This was a charming read; a perfect book for a summer holiday! I enjoyed it wildly! And came away with some awesome sage advice from an elder woman, an accomplished writer, an eccentric.
I didn't know that she was the author of When Harry Met Sally until I read this book. I particularly enjoyed her talking about cooking and cabbages; I returned home last summer, and did some really out-of-character thing of cooking, and I did what I imagined would be a healthy soup, one that wouldn't make me too fat. I ended up with some raw tasting soup, a festive thing of cabbages, onions, garlic, tomatoes, celery bits, and spices.
The other advice that was quite eye-opening and timely for me was her advice targeted at younger women like me (younger in comparison to her I mean), to go now, put on a bikini and never take it off until you reach 36! Unfortunately, I wasn't quite able to take her advice so immediately. But now I am working on my abs, so maybe next summer I will be able to do something about it!
Anyhow. It was a really satisfying read for me. I think I saw an Oprah show about this book, some time after I read the book. It's so lovely to feel connected to the world!
It's also called a Princess Hamilton Hotel. And it's a striking bubble-gum-pink building! When I saw it from the outside I thought "Wow! Neo-pop!" almost to the point of it being
rather absurd and radical, and maybe even a tad "kitsch?"
Anyhow. I likened it to a huge giant pink elephant by the time I walked to the entrance of it. And wondered what the insides would be like! I deemed it most likely to be quite colorful and just as kitsch if not, or worse yet, "tacky."
* * *
Whoa! The inside was nothing like its exterior view!
It was tasteful. It was very welcoming. It was luxe calme et juste! God, I would love to have my home just so!
The lighting, the textures, the shapes and lines... Everything was pure perfection (to me).
I was so curious who the designers and directors were. And when I sat in the lobby, I saw the chairs - the kinds I had seen in Malaysia and in England - the workmanship for the chairs was totally top notch.
The scales/proportions were perfection; I could just feeeeeeeeeeeeeeel that this chair was made by someone who knew every detail about how to make chairs! To deal with wood, to make them arch and curve, and support...
And in comparison to those chairs, the modern day chairs we see daily are so ugly and lacks that touch of a real crafts person, a real master. Often, they are made without much thought; they are not pieced together, nor tailored for human delight; they are just glued together or put together without regard to what the material wants to say to you.
OK, so I never made a chair in my life, so perhaps there is no reason for me to be so judgemental about chair designs.
But I have nostalgia; and that is exactly what this place gave me a taste of. A deep yearning to be reminded of the past, the history, and a sense of place.
From the glimpses and peaks I had, everything seemed so perfect there. The lobby, the bar, the foyer, there was even a Mark Twain bronze sculpture and a bench that he sat upon! And then there was a lovely garden and a fountain.
Yes. It had a fountain. It was that perfect! Nothing was left out! And the lounge in the lobby had a fireplace. Fancy that!
This is a book I bought at the Brown Bookstore on Thayer Street
last summer, while on my visit to RISD with my father.
I have always loved the Brown Bookstore. I think it is one of my favorite
bookstores after the English Bookstore in Paris, and the Dillons in
New Malden Mall in London. Of course, now in Seoul, we have the
Kyobo Bookstores which have evolved so much since the 1980s!
Well. This book was on sale and since I was working on a public design
for Jeju Island in my class for Professor Ahn, Sang-Soo, I was really
drawn to it. My team was working on the aspect of "wind" that
typified and characterized the essence and nature of Jeju-do.
And the more we researched into this "wind" thing, the more
fascinating it was! It was more fascinating than the spider project
I was working on the year before for an Illustration class.
There was something so inherently seductive about the "wind" -
it's just so out of your grasp! It's got that quality of sand falling
through your fingers; it entices you, it calls to you, and yet you
can never catch the wind. Unless you can fly or something,
you will never be able to beat it. You can just enjoy it for what it is.
But you can't possess it. Hmm... hence, the attraction.
I read up a little bit about Mr. Beaufort on Wikipedia. What a
fascinating man he was! So full of action and curiosity!
(And what Josh Lyman(sp?) called "a mind at work; gravitas"
in one of the episodes of West Wing...)
* * *
There was another book that I wanted to read in the library of the
cruise we went on last summer, which I didn't quite get around to.
It was called Stickeen, John Muir's Adventure with a Dog and a Glacier.
I don't know why, but my memory has somehow clustered these two
books in the same mental category for that summer.
Maybe some day, I will get to read that book.
It recalls to me two books I taught in class called,
"Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "The Call of the Wild."
I fell in love with this painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, last summer. It was hung above a staircase.
Because of its narrowness that completely matched its surroundings, it really struck me visually. I just loved the facial expressions of the three gentlemen. I don't know why but it just made me laugh!
Like the guy in the middle looks like he hasn't gone to the bathroom in three days! So, when I returned home to Seoul after a long family trip, I looked him up. And discovered that his name was Ben Shahn.
I was quite surprised that this painting was in response to a social issue at the time, and that Shahn was quite politically aware and active.
Personally, I do not care so much about the political message of the painting. At the time I fell in love with the visual and its witty vibe, all I cared was that this was a painting I'd love to hang in my future dream kitchen!
And here's another one by Shahn, that I discovered in a monthly Illustration magazine in Korea. The image speaks volumes to me. And on quite another level compared to the above image.
This one is a lot graver and more haunting, I'd say.
Anyhow, I think these works confirmed once again, the kinds of images I continually find myself choosing over other works.
So, I am just grateful that they will help me articulate my unborn visions, trapped in my mind some place.
And I pray to God that some day, I may be able to give birth to them, and give articulate forms and substances that they so deserve.
Jessica: So, what do you mean by that statement? " I am a Painter, not an Artist. " Is there a difference? Many people use those terms interchangeably these days.
Young-Hyun: Well, I think that there is a certain trend or pressure among young painters today to equate themselves as Artists upon graduation or a number of gallery exhibits. I disagree with that. I see myself as a Painter, not an Artist.
Jessica: Yes, OK. Well, I can see that even your namecard says just that, "a Painter." Why do you choose to be a Painter, but not an Artist then?
Young-Hyun: I think that being an Artist assumes a whole lot of social responsibility. I don't want to be bound by that kind of responsibility yet. As a painter, I can freely enjoy painting, and that is my job.
Jessica: I see. I guess you're using the word "Artist" in the sense of an "Author" or a "Grand Artist" or maybe even in the capacity of a "Thinker/Philosopher."
* * *
Jessica: So, tell us about the subject of your painting. It's been quite consistent, hasn't it?
Young-Hyun: Yes, I do paintings of my brother Brian. I've been doing it for a couple of years now. Most of the time, it depicts him absorbed in something. Playing video games, watching TV, eating.
Jessica: I saw some of your smaller works at Jinsun Book Cafe in Sam-Chung-dong this weekend. It was a bit of a shame to see them become so integrated into the Cafe setting. I think I might have appreciated your paintings better in a super-white gallery wall setting.
Young-Hyun: Yes, the book cafe has its own ambience and the picture doesn't stand out as much. But the good thing is that people can view them for a longer period of time. And notice things.
Jessica: So, what's next for you? I know that you've included a sketch of your brother in this exhibit. Which is a new departure for you, isn't it?
Young-Hyun: Yes, I've been doing some sketches lately. And in some ways, it captures what I want in a slightly new and better way. What I am doing is "contemplating" on my subject matter. (The Korean word she used is "Kwan-jo 觀照,") And a little contextual info enhances it, but it's an evolutionary process for me, so I am not at a conclusion yet, so to speak.
Jessica: I don't mean to be rude, but I imagined myself in your shoes, and wondered what it'd be like to push the abstraction one step further. Do you think about that sometimes? I guess, this is just really my personal response, since that type of thinking is what I do with my paintings. I'm just curious how you see this aspect of your work.
Young-Hyun: Well, I don't think in terms of "abstraction" or not. I prefer to look at it in terms of "figurative/non figurative" art. So no, I haven't thought along those lines.
Jessica: Ah, I see. OK. I'm not used to that term actually. But I did hear that mentioned recently.
* * *
Jessica: So, how did you feel about your works being on exhibit. How did the viewers respond?
Young-Hyun: Actually, a lot of the non-artist viewers have given me some positive comments and felt that a part of their daily life was being reflected in my paintings. Especially mothers! They told me that this is how they usually find their sons or daughters at home; sitting and absorbed in the video games or iPod or TV. I was really happy to hear that.
Jessica: One last question for you. Where is your studio, now that you have left grad school? May I visit you sometime?
Young-Hyun: Yes, I am sharing a big art studio with three other people. It's in Yeon-Hee-dong. Sure, I hope to see again soon!
Jessica: You know what, since you've come with make up and all, do you mind if I take a picture of you, and share it on a blog? Maybe I'll write this as an interview piece in English!
Young-Hyun: (Smiles.) Sure, go ahead. By the way, give me your address, I'd love to send you a copy of my catalog.:D