Wednesday, July 01, 2015

July Unicorns Of The Month: William Ishmael & Raphael Delgado

Hello handsome.
I've stared a new feature on this blog called "Unicorns Of The Month." 

Each month I will feature two different artists of similar or contrasting styles. Ideally I would do in-depth interviews with each artist, but as many of you know, I'm in China. Even if I was in the USA, I'm only one guy! Maybe in the future when I get some interns, they will be able to proper interviews, like the ones I did with Mark Bowles and Jose Di Gregorio. But the future interns first priority will be to pick up my dry cleaning and fetch my morning coffee! 

For now, I will post images of the artists work, words on their process, and their contact information. Enjoy :)

William Ishmael

Installation view.
Dreams of a floating world II- 48" x 48"

I’ve been an artist my whole life, but began exhibiting in 2004 with large format Buddhist inspired abstracts.  Those concepts of impermanence, transformation, and interconnection have been a part of my work ever since.

I like the viewer to contemplate those meanings on their own but offer visually suggestive forms to facilitate that process.  If the viewer sees life through a microscope, the heavens through a telescope, a part of the sea or of the sky, the infinite, or the metaphysical - I’m satisfied.

Martrix 12" x 12"
We are all interconnected II-25" x 46"
We are all interconnected II-36" x 40"

I’ve shifted my materials from paint on stretched cotton canvas to other interesting and more malleable materials.   I went through a several years period of burning roof shingles and tars on wooden foundations as a vivid expression of the rapid transformation of materials.  More recently, I’ve been using ‘mild steel’ plates as the matrix of my work.  Mild steel rusts in a controlled way with the application of weak acids, in combination with paint, to produce a weathered multilayered surface that I love. I mount the steel plates out from the wall without frames so the work appears to float in space as a single plane. 

In addition, my interests now include producing an overall art experience for the viewer as opposed to producing a single piece of artwork.  My 2014 show for the finale at The Temp Gallery and my installation at the Warehouse Artist Lofts in Sacramento are examples of that approach. 

For more work, check out Williams website.

Installation view.
Close up view.
Dreams of a floating world I -36" x 48"

Raphael Delgado

Delta MF 9

Beta MA 9
Epsilon YN-1
Omega NR1

Raphael Delgado is a 34 year old visual artist based in Sacramento, California. Working in a variety of mediums, his unique and varied body of work  often reflects his interests in physics and geology, and he continuously blurs the line between science and art. He is primarily an abstract painter, although he has steadily been gaining attention for his wall sculptures which he calls "Quantum Objects." The contradicting mediums create a rich visual paradox that fuses the distant past and the far distant future, leaving no clues as to their joining.   

Close up #1
Close up #2
Close up #3
Close #4
Close up #5

Delgado states, "As we look at our reflections in these objects, we become stuck somewhere between the past and the future, trapped inside by these stalactites and stalagmites. The textured spines disobey the laws of gravity and are frozen in a state of rapid acceleration. They suspend in a crystallized liquid state and  multiply into fractals within the architectural form, creating a sensation of speed and weightlessness. ''

Check out more of Delgado's work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Oh Yeah BTW I Moved To China (Month 14)

Once Again, It Pays To Be A Foreigner

This month started off similar to April, in that my pale skin and big nose earned me some extra cash and free entertainment. I was invited to attend a May Day Festival in the outskirts of Foshan, a place called Shunde. Not as glamorous as the previous engagement with Cheryl Sisters, no Russian Leonardo Dicaprio look a likes, or endless Spanish wine, but still fun. If they had asked, I would have attended this event for free. However, getting paid to watch Dragon Boat Races, eat free food, watch Kung Fu demos, and being interviewed by local T.V. and Radio isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon. 

Richard doing a radio interview about the days events.
They actually asked weird questions that had nothing to do with what was going on.
Disregard my TV interview and the VIP treatment my white skin granted me, I suspect Shunde does not have many non-Chinese visitors. Even before we arrived at the event, people were stopping to stare at us. One guy pulled over the side of the road and took pictures of us from his car. Others were less shy, or rather less creepy, and they asked to take pictures with us.

The entrance to the park.
Go, go, go, go, go!
Preparing for the race.
Lunch was served at a really fancy hotel.

Lunch time.
It's also good to foreign because I don't have to put up with the shit my Chinese coworkers go through. The management of this school treats the teachers like they are disposable. Maybe it's just the way business is done here in China, but it's strange to see such a clear, night and day difference between the concept of a  Boss, the concept of a  Leader. There are no Leaders here at the school, just Bosses. The teachers I work with live in fear of the Principal and her hoard of obedient Minions. The principal is constantly looking for ways to save money. But instead of looking for ways to be more efficient, they look for small, petty, bullshit reasons to dock the pay of their workers.

Here are is just a sample list of offenses that will result in your pay being docked:

  1. If your hair in longer than shoulder length and not in a pony tail while on school grounds.
  2. If you live on campus, you must be inside the gate by 8:30 on a weeknight. I'm not joking.
  3. If you live on campus, you are never allowed to have guests. Even if it's after hours or on a weekend when no children are present.
  4. You must attend meetings after work, AFTER YOU HAVE CLOCKED OUT!
  5. You can't ask for leave on a Friday. If you do, your check will be deducted by three days. Yes, I'm serious.
  6. You cannot chew gum.
  7. If the air-conditioning is on in the English office, one of the foreign teachers must be present. Again, I'm not kidding.
  8. If in the English office, YOU MUST be standing when you work. Because as we all know, if you're sitting down to do work, you're not really working, you're just looking at porn.
  9. If you want to leave campus during lunch, to you know, maybe try a new restaurant or have lunch with a friend, you must ask a week in advance. I've been told that this request is usually denied.
Thankfully none of this applies to me. I can't dress all crazy or show up drunk to class, but I have much more freedom than my Chinese coworkers. I've also been told by a few people that many of the above policies are illegal, but my coworkers don't know, and of course the school isn't going to tell them. I used to get really involved and emotionally invested in the drama hear. Mainly because I can see what it does to morale and I care for the people I work with. 

I've had this conversation at least 30 times:

"Come on, stand up for yourself! You can say no!"
"No I can't, they will take my pay! It's China, this is how things are done."
"But remember when Sunny left and they tried to cheat her, and she got a lawyer and they got scarred and she got her money? And now she's much happier at her new job!"  
"I know but I just can't..." 
So now I just do what I have to do, listen if they need to confide in me, and count down the days until my contract ends.

Random Stuff

1. Have you ever been leaving a sushi restaurant in a mall and noticed Michael Jackson lyrics on the wall outside a public bathroom? 
Me either.
But in China it's normal thing I guess.

Showin how funky strong is your fight, it doesn't matter who's wrong or right! Just Beat It! Beat It!

2. Have you ever been in a decent Turkish Restaurant and thought, 
"You know what would make the meal complete, strippers!"

Again, me either.

When they started to clear the stage I was hoping a band was going to go on. But instead, this lovely creature came out and started to do her thing. I'm never not in the mood enjoy the female form, but the timing was really off, and the whole scene was kind of uncomfortable. 

It wasn't a strip club, or a night club, it was a restaurant. It wasn't even after-hours, it was 7:30pm on a Thursday: 


She didn't get all the way naked (sorry fellas, phone ran out of battery power before then) but she did get down to her bra and panties, which let me state again, I'm a fan of. But in a restaurant with children? Really?

3. China will appropriate anything!

Look out H&M, you have some competition in the men's underwear game! 

H&L is on the scene! 

And it's a 2 pack!
And they have a celebrity endorsement! None other than the almighty Taylor Swift!

Taylor Swift Approved!
Oh China, your English translations are priceless!

In case you can't read what's above, it says:

"Haoliang underwear, selection for the plot, the design constant with international brands philosophy and the simplicity of style.  
At the mean time, the design concepts include the value of fresh and naturals, elegant  carefully selections of comfortable and softly material of high quality for all the city's men."

4. Maybe his parents don’t know about weed/stoner culture and they just thought it was a cool shirt because it’s Western.  Or they are colossal potheads and use their son to advertise that they smoke weed. Either way, Lawrence from my upper kindergarten class was all smiles.

Ironically this was the most calm I've seen him all semester...
...maybe the shirt was laced with THC!

My Birthday

California is going through a terrible drought, and this part of China is getting Biblical, Old Testament category rainfall on a weekly basis. 


Yeah, this is real.

And this video is also real. I was on this bus, kind of freaking out. 


Everyone else seems to think it's normal for seven inches of water to be on the bus, except me. Then again, it's China, things are different here. More crazy rain video below.


I spent a majority of my birthday drenched from the rain, but I did manage to squeeze in some good meals and entertainment with my friend LG. 

Sampled some local, homemade wine.
Not for the timid. It's REALLY strong, but quite good.
The real back streets of Guangzhou. People were looking at my like they'd never seen westerners before.
Want a backpack? They got you covered.
Local flavor.
Birthday beer.

This was so spicey! But sooooo good!
Very typical here in China.

I can’t believe I am almost 40 years old. In a few short years, my life, statistically speaking, will be half way over. 

I go back and forth between, 
“This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. This trip to China has expanded my horizons and pushed my art in a new, exciting direction. Be patient and just keep painting...
Things will happen.” 
"I’m almost 40! I’m running out of time!"
"Something needs to happen soon or else that’s it!” 

The time I’ve spent here has taught me to be patient when it comes to other people, but in regard to my own personal timeline, how I think my life should be, my ego says "I WANT IT NOW!"

Does anyone else feel this way? For those of you that are 40, or almost 40, or older than 40, how do you feel about timelines? 

Is it normal to feel this way or am I completely insane?