A place for my mom



Priscilla, JJW, and I went to the De Young Art Museum to participate in AAWAA’s art residency collaborative. AAWAA stands for Asian American Women’s Art Association. The theme of their residency was “A Place of Her Own”. They provided materials like boxes and fabric and such for people to come in and work on their own pieces.

Since I just got a nice new big art studio, I decided I want to focus on making a place for my mother. As many of you know, my mother has Alzheimer’s disease and she lives in a fullcare facility in Reno near my brother and his family and my father. My mom shares a room with another patient, and usually she is in her wheelchair out in the public area.

Here is my creation process:

I choose a nice wooden box and line the box sides and bottom with hana (flower) cards. My mother used to play this Japanese card game with some women friends in Lodi. I have fond memories, hearing the voices and laughter of the ladies as they visited. I place a sea urchin shell upon a nest of yarn in the box. The shell reminds me of one that she gave me wrapped in a white napkin when she returned from a trip. It seemed so fragile and beautiful – and that is how she is now. I sprinkle confetti and red string in the box too. I think she needs some fun and always liked bright cheery colors. In the inside of the lid I put a gold flattened cupcake wrapper. Now it looks like a sacred halo. On top of the halo I put a feather. Feathers are messengers from and to God. I think she may have things she may want to say. Lastly I add 2 butterflies. Butterflies for fun, for flitting around, for transformation. I feel a sense of wonder and peace having made this special place for her.


Beautiful San Francisco Birthday Tour

For our dear friend Charlene’s birthday, Ander and I took her for a San Francisco whirlwind tour of some of our favorite places. We did not tell her where we were going, so each stop was a surprise.

First we had a lovely lunch at Fog City Diner on Battery and The Embarcadero. I used to go here a lot when my friends were working around the corner. The food was still great after all these years. Luckily we made reservations ahead because it was pretty hopping. I had a crispy reddened snapper sandwich which was spicy and delish, and Ander had a 1/2 pound Niman Ranch burger. Charlene had the Chicken Schnitzel with broccolini and lemon caper butter. Everything was served promptly by a very responsive waitress and was terrific. The restaurant looks a bit garish on the outside, but the inside is all dark wood and there are booths or tablesĀ  and a busy liquor and oyster bar.

After our meal we moved on to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. I chose this because she and I both enjoy gardening and flowers. It turned out Charlene had always wanted to go here and so it was perfect!

The Conservatory is one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in San Francisco and the 12,000 square-foot greenhouse is the oldest existing glass and wood conservatory in the United States. i think it looks like the American version of the Taj Mahal!

The greenhouse is divided up into environments: lowland tropics, highland tropics, aquatic plants, potted plants, and a special exhibit area. The temperature changes as you move from one are to the next.

These tropical flowers brought a smile because they reminded me of my mother and grandmother who lived in Hawaii.

This little guy was fascinated by the fiddle heads. There were many kids there with their parents.

The special exhibit area featured info on pollinators of all kinds – bats, birds, wasps, bees, and butterflies. A few butterflies fluttered about to the delight of the many kids.

I love the aquatic area – check out the video:

Walking in this most wondrous place I really got a sense of peace and calm. Charlene’s comment was, “How can you not believe that there is a higher source after being here.”

Last on the tour was the De Young Museum. Here we stopped for coffee and shared a fruit tart and opened presents. We then went up the elevator to the 9th floor to see the view of Golden Gate Park and surrounding San Francisco area. It was a bit foggy, but that just added to the timeless, mysterious, landscape of The City.

birthday beauty

Here is the birthday beauty!

It was nice to be a tourist and have a play date with our dear friend. I recommend getting out there and enjoying our local venues to remember why you live in this terrific area.

Glass gardens and more at de Young Museum

(fyi, if the slideshow stops, click the “X” in the upper right corner)

We went to opening night of Chihuly at the de Young, June 14 – September 28 and it was spectacular. The de Young did not disappoint with the terrific lighting and installation that really showed of the beauty of the magical environments and pieces. I appreciated that they have timed tickets, so the place as not jammed.

Chihuly attributes growing up with his mother’s abundant flower gardens and watching sunsets with her over the years as having an influence on his work. You can really see that in his organic shades and bright colors. His color style also developed when he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice, Italy.

He references ikebana, a kind of Japanese flower arrangement, and picking up glass balls floating from Japan on the Puget Sound beaches in Washington. I took note of this since it is the same area my father grew up.

Two installations had a completely different more monochromatic tone and a quiet, yet powerful feel. Towering lavender spheres grew out of tree logs were stunning. Another room had a more earthy feel and here the influences were Native American woven baskets and blankets. Beautiful golden translucent glass baskets were spread out on a split redwood log which span the large room.

Something I also spent some time looking at were paintings he did before and during his creation of his glass pieces. It was interesting to me how they had a more matte quality which is so opposite of his usual translucent medium.

I think the show is very much worth going to. Even if you have seen his ceiling in Las Vegas or some of his smaller pieces, I think you still will be delighted and awestruck by the show.