Thursday, February 24

798 Art district./art zone art zone
Today I had an opportunity to visit art district 798, that is about 10 km from us.   Quote from space website.--Beginning in 2002, artists and cultural organizations began to divide, rent out, and re-make the factory spaces, gradually developing them into galleries, art centers, artists' studios, design companies, restaurants, and bars.
   It became a "Soho-esque" area of international character, replete with "loft living," attracting attention from all around. Bringing together contemporary art, architecture, and culture with a historically interesting location and an urban lifestyle, "798" has evolved into a cultural concept, of interest to experts and normal folk alike, influential on our concepts of both urban culture and living space.

I went there with Jan. Jan lives in same apartment complex where we live and her son is 3rd grader in Canadian International school. Gabriel and Jason LOVE playing together and they have similar sense of humor. Anyway,  Jan asked if I  am busy  today and if not , do I want to have lunch with her.   I told her that NO  i am not busy and YES lunch sounds great. She asked if I ever been to 798 , and since I heard so many good things about  it and never been there yet, i said LETS DO IT. 
 Those who live in california and have ever been to Laguna Beach art festival  have idea how this place looks like. But art zone is so much bigger, and lot more fun. There are 100ds of  galleries,  bars, restaurants. Art everywhere, some look like un organized mess, some super cool. Some boring art, but most of it is pretty damn cool.  Since Jan is Chinese  she speaks chinese, I had opportunity to hear from  artists who were there about their work .   I have my fave artists in china, and I was so happy to see that 2 of them had their galleries up.  I mentioned Jan that YASHOW ( market, that sells all the fake stuff, ) I s also ripping off artists work and selling it there. Jan mentioned it to one of the artists , and he said that    once he went to Yashow, and pretended that he is interested BUYING his own  "art", ( fake stuff), he wanted to know prices and who makes it... haha. He  was told art is 80 yuan ( about 11 dollars)  and it is original.. HAHAHAHA...  Well, his art sells for  800-50 000 Yuan or more so  there you go.. ORIGINAL.. He said he can do nothing to control people profiting off his work. It is sad, but  there is no way to control this kind of activity in  China :(

I did buy couple of affordable smaller  art pieces,  and found perfect gift for Nick ( his 45th birthday is on 31st of March).. ;) When time is right I will let you know what it is, and why I bought it.

Also another  mental note that I took was.. Asians love  Sex, nudity, pornographic images, erotica and it is widely displayed in their art work. Some do it very classy way, some stay vulgar.    Well, Jan and I both noticed that BUTT's are  very popular  focus points in many artists works.  Only explanation I could come up with -- don't laugh, and my Asian friends who are reading this blog -- DON't BE MAD ;).. Since  Chinese woman in general have flat butts ( yes), and asian guys love BUTTs , then they display the love for butts in their artwork. And oh boy, those butt s in their art were perfect.  One of my fave artists Loui , whose works were up--   actually  made his art about small feet, that have part in Chinese history , but those tiny feet were tied together with huge round butts. His art is amazing. AMAZING, and guy itself was full of life explaining why he does it, and he even showed us how tiny some of those tiny shoes that were made for  those tiny binded ( spelling feet) . If you are interested in food binding  check out this wiki about foot binding.--

My feet started hurting  after I saw those shoes up close and personal. Sadly I was not allowed to take any photos of his work:( But I encourage you to check out all links I post in this blog today.

Another artis who has been in my mind a lot lately is Fang Min
 I also purchased one of his smaller pieces ( baby faces with ladybug). His art is tibet monks  inspired. BUGS and monks :D His gallery made me smile :D

  798 zone is also great home for many great photographers.  And I really wish I had more time to  enjoy their work. But i fell in love with  YangZi work. It was simple, but so beautiful.

Anyway. I felt good today. Art zone is  in Beijing, but it does not feel like beijing at all.  I love its  vibe, people,  food, mood... And today because of 798 I am in good mood :D

Tuesday, February 15

Happy New Year..again...

Today is February 15th and  it should end all the fireworks that have been all around Park avenue.  Chinese usually celebrate New year/ spring festival for 2 weeks, and I can clearly see it.  Myself- I am done. To much banging, to many firecrackers waking me up middle of the night and too much food to make me fat.

Funny to think that I AM aunt to 3 100% Chinese kids from ages 4-21.  Funny to think that I am aunt  to 2  100% Estonian kids from ages 2-11. Weird to think that  Gabriel  has  cousins in China and in Estonia.   It would be SO cool to have international  family reunion .

This year I had a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Chinese New year/ Spring festival with my husbands family who lives in Wanzhou( Chongqing district). About 3 hour plain flight from Beijing, and then 4 hour car drive from Chongqing to Wanzhou.  Let me just tell you this at first. I have been to wanzhou before, BUT I was there before  Beijing become my home. NOW I appreciate Beijing so much more. Beijing is clean compared to Wanzhou, it is not as overcrowded as Wanzhou and chongqing, and people in Beijing now actually have  better manners  to compared to Wanzhou.  And Cars don't honk in Beijing as much as in Wanzhou, and people don't spit as much they do in Wanzhou. And also food is better and restaurants are cleaner here in Beijing. So I am very happy, that I am in BEIJING.

 So , we spent 6 days with Nicks sister. Her sister lives on 11th floor. No elevator.   So lot of stairs to walk. Nicks brothers live  very close by and Nicks dad lives about 2 kilometers from Nicks sister, so their family pretty much lives next door to each other. Nick is the BLACK sheep of the family..  Thanks do diana ;).. But Nick also mentioned, that he could NEVER see him self in Wanzhou. And I can see why. That city is not HIM.

Also, people in Wanzhou do not use heaters. Weather is cold about -4 C right now.   People do weird things there. They wear many layers of clothes to keep them warm. They open their windows to let fresh air in ( air is more polluted than in Beijing). They sleep with layers of clothes on, and even eat clothes on.  Inside the houses you have to wear slippers. There are slippers for bathroom, to kitchen, to showers, to regular rooms.   Just slippers, slippers, slippers.  My feet got blisters on just switching slippers from room to room. lol

 Food. Lot of eating. I gained about 8 pounds. Big breakfast, big lunches and big dinners. I tried to stay away from some of the meals, BUT family insisted, so I just sat there and ate, and smiled and ate some more.  and more. And drank lot of  beer, and wine, and hot water, and tea, and more wine, and more beer.  
This time around I stayed away from weird foods.  Well... Almost...  One night, after hard night of parting with friends we hit the street food place, and I accidentally ate something that was  most likely ( sure it was) Pigs brain.  I spit it out as fast as I could. Texture was just  nasty, and taste was yuck. Yuck, Yuck.
But Nicks family respected my wishes, and this time around I was not served any turtles, or snakes or frogs. Can't stomach  them...
 Nick and I tried to sneak away to coffee houses and such, since we got cravings for  our normal stuff.  And coffee houses are very inconsistent with their coffee. Just like Chinese restaurants.  Even though you order same food twice, it never tastes the same, because chef is new, or  ingredients are little different, or more oil is used or more salt.. etc. Same with coffee. Day before we ordered Columbian, and decided to repeat our order. THis time around it was  as strong as espresso.  BLACK dark, tooo strong. Not bad, but not what we had ordered. When we requested info about what the heck is going on, we were informed that today they had different barista... duh.. Of course...
 Well, nicks hometown was lot of fun, and Nicks family is great :D I really did enjoy spending time with them and  listening them talk Chinese with Sichuan  accent- btw- very different from Mandarin. I had hard time understanding even the easiest sentences. :(

Second part of our spring break we spent here in Beijing with Nicks family. 5 of nicks family members came over to our Beijing apartment.  I finally got the taste of what it is to cook to a big family . I loved it. Nicks family ( sister, her husband , their daugther, and Nicks brothers wife and their 4 year old daughter LELE),  ate everything I cooked.    They wanted to eat western DIANAS cuisine and  they got it. I cooked dishes I usually cook for nick. Slow roasted ribs,  Curry Chicken, different potato dishes, different pastas. THEY ALL LOVED IT.  I was most impressed by Lele who is 4 years old. SHE ATE MY FOOD. MY FOOD. Are you serious? 4 year old eating my I must be getting better. ;)   To be honest, I was little scared   when they came to visit us, because I thought they will NOT like western cooking, but they did and I am relieved and happy .

They also had busy schedule here in Beijing. I did not do anything together with them , since the moment I got home, my back completely  failed me . I was in deep deal of pain  and only managed to clean and cook.. But They had fun. They got to see what they wanted to see ( it is easier for them to navigate in Beijing, since they speak Chinese..duh)  When they left,  I felt sad :(
I really enjoyed having them around,   and we all feel in love with LELE.   Especially Gabriel. Lele is 4 years old and she reminds me so much of  Regina.  She is after all Nicks brothers daughter ( the one who looks like Nick).

Lele giggled like regina, she is SLOW like regina, she ate as slow as Regina,  she dresses as cute as Regina did and she and Gabriel got along just like Regina and Gabriel did- TElling each other stupid and silly things. And  to see Gabriel take good care of her was just  heartwarming.   I have never seen Gabriel care for ANYONE else like she did care for  Lele.

So yeah, we all had great time :D:D:D:D