A Magical Day in my Tucson Odyssey

Today has been an AMAZING day! When I woke up I headed to our Airbnb host's backyard to do a bit of yoga. Staring at the crystal blue sky and hearing the soothing bubbling sounds from the small water fountain was very peaceful and helped me focus better on my poses. Also my upper back thanked me afterwards.

Later in the morning, while Nick and I headed to the University of Arizona's campus, a hummingbird hovered over my head and I stood still to watch it float against the azure sky. That was a magical moment.

Had the best fries I ever tasted at frog & firkin as our lunch appetizer. I am totally stealing the sinfully mouth-watering idea of topping fries with red sauce and melted mozzarella.

red fries at frog & firkin

After lunch Nick and I sat in a local café drinking the kind of iced chai we like. Then I left Nick to work and I headed to the university's Museum of Art, Poetry Center, and Special Collections.

U of A's Museum of Art

I forgot that most museums are closed on Mondays but I did get a campus map out of it. Since the Joseph Gross Gallery was only a few steps away I went in and was emotionally engaged by student Ben McKee's Matt & Ben (My Big Brother & Me) installation including 3 videos of various screen sizes. Still not quite sure exactly why I felt something so strongly in the pit of my stomach but it most likely has to do with my own relationships with my brothers; I miss them.

Ben McKee's installation

I wasn't sure if there were sensors but a light turned on in the room as I walked alongside the installation and a small video started up when I walked towards it in a separate section on the right (not pictured).

Next I walked over to the Poetry Center which is housed in a beautiful building (I should've taken a photo). They have a small exhibit of artists' books curated by Johanna Drucker. My favorites were works by Keith Smith and Tom Phillips.

Book by Tom Phillips
Out of Sight by Keith Smith

Out of Sight (Book Nr. 107) by Keith Smith

Continuing on my artist book hunt I headed to Special Collections. Thanks to the advice of one very helpful librarian at the Poetry Center I requested to see James Joyce's Ulysses designed by Philip Smith which is stowed away in the Collection's vault. When the librarian wheeled over the book I started feeling teary-eyed and my heart wanted to burst. This was probably the personal equivalent of beholding the holy grail. Every word that pops to mind does not do this treasure justice and the following pictures definitely are poor substitutes.

James Joyce's Ulysses
James Joyce's Ulysses (case)

A book love affair. See them kissing?

If you were wondering, the small slip of paper you see in the photos is a copyright requirement of Special Collections whenever a photo is taken. I am definitely returning to this library to check out more of their book arts collection. I'm still amazed that I actually got to touch the books and smell its pages.

The midday sun is brutal here but I am LOVING Tucson!

(I will still post about our time in Texas and Colorado but was overly excited about today and had to share.)


A Magical Day in my Tucson Odyssey

Asian American Identity

I briefly mentioned in an earlier post that I had seen the Asian American Portraits exhibit in DC's National Portrait Gallery. The show provides diverse viewpoints of Asian artists. My favorite artists were Zhang Chun Hong, Hye Yeon Nam, and Roger Shimomura. I wasn't allowed to take photos but please have a look at the links.

Zhang's charcoal drawings of luxuriously long, black hair on large scale scrolls were quietly stunning and gorgeous.

I sat and watched through some of Hye's videos. Her four-part video self-potrait, Walking, Drinking, Eating, and Sitting, symbollically depicted her struggle as a foreigner in the US. It reminded me of my own struggles of helping my parents with language and navigating American society.

Shimomura's paintings utilized humor and his portrait to play on Asian stereotypes such as using his likeness on Hello Kitty's face or depicting himself as George Washington.

Shimomura Crossing the DelawareShimomura Crossing the Delaware

So what's an experience of someone growing up Asian in the US like? Feeling like an outsider, sometimes feeling invisible, being thought of as different or exotic. A character-building struggle to put it (over) simply.

I'm grateful that I got to see this show. Now I want to re-read the New York magazine article entitled Paper Tiger: What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?

Image and video used with respective artist's permission.


Asian American Identity

The continuing adventures with Jim

The Paper Museum wasn't the only place Jim and I visited. Far from it. After lunch we took a scenic route on our way to the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. It was neat seeing the beautiful houses along Peachtree Battle Ave(?); each house was beautiful and architecturally unique. As an aside, Atlanta has anywhere from 26 to over 65 streets with Peachtree in its name depending on where I went on the internetz. I believe Jim told me a number in the upper 20s range. Whatever the actual number just know that there's ALOT. I know the street names confused me a bit when I first arrived in this city.

While I lived in NYC I was one of the volunteers helping out during the Rubin Museum's Red Book exhibit that ran from October 2009 to Februaury 2010. I had the chance to view Carl Jung's own art work and mandalas. Now I wanted to visit Oglethorpe to see the university museum's Sacred Round exhibit displaying mandalas by Carl Jung's patients. Feels like I've come full circle (no pun intended).

Visitors weren't allowed to take photos of patients' artwork but I was allowed to take a shot of a quote that I absolutely loved by Carl Jung. His advice to patients in regards to their artwork:

This thrills me to no end as an art therapist and an aspiring book artist!

The small campus was serene and charming. We happened to visit during the university's spring break.

Beautiful stone structures

We ended the day touring SCAD and looking at MANY works completed by skilled students. One of the best personal highlights was seeing Julie Chen's book shown at the library. I've admired her work since I first became interested in book arts. I also enjoyed seeing the library's new book arts acquisitions.

How Books Work by Julie Chen/Clifton Meador


This has been one very FULL day. Again, I cannot thank Jim enough for his companionship and generosity. My brain is overflowing with creative juice. This will be a good night for dreams.

Favorite quote of the day stated by an OUMA employee, “The answer is always 'No' until you ask.”


The continuing adventures with Jim

Reimagining Marbled Paper

Robert C. Williams Paper Museum's exhibit on marbled papers was an eye-opening experience. I did not realize the depth and breadth of this art form.

chicken leg detail of Karli Frigge's Alchemy Marble


I did try marbling paper once at New York's Center for Book Arts; I thought of marbled paper as pretty, even very beautiful at times, but did not give it much more consideration. The artists' works showcased in this exhibit completely changed my outlook. The pieces are amazing and some works remind me of contemporary art paintings.


I immediately wanted to marble some paper after seeing this show. The colors, lines, and shapes you could achieve made me drool with all the possibilities.

Oh, to own a copy of Josef Halfer's Progress of the Marbling Art (1885)


The exhibit also showcased some lovely miniature books.

I wouldn't have been able to see all that I did if it wasn't for my new friend Jim. Thank you Jim a million times over!

More photos:

Paper Museum Visit


Reimagining Marbled Paper

My day at North Carolina Museum of Art

As I walked toward NCMA last Thursday (March 1) I was greeted by the massive 19-foot tall sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard. It’s titled Ogromna (2009), made of cedar and graphite.

Ogromna, 2009

I liked how the sculpture plays on the idea of nature and the man-made. I found some of the articles on the sculptor’s website a worthwhile read, which mentions more about her process and biography.

I also loved the surface — its craggy texture appeared rough but beautifully warm as well.

I wasn’t sure where the museum’s entrance was located so I ended up walking unknowingly through the Sculpture Garden first. I passed by a water feature where I luckily saw this water lily starting to open its face to the world.

Water lily

While I walked around the museum taking in the artwork I was somewhat disconcerted by the space even though it was open, airy, and well-lit. I’m not sure why I felt out-of-sorts; the only thing I could come up with was that the museum had all the artwork from different eras and countries sectioned off but still in close proximity of each other on one floor. Is it because I’m used to larger museums like the MET and MOMA in NYC where there’s more of a transitional space between different types of art?

For lunch I ate an unexpectedly delicious meal at Iris restaurant within the museum. I ordered the day’s special, a salmon sandwich with pineapple (minus the prosciutto for me) on a very yummy onion roll with field greens. The prices were moderate; service was attentive and friendly.

I recommend joining the daily public tour at 1:30pm. One of the highlights was learning a little bit about the Andrew Wyeth paintings and how one of them may hint at the painter’s possible issues with his father. (The museum also has Wyeth’s father’s painting displayed on a different wall.) at the end of the tour the guide had mentioned in passing that the museum has three Monet paintings displayed that I missed during my own walk through. I went to take a look at them before leaving. Below is one of Monet’s paintings, The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset (1882-83)

Monet's The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset (1882-83)

My most cherished Monet moment was when I saw his Water Lilies painting in NYC (at the MOMA?). My senses were happily engulfed by the sheer scale and affecting colors. Ever since then, if I have the chance to gaze upon a Monet art piece I would do it to pay homage to the master painter.

The museum is accessible by bus, but next time I would like to go back by car so that I can leisurely explore Museum Park.

My day at North Carolina Museum of Art