Thursday, October 15, 2015

Seated bodhisattva (Joseon Dynasty), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Kung Fu

two of the men who regard themselves as quite important in our work place had a pointed exchange in this morning’s meeting. although the parry, to me, was par for course for these two blowhards, this verbal tussle got more heated after the meeting apparently which ended up in their appearance, or so we heard from the office grapevine, at hr. this i once read from a wuxia novel: a town gossip was trying to interest his drunk friends to watch a fight unfolding in the town square. none of them paid him any mind.  when he told them that the martial artists were fighting with open palms and not closed fists, all of them left their rice wine and ran towards the square.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fragment from a sculpted head attributed to Akhenaten, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Depleting one's life

i have always been embarrassed to admit that, so far, i have lived like this.  “as long i don’t aim, i won’t miss,” so said this zen master. this master, too, talked about growing up in his hometown where there were two brothers of divergent characters—one eloquent, the other, foolish and silent.  as the master recalled, the foolish one seemed to have all the time in the world, while the clever, eloquent one was always “depleting his life.”

Monday, October 12, 2015

Domenichino, Metropolitan Museum of Art

While waiting for my bisaya friend enrolls her bronx raised kid in a catechism class in a roman catholic church in a parish of mostly italian immigrants

a heavy set chola with a big crucifix pendant, her lips darkly outlined, kneels two pews ahead of me.  when she unclasps her hands, i can see tear drop tattoos in the crook of her right arm. i think of rihanna and her so called fashion crime of cultural “ignorant harvesting.” and i look at my denims, and smile, not because this pair has been unwashed for two and a half months now, but in the knowledge that apparently wearing this innocuous, store bought garment is transgressive, offensive, i don’t know to whom—to the cowboys, perhaps—for appropriating something that doesn’t belong originally to my pacific islander culture. oh well, back to the grass skirts, then.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Nicolas Enriquez, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Corona, Queens, NY

behind this bus stop in corona is a stand alone house with a minuscule frontage. a blue tarp was strung over it. under this makeshift gazebo is a zippy party, most likely birthday, complete with live musicians most of them wearing white stetson hats. the music, mexican, i believe, is strangely redolent with the rhythmical oom pa pah ostinato commonly heard in german oktoberfest bands. and a lithe girl, her dark hair parted in the middle, looks outside, not waiting for anybody, but just looking out, a beautiful enigma without any explanation.  

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Jean Dunand, Séraphin Soudbinine, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Kissena Blvd., Queens, NY

in this cafe, chinese teens are cheery behind the counter, selling french pastries stabbed with teeny toothpick flags printed with unfussy chinese characters. on the big tv with a curved screen, a video of a female korean pop group dressed like high school girls in detention is on a continuous loop.  meanwhile, an elderly hispanic gentleman holds the door for his younger lady companion, who, from a low sofa in the darker corner of the cafe, bolts up like a nervous water fowl sensing some unwelcome rustling.  

Rembrandt, Rijksmuseum

Friday night lights

moses' and zipporah’s wedding night in ridley scott’s exodus was about to get going when i flipped on hbo. “who makes you happy?” “you do.” “what’s the most important thing in your life?” “you are.” “where would you rather be?” “nowhere.” “and when will you leave me?” “never.”  outside the rain has stopped and i’ve nowhere to go. a chubby, dirty pigeon sat on the ledge of my window and cooed what sounded like vows.  

Thursday, October 08, 2015

David Wynne, Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens


a curmudgeonly art blogger wrote recently that “reading bad books is miserable, but it’s fun to review them.” i suppose it’s the same with ex-boyfriends or memories. once, during college break, i went home and took this requisite ferry ride home. midway, a pod of shiny dolphins started racing with the boat, one of them, i can still remember clearly, had a tuft of barnacles clinging to the root of its dorsal fin.   

Bronze Head of Medusa, Museo Nazionale Romano, Roma


the dialect i grew up speaking in this remote island off the northern tip of a central province in the old country is one loaded with lots of fricatives, hard ones. nothing reminds me more of the harshness of that language than this per diem colleague with the screechy voice, almost that of a disney witch's. whenever i see her at work, i always find any excuse, at all, to steer clear away from her and yet, invariably, she and her stories always find me. the way she tells them, her spirited countenance, her hands fully animated while doing them, reminds me of old women back in the island, balancing heavy stuff on their heads, their backs bent, arms flying, mouths inexhaustible with small town gossip. there was this very minor painting, unattributed to any major art historical figure, in the accademia in venice, i think, which somehow stuck with me. in it were hunters, some in horseback, some on foot, and a generous pack of hunting dogs running all over the canvas, yet, everyone, especially the eager canines, does not seem to move, as if all were trapped in amber.