Sunday, July 31, 2011

Madonna and child

A Fulani family fed and took care of me when I lived in Cameroon. I lived in a compound, fenced in by adobe walls, with 4 other houses, one house for each of my father's 4 wives. It took time getting used to living without privacy, especially with 17 boys and about 4 girls running around the compound. I had to get used to eating from a communal bowl with all my brothers using only fingers. In the Philippines, eating food with hands is normal. However, it was hard to eat slimy gumbo with my hands and watch 17 pairs of hand go for the same bowl of gumbo. I was always given first dibs on the bowl of gumbo along with my father, and then after a few minutes, it was a free for all. My moms always cooked the food but I was never allowed to eat with them during dinner. The separation of the sexes was hard to get used to. This is a painting of one of my invisible "moms" who fed me well in Cameroon. This painting was from the last day of my stay with my adopted family. "Mama Awa with child", acrylic on canvas, 20"x24".


In the old days (old days meaning a generation or two!) in the rural areas of the Philippines, Filipino men serenaded (the ritual was called "harana") women at night with their songs of love, usually with a guitar.  This was a lowland ritual which most likely meant it was a Spanish influence.  I don't think I would ever paint that scene since it seems so fluffy.  So, here is one that's more to my liking: an old Filipino man playing a guitar, serenading no one.  "Harana", 6"x6" gouache.

Ridiculous lists

Stockton's an odd town.  It has a terrible public image because it always pops up in articles titled "The worst cities for...".  A few list that Stockton is part of: "Forbes' Most miserable city in America", "Least educated city in California", and "Highest foreclosure rate in America".  And there's more: "Highest crime rate in California", "Highest umemployment rate in California", and "City most resembling Dante's Inferno".  I made that last one up, of course, but I'm sure it would be in there also if there was such a list.  Like with all lists, it only takes into account big-time economic data and ignoring the data not often used for ranking.  Some of the data that easily places Stockton at the top: number of farmers' market per capita, most comfortably sunny weather year round, most culturally diverse collection of hole-in-the-wall restaurants, best collection of thrift stores, and neighborhoods where people know and watch out for each other.  That's my defense of this much maligned city/town in the Central Valley.  To Forbes, I say "Go fuc* yourself"...this city is still learning and has its problems but it's not that bad.  A friend of mine told me that Stockton is a one horse town. It is also quite the melting pot of cultures and colors. For a painter, it is a gift. For now, I am enjoying a good cup of iced tea and hanging out at the front porch, the Delta breeze making music with the wind chimes.  Here are a couple of paintings of Stockton:  "Stockton's finest" (top), gouache 9"x12" and "Colors of Stockton" (bottom), gouache 20"x14".

Saturday, July 23, 2011

La cuisine

In the Gabonese villages, like in a lot of other cultures, the kitchen (la cuisine),  plays a big part in family life.  It's where women spend a lot of their time in the late afternoon and on to the evening, cooking and catching up with the other villagers about the day's events.  The cuisine is usually occupied by women but I spent quite a bit of time hanging out there since I wanted to see how they prepared their food.  Plus, there really was not much to do once the sun sets in the small village of Ebe Messe.  I always wonder how much it has changed there especially with the coming of the internet and easy access to computer gadgets.  I am sure that during les vacances, when Ebe's children come home for a few months, internet gadgets are brought back along with all the baggage that comes with it.  I suppose it is kinda like how the television first arrived into the homes of Americans and changed its culture.  I hope the internet does not alter life in Ebe too much.  This painting is titled "Empty cauldron", the way cooking in the cuisine always begins.