Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oppening of the Penang Oil Painting Societ

Yesterday I spent some time in the afternoon with two of my closest friends Ambi Devi and Joe Sidek after meeting them at the Beach Blanket Bistro Bar where the Little Penang Street market will take place tomorrow like it has always been every last Sunday of the month. Tomorrow i will be having an art class for the kids from the orphanage and i had planned on getting them to do collarge. Joe is having his hands full with managing everything else from running his company and managing the LPS Mrkt to taking care of his mother who is in and out of the hospital for the past few months. He seems on top of it all eventhough he seemd a little worn out around the edges. Ambi is also herself worrying about running he car into gates and not having transportation as a result, otherwise Ambi is Ambi. Two great people who has been dedicating their time and money towards the betterment of others. It is my rpivillage to have become accepted as one of them.

After the brief discussion at the Bistro we heade for the Penang State Art Gallery where the oppening ceremony of the Oil Painting Society was held. As usual there was a very poor and and disheartening turn out for the ocaision. Barely twenty guests mostly the same faces of fellow Artists the number of whicih is alot less than the number of entries for the show. Is Art really becoming extinct in Penang or is it because of the day and time of the event?Has the general public really become so removed from art and aesthetic appreciation, have artists and what they do become aliens in this age and times? This insensitiveness towards those who are the vanguard of creating and enhancing social and cultural identity of a given society is becoming alarming and I am very thankful that there are people like Joe and Ambi and my friend Leekhai and fellow artists like Soo Kow and Rashid who are attempting to keep alive the art scene here in Penang. Without these individuals and some others who patronize the art exhibitions most distinguishable among them Dato'Tan Chee Kuan who is also a collector and supporter of the Arts, Penang will be poorer in her collective aesthetic conciousness.

The lack of any Malay or Indian Artist participation was also very discouraging and a sad thing to note as it reflects the lack of a joint effort among all the existing artist in the state in promoting art and aesthetics in a collective spirit. Apredominantly Chinese affair this does not do much for Penangites in terms of creating a cohesive multi-ethnic joint venture in creative thinking and expression. Most people would only point a finger of accusation and blame when something like this occurs whereby one nationality dominates what must be a collective venture involving all the other nationalities as well. However blaming and fingerpointing does not and never will create any better environment for future integration of the art and artists works in furutre shows, but a positivie drive for and understanding of the dilemma that had been faced by the artists whatever their nationality may be might help to create a better avenuse for better coorperative efforts in promoting a more multi-ethnic exhibition that would raw more wider variety of audiences rallying unfavoured or biased support for the arts and art exhibition.

Art Galleries and gallery owners, Art collectors and critiques, the lay person and artists alike has to make a concert effort towards the reintroduction of an aesthetis awareness for the State. The schools and institutions has to awaken the sense of a need for a renewed sense of creativity among the younger generation and parents are to be made aware that art actitivities are what their children need in order that their creative minds and spirit can flourish. Politicians and lawmakers,educators and the health institutions too have to find ways and means in ensuring that aesthetic and artistic talents among the people are not sidelined or neglected to make way for a sterile, economically driven society. It is encumbent upon all to not let the Arts fall into the waste basket of our so called developmental projects. If this be so Penang will become just another factory for the developed nations and Penangites will serve merely as cork and screws or a sweat shop for the functioning of other bigger factories elsewhere.

Tomorrow, the 31st of August when the whole country celebrates the Nation's Independance Day it is wise to ponder upon what and how we are addressing our sidelined citizens. Those who finds no venues towards their sense of creative imouls and urges, those who through the lack of support and encouragement from the power that be finds no forms of expression or release from this day to day mundane living and most who one way or another ended up finding it in drug abuse. The synthetic release of the trapped souls that could not cope with being caged and astrapped from lack of creative windows of expelling their passions. Most drug abusers and alcoholics are inherently creative in nature, they get high to play the guitat along street corners and scribble cartos on wall as a creative protest we call graffiti or vandalism. Most of our disjointed members of society in mental homes are treated with art therapies the only open door for them to dare enter and let their feelings be known and yet we who are in the know treat the arts and artistic talent as a wasteful endeavor and most of us prohibits our children to indulge in drawings or painting as a pasttime much less enciourage them to get more involved.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Anwar and Obama Political Concerts

Last night my cousin Rahim and our friend Majnun took adrive to Permatang Pauh where Anwar ibrahim was to give his final rally speech the night before the 'Big' bi - election at Permatang Pauh. The crowd was huge and braved the incessant rain through the night shouting and cheering at just about every top gun members of the Malaysian Oppositon Party members who preceded the man they were there to send to the halls of Parliament as their leader. I had bought an umbrella ahh, what with money in your pocket1 but seriously it was the fact that the umbrella was also the colors of the Malaysian Flag with the the cresent and the star that got me to splurge and save myself from getting soaked while listening to this historic final campaign by Malaysia's most controversial political leader.

I shook his hand once when I attended his appearence in Kuala Trengganu at one of the beach front houses in Batu Burok and at that time he was on the run and and the former prime Minister Tun M. was on his tail and I was just a curious bystander wondering what it was all about and wanting to meet in person the man i had come to admire from afar while i was living abroad. I had sat on top of a neoghbor's gate wall while listening to him delivering his fiery speach at the time pointing his finger at just about every Tom, Dick and Mahathir for trying to shut him up behind bars and throw away the keys. I was swept away by the moment and joined in the fist raising at the South China seas skies yelling Roformasi! Dumb!!
When I returned home from the whole affair I received a call from my oldest brother telling me that my twin brother had called him and told him that my presecence on the TV3 screen had cast him a call from his boss demanding and explanation. Our relationship from then on hit the bottom between my twin and I and till this day i doubt if i could ever justify my actions to him and hell if I care to. But I blame Anwar for this! Yes it was because of him and his fiery speach that got me into this pea soup with my twin and his wife who would exploited every bit of the scenarion to plunge the wedge deeper into what was alredy a fragile realtionship between the twins. Off course Anwar had nothing to do with it and I would got to listen to him talk anywhere and anytime as i did on the final day of the last general election campaign night at Mount Eskine Chinese graveyard. I told my cousin Rahim back then that Anwar was looking for the four digit numbers among the gravestones. But this was Malaysian Politics, the opposition will be the opposition and with all the money spent building fancy halls and stadiums all over the country opposition political rallies are held in padi fields and graveyards attended by who? the very people that paid for these expesive facilities.

I hate politics and i hate politicians even worse but I know that without the two life as it is today would be total chaos where its ups for grabs to the toughest, meanest and most cunning of society to lead the rest of the flock like cattle being lead to the chopping block. Politics and politicians provides the necessary cheque and ballance, and when one or two decided to turn bad hopefully the others would nail him down. The people who braved the rain, put up with the driving and parking, taking their time to be there deserve the best from those they had come to support. Malaysians deserve the best from their government and the government deserves the unquestioned support of the people as this is not an easy nation to rule being multi- racial, multi - religious and multi - idiosyncracies. Like sititng on a keg of explosives, one wrong word, one wrong move one wrong look! KABOOOOM!! All hell will break loose and all civility will be cast to the winds and only chaos and destruction will be the course of action. Deep deep down there is still the mistrust and the suspicions among the three major races in this country and anyone who does not see this or experience it in one form or another is either naive or in denial.
As I see it the work for the politicians is not so much as to unite the nation but at present to stamp out all the elements that is being used to create a division among the races. The elements that is being exploit by all in their persuit to fulfill their own petty agendas at the expense of the miseries of those who had laid their trust in the hands of their leaders. Malaysians walk the thin line of racial conflict and attaining harmony on the other hand will be the cronw of our success in governance of a society. Most of our Malaysians are educated to a certain degree and most have the desire to live along with their neighbors in harmony regardless of who their neighbors might be. However for so long as there are those who dwell upon self promotion, self propagation and self agrandizement as a means of being ahead in this life, Malaysian plural society is at the mercy of racial disunity. These are the ones who will keep sowing the dark seeds of discord among the uneducated and the down trodden stirring their passions and emotions through religious and cultural sentiments evoking ancient lineages and the worship of ancestors as a means for reason to demand justice. Malaysia will see more and mosques and temples and shrines growing all ove the country no matter who rules, maybe this is not such a bad idea if it at the same time see less and less hotels and other forms of accomodations as mosques and temple in their own right are where people in times of need can seek shelter. But too far fetched, as most of the these places of worship are usually locked most of the time depriving the very needy who they were build for the help they could use.
If the Malays can drop their Malayness and the Chinese forget their Chineseness and the Indians and the rest of the ethnic groupds that make up this nation does likewise perhaps and even then, we might be able to call ouselves truly Malaysians. To change the future of the nation we have to change our own mindset each and everyone of us, the rich and the poor alike the enlightened and the ignorant it does not matter, we every single native who aspires for a wholesome nation has to know ourselves and where we stand. We have to shed our old mindset of nativistic, tribalistic, clannistic guises and embrace with faith one identity without fear or favor. Short of this Malaysia will never get off from this powder keg that is slowly burning its fuse waiting for the final destruction....MERDEKA!!

If and when Anwar Ibrahim is elected to parliament Malaysia will go through a change no doubt one way or the other and the oppostion party is the only hope for this change for better or for worse. Change is what is needed at present and even the most jaded of Malaysians realizes this. This is a country that has much to offer in its resources both natural as well human and for it to fail as a nation is unthinkable and a sure bloody shame. At present the direction in which we are headed seems like a blurr in everyone's mind and to bring some form of coherence in the sense of direction will need a very strong and capable leadership, a leadership comprised of great thinkers and movers, those who see the inot the future what present holds and not those who see how to profit from the present uncertainity for personal or group benifit into the future.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Drive to Trengaanu

On friday last my daughter and I left penang in our little Kancil and headed for Kuala Lumpur. My son Karim had to go to school for extra classes sinse he will sitting for his exams in a month or two at least that is what I am to believe, knowing karim he would most probably be getting himself a few new DVDs and watch them again and again till he cam memorise every line in the movies. I made about seventeen thousand RM from my last solo exhibition at the Penang State Art Gallery and a few new contacts a far as buyers to my works are consern. Making the amount was a hard task but spending it was hell of alot easier! But hey, what's money if you dont know how to spen it? I have always told my children that they will never think of their father as being stingy in his life when I am dead and gone. I keep reminding them that I would get them anything within reason if I have the means to do it and when I dont have they will have to bear with me and go hungry if I have to.

On the way to KL we stop for the night at my aging auntie's house in Bukit Beruntong a few Kilometers north of KL. There I gave my cousin sister Jamie two of my mono - prints as i had promised her years ago but never got around to fulfill it. Noticing that she was very much in need I gave a thousand RM mainly so that she can change her four worn out tyres on her Kancil and the rest was for whatever she needed as she is not married and the one taking care of her mother. Needless to say I feel very sorry for her but I also love and admire her more so than all her siblings put together. May Allah constantly give her the strength and courage to persevere in her life and Allah's Willing i would help her all I can into the future. Her mother is the woman who had raised me as a child as her own.

We left Bukit Beruntong in the morning and headed for Sha Alam where my cousin Zakaria resides anf from there left in a convoy of three cars headed for Melaka. Our trip to Melaka was to send the bride( my niece) to her newly wedded husband's home. After spending a good half of the afternoon at the home of the Groom we left for the Sime Darby Kempas Resort located within an Oil Palm Plantation not too far from the gromm's house. We were joined by the rest of the Zakaria entourage, the rest of his children and grandchildren and occupied the whole resort. Zakaria is a staff member of the Golden Hope, Simedarby plantation group and is quite way up there in his position and so we were given the VIP treatment.

I did a water color painting of the fish pond facing the shalets and gave it to my niece as her wedding present. It was not half bad but was more appreciated for the capturing of the moment in time for her. We left the resort the next day and I headed for Kl that evening from Shah Alam in the effort to locate my friend Dr. Ali the Iraqy. We had been friends since we met in Trengganu where the Dr. and his family has been close friends to my family and used to do things together. However my worse nightmare of getting lost in KL at night came true and i spent the next few hours searching for a place to stay the night with my daughter. God I hated KL for this! We managed to put up at the Orkid Hotel finally and watched the movie on HBO called the Final Destination Three.

Next day I contacted my friend Hasnee a fellow artist and spent the day with him at the National Art Gallery where I paid my courtesy call upon the Director Encik Najib Dawa, the man who was supposed to have launched my Solo Exhibition at the Penang State Art gallery but failed due to more important functions. This was my first time at the New Nat. gallery and I was quite impressed by the vast collection of artworks spanning over a time period. Saw some familliar works by my former school art teachers and was captivated by the more contemporary pieces that has evolved beyond the old style of these teachers.

Hasnee has an ongoing exhibition at the New Straits Times Gallery in Bungsar but i did not attept to locate it even in the daytime as I said before I dont like KL. If i could avoid it i will but if i have to pass through it to get somewhere else I dread where i would end up. My cousin Zakaria pointed out that for a guy who has traveled some of the world's largest cities, it is strange for me to get lost in KL. Well it is not really a matter of knowing the roads so much as getting use to the negative feelings i have about the place and its people.

Hasnee my daughter and I later visited the home of an old school friend who was formerly from Trengganu and as a matter of fact he was one of our Troop leaders during our Scouting days at the Sultan Sulaiman Secondary in Kuala Terengganu. He spent most of his life as a shoe designer for BATA shoe company and a few others, but he is also a painter and has always been dabbling in art untill he retired and now plans on going into it full time. Adna Otheman was at one time an idol for the young ones growing up in K.TR. as he and his band group back in the sisties and seventies were the first and they called the 'Sonics'. He was their lead singer and had made popular a song or two in his days.

My daughter and I left Adnan's house at about 2 in the morning heading for Kuantan and then Kuala Trengganu. It was a pleasant drive all the way for me and my daughter slept fitfully in the next sit. I had alot of time to reflect my life and what is happeing and what is not, if all is moving according to plan. I missed my sons but they have their own agendas these days so I decided the hell with it call me if you need me and if you dont' well... My daughter is different, she will need me like it or not and it has always been a pleasure to travel with her and who knows she might end up being a traveller herself which i am hoping for as I cannot imagine seeing her getting married and settling down at an early age to some Malay. Not that i got anything against a Malay son in law but marryi9ng a Malay i have come to experience is marrying into a family not just a wife or a husband but the whole clan and not all of them are pleasant tobe with rest assured. Ahh! too early to bother my head with!

We arrived in K.TR. early in the morning and the sun was rising as we arrived into Kuantan area. I thought of spending the day sleeping at the resort in rantau Abang or better known as the turtle beach but when I was at the resort there was not a soul at the reception desk and so I decided that it was notr such a good idea. We drove on untll we got to my sister's house in K.Tr. and there i found my nephew asleep infront of the TV, he did not even bother to get up when I greeted him. There is alot of unsavory words i would like to write about this jerk but that would be judgemental to the extreme, so i can only sympathize with my sister and his wife. My daughter i I left after I manage to catch a few winks on the chair while my daughter did hers on the sofa and we left as soon as i caught my senses.

We ended up putting up my friend Fadzli's house in Gong Badak where his father had offered me an open invitation for me to put up at his home whenver i am Trengganu. Why do you want to stay in the hotels and so on when you have my home he said it may not be a five star but at least it is not a falling star. The house is a mansion by any standard.

I had a great time visiting my friend and spent the nights sleepless facing his computer and discussing photography, Art and religion. This was what we used to do in the past when I lived nearby and as we had done before a visit for a late supper at the Paloh coffeeshop with the guys is a must. I also visited Mohamad Rafi and his family which I never fail to do whenever i was in K.Tr. I also visited Hashim at the Duyong Heritage Marina on Pulau Duyong and got the scoop on what is going on with the Monsoon Cup business. Some things never change it is said but then most of the things in our life just take on new forms as time wears out the old and replace it with the new. One never would have noticed much of it if one had never walked away from it and take a look at it from a distance and with a sense of detachment...

To Pick the Lotus without wetting the fingers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Sendai Project

After days of scanning al most all of my sketch books related to my stay in Sendai, Japan, I am now beginning to attempt my hand at putting a book together as my new project. My Solo Exhibition at the Penang state gallery went well and i am now financially stable for the nex few months. Made a few great contacts as far as my potential buyers are concern and now all I have to do is keep creating and come up with some more extraordinary pieces that will capture their interests. The show also was a personal accomplishment as I can say that i made it to the State Level Gallery where not too many local have yet to. I am a relatively new comer to the Art scene here in Penang barely four years now and so far i have had four solo shows bagged.

What do i do next? Thus the attempt at publishing my book on Sendai, Japan and so far it is still at the scanning stage, its time consumming and monotonous but it had to be done if i am to make any headway. It is also to keep my mind occupied while figuring out what my next theme or media would be as far as painting is cocern. The kids are happy each getting a new handphone promised them two or three birthdays ago. Next week will be school holidays for them and so i am thinking of taking them for a cross country ride in the Northern States of Kedah and Perlis. I have always wanted to do some travelling into the rural areas of this country and now is a good time and perhaps I might even get an inspiration or two along the way.
Artists, like writers have creative blocks too and sometimes detrimental to their health due to the psychological and emotional depression. These are times when some seek alternative mind tripping options such as drinking or drug taking in order that the mind can be set free from the blockage, or whaever it is that is holding it back from being able to be creative.
In the past while living in the U.S I had experimented with the taking of various drugs in order to unlock my subconcious mind( or so i thought then), to create an alternate conciousness or an altered state whereby my normal state on mind was in someways jarred into a saperate reality. I had tried taking some mushrooms when I was in College and also a few trips on acid or LSD. While on these trips I studied my mind and its changes according from the onset of the 'Highs' to the end and I would try to keep a record in my journal of what was transpiring through writing and sketching whatever came to mind or whatever revealed itself in my altered state of conciousness.
When 'high' or' stoned' I found that my works became freer but lack controll in details and often rendered carelessly like there was no understanding or disciplin of the medium and style. Often sketches were done with haste and random images that were often unrelated and the emotional expression were often reflective of anger or some form of negative emotions. Even when carefully thought out works were attempted they often ended up overworked or messed up due to the inability to stop when enough is enough. Perfect strokes sometimes happens and the mind would be spellbounded but the work would be eventually petrified by additional work that was the result of lack of confidence in what was achieved in the beginning.
The use of drugs in artistic endeavors, to get high in order to be able to create original pieces is common among those who had access to the drugs of choice and the ability to remain in control over the drug induced states at all times. Artists in the extreme abuses their mental states in order to explore the subconcious recesses of their minds and draw from the experiences new images and ideas, original thoughts and unknown and unheard of expressions through the dare to manipulate mediums and bend rules of applications of methods which under normal circumstanes would have been almost unheard of. Sadly enough most drug abuses originates from this desire to reach deep within for that which normally would not have been accessable. Drug abuses in assence is the product of drug uses for the enhancement of our sensitivity towards what lies deep within our genetical makeup.
Experiments crried out by such known figures like Baba Ram Dass (Herbert Alpert) and the likes of Timothy Leary and Alan Watts and Carlos Castaneda in their works has proven vital for the generations who had felt trapped by the confinements of modern day thinkers who promoted the 'safe clinically sterile process' in achieving higher states of mind. Those who dared to experiment with their mental states were often dubbed as drug abusers regardless if they achieved greatness through their insights while under the influence of various drugs. It takes some form of courage to be involve in drug taking knowing the consequences that can result from it and most who do drugs for the sake of mental exploration were regarded as unethical towards their profession and their achievements were deemed unacceptable.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Penang Water Color Art Society Show

Yesterday was the oppening of the Water color exhibition at the Penang State Art Gallery and I one of the very few Malays who was present the rest being members of the Gallery staff. The Penang Water Color Societ is predominantly a Chinese club with one or two Non-Chinese members which is sad but, such is. I was impressed by the amount of good works on display each standing on its own in originality and creativity and it was an opportunity to study the various techniques of water color if one is into it as a beginner like myself. On my way to the Gallery i had stopped at the Nanyang Art store to shop for some water color materials including a good selection of tubes of water color paints and water color papers which cost about RM20 per piece! I thought I'd do a few water color painting for a change. I really never thought that I was going to get a great opportunity to study the Medium through other's works at the show, so it was a bonus for me, a great start.

Being a predominantly Chinese affair there were among the guest of honour a few Chinese Dato's among who was an Art collector Dato'Tan who had purchased a few pieces of my works in the past. It is a disappointment to see not as many people had turned up for the occaision despite the fact that the Club was numbered more than a hundred members. Evidently even among the iherently communially supportive Chinese there is a lack of interest in the fine arts which I assumed to be so among the Malays only. The Malay Art Society is a practically non-existant if not non- functioning entity which has a studio Gallery annexed to the Kapitan Keling Mosque on Chulia Street in Penang. A few malay Artists has their works displayed there with hardly any changes over the past few months sisnce the gallery came into being. It is run by my good friend Rashid the portriat painter who aslo has his studio there. Other than that there is nothing worthy of mention happens here as far as there being a Malay Art Societ in the Penangf is concern. The Malays has a saying, 'Hidup segan mati ta' mau', which simply means that its too lazy to stay alive but does not want to die. This is the state of the Malay Art Society and who is to blame?

Art is the first victim in the political economic scheme of things anywhere in this world, the first activity to be scrapped from the roaster if there is any financial cut backs whether in schools or institution of higher learnings. It is like the left hand is dispensable when things boils down to a mater of choice. Science and technology is the key into the future woe unto you if your maths and science subjects are weak in these days and age at schools, on is no bette than a pariah. It is a tragic phenomena which has taken a hold of our modern day educational systems, we promote the sciences all out at the expense of the Arts and we believe this is right. Despite warnings by great minds such as Einstein who insisted the balance between the Arts and the sciences we dogged our children in aschool to forget the art as waste of time and has no financial benifit as career choice. True! as compared to those who are mechanically inclined, scientifically oriented and has great computer intelligence, the future is bright at least as a salary man. The artist on the other hand is a specie on his own for most part of his life unless he is fortunate enough to find a sympathetic patron or admirers who can help to support his needs untill he is fully established as an independantly wealthy artist. The odds against being a full time artist in these days and age is getting bleaker and bleaker in terms of financial success especially when he or she has to support others such as children and so forth. It is a challenge to become a full time artist but it not an impossibility if one is determined enought to forge ahead and overcome all hurdles as just another goal to achieve in life.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sendai, Japan Part 1 1995-1998

From Hokaido to Southern Kyushu the temple bells were rung welcoming the New Year. Thousands thronged the Jinjas and the Teras in the snow covered mountains as well in the heart of busy cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Sendai among the famous of them. All dressed in their traditional richly colored kimonos which were further enhance against the whiteness of snow in the back ground. They lined up along the cul de sac leading up to the temple steps full of joy and merriment as inherent in the Japanese nature celebrating any form of festivities. As the temple bells of Mount Haguro in the north and those of the Yamadera mountain temples started tolling at midnight I sat by myself in front of the TV sipping my Umeboshi or plum wine while my wife and children were buried inside their thick blankets fast asleep.

KAMPAI!! I raised my glass to the TV in the darkness and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!


I was feeling Euphoric a little bit from having downed a good portion of the Plum wine since the evenning and finally having that feeling that i was settled in in this country at least for the time being. The snow covered landscape of the Yasoen was bathed with hues of colored lights shed by the replicas of the Tokyo Towers of the Sendai TV stations which are located atop the hill. The colors changes according to the weather they say. From my living room bay windows on the fifth floor of the Dia Palace Yasoen Verde Condominium the view of this lanscape was a gift as it changes with every season and every time of the day and weather. On clear days i could almost see all the way to the ocean from one corner of the room while from another the panoramic view of the City of Sendai presents itself all the way to the distant low mountains of the Miyagi Prefecture.I have spent alot of time at the roof top the building taking in the views around the whole area and one of the fascinating discovery i made was watching the flight of the crows by the hundreds all flying in one direction in the morning which was towards the ocean while in the evening the same flight of crows heading inland towards the mountians. It reminded me very much of the 'Salary men' who leaves their homes in their black suits in the morning and arriving home late in the evening. The epitomy of the Japanese daily life except the crows never had weekends off.

Christmas came and went for 1996 and as always Saint Nick was generous to the children getting them what they did not need but what is Christmas without the tree and the gifts that comes underneath. Even if most of us think that Christmas has become over commercialized in the West I still enjoy Christmas as it has been one of the few moments in my life that gave me meaning as what it was like to be a member of a family of of the human race where love and warmth and the sharing of joy and happiness made one almost forgot the winter cold outside. My children were fortunate to have been born in the United States where they celebrated Christmas as children and now in Japan as I am sure that if the human mind is what it is, the memory of these few years of Christmas spirit would stay within their psyche for their entire life. Although not a Christian for all those years living in the US I had looked forward to Christmas just like every Christians in the country for me it was a time of purification of my spirit and getting in touch again with humanity as a whole.I had celebrated Christmases in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in Sandpoint, Alaska and in San Francisco, California and now I am celebrating them in Japan, my family and I are blessed for the opportunity to savor these moments as a part our life's experiences.

During the first week of this month I had my first Solo Exhibition in the City of Sendai, Japan and it was quite a success as far as the turnout of friends and supporters as well as selling twelve pieces of my works. The Show entitled 'Bahari No Potpuory' showcased a collection of mixed medias as well as assorted themes of my works including those that I had brought with me from San Francisco. My Japanese friends and fellow artists were receptive to my works and most expressed their positive support for the different styles and techniques that I had shared with them from the show. Importantly, I made allot of new acquaintances through the show artists as well as non artists and I learned too that the Japanese are very appreciative of those who are creative in the arts. The Japanese Government I realized too is very supportive towards the Artists as evidenced by the fact that I was allowed the use of the facility at the Miyagi Muzium of Fine Arts in Sendai where they had an 'Open Studio' policy for the residents of the city. The facility provides fully equipped studios including printmaking as well as sculpture, photography and painting run by qualified instructors who are there to assist anyone seeking help.

With the help and support of the instructors I was able to produce a great amount of printmaking especially mono-prints which has always been my favorite medium in printmaking as it afford me spontaneous execution. I had the opportunity to learn the art of painting Sumi-e using Japanese black ink on hand made paper which is another favorite of mine as I enjoy black on white painting and the Japanese ink was the perfect material for this form of painting. Nihonga is a Japanese form of water color which employs colors in the form of sandy crystals which one has to mix with gum every time in use and it is a very slow and tedious process not for the impatient artist like me. It is also an expensive medium as the pigments of colors are not easy to come by, however in the hand of a master this form of painting can be very beautiful and is said to improve with age. I managed to do one paionting through this medium depicting a group of SUMO wrestlers doing a 'Rumble in the Ring' and it is still in my own personal collection till this day.

Among the regular users of the Open Studio facilty at the Miyagi Muzium were a few foreigners including myself. There was an artist from Brazil who does allot of traveling and was married to a Japanese. Pimenta works with the Nihonga technique and does the study of Tibetan Tankas which he was inspired from his travels to Mongolia. There was also an American Professor from Colorado who does specializes in etchings while he was there and then there was an Australian who had been living in Sendai for sometime and acts likewise towards other foreigners with condescension sometimes outdoing even the Japanese in his arrogance. I hate meeting people with kind of attitude wherever I travel and I can sense them upon introduction. The fact they speak Japanese well makes them automatically superior to you and they are the last for you to expect any assitance from as they avoid you like a plague and you will fortunate if they do not throw a curve ball at you behind your back!

Close by to the Miyagi Muzium of Fine Arts is also the Kokusai or Sendai International Center where allot of internationally related events takes place and it was also a place where one gets to meet foreign students from the various Universities from around the Sendai are. I often stop by the center to watch the CNN news on TV and sometimes met up with the Malaysian students who studied there. The International Center has also a resourceful library where one can read or borrow English literature and read various News papers from around the world. The folks at the center were the most friendly and helpful people I have come across and they always obliging when you need help especially in getting places and looking for the good place to eat. I later donated a few books from Malaysia which included those written by the former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohammad and one written about Tun Daim and one by Dato Sri Anwar Ibrahim.