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August at Artinformal

I haven’t been posting art shows here recently (obviously), but I do try to take photos of the ones I go to. Try, operative word, etc. etc. Here are some photos of a really gorgeous set of simultaneous shows that opened at Artinformal last week.

When an exhibit works out well, it’s all the more enjoyable, but when the individual shows happen in one space and they seem to be having a good conversation with one another, it almost feels like magic.

Alvin Zafra’s Hi-Way 54

Done with white stone over sandpaper, Alvin Zafra’s work is an exercise both in patience and in perspective. When your subjects are so heavy on straight lines and require precision, it’s hard enough trying to render them as true-to-life as possible. Doing it in reverse feels like a little more than a small victory.

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Costantino Zicarelli’s ot / a/ biillno/ aersy years \billion \a \to

In Cos’ exhibit notes (written by Itos Ledesma), there’s talk about chance apparitions, where meaning is ascribed to things that very may well mean nothing. What I enjoy about his work is the commitment to pushing the boundaries of a material or an image or a method, and though I’ve been familiar with his work and its evolution the past few years, I almost never know what to expect.

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Nice Buenaventura’s Wave Drawings No. 11-12

There is something awe-inducing when you realize that the gradients in Nice Buenaventura’s work are rendered by the artist’s hand. The work may initially come off as cold: variations of black and white and shade, but the basis of the drawings is personal—recorded vibrations of the artist’s hand—as is the sculptures/objects that accompany them. The green salt blocks represent negative space in Nice’s home; their existence is where “the absent is made present.”

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How to deal

Today was particularly taxing for no particular reason, but I soon realized that I have been in a prolonged state of unease. Then, I realized, too, that my main way of coping when I’m angry (which has been happening a lot, but it’s probably because of high stress levels, and high sadness levels, and then mixed in with all the things you can’t control but wish you could) is to eat a lot.

And it made me think of the other methods I’ve employed to remedy my messy-self situation (and mind you, this isn’t actually a how to…), because, well, you can only eat so much.

  1. Further exacerbating the situation by thinking of other things beyond my scope of control.
  2. Playing Stardew Valley, because the pointlessness of being sometimes extends to fictional farming, especially when your gameplay has plateaued, which unfortunately is the case for me. But, like, at least my farmer knows when to sleep.
  3. Forcing my dogs into cuddles. Noah is a more easily persuaded candidate, if you can believe that.
  4. Watching trashy fantasy T.V.
  5. Watching YouTube until I feel so ill about the life and times of other people that I feel better. Or until I feel so woefully envious of other people that I pass out and/or kick my butt into action. (A much rarer occurrence, but it happens.)
  6. Naps-that-aren’t-really-naps because my body won’t give in to exhaustion when it’s paired with rage.
  7. Looking for things to buy online.
  8. Thinking about One Direction: This is Us, because rewatching it in my fragile state would be too sad.
  9. Thinking about all the things I ought to do because doing them feels impossible. Expertly skilled in avoidance.
  10. Cleaning small portions of my room while messing up the other already-clean portions.

I’m freaking out about so many things (on the inside), and sometimes, all I can think about is how much I don’t want to be anywhere.

(This sounds bad, but I’m fine, I’ll get through this swamp of shit, but it just takes a bit longer than I’d like sometimes. The only way to get through the bad stuff is to go through it.)

How about a holiday in the islands of grief?

It’s been a while and I think I just need to get rid of the notion/thought that I need a reason to post here because a) I used to just post whatever I wanted, and b) I should just do that again. And the lack of updates usually indicates Too Much Shit Happening, rather than the opposite.

If I didn’t have anything to deal with, I’d probably be on here 24/7, but then again, that’s what Twitter is for.

I’m in the middle of several tornadoes (I think, anyway), but I guess the biggest, worst one is my dad’s dad dying last June 10. He had been sick, bedridden, and unresponsive for a few years, so for me, his actual death was kind of like a second mourning. Like, it still caught me off-guard, but the rational part of me is a dick and is like, “Well, why are you so surprised?”

When he was still alive, I kept thinking about how I missed him, which was always followed by the thought that I probably shouldn’t post that caption or tweet—that I missed him—because it made it seem like he was dead, even though he wasn’t. Not yet, then, anyway. Not technically.

I was in Chicago for his last birthday. I couldn’t make it home in time. And then I lost my passport and had to stay there just a bit longer. I told myself I’d make it up to him when I got back, but I don’t even remember the last time I went to go visit him. Which, frankly, makes me feel like shit, but that’s just a thing that happened that I can’t take back.

Honestly, he was one of the best, most magical people. I also think that this view of him I have is probably influenced by how highly other people speak of him. To me, he was just Tatay, my lolo who I owe a lot of myself to, who didn’t care if he ate corn on the cob messily, who cut too-tight shirt collars neatly down the middle (only to reattach both sides together again with a strip of masking tape), who liked crushing Ritz Bits and sprinkling them over Cookies and Cream ice cream, who’d rather do the inconvenient thing than hurt people he considered his family, who spoke brazenly about the things he knew to be true.

In another, less gooby, part of my brain, I’m held in awe. When catch myself being a shitty person, I think about him and how he’d probably handle the many messes in his life, in his deeply flawed, human way, and it helps me be a slightly less shitty person. When it feels so, so easy for me to give up and be lazy, I think about how those were things he never did, and pulling through feels a little easier to do.

When he started losing his memory, my dad would quiz him a little, just tests here and there.

“Who is Akira Kurosawa?”
“A filmmaker.”

“Naaalala niyo pa po ba si Ina?”
“‘Yung mahilig magbasa.”

I think there is something quite nice to be found in the thought that, to someone, you’re frozen in time forever, in theory. Tatay never really saw me get involved in art, which I don’t think is something he wanted us to be a part of, necessarily. He never knew me apart from “Reader” and “Writer,” his apo with a short fuse, funny hair, misplaced angst. There are so many things I’d like to say to him about work, our dogs. I miss hearing him laugh, even if it wasn’t usually at any of my jokes.

It’s just weird when I think about all the different versions of me he never got to know. I don’t know how it’s possible, but I miss the conversations we never even got to have. A bit of a strange feeling, I guess.

I think that’s where most of my grief comes from. He never really got to know me as I am now (or the people I’d been in the last ten or so years), and I don’t think I tried hard enough to get to know him beyond how I knew him. I still keep finding new things about him that I didn’t know about before. It’s strange and sad in a way that I suppose deaths are, most of the time.

I keep accidentally finding parallels in both of our lives. Like how he did graphic design and worked in publishing before becoming a full-time artist. Like how he painted on the side, while he waited for things to happen. And these small, probably inconsequential, discoveries—because I can’t share them with him—makes him feel both closer and farther away.

I don’t really know how to write about it “properly.” The more I think about him, the sadder about it I get. Which probably explains why I’ve been hunting for diversions. Just when I thought I’d filled every crevice of myself with stuff to do or learn or read or write or Google, a cavernous void opened up, and I don’t know what to do except to find more stuff to do.

There are waves of grief. Or, more accurately, pulses of it, which hit me when I least expect them to find me. I don’t know how to shake them off, make them go away, but lately I’ve been feeling a little bit like maybe I don’t want to stop feeling the sadness. What I feel is that this grief is all I have left of him, and I don’t want to lose that, too.

Berlin, without return (and other stories)

I think my “sickness” largely has to do with me perpetually scared of leaving a detail out. Never mind that it’s probably a minute detail that won’t matter in the long run, or that it’s likely that nobody cares about the small detail, even though it always seems important to note, at the time. Anyway, that’s my excuse re: perpetually! late travel recaps. I used to just constantly be updating people, even if it’s about dumb stuff that happened at school. I guess the internet turned very weird when I wasn’t looking? It doesn’t feel the same way to me anymore, but I guess most things rarely do.

In case everything I’ve said wasn’t much of a preamble (which, let’s be honest, the entire paragraph hasn’t been very adequate), this post is going to be about Berlin. Which was a trip that happened in August/September, and which I’d posted about previously. I have other plans for my stories from Berlin and elsewhere, but in the meantime, here are some favorite moments.

“Berlin, Without Return…” by Voxtrot

Just realized that I’m gonna need another post, though… We were in Berlin for a fairly long time, so this is going to be fairly long, but still incomplete. (Sorry! In perpetuity!) I think I’ve gotten better at editing myself, though. I can’t say if that’s at all accurate.


Lollapalooza for New Order and Radiohead — right after Prague! Likely the reason we went back to Berlin early-ish. I’m so not equipped for whole-day festivals, even as the youngest member of our party, so I’ve learned to pick my battles and just show up when I want to.


First day with my dad and brother. We didn’t catch a lot of acts and mostly went for New Order, to be honest. Which was worth it, obviously. The highlight is them playing “Temptation,” because it’s my dad’s favorite New Order song, which was a late discovery for him, presumably because he was a new dad in the ’80s and could not, therefore, partake in the era’s cultural joys, since he was too busy trying to look for ways to feed his growing brood.


He skipped out on Radiohead the next day, and predictably, I whined about not being in the mood to go (I am always “in a mood” when I get stressed out on vacations—again, sorry in perpetuity), so my brother went to watch without me. But, I ended up taking the bus to Treptower Park and catching the latter half of their set. It was way less stressful than when we watched them in Florence, probably because I wasn’t trying to fight off angry Italians.

The Berlin Wall — which we met at various points of the trip (photos in another post, I guess?), but this part is from when we went to the Topography of Terror. Basically, it outlined the rise of the Third Reich, and I was mostly alarmed at the parallels and echoes to that of our current situation. A mix of fascination, and sadness, and dread. Would love to have a place like that here, the land prone to forgetting.


Boros Bunker — The Boros Bunker was built in 1941 as an air-raid shelter that was subsequently occupied by the Red Army to house POWs, and then used as a fruit warehouse (earning its once-upon-a-time name, “banana bunker”) and then transformed into a sex den/fetish club, among other things. It’s now privately owned and houses part of the Boros art collection. Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures, and you’re taken on tour in small groups, so someone’s always potentially watching. Beautiful space and collection, must-see if you’re there and can manage to get a reservation! (Info here.)

Beng’s exhibit — in conjunction with Berlin Art Week, my sister’s residency culminated in a group exhibit with her residency mates. Very proud of this baby bean.


Sherri, Nathan, Antonia, Carmo, Isabel, Imogen

Berlin Art Week — For Berlin Art Week, we only caught ABC and Positions.







Bauhaus Museum — again, no photos allowed, and the place was a little bit on the small side, but the exhibits had a wide range and you got a free audio guide that had a buttload of information. Beautiful building, too.



Allied Museum + German-Russian Museum — We first went to the Allied Museum, which was full of so much paraphernalia and ephemera from the Allied powers but then a lady who was working there said they had a sister museum that focused on the German-Soviet war in the ’40s. It was located in East Berlin, so we took a bus, and even though they’ve been pretty much a united state since the ’80s, being in a pretty suburby area of the east side was still an eerie feeling, for some reason.



Tempelhofer Feld — A pre-war airport that’s no longer operational, Tempelhof Airport is now used as a recreational site, where people can skate, walk their dogs, fly kites, and have picnics. In 2015, it was announced that the airport building itself was to be used as an emergency refugee camp.




The Berlin Airlift Memorial was close by.

Buchstaben Museum — where old signage goes to die. They were in the middle of moving from their previous location, but the place still held its charm. By paying for the full fee, you’re given a ticket that’s redeemable within a year, I think, so you can come back. (Info here.)

I’m probably going to put up a different post or something on this place; I took so many pictures.





Berlinische Galerie — one of the more contemporary art spaces, I feel like. There was an exhibit on Dada, as well as a few unfamiliar-to-me names. The place looked small-ish from the outside, but there was so much to see inside, as well as a couple of smaller exhibits/shows, which was great. We actually found this place by accident, sort of.

Beng and I were supposed to meet up with our parents and brother at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, but we pinned the Jewish Museum to the map instead. Luckily, they still had time to change their route (and we went there afterwards).



Someone asked me how I liked Berlin, and I said that I probably liked it more than New York, which was a big claim to make (I ♥ NY, etc. etc.) but was true at the time. Even with this long post, which is painfully incomplete and, as it is, very, very succinct (by my standards!).

I love Berlin, and I didn’t even have Sarie‘s magical Bon Iver-Vincent Moon-Michelberger craziness. Berlin seems to be a city that’s always changing—you know, doomed to be the place that’s “always becoming, never being”—but I hope to come back to it at some point, even though I probably wouldn’t recognize it.

The Sunday Currently Vol. 36

Just checking in, sort of. Been mostly busy with work stuff and moving into a new room stuff, and most of my free time is spent watching t.v. while trying to figure out this painting thing. I loved reading about Wayne Thiebaud’s process with his art, which is basically more of an experimental, process-based practice than a conceptual or more cerebral approach. Like looking at shadows, and looking at colors and how they sort of interact with each other and what happens when they do.

Anyway.

Reading

About to finish a light YA novel, The Sun is Also a Star. It’s cute, but I don’t know yet. I hope this isn’t me growing out of YA (because I love YA), but I can’t help but think of the inevitability of baby relationship breakups, and it’s hard for me to completely root for these romances when all I see is THE END OF THE LINE. I don’t know when this happened either.

Thinking of bringing some books to a short trip we’re taking this week… they’re probably not going to be YA. I need to be less jaded, I think, when I do pick up another one and give whatever cute romance they have the justice (i.e. fuzzy feelings) it deserves.

Writing

Last wrote about Pauses of Possibility, a group show at the Lopez Museum, for CNN Life. Not a lot of people really click on art stories on the site, To Be Honest, but I think it’s important to document them, anyway.

Listening

My Spotify Daily Mix 1, which Sam has noted is kind of the most accurate reflection of your person. I agree. (Artists on mine include Julien Baker, The National, Car Seat Headrest, Lucy Dacus, Wilco, American Football, The Mountain Goats… I mean…)

Watching

Not currently watching, but I think it deserves a mention: Thirteen Reasons Why is pretty amazing. I know like two people who hate it, lol. But I felt like it’s an important show… I do want to know what other people think, though. I know it’s a really touchy subject and at the risk of sounding completely insensitive and tone-deaf… I want to know if people who are closer to the subject matter feel like it’s a good representation of it, or if it completely missed the point, or if it’s emotionally manipulative and is Actually Bad. I know they consulted with a lot of people closely, but you know…

Full disclosure: I hated the book. I remember this feeling distinctly, at least. I feel like the series addressed some aspects of the book that I hated, but I still want to know if it’s a Bad Show, good parts (e.g. actors, soundtrack, etc.) aside. Please comment, or if you don’t feel like doing that: email or DM me on Twitter. I’m really curious + I do feel a little iffy about it, despite enjoying it as a viewer.

Thinking

I don’t know, man. I think my brain short-circuited and all I can think about now is how I have to finish this so I can take a shower.

Smelling

Let’s not get into that.

Wishing

That new skills were easier to acquire and don’t require practice and patience.

Hoping

Scientists figure that out in the future.

Wearing

Pambahay

Loving

MY FILING CABINET. A godsend for a paper h0 like me.

Wanting

Momentum! Motivation! Follow-through!

Needing

… Momentum! Motivation! Follow-through!

Feeling

Nervy, but I’m p. uncertain about what.

Clicking

Not so updated, but here’s my Pocket account.

The Sunday Currently was originally created by SiddaThornton