always there, or abusive, negligent, hurtful or even absent, that woman's existence somewhere in time and space affects at least one other person based on one simple action: she pushed you out. I dare you to tell your mother that there is no Art in mothering.

We are all Artists. The expression and media of our Arts are different, but we all strive to make the core of our beings present in this world, even in the littlest gesture, even when we think we're not thinking about it. But the Artistry improves and is even more successful when we do think about it.

Now, what makes good Art good and bad Art bad. Gotcha! Art is simply Art. I'd like to think of it this way: there's Art we like and Art we don't like. Plain and simple. We are all free to have our own opinions about pieces we like and pieces we don't like. "Because it sucks," is not an acceptable answer. By looking at Art the Artist is doing you a favor. You are given an opportunity to look into yourself. What is it about the piece that you don't like? Is it the color? the mood? The subject? Does it remind you of a place you've been, a friend you've lost, an ecstasy or sadness you've once felt or are feeling now? Once the piece has done it's job for you, then you are free to subscribe or not subscribe to similar pieces in the future, and you'll know why - not because it sucks.

You see, this is why I feel uncomfortable about Art appraisals and Art critiques. There's Art and there's commercial value, HUGE difference. It's a very wobbly tightrope many 'conventional' artists (by this I mean painters, filmmakers, actors, musicians, etc...) walk on. Do I uphold the values and integrity of how I want my craft to develop, or do I succumb to the demands of the public (or elite few that dictate what 'good' Art is)? You are one lucky mufflerscrubber if these two aspects are one. Which is why I think many (conventional) Artists tend to starve.

I think people tend to judge Art on skill and 'talent', and by whom the piece is by. But I'm sticking to my guns.: Art is Art is Art. You either like it or you don't. I think an artist's execution is only restricted by the experiences and resources they are afforded. The respect and acclaim a 'master' Artist earns through the success of his execution may outweigh that which is extended to the frustrated novice. But execution can be learned, which can compensate for 'talent'. And if a master only creates for the sake of meeting the demands of a commission, while the intentions of the novice are driven by passion and self-expression, then who is the 'better' Artist? Or take the 'master' who has decided to stick to simplistic yet somehow powerful techniques versus the elaborate and perfectly rendered reproduction of a grisaille painting by a student, whose empty intentions were based simply on completing a project? Besides, who are we to judge? The extension of the self for others to experience - it's a beautiful thing. First contact with a piece can immediately evoke an emotion - awe, dislike, sadness. But under further scrutiny, or a chat with the artist about what went into making a piece - well, you might find your outlook on the world has become a little bit more interesting. There really is so much more than meets the eye (ear, etc...).

My take on Art may be perceived as clouded by a lack of worldly experience, that it reeks of naive optimism, and that's totally fine. Tell me why. Really, sarcasm aside - enlighten me. But as long as what flows from my heart to my hands, my clothes and hair and mouth touches someone out there. Then baby, you best believe Ima do what I do.

And that's all I have to say about that.