Monthly Archives: August 2016

Opportunity for Artists!!!

Stampede

Been getting the occasional offers to submit my works to a show, enter contests, or be included in some magazine. Most of them would ask me to submit my works for a fee. I try to ignore a lot of these things, but one in a while I’ll respond just to see where it goes or if my initial impressions that it’s not worth it is incorrect.

It’s really sad how a lot of these operations prey on artists. With a mass-mailer asking for $50 per submission, a few artists are bound to respond. And for what? For a magazine that many art buyers don’t really read? A show in New York that goes unnoticed? A one-night event where a person’s art is barely seen? Good artists end up wasting their time and money participating in such ventures, while other artists just end up applying for things for no other reason than to basically get scammed.

Now I understand that some contests or call for submissions would require some small fees in order to cover gallery costs, but a lot of times, the gallery or magazines’ history is too dodgy to justify the cost. It’s not just applications, it’s also time wasted and sometimes cost of framing and shipping. And if you do the math, if a contest awards a winner $1000 in a contest that requires $50 per entry, then the gallery just needs 20 entries to start making it worth their while. That is, if a real winner is awarded a prize to begin with. And the thing is outfits like World Art Media and NY Arts magazine would charge artists upwards of $500! It’s like phishing for ambitious, naïve artists.

Can we stop taking advantage or artists who just want to put their work out there? Artists are already paying a heavy price for dreaming. It’s just depressing to see cynical reality teach artists a cruel lesson.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I will miss you, Gord.

Larva

Saw the Tragically Hip play the last date of their Man Machine Poem tour online. Thank goodness for the CBC for streaming the show for free online, especially for expats like myself. It was a bit of an odd online experience, as I was watching and messaging to my friends online during the show. I imagine it was like that for many Canadians around the world, a collective experience for one of the greatest acts the world doesn’t know.

I’ve been listening to the Hip since I was a teenager and I saw them play in Winnipeg during their Phantom Power tour back in 98. I have always admired Gord Downie’s ability to meld the Canadian experience with history, grief, love and hope. I believe whoever wrote Prime Minister’s Trudeau said it best, “Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years.” The band never exploded south of the border the way Canadian pop acts often do. They’ve done concerts, played in Woodstock, and was even featured in Saturday Night Live, but they just didn’t take off. The Tragically Hip was a band that it seems only Canadians truly got. I tried explaining this to my wife, and how acts like Avril Lavigne and Justin Bieber are not what Canada is about. And that often music acts like them take away from the soul of what is actually good and substantive Canadian music.

It was great to see the band play but ultimately it was sad knowing that this could very well be the last time Gord Downie plays with the band. Back in 2012, he talked about dealing with his wife’s breast cancer, and how it takes a toll not just on the person afflicted, but also to the people helping them through it. His wife recovered but her struggles have influenced the band’s album ‘Now For Plan A.’ And now Gord has been diagnosed with an aggressive terminal cancer. While the show was a celebration of the band’s history, it was also a sad farewell to a great artist. It was Canada saying goodbye to a dying man, a dying man that we love.

I still have not recovered from my mother dying from cancer. I can talk about the subject lightly and even joke about it now and then, but it is still a sore wound. I’m sure most people’s lives have been touched by the disease in one form or another. I myself have given up to the fact that I would probably die from cancer myself. The show over the weekend is a celebration of life in the face of inevitable death. However, it is also a reminder that cancer, death, will take away all of the beautiful things in life, all of them, and that we should appreciate them while we still have them.

Hug your loved ones, watch your favorite band, go out and play sports, do things while you still can. Love and appreciate things while you still have the chance. I guess that was the big take away from the weekend. And as a Canadian, I’m glad to have known the beauty that is the Tragically Hip.

You really missed out, America.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Love Letter

Horseman

The beauty of being married is not being alone when you die. The thing is, if you don’t have children, that scenario is only possible for either you or your partner. Otherwise, one of you will spend a few years alone, missing your spouse, wondering if you’ll ever see each other again. Depression sets in, it reflects on your health. And if you don’t recover, life becomes a nightmare, and death, once feared, becomes the ultimate cure to your melancholy. This is why it is all too common that when half of an elderly couple passes, the other one soon follows. The years missing a beloved spouse can be a long, existential torture.

But worse still is the possibility that you’ll spend many years longer wondering why you got married in the first place, hating the familiar stranger you’re sharing your bedroom with.

As Hunter S. Thompson put it, “We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”*

So I say to my beloved single friends, don’t give in to the pressures of marriage. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. If you want someone to be there and witness you die, as morbid (and strangely primitive) a desire that may be, I will be there for you. Just don’t get married for fear of facing death in a room by yourself. Know that I will watch you pass away for the right reason. I will do it because I love you.

 

*It is worth noting that despite Hunter S. Thompson’s thoughts on finding happiness, he got married twice. It is also worth noting that he ended up committing suicide, while on the phone with his second wife.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When People Die Around Me…

Maurice_Riddick

A relative just died a couple of days during another relative’s funeral. See, it’s moments like this that keep me listening to Elliott Smith.

That right there is my problem. Instead of genuinely expressing grief over a loved one dying, I make a joke about Elliott Smith. Someone who wrote the most touching songs about depression, someone whose songs I still listen to to this day, and who he himself died of the most tragic circumstances. Two of my sisters called me about the tragic news, and I did it again, I reacted by making jokes, not about Elliott Smith, but I tried to be lighthearted about the situation nonetheless.

See if I come across a tragedy, I joke about it, don’t talk about it seriously, then I keep it bottled up inside until it gets all black as ink. Then later when it gets too much or when it hits me at a bad part of my day, it comes out through my art. Instead of processing things and talking about it like a normal, functional adult, I keep it inside… that or write entries about it in a site that won’t be seen by people who actually matter in my life. This is why when I asked, “was he sleeping?” after hearing an old relative died, the other person was not sure whether I was being serious or was it another set-up to a bad joke.

If everything is all smiles, no one gets it when you’re being serious.

Anyway, back to what happened. It’s really sad, but both people were a little older and though the first death was kind of expected, the other one, though I kinda expected due to his age, it took everyone by surprise due to circumstances. Death sucks. I realize that one should expect the passing of older people, but knowing this doesn’t make things any easier. I’m still grieving over my mother passing away. I can only imagine how others are feeling right about now. I know this gonna numb me for a while. I haven’t been that close with both people in the past few years, but both have been really there for me and my family back when we really needed their help. We kinda owe them. I owe them. And in the face of such kindness and generosity, the least I could do is feel really bad over their passing and take it a little bit more seriously. Listen to ‘Either/Or’ and just keep to myself.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Birds, Octopus, Vegas Weddings and Being a Bad Friend

Crow

A friend of mine from high school is getting married in Vegas soon. She’s kinda skirting on the idea and doesn’t even refer to it as a wedding. She calls it more of a “celebration” than a “wedding.” But for all practical purposes, it is a wedding. She plans to go there with a guy she’s been living with for years now. I met him too. They visited us here in Seoul and we travelled to Japan with them. He seems pretty cool and I really think he makes a good match for my buddy. The problem is, for some reason, despite me being one of her oldest and best friends from high school, she seems to be actively avoiding telling me this.

Another friend told me about her plans. She even advised her, “I think you’d better tell Joe soon.” But still, no word. I message her online all the time, telling her inane jokes about the desert, Las Vegas, gambling, married life, buffets, Cher, etc… still nothing. I saw this friend last year in Canada, and we had a great time together. But back then, she told me nothing about her nuptial plans.

When I was getting married, I invited her and my oldest friends over to attend. Of course, only my best friend from university could afford to attend a wedding overseas. But why am I getting shut out? Am I that terrible a person?

I remember one time she confided to me about donating her kidney to one of her friends. It’s a very noble gesture, one that I hope someday I would have the courage to do should I be required to make a similar sacrifice. However, after hearing this, I told her that she was being extremely selfish and shortsighted. She wasn’t thinking about my needs, especially when I might need a kidney in the future. I also said that donating a kidney doesn’t necessarily make her a better person than me. Going to church more often does. Of course this was all told in jest, but it took her months to realize I was kidding. Perhaps this might’ve caused some damage?

The whole marriage thing got me thinking about Vegas weddings however. If you’re gonna get married, presumably committing yourself to the one person you’ll share your life with in a special, sacred ceremony to be remembered as one of the most significant memories of your existence, why do it in one of the few places in the United States with legalized prostitution? How did this idea ever take off? How was this ever marketed? Why aren’t people having quickie weddings in happier places, places like Disneyland or something?

Is it the booze? It’s the booze, isn’t it?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,