Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Change in the JA community?

After this project is over in Jtown, I think I will have to stay away from the neighborhood for a while. Yesterday, I popped into the center while they were having an event. What was on the food table? Lots of disposable chopsticks, styrofoam plates and no visible way way of disposing the chopsticks to the compost as I have been talking about the whole time. I was offered food and I pulled out my portable set. I can't force anyone to change, but you can imagine how frustrating it is after all the work, fundraising, artmaking, blah blah blah.

Lots of people have asked me what the response has been from restaurants. The restaurant staff in general have been supportive and in some cases very enthusiastic, but there is currently no system of recycling or composting in the mall. This is 2005! If you go to Japantown Center, you will notice that there are no places to put your beverage bottles and cans. That is because these are going directly into the landfill! The Japantown Center has three trash compactors in order to mash all the waste into their garbage bins - everything including, cardboard and all other recyclables is going into the landfill. The Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling Company did a garbage audit as a service to show the Japantown Center how much they could reduce waste and their costs. They found that by simply implementing recycling, they could save over 25% on their garbage bill! (which could be passed down to the businesses and their customers). Those savings could be applied to composting services for the enormous amounts of foodwaste generated from mall businesses. My sources say these improvements have fallen on dead ears.

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to begin this project here, but I feel like I have been holding the reality of this project on my own. I think the Japanese American community's inertia on this and so many issues is enough to make this homegirl run screaming.

I leave for Spain next week for a much needed vacation.

Friday, October 21, 2005

TV crews, Dept. of Environment, kids etc...

Today was a very busy day at the gallery with people trying to see the show in the last few days. KRON4 and Pacific Fusion (Asian Pacific cable TV) were there. Thanks Karen and Antenor! Then staff from the Department of Environment came through. Then 18 little kids from Nihonmachi Little Friends. I told them an abbreviated version of The Lorax.

I feel sort of lucky to have made it through the day. I am growing increasingly more tired and less able to think. Barcelona is looking pretty good right now.

Meanwhile, the closing reception is tomorrow. The new catalog is out, fresh off the press and it looks beautiful. You can get it there for $15.

Also, thanks to for posting about the show!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New video piece added

I don't know what got into me but I had to add another video piece to the installation. Here is a still from it. It was really fun to do. I don't want to spoil it so I won't say what happens yet. You'll just have to see.

By the way, I went to this great show by Debra Greene at Kirkeby's on Texas between 17th and Mariposa in the Potrero area of San Francisco. Beautiful drawings and paintings that talk about time, process, labor, systems, micro and macro. Please check it out.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Original Mammoth Polaroids for Sale

The above are polaroid prints available for sale. There are 5 prints of each view but each is an original print. These prints are 20 x24, large format polaroids made from the Mammoth Camera, one of just a few camera's like this is the world! For more info on purchasing, contact Justin at Red Ink Studios at Two prints will be exhibited at the Waribashi Project show in Japantown Center.

The catalog is finally done and at the printers. Thanks to Leda Black and Sibila Savage, it will be a beautiful catalog with an essay by Karin Higa, the Senior curator of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. These will also be available for sale starting October 22nd, the closing reception of the Waribashi Project.

Here is photo of the group from Crissy Field Center in the class Charity and I taught last Saturday. This week I am doing an artist lecture at CFC ( Next week, Nicole Jung (who is on the far left) will be leading a "Recycled Utensils To Go" class.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The true cost of art

Another photo from the current installation.

I was teaching a class "The Ecology of Chopsticks and other Disposables" with my friend Charity Maybury at the Crissy Field Center. The group was Crissy Field Center's I-YEL Program, high school youth who I believe will change the world. One of the things we discussed was the cost of organic food and how we experience it as so much more expensive than the other stuff. Because organic food is best grown and cared for in small farms, the costs are different. We are actually paying for the true cost of food - real food without chemicals, locally grown. Of course, there is a lot more to say about this.

Later in the day, when the class went to see the show at the gallery, I was asked how much money this project was and why it cost so much since the chopsticks were free. I think I was a bit unprepared for the question and wasn't as articulate as I would have liked to have been. You see, I am totally fried. I have raised about $30,000 for a project that was budgeted for $35,000. This means that all the project expenses including equipment, printing, graphics, press, washing supplies, photo documentation, studio supplies, travel expenses, research materials, art transportation, and everything else including my salary for a year had to come out of this. I worked about 250 hours just on preparing chopsticks from the dirty bins to their clean useable state. I do not get heathcare, social security, vacation or sick leave. When you calculate all the time - grantwriting, talks, classes, press, catalog, documentation, studio work, washing, phone calls, meetings, networking, supply runs, installation, working with contractors, and the artmaking, etc...I make less than minimum wage. It actually ends up being about $5.45 an hour.

And unfortunately, I will be flat broke at the end of the month. I can get bitchy about it, but I'm not asking for pity. I am really glad and grateful that I have had the opportunity to do the project. This has been an amazing experience, but I'm just explaining that our budget did not reflect the true cost of art and artists, like me, are constantly in a economically vulnerable position. Art costs a lot more.

I am thinking about sustainability, too. If there is no art, what will happen to our country, our culture?