Archive for October, 2009

Chen Wenji

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

This morning did not start out well. I woke up to a phone call from Mel and Yada, which was great until my phone died mid-conversation. Bummed, I decided to go to the office and catch up on blogs. In the elevator I saw a notice informing me my apartment building would be without hot water from November 1 to 6. Great. I got to the office, only to find all the power out downstairs. Seriously!? I unplugged my computer and went upstairs to get on-line. Talking to my dad didn’t help, as he reminded me my visa expires in a few days and I need to contact the US consulate. Gar! Could things get any worse? Frustrated to the max, I checked MySpace before blogging. My friend Karis sent me an encouraging message. She said she admired my courage to move to a foreign country all alone and wished me the best of luck. It’s messages like these that motivate me when I’m down. They remind me to stick with it. I can do this. So thank you Karis, you have no idea how much I needed that!

Feeling a surge of endorphins, I got off the computer and got on with my day. I ran to Wal-Mart to stock up on groceries. I really didn’t want to go, but the weather is supposed to be bad tomorrow.

After lunch, errands and a little apartment cleaning, I set out to explore. It’s a crisp, fall day in Beijing and the light is perfect for pictures. I started to wander around my apartment complex, as there is neat art to photograph. I saw a sign for an art exhibition and lots of people carrying books. I love art and decided to check it out.

I walked into the gallery. A hostess handed me a free coffee table book of the artist’s works. I signed the guest book and turned around to see the artist, Chen Wenji right behind me. I asked him to sign my book. He did so and people took our picture.

I began to walk around the gallery. At first I thought his works were some sort of colored 3D canvas. “Wow,” I thought, “This is it?” Upon further inspection of his art I realized it is oil paint on canvas. Wenji’s ability to shade really deceives the eye. I literally stood a foot away from his work and still it looked 3D.

According to Wenji’s book, he began painting as a child. In school he was smaller than the other boys and often picked on. Schoolmates excluded him from sports games. Wenji befriended a handicapped boy. Together they would find anything from landscapes to people, and try to paint what they saw as realistically as possible. His parents didn’t understand why Wenji didn’t like games, but this was his own game in his mind. Wenji later studied art in China and abroad. Today he is an accomplished, award winning artist.

The gallery titled “’09 Chen Wenji Recent Works” is on exhibit until December 31, 2009. Entrance to the gallery is free. If you’re in China, I encourage you to check it out. Chen Wenji’s art is amazing. Alright, I’m off to get ready for Halloween in Beijing!

♥ BB

Graphic Design

Friday, October 30th, 2009

I’ve had a few people ask me what I do for work. “I know it’s graphic design, but what are you doing exactly?” No, I’m not playing on my computer all day, although that’s what it feels like. I’m learning Adobe programs such as InDesign, Illustrator, Flash and Dreamweaver.

Adobe InDesign is a program used for publishing. My dad uses this program to layout his magazines. With InDesign, one can layout magazines, books, annual reports, public relations campaigns and pretty much any other publication. You can also design images with InDesign, but your abilities are limited. This brings me to my next program.

If you really want to express your artistic creativity, Adobe Illustrator is where it’s at. I’m by no means an artist, which is why this program rocks. You can merge shapes, adjust curves and tweak lines until your desired image is achieved. With Illustrator the possibilities are endless. You can design company logos, draw cartoons and layout business cards. You know those music, art, or food festival posters tacked up around town? Chances are, someone designed them in Illustrator. I’m currently redesigning my dad’s business cards and magazine mastheads. There is so much you can do in Illustrator it’s almost overwhelming, but I already love it.

Dreamweaver and Flash are both web programs. Dreamweaver is a website design program. I’ve only spent a few days studying the tutorial videos, so it’s still relatively confusing. There’s a lot of code stuff that makes my brain hurt. Eventually I would like to design my own website using Dreamweaver, but as I continue to blog with iWeb the task to convert programs gets bigger and bigger. I haven’t studied Flash much either, but it’s a program for web stuff too. I’ll keep everyone updated as I learn more. Or I’ll just surprise you all and update my website so you can see for yourself what I’ve learned.

I recently started converting all my blogs into a book using InDesign. I will keep adding my blogs to my book. Hopefully when I come home, I will have a 100+ page book ready for publication! Any suggestions for a title?

♥ BB

Chinese Graffiti

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I live in an artsy area. While walking around I keep noticing graffiti art. I call it art, because that’s what it is. It isn’t just one word or one color tags. Some murals are over six feet high and 20 feet wide. Murals reflect current events, such as the H1N1 outbreak and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. From my observations, artists work together and paint around previous tags to build beautiful murals.

My favorite artist signs his or her work “Xiao R.” All over Beijing I see flowers, ghosts and skulls with this artistic style. Characters range from olympians to astronauts, and each one has a pointy head. Xiao R’s flowers have a distinct cotton-y look. Sometimes they have spiky teeth. Stems usually have thorns. I’m not sure who this artist is, but I am in love with his or her work. I would even pay them for custom work!

It’s easy to assume all taggers are male, because most are, but females tag too and their style is unique. Miss Q often tags female cartoons or animals. Her trademark red lipstick adorns her tags, lettings viewers know the work is Miss Q.

The most talented tagger, in my opinion, is O5SX. This artists ability to paint and shade, with just a spray can, is amazing. My favorite tag of O5SX’s is the green girl on rocks (bottom). I assume this artist is male, because almost all of his works are over six feet high. This is another artist who’s work I would definitely pay for. Amazing.

I’m not sure of the legality of graffiti in China. I know in the U.S. there is a hefty fine, and possible jail time, if you get caught tagging. If tagging is illegal in China, artists must paint very fast. I can ‘t even imagine the work that goes into these murals. Only when you’re standing next do them is their enormity put in perspective.

Legal or not, I love graffiti tags. They certainly brighten up otherwise dirty, dull brick walls. I get excited when I see new work. Whether I’m jogging down side streets or walking to Wal-Mart, this art always puts a smile on my face.

♥ BB

10th Annual Midi Music Awards Festival

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well I took almost two-hundred pictures at Midi Music Festival and could certainly write two-hundred-thousand words describing the event. I’ll try to keep it short and let my pictures tell my story.

Friday night my friend Serena invited me to attend the Midi Music Awards Festival. Midi is the biggest music festival in Beijing. I was hesitant to go, as tickets were 80 RMB (I can eat for almost two weeks on 80 RMB). Serena insisted my money would be well spent. I love rock concerts. Why not experience a Chinese rock concert?

Saturday morning Serena, her boyfriend Hou and I met up around noon. We took the bus to 798 Originality Square. “Qi jiu ba” or 798 for short, is a major art district. All the art museums are old warehouses from the Mao era. To date, you can still see Mao’s slogans painted on the buildings. We toured art galleries and poked in various little shops. My favorite place was “Postcards of the Future.” At this place you can purchase and write postcards, then mail them to the future. How? You choose what month and year you want your postcard sent, and they mail it. You can even send postcards five years from now! Who knows, maybe I even wrote my own postcards to the future.

Time flew so we hurried back to 706 Warehouse to line up for the concert. While standing in line I couldn’t help but notice the different styles. People dressed in punk, goth, rock and emo attire waited to get in. I saw mohawks, dreadlocks, tattoos, Vans, guys in skinny jeans, girls in goth and even a few Kurt Cobain shirts. I guess all over the world, emo is emo, goth is goth, punk is punk, and rock is rock.

Band after band played. My favorites were CMCB, Tookoo and Brain Failure. Even though most songs were in Chinese, I loved them. The lead singers sounded great live (which is hard to do at rock concerts). Drum and guitar solos rocked. The crowd sang along, heads bobbed, hands were up and some boys pogo-ed (it’s what they call mosh pits). In between acts, Midi Music School gave out Midi Awards for Best Rock Band, Best Vocalist, Best Instrumentalist, etc.

Halfway through the festival, Serena pointed out a guy standing about five feet in front of me. She said he is “China’s King of Drums.” I couldn’t believe it! Earlier I bought a Midi Music Festival poster. Serena and I asked him to sign my poster. He happily did so and I thanked him. Many musicians stood in the crowd and blended in with the rest of us. I can’t imagine the VMA’s allowing “normal people” to come watch, and then having musicians stand in the audience. Maybe it would be a good thing. Most celebrities could use an ego check!

After eight hours of rock music, I needed some rest. Although the venue said “no smoking,” someone did and soon everyone smoked cigarettes indoors. Mix that with muggy concert air and my eyes, lungs and sinuses hated me. I was rocked out. What an eventful day. Every day I am here I feel more and more at home. Yes, there are cultural differences, I’m slowly dying of secondhand smoke and I miss my friends and family. However, China is amazing. I can’t imagine where I would be if I weren’t here. I feel like this whole experience is a dream and when I come home I’ll wake up. I don’t want to wake up!

♥ BB

CCTV

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

China has two main television networks, CCTV and BTV. Of all the television stations I receive, only one station (CCTV 9) is in English. CCTV 9 plays the same four programs continuously throughout the day. I can only watch Asia Biz, Culture Express, CCTV International News and Travel in Chinese so many times before needing to branch out.

I have difficulty following along with most television shows because native speakers talk so fast. Recently I stumbled upon CCTV “xiaor.” Think of it as Nickelodeon Kids in Chinese. Most shows have subtitles in Chinese, so I can improve my listening and reading skills.

My favorite show is called “Postman Pat.” It’s a British cartoon dubbed in Chinese. In every episode Postman Pat and his black-and-white cat drive around delivering mail. Postman Pat or the townspeople usually encounter some sort of dilemma. Leave it to Postman Pat to save the day. I know, totally corny, but my Chinese is quickly improving.

I’m not sure what the other cartoons are are called. The names are hard to read because of crazy cartoon fonts used for the introductions. One cartoon is about people racing remote control cars. Another cartoon is a French cartoon about scuba divers. There are also a few more cartoons about magical powers, Chinese warriors and pet dinosaurs that transform into big, fighting dinosaurs.

I started watching these shows out of boredom, but the more I watch them, the more I understand. In fact, 我常常翁中捉蹩…. Shoot, I did it again! I’m constantly thinking, speaking and dreaming in Chinese. I’ll have two-way conversations with myself in my mind. It’s weird. To see other Americans and speak English feels almost foreign. I’m definitely going to experience reverse culture shock when I get home.

I enjoy Chinese television. The shows are funny and reflect the culture, but I can’t wait to get home and watch American TV. In fact, I’ll probably spend a whole day watching E!, Fox News and any trashy “reality” show I can find!

♥ BB