Tag Archives: art

Saturday Snapshot. 09.01.2012

Saturday Snapshot

09.01.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post. Please see the linky at AT HOME WITH BOOKS.

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

 

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A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. – Oscar Wilde

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I own copyright to all photos posted and request that any use of my photos be first cleared by permission from me with the use of an appropriate credit line, which I will specify and provide, as well as a link back to my webpage.

Copyright requests may be sent to me via email.

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Zara Alexis

Saturday Snapshot: 07.28.2012

Saturday Snapshot

07.28.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post. Please see the linky at AT HOME WITH BOOKS.

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

 

 

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This was taken in Chinatown, Toronto, July 21, 2012.

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An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision. – James Whistler

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I own copyright to all photos posted and request that any use of my photos be first cleared by permission from me with the use of an appropriate credit line, which I will specify and provide, as well as a link back to my webpage.

Copyright requests may be sent to me via email.

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Asian Heritage Month Blog Event: Chinese Calligraphy

Asian Heritage Month Blog Event: Chinese Calligraphy

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Chinese calligraphy (Shūfǎ 書法 in China) is an art unique to Asian culture and literally means, “the way, method, or law of writing.”

In Japan, it is called Shodō 書道, which means “the way or principle of writing.” In Korea, it is Seoye (서예) 書藝, “the skill/criterion of writing.”

To me, it seems to be both a serious Asian discipline as well as an art and according to Chinese culture, is often thought to reveal personality and inner aesthetic due to both the expectation of excellent and correct execution as well as creative expression.

Depending on the concentration of the ink, the thickness of the paper, and the flexibility of the brush, the calligrapher is able to create a variety of styles.

It is both a highly disciplinary act as it is a meditative one, I think.

The Four Treasures of Study

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The Four Treasures of Study (in China) and The Four Friends of the Study (in Korea) is an expression used to describe the essential tools of East Asian calligraphy:

  1. Ink brush
  2. Ink
  3. Paper
  4. Ink Stone
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The Ink Brush

The body of the brush can be made from either:

  • bamboo
  • red sandalwood
  • glass
  • ivory
  • silver
  • gold

The head of the brush can be made from the hair or feathers of the following animals:

  • weasel
  • rabbit
  • deer
  • chicken
  • duck
  • goat
  • pig
  • tiger
  • wolf

There is also a tradition in both China and Japan of making a brush using the hair of a newborn, as an once-in-a-lifetime souvenir for the child.

I have my own personal set of brushes that I purchased in Chinatown, Toronto on a day-trip I made with my family.

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Paper

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Special types of paper are used in East Asian calligraphy.

In China, Xuanzhi (宣紙), is the preferred type of paper made from rice, paper mulberry, bamboo, hemp, etc. In Japan, washi is made from the kozo (paper mulberry), ganpi, and, mitsumata, as well as bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat.

Paperweights

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Paperweights are used to hold down paper and often placed at the top of all but the largest pages to prevent slipping and come in several types. Like ink stones, paperweights can be collectible works of art.

 

Desk pads

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The desk pad is made of felt and can be printed with grids on both sides, so that when it is placed under the translucent paper, it can be used as a guide to ensure correct placement and size of characters. However, printed pads are used only by students (that means me!).

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Ink and Inkstick

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The ink comes in inksticks, which must be rubbed with water on an inkstone until the right consistency is achieved. Much cheaper, pre-mixed bottled inks are also available, but are used primarily for practice since inksticks are considered higher quality.

Learning to rub the ink is an essential part of calligraphy study. Traditionally, East Asian calligraphy is written only in black ink. Calligraphy teachers use a bright orange or red ink with which they correct work or write practice characters, which students can trace.

Inkstone

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Stone, ceramic, or clay from the banks of the Yellow River inkstone is used to grind the solid inkstick into liquid ink and to contain the ink once it is liquid. Chinese inkstones are highly prized as art objects.

Seal and Seal Paste

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Calligraphic works are usually completed by the calligrapher putting his or her seal at the very end, in red ink. The seal serves the function of a signature.

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My cousin who had travelled to China for a vacation to visit with her husband’s relatives brought home a custom-made name seal for me. It’s one of my favourite pieces.

My personalized Chinese seal and seal paste. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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What is considered to be good calligraphy?

Of course, when asking what is considered to be good calligraphy really depends on individual preference and taste, but there are some established, traditional rules, which cannot be violated. Those who repeatedly “violate” these rules are not considered legitimate calligraphers.

These rules are:

  • The characters must be written correctly.
  • The characters must be legible.
  • The characters must be concise.
  • The characters must fit their context.
  • The characters must be aesthetically pleasing.
Here’s my personal collection of ink brushes and my seal from China:
My Chinese ink brushes. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My personal collection of ink brushes and my Chinese seal and seal paste. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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 Here is a fun link to generate for yourself a Chinese name and discover your Chinese zodiac: Chinese Name Generator.  Try it!
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My name translated from:

Zara Alexis D. Garcia-Alvarez and born on January 6 is:

Kong
Zhen
Rui

Zhen is in place of my given name, Zara, which means raise, excite, arouse action.

Rui is in place of Alexis, which means sharp.

I was born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger.

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What is your Chinese generated name? What does it mean? Do you feel it properly reflects your personality and the sound of your English name?

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To see more posts for The Asian Heritage Month Blog Event here at The Bibliotaphe’s Closet, please visit here.

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Asian Heritage Month Blog Event: Mad for Manga!

Asian Heritage Month Blog Event:

Mad for Manga!

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

From time to time, I enter giveaway contests on other blogs. Wait, no. Strike that. In the past, I’ve been pretty obsessive when it comes to contests, but since I’ve become busier, my contest entries have slowed down to a moderate pace.

That said, I did receive a winning of a box full of books. And included inside was my very first owned form of manga, Dracula Everlasting.

And silly me, do you know what I thought? I looked at the cover and its binding on the right-hand side and said to myself,

“That’s why he didn’t want this…the publisher got the binding wrong!”

The anal-retentive control freak side of my personality clawed out and thought,

“How the heck am I supposed to showcase this on my bookshelf? It’s freakin’ backwards!”

Like I said, silly, silly, ignorant me.

Later did I realize that the book was not indeed backwards, but that my thinking was. It was manga! And my first experience with it.

The term manga is the Japanese word for “comics/cartoons” and used outside Japan to specifically refer to comics originally published in Japan that conform to a style that dates back to the late 19th century.

In Japan, people of all ages read manga! I can easily agree with this because at a recent visit to my local library, both my seven-year-old son and myself were excitedly perusing the manga section! But, because it was my son, I conceded and let him borrow titles that I had wanted for myself! These are the titles I picked up:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Manga’s surprising range of genres include:

  • action-adventure
  • romance
  • sports
  • drama
  • comedy
  • sci-fi
  • fantasy
  • mystery
  • horror

Here are some of the titles from the library I’m now enjoying:

The Saiunkoku Series: Books 1-6

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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Manga is typically printed in black-and-white, although some full-colour manga exist. In Japan, manga is usually serialized in large manga magazines. If the series is successful, collected chapters may be republished in paperback books called tankōbon.

Traditionally, manga stories flow from top to bottom and from right to left. Some publishers of translated manga keep to this original format. Other publishers mirror the pages horizontally before printing the translation, changing the reading direction to a more “Western” left to right, so as not to confuse foreign readers. This practice is known as “flipping.” For the most part, criticism suggests that flipping goes against the original intentions of the creator.

Reading manga.

A manga artist is called a mangaka.

Click on the photo for more details on Hagio Moto, one of the pioneering mangakas.

Hagio Moto, one of the manga artists credited with pioneering the shoujo manga (girl’s manga), josei manga (manga for ladies) and shounen-ai (boy’s love, stories involving romantic relationships between males).

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Here’s a clip of Hagio Moto drawing a manga sketch at Fantagraphics booth, Comic-Con 2010:

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Other manga-influenced comics also exist in other parts of the world:

  • Taiwan  – manhua
  • South Korea – manhwa
  • Hong Kong, China – manhua
  • France – la nouvelle manga, bande dessinée (drawn strip)
  • United States – Amerimanga, world manga, or original English-language manga (OEL manga)

Here’s a video clip about a manga artist from China publishing his work in Japan:

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 Don’t you just love manga? I’m mad about it now! What manga titles or book series do you love to read and/or collect?

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Support My Cousin in His Run for the Toronto Half-Marathon for the Halo-Halo Village!

Support My Cousin in His Run for the Toronto Half-Marathon for the

Halo-Halo Village!

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

My baby cousin who isn’t a baby anymore happens to be an avid artist and art teacher in Toronto and runs an art project called the Halo-Halo Village.

If you’re Filipino, you’ll be familiar with our famous dessert, Halo-Halo, literally translated as “mixed-mixed.” It’s a delectable concoction of shaved ice, milk, cream, ice cream, and your choice of “mixed” ingredients such as: mongo beans, pineapple gelatin, coconut strands, jackfruit, etc. The list goes on! And mmm…it’s good!

Halo-Halo

And so is my cousin, Jeff Garcia’s art and continual work in the creative industry!

Here are some of the images of how he supports the art community:

Jeff leading the young artists on an outing. (c) Photo Jeff Garcia. All rights reserved.
Jeff with his art students. (c) Photo Jeff Garcia. All rights reserved.

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Not only is he a great artist (and no, I’m not just making a plug because he’s family—he really is gifted—I know, I’ve seen his drawings at the tender age of seven and they were complex), he’s also a great runner. (Now, I know how he keeps his thin physique!)

And so, on May 6, 2012 at 8:30am, he’ll be running the Toronto Half-Marathon on behalf of the Halo-Halo Village!

Yikes! Just thinking about it makes me tired (though, I, too, used to run long-distance—hey, maybe it’s genetic?).

So, if you’d like to support my cousin, affectionately known to me as “Jepoy,” here are the details in doing so:

  • He is running for pledges of $21.29. A dollar for every kilometre of his half-marathon (21.2923 km).

  • Donate $21.29 and your name will also be screen printed on the back of his race shirt.

(Now, the gift of giving is great enough, but the artist in Jeff compels him to give back!)
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  • You will also receive a screen-printed poster of his race Bib Tag # with the total time he ran the 21.2923KM.

The collective poster will also include the names of all the Villagers who supported his run.

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Proceeds will go towards Halo-Halo Village’s closing and renovation process

at 208 Christie St. during the month of May and to help continue his events and workshops outside of those walls.

Halo-Halo Village (c) Photo Jeff Garcia. All rights reserved.

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He’s “running forward to new beginnings!”

If you would like to support his run for the village:

1. You can either give him cash or cheque ( payable to: Mango Peeler ) in person at: 208 Christie St. on Friday May 4th from 5pm-9pm. Or you can email transfer him your $21.29 donation to this email.

Security question: LONG. LIVE. THE. 
Answer: VILLAGE

2. Send him your name/ record label/ studio/ clothing line/ your band/ etc./ that you want printed on my shirt and the bib tag posters.

Jeff will need the pledges and names by Saturday morning the latest as he will be screen-printing his race day shirt on Saturday May 5th.

If you live outside of Toronto please provide your mailing address in an email. You will receive a receipt for your donation.

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Jeff with other Villagers. (c) Photo Jeff Garcia. All rights reserved.

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He would also love the moral support! So go out and cheer him on during his run on Sunday or meet him at the Finish Line! Play some music on a boombox, bring him a mango, or make him a cool sign!

You can also follow details of Jeff’s run on Twitter (@mango_peeler) with the hashtag: #RUN4THEVILLAGE and his website.

(Drizzy Drake is a personal friend of his and he will be!)

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Toronto Half Marathon Map
Race Details

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Thanks to all who support not only my cousin, Jeff, in this marathon and his projects at the Halo-Halo Village, but the arts community on a whole.

Asian Heritage Month Blog Event: The Japanese Geisha Part 2

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Asian Heritage Month Blog Event:

The Japanese Geisha: Part 2

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

The Stages of Training for Geisha

The hangyoku are girls young as nine-years-old who begin their training to become geisha and are usually bonded to geisha houses called the okiya. This eventually disappeared in the 1950’s with the outlawing of child labour.

A Hangyoku.

Otherwise, daughters of geisha were often brought up as geisha themselves becoming the atotori (“heiress”) and successor or msume-bun (“daughter-role”) to the okiya.

Okiyas in Yoshiwara.

A maiko is a geisha apprentice and is bonded under a contract to her okiya. The okiya supplies her with food, board, kimonos, obis (sashes), and other tools for her training. Her debt must be repaid to the okiya with her earnings and may continue after she becomes a full-fledged geisha. She is only permitted to move out of the okiya to live and work independently once her debts are settled.

A maiko will start her formal training as a minarai, which means “learning by watching.” But she must first find an onee-san (“older sister”), an older geisha who will act as her mentor.

Minarai usually work with a particular minarai-jaya (tea house) learning from the okaa-san (“mother”), the proprietress of the house. This stage lasts about a month.

In the final stage of training, the students are called maiko (“dance girl”) who are apprentice geisha. This stage can last for years while the maiko learn from their senior geisha mentor. The onee-san (“older sister”) and imouto-san (“younger sister”) relationship is crucial. The onee-san teaches her maiko everything about working in the hanamachi (“flower street,” which refers to a geisha district) and will teach the proper ways of serving tea, dancing, the art of conversation and more. She will also help pick the maiko’s new professional name with kanji (Japanese characters).

Examples of Kanji.

Maiko look very different from fully qualified Geisha:

The collar of a maiko’s kimono hangs very loosely in the back to accentuate the nape of the neck, which is considered a primary erotic area in Japanese sexuality. She wears the same white makeup for her face and on her neck, leaving two or three stripes of bare skin exposed. Her kimono is elaborately tied with obi hanging down to her ankles. She takes very small steps and wears traditional wooden shoes called okobo which stand almost ten cm high.

Maiko in Kyoto, Japan.

There are five different hairstyles that a maiko wears that mark the different stages of her apprenticeship:

The Nihongami (traditionally, two sides of the hair stick out until it curves to the back) hairstyle is with kanzashi (hair-ornamentation strips) and is associated with the maiko’s womanhood, as it came from a pulled knot in the ofuku hairstyle that a maiko would wear after her mizuage (her first sexual experience). Before that, the maiden wareshinobu style was worn.

Maiko by shailesh_date.

Around the age of 20–22, the maiko is promoted to a full-fledged geisha in a ceremony called erikae (“turning of the collar”) and can now charge full price for her skills and her time.

Here is a video clip of a maiko or geisha putting on her makeup:

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Here are more excellent books on the geisha:

Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda

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Geisha: A Photographic History, 1872-1912 by Stanley B. Burns and Elizabeth A. Burns

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To see my collection of images of Geisha, you can visit the My Geisha board on Pinterest.

To see more postings for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

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