Art & Development, Travelogue, Values

Manila, Manila

Four days into my 10-day sojourn in the Philippines as part of Galleon Trade, I’d like to take a break to consider generosity and joie de vivre.

I’m really impressed with the amazing people I’ve met, such as the artist-gallery owners presenting the Galleon Trade exhibitions: Norberto “PeeWee” Roldan, an artist and designer who runs Green Papaya Art Projects, and Rock Drillon, an artist who runs the mag:net cafe.

Filipinos are famous for their hospitality, and combined with the professionalism and generosity I’ve experienced from our collaborators, I can’t say enough how nice it has been here. The gallery owners have really extended themselves to help create the exhibitions we envision, ensure local publicity (photos and articles in the Philippines Daily Star and Inquirer), and arranging for rock and experimental sound bands to play at the openings. We’ve also had the honor of landing at The Living Room, an alternative space run by Carlos Celdran. I have heard nothing but amazing things about Carlos’ tours (from Lonely Planet as well as individuals), and my experience on the Intramuros tour with Carlos even exceeded my high expectations. He conveyed a very complex history with pride, pain, humor and characteristic style. He made the sense of loss of his beloved city (after Gen. MacArthur’s carpet-bombing of the jazz-age city known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’) tangible, yet the talk encompassed Filipino spirit and spirituality.

While class divides allow only a fraction of Filipinos to afford the lifestyle we are enjoying as American visitors, I have to say that I have developed a fondness for Filipino joie de vivre and patience (though dozens of jeepney and taxi drivers might be honking at each other non-stop, none seem to be angry). I can’t remember the last time I sat down to coffee in little cups and saucers to have a quality conversation, but here it seems to happen at least once a day. Maybe it’s because we’re guests on a short visit, but the small moments of mutual exchange underscored by generosity are very sweet and inspiring, and hopefully I can pull away from multi-tasking back home long enough to re-create them.

Art & Development, Community

Post-Ship Launch Report

Last Saturday’s Galleon Trade: Ship Launch was my first time helping to organize an art auction.

(I don’t know how to say this without sounding hokey, but: I try to savor when I have a first experience with anything; it’s a way to watch myself grow and to acknowledge the adventures within my daily life. It’s a lesson I learned while traveling abroad, and have tried to bring home.)

I’ve donated work to many auctions before, and I always admired how professional and enjoyable Intersection for the Arts’ auctions are. Their attention to detail—white gloves on the art handlers, very clear roles and responsibilities, a detached wrapping area—provided an example I sought to emulate.

I also learned a lot from the dedication and professionalism of certain individuals. Jenifer Wofford, an artist, educator and friend who initiated Galleon Trade and was the mastermind behind Ship Launch, worked night and day for weeks to tie up a gazillion loose ends, from the location, to handling media inquiries, to collecting the art, to serving as point-person for internal communications, to asking for help and delegating tasks. She even made the mango salsa. Her family was like a battalion of support, unloading tables and chairs on the front lines and unleashing wave after wave of delicacies like adobo skewers throughout the evening; her beau Rick was like a rock that I think all of the Galleon Traders leaned on for his professionalism, competence and manpower. The one thing I forgot to do was to toast Wofford’s dedication and leadership.

I also got to work with Mike Arcega, an artist whose fabrication and installation skills inspire me to raise the bar for myself. He and I worked on many aspects of the auction implementation together. First, with the help of Rick, we swept the 20×50’ gallery room. It wasn’t that the floor was bumpy – there was no floor. It was just unfinished concrete. Hence the Kleen Sweep. Sweeping felt more like digging a hole with a broom; the more we swept, the more dust filled the air and made us look like we were going gray in our hair.

By mid-day, we filled a garbage bag with at least 50 pounds of dust. This is one more of those idiosyncratic behind-the-scenes moments of being an artist. It’s not the stereotypical schmoozing-at-an-opening scene or the musing painterly looking-and-thinking pose. I could feel my lungs feel grody, but I appreciated the fact of knowing what needed to be done and making it happen. It’s really a blessing to be surrounded by energetic, capable people.

Despite starting at 10 am, we couldn’t have finished installation without Stephanie Syjuco’s help. And there would be no auction without the generosity of 40 artists who donated work, among them, my favorites Renee Gertler (who’s in an upcoming group show at Swarm), Stephanie Russell, Erik Scollon, and Mario Ybarra, Jr., a Los Angeles-based artist who I’ve had the pleasure of assisting for the past few weeks during his Capp Street residency at the Wattis Institute. (Keep an eye out for postings about the mural unveiling in September.) I also feel really lucky to be a beneficiary of Amanda Curreri’s and Emily Sevier’s generous spirits; they helped wrap up the artwork in the tight turnaround time (not to mention a very tight corner of the hallway).

Of course, the event would not have been a success without the numerous contributors, too many to list here. Their financial support was really incredible. I’m especially moved, though, by the sense of community that crystallized; people were genuinely interested in Galleon Trade take off, artists bought other artists’ work (because collecting art is a way to support your fellow artists; it’s not just for capital-C collectors), and it was really sweet to see moms and Tias in action in support of a contemporary art project.

Considering that this was a first time for us organizing an auction, I thought the event went really smoothly. The rest of my life has taken a back burner. I’d like to include one more behind-the-scenes look—laundry all over the floor, no time for grocery shopping—and include one more acknowledgement—to the partners and spouses who, despite the financial instability and constant project-driven obsessions, still find a way to love artists: Thank you.


Going to “the manly place to be”

To get ready for Galleon Trade: Ship Launch, I went shopping for Kleen Sweep, a moss-like powder that’s great for trapping harmful dusts on the ground. It’s really useful after sanding gallery walls. So I headed to the hardware store nicknamed “the manly place to be” in an old rock ditty.

In the past, I’ve heard arguments that men should have “man spaces.” I believe that men and women would greatly benefit if men had reflective, discursive spaces to consider manhood and the role of men in struggles for equality. Unfortunately, most contemporary male-centric spaces–in my experience, fight- and motor-sports arenas–function as spaces for exhibiting the stereotypical male qualities that A.O. Scott brilliantly contextualized within a culture of consumption and sexual entitlement.

Usually, I’m pretty fond of hardware stores—bigger quantities, competitive prices, more open-ended materials. They’re like interesting cousins from out of town to the sibling art stores, whose idiosyncracies are too familiar to excuse.

But sometimes I’ll be reminded of hardware stores’ gendered context. (There’s no better place to witness the different treatment you get in a skirt instead of jeans than my neighborhood Ace.)

My Kleen Sweep quest wasn’t going well, so I asked a gentlemanly sales associate for assistance. Perfectly politely, he pointed me towards the broom aisle. I scanned the products — no Kleen Sweep. I went back for more help, and the guy ‘fessed up: he knew what Kleen Sweep was, he just assumed I meant Swiffers…. As in the TV ad with a housewife cleaning and rocking out to the debased Devo tune, “Swiff it up.”

Interestingly, more female employees and a housewares section does not correlate to a more female-friendly experience. My new favorite hardware store, a builder’s supplier where the parking lot is filled with pick-up trucks, has the best service and products (like Kleen Sweep) in stock.

Art & Development, Citizenship, Community


[My vision for this blog is to spend more time on posts than I have right now: to mull over my ideas, and formulate opinions and theories. Of course, the reality is that there’s rarely enough time for blogging, not to mention, sleep.]

Optimism takes work.

Not everyone agrees with me that the SF Bay Area art community is populated by people who exercise professionalism, rigor and generosity. It can be difficult for me to back up my optimistic sentiments. But lately, my cup has been overflowing, and it’s due to the generosity of many artist-friends and artist-mentors.

I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be on the other side of the art auction “ask,” asking artists to donate their hard work and time to support more art- making and showing. But lately, as I’ve become more involved with Galleon Trade, I have been asking artists, and talking to everyone I can, for their support.

The response has been incredible! If there was ever a time to give thanks, it’s now. Everyone I’ve asked has responded positively. From fellow artists getting back on their feet after graduate school, to gallerists who can help get the word out to collectors (without whom an auction could not be successful), to a community-minded artist that I’m assisting, I’m really impressed and thankful for the generosity I’ve experienced.

Almost 40 works by 33 artists have been donated to support the grassroots international arts exchange. There are multiple, stunning works on paper by Megan Wilson, a really beautiful drawing by Aaron Noble, a humorous and optically-strange print by Mario Ybarra Jr. (you have to see it in person), beautiful and mysterious photographs by Gina Osterloh, a curious object by Reanne Estrada, and a striking ceramic work by Erik Scollon. At the center of it all is Jenifer Wofford, who initiated the project, and has been organizing it full-time, with little compensation, for the past few weeks. I feel extremely lucky and thankful to be an artist who benefits from the hard work, generosity and commitment of so many individuals.

See the art for yourself. And if you’re feeling generous, please show your support by donating online via Paypal.


Galleon Trade: Ship Launch Auction Items

Here’s what I’m donating to the auction.

Again, the funds will go towards helping the artists go to Manila for the exhibition at artist-run spaces, and of course for exchanges (such as salons, artist’s talks, etc.)

This is my first time going on an international exchange exhibition and my first visit to the Philippines! Hope you can share the excitement at Galleon Trade : Ship Launch on June 30th! Click here for details.

Untitled (Drawing for Stacked Orange Present), 2007, 13x17”, graphite on paper
Untitled (Drawing for Stacked Orange Present), 2007, 13×17”, graphite on paper

Aqua Present, 9” x 9” x 6”, paper, balsa wood
Aqua Present, 9” x 9” x 6”, paper, balsa wood

Art & Development, Community


I’m very excited to participate in Galleon Trade, an artist-initiated exchange project that’s heading out to Manila in July. I feel really lucky to show my work alongside that of artists like Mike Arcega, Stephanie Syjuco, Gina Osterloh, Megan Wilson, Enrique Chagoya, and many talented others. So far, we’ve received couple of small grants, but we are waiting on one more–which means I may be unable to fulfill the “exchange” part of “exchange exhibition.” Please show your support and join the party!

Saturday, June 30 2007. 6 – 10pm
Downtown Oakland, CA

Please join all manner of pirates, bootleggers and scurvy knaves for Galleon Trade: Ship Launch!, one hell of a land-locked fund-raising party and art auction.

Galleon Trade is out to make the Pacific Ocean seem smaller, by creating a sustainable template for innovative new kinds of grassroots arts exchange. We’re starting by forging new relationships between California, the Philippines and Mexico. You’re starting by coming to our party, and having some good clean fun, dancing, eating things, drinking things, enjoying and bidding on art. Cones will be even be set out for the roller-skating elite.

When and Where’s the Ship Launch?
Event: 6:00-10:00PM
Silent Auction: 6:00-9:00 PM

The former Oakland Tribune Building
12th and Franklin
Oakland CA

What’s going to happen there?
Oh, goodness. All manner of fun, including

• Food and Drinks (featuring a number of Filipino dishes, as well as The Galleon, a brand-new East Bay cocktail!):

• DJs and plenty of other entertainment to keep you occupied on a warm, sweet East Bay summer evening! There will likely be some dancing to be done. Rollerdisco encouraged, but not expected.

• A silent art auction featuring affordable work by many of the Galleon Trade artists and their high-powered artist friends!

• The opportunity to experience the massive, historic Wonderbread Warehouse before it undergoes renovation!

How much is all of this fabulous fun?
A mere $10. More, if you’re feeling generous. Less, if you’re in a tight spot.
Food’s on the house, drinks by donation.

What if I can’t attend?
Galleon Trade accepts web donations via Paypal. Our fiscal sponsor is the Luggage Store.
For the Art auction, early bidding/proxy bidding by email/phone also welcomed:
Details and online gallery to follow shortly at

Where do my pesos go?
All proceeds support the multi-year Galleon Trade project, which is building new templates for grassroots, international, trans-pacific arts exchange. Phase 1 of the project brings 12 California artists to Manila, Philippines this July!

For details and participants, please visit:


Questions? Or to donate* or volunteer:
Email me at info (at)

*ARTISTS! Interested in donating work to support your fellow artists in an artist-initiated project? We’re seeking donations of small works on paper, prints or multiples for sale in the art auction. Your work will be featured online, with a link to your contact info. I haven’t been this excited about grassroots Oakland arts events in a while — please join the fun.