135 posts categorized "Thinking Out Loud"

March 14, 2014

Mostly Late at Night

I am ...

Photo-66good and bad
serious and playful
Korean and American
an artist and a crafter
productive and lazy
at peace and restless
in love with making art
mostly uninhibited
sometimes brave
sometimes a fucking coward
not interested in command statements
grateful for the time and freedom I finally have to pursue my art with total commitment
excited every day to see what else I'll see and understand through art
acutely aware of the limited time I have on this earth

sad ... mostly late at night, as I'm turning off my lamp


March 07, 2014

Beauty and Melancholy

Every day, I wake up with anticipation as I think about what new thing I will get to see through the wonders of painting. When I really get to see ... without inhibitions, what I see is achingly beautiful and laced with melancholy. This life. It is so relentlessly strong and delicate.

Photo-62This painting is one that my late brother, Jinil made. It's beautiful, don't you think? And it's a little sad and and lonely and scary. I think he did a great job capturing the essence of this marvelous scene from nature. This fragile life.


March 03, 2014


 I frequently think about the story that my life will tell. The story of a daughter, sister, wife, mother, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The story of a woman who was born a baby and who thought she'd be a little girl forever.

I think about the various people I intersect with as I'm playing out different parts of my story. What do those people who get to see part of me think my story is? Like the bank teller who always talks to me about fitness when she sees me in my workout gear. What does she think my story is? Or the server at my favorite deli who knows my order by heart. What's my story in her eyes? And why the heck am I at that deli so often ordering that same broccoli salad and coffee every time I'm there? "What is it exactly that that Asian woman with paint stains on her shirt doing anyway?" she must be thinking.

"And there she is again, next to that pianist, listening sincerely and daydreaming intently. What is her story?"

But what about the pianist? What's his story? Does he play the piano all the time? Or just at night? Does he have children? Does he like broccoli salad and coffee? And who's that guy standing behind him with the envelope? What's his story? How did we all get here?

Photo 1I wake up most mornings wondering what new thing about the universe I'll get to see through art. Sometimes, I want to be regimented and explore things on a list ... like let's explore nature, and then let's explore childhood, and then let's explore motherhood. Or something like that. Because I think to myself that my story should go around those loops ... in an orderly sort of way.

But more times than not, I find myself meandering off of my lists ... as I step into abstractions where I find the most amazingly fantastical things that are beyond the confines of what I think my story is or how I think the rest of it should be steered.

It's within those abstractions where new stories get birthed ... and where I can see the tiniest kernels that all relate.

I like that. Meandering off, that is. I like letting myself be less chronological, less literal, less orderly, less obvious, and less list-oriented ... and allow myself to step into the portals of abstractions to discover new and different, where reality and imagination dance together to help me express my story. A story that continues to become. Photo 2

February 14, 2014

Opera Interrupted

My mother dreamed of singing opera.
She had the voice that could make that dream come true.
"Whatever you do, do not get married, becuase that will lead to motherhood, which will endanger your operetic destiny," cautioned her professors of music.

IMG_6774But love happened.
And she entered the boat of marriage with my father. And she had babies ... my brothers and I.
And opera, as her professor forshadowed, became forever interrupted.

IMG_6775It is both tragic and triumphant ... the intersection between women's dreams and motherhood, as destinies get modified through the choices of which boats we choose to board and which ones we forego.

The world of opera lost out on my mother's voice.
The world gained my brothers and I.
My mother's heart lost the thrills of receiving standing ovasions that her voice deserved.
My father's heart gained my mother's.


February 12, 2014


I rode the final wave of my recent birthday by celebrating with my friends Pam and Amy last night.  Conversations about art, more art, and then more art still. Conversations that could keep going on and on if we only had the time. Pam took this photo of me admiring the handlettered gift wrap she made. As I unfolded it and saw what it said, it warmed my heart. What a life season it's been these last few months.

Pam pointed out that I look deeply happy in this photo and I replied that yes, I feel that more than ever, as I feel a sense of fulfillment and peace to just go with life's flow and art's flow and ride whatever wave that comes my way. It made me recall early convos with my therapist months ago when I started with him. He had asked me what I wanted and I had told him that I wanted to feel fulfilled but not at the expense of my passion and fire for life. Even if that meant that I'd have to live with some degree of torment and melancholy.

Photo-41Going with life's flow I think involves a complete breakdown at times. Like when my brother passed this past Thanksgiving. From the moment I found out to now, I know one thing for sure. I just let myself feel it all. No holding back. Completely broken. Completely shattered.

And I allowed art to take me over with complete inhibition. Every part of me. It is truly what saved me and breathed in me a newfound strength and wisdom.

I've become less afraid of complete breakdowns. Because when it's completely so, that's when I get to see and feel what there is to see and feel and understand ... and then breathe again, deeper than before.


February 04, 2014

Do Something About It

In Julie Balzer's recent class at the studio, there was a point in the workshop when what she was teaching involved collage. After she explained how to adhere paper to paper, she paused to say that some of us will realize that a wrinkle or wrinkles will have formed in the papers that we just adhered.

And to that, she said that some of us would like the wrinkles or be indifferent to the wrinkle(s), but that some of us would NOT like the wrinkles and would want to get rid of them. 

And she said this: "If you don't like the wrinkles, do something about it."


Photo-30She did go on to explain some ways people get rid of wrinkles in collage but even if she didn't give us those explanations ... if I thought long and hard about it, of course I could come up with ways where I could get rid of the wrinkles. After all, I am a grown adult. I know logically what a wrinkle is, which is air trapped inside paper. Even you the reader right now I'm sure can think of ways ... if it really was important to you, to get that air bubble out of the paper.

Leo Frincu recently wrote an article that I really liked a lot. He trains fighters and the article is about the trainer/athlete relationship. Basically his point is that when an athlete is trained to become a follower and obeyer of what the trainer tells the athlete to do rather than a critical thinker, then once the athlete is in the ring and is getting punched in the face, the athlete's ability to solve problems and do something about the next punch coming toward him may be non-existent because the athlete is relying on following directions in a noisy arena where you can't hear anything, rather than using athleticism and intelligence to figure it out. 

I hear all the time from people "I wish I could (fill in the blank)."
To which I say: Really? Are you really really sure that that is your wish? Are you sure that that's what you want or is it just a bullshit sentence you are saying because you know that I (fill in the blank) and you want to compliment my work by saying that sentence? Because if that's really what you want or wish, my response is, as Julie and Leo would say: Do something about it.

So lately, when I'm painting, and I say to myself things like "I hate this painting. I hate that it's so fucking blue" or that "it has so many circles" my reminder to myself is to really ask myself if I'm bothered by the blue or if I'm bothered by the circles or if I'm just bullshitting myself by thinking that because I think I'm supposed to not like blues or not like circles.

Everyone bullshits. Myself included. I think the trick is to figure out when it's going on and get to the truth of what it is that I really really want and then use my skills and intelligence to do something about it.

February 01, 2014

Creative Genius

The best note I ever got was this one several years ago from The Mister. It came with beautiful flowers. Those closest to me know that what I ever really want for any occasion has nothing to do with flowers or other things. All I ever want are heartfelt words. I hope that I continue to do with my life things that will result in receiving the kind of words that that I want.

Photo-22Yesterday was my birthday, and I was lucky enough to receive an abundance of amazing words from those closest to me (and those who I barely know) that I will treasure. 

I don't take lightly the fact that I have a life where I can spend most of my time thinking about art, talking about art, viewing art, and making art. It's what I've wanted.

I don't take lightly the fact that those closest to me don't view my obsession for what I do as trivial.

I don't take lightly the fact that I won't have birthdays forever, and that every day is a precious opportunity to continue exploring sincere ideas that can be expressed through art.

As I finish finalizing the details for the show that will happen later tonight, I give thanks to those who give me the space and intimacy that I need to freely explore and express what I want.

The details of today's show, which will also be revealed here in future posts, are for you brother Jinil, and your true creative genius that I knew so well.


January 29, 2014

To Create with Vigor

I spent all day today installing everything for my Saturday show. From macro big to micro tiny. I've learned so much. Mainly that it's very very very hard to execute a solo show ... to have large magnificent pieces as well as teeny tiny details that all work with the large ones.

The other thing I've learned is that I've grown more through this process, this body of work, and this installation than I've ever learned in a long time. And oh yeah, I want to do more. More art, more digging, more unearthing, more installations.

IMG_5815During the day, I was texting with my friend Pam ... pondering life's questions and bouncing ideas with her as usual ... and I found myself explaining how I want to make sure I use my precious energy within the short amount of time I have left to create as much art that is true to who I am with vigor.

I don't know if it's morbid ... my frequent reminder to myself and friends that we'll all be gone soon and that we'd better get a movin' if we are going to do what we want to do.

Photo-15So the other realization I've had about why I prioritize health and fitness is that I want to have as much energy as possible for the time I have left for art. Every workout counts. Every bite counts. I don't want to squander a single day as I seek to create magnificent works of art with vigor.

Oh ... to be so lucky.


January 28, 2014

Seeing and Speaking Out Loud

The post I made today generated lots of people chiming in ... here, on FB, texts, and email. In particular what seemed to hit a nerve was #9: my point about the comment "I love the colors." Turns out there are artists who also feel the way I feel and artists who don't feel the way I feel.

One of my closest artist friends is one who does not feel what I feel and we had a series of robust, honest and respectful back-and-forths today about the topic. As robust as it was, I feel we just scratched the surface of how much I really want to delve into the topic and talk about it some more. I think it's challenging to really talk and consider topics such as these and easier to silence challenging topics.

Jerry SaltzI've been reading a book titled Seeing Out Loud—the collected columns written by Art Critic Jerry Saltz. Every single column is filled with the courage not to silence difficult topics as they relate to art but to actually talk deeply about them ... clearly and out loud. I actually fell in love with Jerry Saltz when I saw him on Work of Art and listened to the criticisms he'd offer the contestants. I still re-watch the episodes just because I learn so much from his masterful criticisms.

I think it's interesting that many critics of Saltz try to dismiss him as "an art snob" who cares more about fancy art school stuff than "real people" stuff from the real world.

What is it about the very act of discussing art or being an art school graduate that agitates some people? Why is the act of pondering concepts within art considered by some as elitist?

Based on that logic, then would it be correct to view the pursuit of math and science by mathemeticians and scientests as elitist? When we are in need of accounting services, do we say "Let's go to the one who didn't go to accounting school ... the one who just rounds up or down when the numbers don't add up"? Or when we are really sick, do we say "Let's not go to the one who went to medical school because that means he's a snob"?

This post is not about how art people should go to art school. There's a part of me that wishes I did but I didn't. And Jerry Saltz didn't either. (By the way, the juxtaposition of the last two sentences in no way means that I compare myself to him. Hardly.)

So what is this post about?

It's about how I really enjoy the Out Loud part of what a free society affords us ... which is to think, discuss, and have robust back-and-forths ... and how we can champion rather than silence topics ... no matter how challenging.

January 26, 2014

Top 10 List :: Week 4 of 2014

 The Top 10 things floating in my mind this week. Monica Mouet10. Every year I think I won't be able to do what I must do, which is to complete 1099s for everyone on behalf of my company. And then I do it. I make small mistakes but they are usually the same mistakes that my extraordinary accountant has gotten into a rhythm of preidicting and correcting. I could take time to learn how to not make my small mistakes but I find it easier just to keep making them and having someone who knows how to correct them correct them. I'm glad I don't make new ones. BTW, I hate it when someone says "that's why I hire someone to do my 1099s." Really? Well of course, I hire someone to help me with my 1099s and other accounting and tax-related work but you really can't have nothing to do with doing them, even if you hire someone. I just can't imagine a small business owner not having anything to do with doing them.

9. Within the art/craft universe, it's very hard, almost impossible to say publicaly "I don't like that," lest you be labled a meanie or a bully. That's why "I don't like that" is said privately.

8. Southern Cal. Edison shut down our electricity for half a day last week, which threw our timed sprinklers off. And so our lawn gets watered at completely irrational times of day. And because we are so not handy, I'm sure that the next time the timer will change is when our electricity goes off again ... either intentionally or accidentally.

7. I just saw this saying that I love: "Get your halo dirty." In other words, stop acting all perfect and start doing good shit.

6. If I ever become a fitness instructor and I end up teaching a class, I won't be one who asks the students questions like "how's everyone doing today?" followed by questions like "why is everyone so quiet today?" Because no one in a group class is interested in answering questions like that. We just want to work out. (This is different from one-on-one training sessions, by the way.)

5. I've learned that people who say "be vulnerable in your art" are the ones who are least vulnerable in their art. Same thing with all the other over-used words that I avoid like the plague ... not because I don't like the words, but because their over-use has transformed them into such tired cliches.

4. People try to distinguish art from craft. I actually think there is another distiction that is more important and harder to talk about ... and that is the distinction of art from decor. It's one of those things that also gets talked about privately.

3. I eat pretty healthy. But when I hear about people talk about doing a "juice cleanse" for a day or even a week, I think "oh that sounds like a good idea I want to do that too." And so I think about stocking up on juice and just having that and nothing else. And then I start drinking juice for a meal and when I realize I can have nothing else, I think "this is the shittiest thing I've ever tried in a long time." And I stop the cleanse. Actually, I think what I am attracted to is the word "cleanse." Who doens't want to hug that word? It's such a great sounding word. Cleanse. Cleanse. Cleanse.

2. I just got a card from Lenscrafters saying I will get free lenses if I buy a new frame. Yeah, right. "Free" as long as you have single vision with no other weird stuff like astigmatism and all the other short-sighted vs. far-sighted shit that happens to your eyes with age. But I'll still take the card in becuase it's time and I do need a new prescription. Usually my AAA card ends up giving me a bigger discount than these periodic promos that come in the mail. But no worries. I do love my lenscrafters.

1. I started installing my show yesterday for I See Boat People (which you are invited to attend, by the way). Before yesterday I had been thinking "Oh I wish I had a bigger studio to show all my stuff" but after yesterday, I thank my lucky stars that my studio is not any larger. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that it's hard to fill a studio with a body of work where every piece feels worthy and right. And I also learned that I trust deeply the feedback and editing that my daughter gives me about it all.

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