Monday, March 21, 2011

This Thursday - Mugi Takei & Seattle's Small Press Festival

As I posted last week on Cullom Gallery's Facebook, one of my arts dreams is poised to come true this week - a poetry reading at the Gallery!  Cullom Gallery is pleased to host this evening event this Thursday night, 3/24 at 7 pm.  Natural Verges: Poets on Visual Art, will feature poetry and prose by Mugi Takei whose drawings are on view at the gallery through April 30, along with several poets connected to Capitol Hill's Pilot Books.  This event is one of several that make up the month-long, 2nd Annual Small Press Festival, organized by Pilot Books and its great owner, Summer Robinson.  Readings are hosted by nine Seattle venues including Elliott Bay Book Company and Richard Hugo House.

I hope that each of you can make it, meet Mugi and see her exhibit that includes over 120 gouache and pencil drawings and several drawn stop-motion short films.  I think that her writing, considered in the context of her drawings and films, is going to be dynamite.  The other featured poets - Meredith Clark (of Ballard Farmer's Market Poem Store fame), Debra di Blasi (Publisher-in-Chief at Seattle's Jaded Ibis), and Lisa Radon (regular reviews and writings on the nexus of visual art and writing at will bring some serious literary chops to the event.

This is  a free event.  The public is welcome.  Please contact Cullom Gallery (info@cullomgallery, 206-340-8000) or Pilot Books (, 206-229-7181) for more information.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Seattle's Aaina Festival

Dovetailing nicely with the strong female themes of Mugi Takei's drawings currently on the wall at the Gallery, is the upcoming the Aaina Festival at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, March 25 - 27, which showcases artistic work of South Asian women through performances, film, art and workshops. The festival includes performances of Yoni Ki Baat (an adaptation of The Vagina Monologues).  I will not miss it.  Here's the press info I received this morning.
YONI KI BAAT 2011 (inspired by The Vagina Monologues)Presented by Tasveer in collaboration with the Gardner Center for Asian Arts & Ideas at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, March 25-27
SEATTLE, WA,  March 8, 2011  - Tasveer is proud to present Yoni Ki Baat (inspired by The Vagina Monologues) during the 6th Aaina festival, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, March 25-27. Yoni Ki Baat, directed by Shahana Dattagupta, is a collection of authentic, bold, and powerful stories that are sourced, written, and narrated by local South Asian women.
Yoni Ki Baat will showcase 16 stories that connect the dots to form a master narrative, which asks important questions about gender, patriarchy, abuse and oppression, and also paints a bold vision for exercising choice and celebrating body, sexuality and love. The narratives are as much daring questions and challenges posed to the world, as they are baring reflections of ourselves in the mirror, in the true spirit of Aaina. Visit to preview the program and meet the performers.
A complete schedule of events for the 6th Aaina can be found at can be purchased through The Seattle Art Museum website (
Though Yoni Ki Baat will illuminate issues relevant to South Asian women, we hope to draw a diverse audience since issues discussed are pertinent to women and men from a range of cultural and geographic backgrounds.
ABOUT TASVEERTasveer, “picture” in Hindi/Urdu, is a Seattle-based grassroots community organization that is committed to bringing independent progressive South Asian films and artists to the Pacific Northwest. Visit for more information. Aaina is produced by Tasveer in collaboration with the Gardner Center for Asian Arts & Ideas.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Like a Specter

I must confess that the print below, or many like it I have seen over the years, was the first thing I thought of on Friday morning as I watched with horror the tsunami wave, full of splintered homes, chicken barns, wood piles, giant ships and tankers, and car after car, gush with terrifying ease over the flat farmland and cities of Tohoku.  

In case anyone thinks that Japanese ukiyo-e are unrealistic, I would encourage you to do some Google searching for similar ukiyo-e of earthquakes and tsunami.  In the case of this print by Utagawa Kokunimasa (1874-1994), its psychological and emotional terror predates the numbing horror of video clips we are all watching of the Tohoku quake and tsunami by 115 years.

A Japanese woodblock print illustrating the June 15, 1896, tsunami that struck Iwate, Aomori, Miyagi Prefectures. The tsunami destroyed more than 5000 houses, killed approximately 30,000 people. The wave reached 30 m (nearly 100 feet) in height in some areas. The Meiji Sanriku Tsunami remains one of the largest natural catastrophes in modern Japanese history. Information courtesy of

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan, Japan, Japan

Like everyone I have talked to in the past two days, the devastation endured by Japan on Friday is consuming my thoughts, and anxieties, and prayers. It is hard to comprehend what has happened. A sickening awareness grows though as I watch from a helpless position behind the computer, as a trickle of reports from deeper inside the destroyed area are posted at the BBC or Asahi Shimbun's online coverage. I am grateful for some amazing coverage there and many other sources. I am especially thankful for the science and environmental desk at BBC for their level-headed interpretation of information about the overheated Fukushima nuclear reactors. Again, praying that that second disaster is contained.

I have spoken to or shared email with all artists who show at Cullom Gallery who either live in Japan or have family there. I am so relieved to report that all are personally safe. Please keep your thoughts with the people of Japan.

Here is a blog post from Annie Bissett that is a sad delight to read - photo memories of her trip with Lynn to Tohoku in 2004. My sense of grief is magnified by a new awareness of the beauty and majesty of the region and its people, a place I never got to before this hell passed through it.

From the blog, Woodblock Dreams by Annie Bissett

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mugi Takei "I Waited A Long Time For You" Opens Tonight

We have been busy, busy installing over 120 drawings by Seattle artist, Mugi Takei, and re-purposing the closet as a screening room for her stop motion animations, which together make up the new exhibit, "I Waited A Long Time For You": Drawings by Mugi Takei, running March 3 - April 16, 2011.  The opening reception tonight, March 3rd, is from 6 to 8 pm. 

Richard Heisler, another Cullom Gallery artist, so very kindly came in yesterday and filmed some of the installation and put Mugi and me in front of the camera, then distilled it all into this short film, which gets nicely at the content and tone of the show, I think.  I am Richard's beta lab gallery as he considers making a side enterprise out of shooting films like this for gallery marketing.  More on that to come.

The web exhibit for this show will launch in stages as I do not have enough room on my current website to show all 120+ drawings at once.  The first installment will launch tonight at 6 pm at  I hope many of you will be able to see this amazing group of drawings in person this spring.  I am very pleased and proud to be representing this talented artist!

Mugi Takei - "I Waited A Long Time For You" at Cullom Gallery March 2011 from Gallery Videos on Vimeo.