I hope you will follow my journey through Shanghai with twocities art gallery to plan a community art event...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Just another Friday night...

Little did I know what all lasst night would hold...
All the ladies in the office were sitting around eating lunch yesterday and began to talk about how they were short handed for the concert later. I said that I would help. They seemed kind of surprised that I would want to "work" on a Friday night, but I guess they really didn't know who they were dealing with. Hosting an event is absolutely NOT work for me. I love it. So anyway, I stuck around for the concert that would begin at 730pm.

Twocities gallery knows how to throw an event. I could hardly believe how they transformed their gallery into a concert hall! They transitioned the majority of their show either to a different spot in the gallery or put it away all together. I LOVED their attention to detail: they reworked the lighting, set out REAL coffee cups and wine glasses, had plenty of help staff, provided a beautiful program that was printed on high quality paper, made sure that every seat had a good view of the concert.... Once we had everything set up, we waited for the people to arrive. It was slow at first, but about 10 to 15 minutes into the concert, the place was packed. Standing room only! I would estimate that there were about 200 people who came. The concert was a jazz concert. I don't know much about jazz nor have I ever really developed an appreciation for it, but I really enjoyed myself! Here are some pics from the evening...

I am slowing learning more about the history of the arts here in Shanghai and why in the largest city in the world a project like mine is needed. I still have many more questions to ask and a lot more to learn. However, the basic story goes like this. After the Communist movement and the governing body took control; they took control of everything down to what types of restaurants and galleries would be available to the public. For many years there were underground galleries and trading of art, but there was absolutely not a thriving art community. Over the last couple decades everything has begun to grow and prosper again. Twocities art gallery is on the cutting edge for community engagement. They provide multiple events each month that are free to the public. They have investors that believe in their cause and what they are doing for the community who help support them. Hopefully through my project this summer, there will be a host of organizations that will begin to work together in making art more available to the community.
After the concert was...

Drum roll please...................... The OPENING OF DOLCE & GABBANA!

There is absolutely no reason that I should have been invited to that party, but I sure am glad I was! I've only read about parties like that in magazines. This store was in a part of Shanghai that I had not gone to yet. The building next door was a Louis Vuitton store. Which was an 8 story building that was a LV suitcase. I'll go back and get a pic. Aunt Nancy... you would have been in heaven... CHAMPAGNE was free flowing. :) Paparazzi was everywhere. Fancy dresses were EVERYWHERE (except on me! I went straight from work and was carrying my big fat backpack with my laptop in it... great work, Bec. Real cool.). I don't even know what the majority of the people there last night do... but the most seemed pretty sheik and fancy. Passed hors d' oeuvrse were served all night. I tried as many as I could get my paws on... Amazing chocolate moose in chocolate cups, coffee moose in tiny sugar cones, and a nutty thing were all I tried, but there were many more other items floating around. If you've never gone dancing in a Dolce & Gabbana store, you should! This is Chinese model and me... we're friends now.
The DJ! All I know is that I requested Tonight's Gonna be a Good Night... and this guy played it the very next song! I like to think that means I'm kind of a big deal...
Unfortunatly my only crowd shots don't fully capture the glam and bling that were at the party, but you get the drift.

From a jazz concert in a beautiful gallery to a Dolce & Gabbana star studded event. How does this even happen?! There is never a dull moment in Shanghai.

I almost took a cab...

Taking a cab here really isn't that expensive...but if you compare what you would spend to grab a cab against how many meals you could buy with the same amount of cash, it IS expensive. Before I spend money I almost always play the "would you rather" game. For example, would you rather grab a cab (make it easy and quick) or would you rather eat 5 meals? So... yeah, I thought it was worth dinner for a week to walk / take the metro to the art exhibition last night. (All told the amount I'm talking about is approx 5 bucks. :) ) And second, I genuionly like being in the mix. The people watching on the metro is amazing. Being a part of the sea of people flowing through the metro is like leaving a Razorback Football game all day... EVERY DAY...

Anyway, I got directions from one of the girls at my office and I was off for new adventure the the exibition into a part of town that I had not seen yet. I stuck 20RMb (3 bucks) in my pocket to get a bite to eat and to have some fast cash in case there was something that I couldn't live without. Little did I know what I would find...

ONLY in China can you purchase... the ENTIRE final season of LOST... 5 days post the airing of the finale for less than a dollar! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I immediately picked up the phone and called my homie, Trenia, in excitement. (after returing home I ended up watching the remaining episodes I had missed until 2am! I'll spare all you nonLOSTIES from a cretique!)

My dinner consisted of hand pulled noodles! Let me tell you... the Italians have nothing on the Chinese when it comes to turing out some noodles! These guys stretch out the dough. Twist it around. Stretch. Twist. Stretch. Roll it in flour. Stretch. Fold in 2. Stretch. Roll. Fold in 4...8...16...32...64...128... and BAM into the BROTH to cook for a few short minutes for some delicious fresh noodle soup! I'll get a video next time to show yall.

The exhibition. You never know what you are going to get when you are dealing with artists. I love that.

These are companion pieces that France commissioned a French artist to do for the French Pavilion in the Expo. These pieces stood approximately 7 - 8ft tall and appeared to be made of plaster. The black figure's tongue will be licking the money in the lady's mouth. I talked with the artist for about 2 minutes. (He quickly was stolen away by more important people; I don't really know how that is possible :) ) I was only able to ask about the black figure and the symbolism behind composition; in short, doesn't go much deeper than he just liked it and the two pieces together represent global consumerism and greed. I can't say that I would like to have theses pieces in my home... but they were interesting.

The event was in a warehouse which was his studio. It was a fun evening where I was introduced to many people I will be working with this summer. The first of many art events...

I have 7 interviews lined up to start my data collection for the Shanghai art event! I am so excited! I have some research to do to find out how to do a survey monkey in CHINESE! :)

On the homefront. Above is the outside of our apartment building. Trenia and I have had some more conversations with Rainbow. She is going to be a great friend! She is Shanghainiese! BONUS! She knows all the best spots... I love being a smart tourist: eating at the best / cheapest restaurants, shops, fruit stands, side streets, etc! She is also going to start tutoring us in Chinese!!!! I think that we are also going to make a standing date to watch the bachelorette! She can access American TV from her computer! AHHHHH! YEEEEES!

There is a concert at my gallery tonight and then all the girls from the office are going to an Opening of a Dolce & Gabbana Store... so I'm going to be along for the ride too! (Why wouldn't I?! Its not like I had to google the spelling of the store or anything!)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This was supposed to be at the bottom of the blog...

Back in the GAME!

A LOT has happened since I was last able to blog... and I don't really even know where to start. I feel like I'm in a time warp over here. First of all, all of a sudden I'm a morning person. Like, where did that come from? I wake up at 6:30am and am ready to go, that NEVER happens at home. I hope I can translate that habit back to the US.

I have started work and it is going to be a blast. The gallery is full of fun women who all speak English.(YES!!!!) I have met with a few people who are going to be collaborators with my project and they are rockstars. They seem to know everyone in the Shanghai art scene and are going to be great help. I've got some background work to do before I head out and start interviewing gallery owners and workers. (Which should be very interesting / entertaining!)

Trenia and I have finally settled out living arrangements. We've moved in two days ago, but today finally got around to paying the agency fee to the guy who located our apartment for us. Long story short... if you are going to negotiate, bring Trenia along. She hustled the hustler! I definitely have a few new items in my bag of tricks for negotiating. The best trick of all... don't bring any more money with you than you want to pay. We talked about what we wanted to pay. She told me, "Clear out your wallet. Just bring 675RMB." I packed 750RMB (just in case). How much did Trenia pay? 675. How much did I pay? 750. Lesson learned.

Our apartment is a nice place. There are flat screen TV's in every room. I guess they are cheap over here (like they make them here of something). The place has wood or tile floors, nice bathroom, small but adequate kitchen, and a nicely furnished living room. The bests part about our apartment are our roommates. We are living with a French guy and a Columbian dude! The best part about it is, that I get to practice my Spanish! In China... I get to practice my Spanish. The French guy has a girlfriend named Rainbow. I'm assuming that it's a self proclaimed name, but we haven't gotten that far yet. (I'll keep you posted.)

We have an AMAZING noodle place right around the corner from our place. I've gone twice and I plan on frequenting the little shop a couple times a week. The food is cooked in wok right in front of you; they use fresh ingredients; and more food than I can eat costs LESS THAN A DOLLAR! It rocks.

There are few things that I have noticed about the Chinese people and the food they eat. First, they eat a lot, a whole lot. Second, I haven't seen any overweight people over here. We have been talking about this and have come up with a few reasons. 1) They do not pump their food full of salt and sugar. They do not have salt / pepper shakers on their tables and contrary to popular belief, you do not need to flood your Chinese food with soy sauce! (at least they don't). 2) They walk everywhere. They do not bat an eye at walking for half an hour to an hour to get somewhere. There are also loads of bike riders in the city. 3) I'm kind of starting to believe that they just have a different metabolism than Americans. 4) The beds are so uncomfortable, it's work to go to sleep. (That HAS to burn calories! :))

My final bit I am going to leave you with today is a picture of a man and his bike that I passed on my way to work. Sorry all you Boy Scouts of America out there... you've got nothing on the knots this guy tied to load up his bike this morning!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I have arrived!

I have arrived at the place where everything is made! Prior to leaving I bought some Razorback goods to give as gifts... ironically enough all the items have traveled half way around the world to return home!

After being sandwiched smack-dab-in-the-the-middle of a row of 9 seats for 15 hours, I arrived in Shanghai! The flight was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I sat between two college students who were returning home for the summer. All three of us were very excited for our journey that would begin on the other side of the airport, so conversation was fun and lively. They humored my questions like, "Will I get a fortune cookie after every meal?"So, that was fun and reduced my uncertainty of the since of humor I would be dealing with this summer! They also taught me a few key words that I have and will continue to botch, but at least I have them to throw out! Outside of drinking too much water and coffee and giving my row a workout to support my bathroom habits the trip was smooth.

Going through customs was a breeze and finding my ride was painless... locating a place to stay for the night was not. I had a couple of places that were recommended to me listed out, but sure enough, they were all filled up. My poor drivers drove me around for about 2 hours looking for a place. The hotel I wound up in was super nice definitely nicer and pricier than I would have preferred, but it was a place to stay.

I was starved, exhausted, and jet-lagged or you could say very fragile. After I "regrouped" in my room for a minute I ventured out again. The restaurant across the street was hoppin! I got some Taiwanese women to order for me. I ordered chicken and vegetables with noodles and a beer. There were a few things I learned last night about the dining experience in Shanghai:

Number one: Beware of bones. I'm talking shards of bones. This is not fried chicken bones... they took the chicken, carcass and all, chop it up into bite sized pieces and throw it into the soup or whatever. (It's as difficult as eating a wad of sunflower seeds that are still in the shell!)

Number two: If you are eating something that you can't or don't want to eat, just spit it on the table. Seriously, just pile it up.

Number three: Beers are served at room temperature during this time of year. If you are lucky enough like I was last night you might even get a paper Care Bears cup to drink out of!

One of the Taiwanese women spoke English and loved telling everyone that yesterday was my first day in Shanghai and my first day in ASIA. Everyone definitely laughed when they heard that! Whether they were laughing at me or with me I didn't really care. We were all laughing and that is a language that I definitely understand!

That ended my epic first day in Shanghai. Bottom line: everyone was great, really great.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Making of Flat Stanley

My nephews kindly shared their artistic abilities! This is my first video on the flip cam... apologies for not editing... I'll get that dialed in later! Enjoy.