Monday, November 7, 2011

Touch down!

Arrived in Chicago yesterday, it was a 14 hour flight. That translates into 4 movies and 6 tv shows. We were exhausted and fighting colds. We tried to stay up until 7 pm, but I caved in and crawled into bed at 5:30 pm. We were awake for a couple hours this morning, then back to bed. This probably is not the best way to adjust to the time zone change, but very good for healing colds.

This ends the China trip. However, for Howard and I, our adventure has 9 more days as we head to New Jersey for our two person show at Highlands Art Gallery in Bernardsville, New Jersey. The reception is Saturday from 5 to 9 pm. Hope you can come.

China was an amazing mix of ancient and modern lifestyles. We are already planning to return one day. already we are getting e-mails from those wonderful college kids that took such good care of us!

I might send some more photos on the blog once in awhile. It is hard not to share all this with you!

Thank you for reading along as we traversed China!

Still flying...

 and passing the Alusian islands of Alaska. Looking at the map at the front of the cabin of the plane, it is obvious that this was a solid land mass from Russia to Alaska, linking Asia to North America. Historians and scientists believe that the Americas were populated from Asia using this natural land bridge. As a portrait artist, I love studying faces, and I could definitely see a genetic connection between the Chinese and Native Americans. I, too, have some Cherokee in my background and I could see a connection with my self as well! High cheek bones, small eyes, very straight hair.... Fascinating!

Anyway, while we are cruising along, I will send you some more photos.

Remember when I wrote about Halloween and our interpreters....
Here is the photo of the college kids that dressed up for Halloween and went trick or treating at our hotel rooms. They had heard about Halloween and the candy and so we invited them to dress up and go trick or treating from room to room. It was really fun with lots and lots of giggles and laughter!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

And we're off! Up in the air.

Meeting us at the hotel was Tu's nephew. He had arranged the bus for the ride to the airport. Thank you TU!

And our group started shrinking. Our Canadians, Neil and Vera Patterson are taking an evening flight to Vancouver, Canada. Nancy and Gar Crookston are flying to San Francisco around one pm. Howard and i are in the first group of 7 that is flying to Chicago.

All that hauling yesterday of our luggage took it 's toll on us. Clayton was hit the worst. He either has pulled a muscle on his ribs, cracked a rib or .... Is having trouble with his lungs. He is such a trooper. You can see the pain written all over his face each time that he gets a muscle spasm. He is really looking forward to seeing a doctor when he gets home. I have a pinched nerve in my neck ( oh brother, what next ). Keeping cold wraps on it seems to be helping. I know what you are thinking.... Yes, it was really worth it!

Interesting note: we left Hong Kong at 11:45 am on Saturday, November 5th and we will in essence be in a time machine, as we fly backwards through the time zones, arriving at about 12:30 in the afternoon, on the same day, Saturday, November 5th. Though we will be in the air traveling for more than 14 hours, the time will be less than an hour after we left Hong Kong. We live in an amazing time!

So, while we are floating around to the other side of the world, I thought I would send you some more photos about the trip.

These are from October 23rd, the day that we visited the construction site of Zhiwei Tu's museum.

We want to come back when it is open!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Change of plans...

Guess what... Pizza Hut was the choice tonight! Yum!!!

More shopping tonight after our pizza and pasta and more shuffling of our suitcases. Good thing that we brought a traveler's scale for suitcases! I think we are under the weight limit!

Hong Kong

Okay, we are now at the Imperial Hotel in Hong Kong, but what an adventure some of us had getting to the hotel.

Howard and I made it here with no hick-ups, but several others had a bit of a tough time with the taxi drivers. Ken Dewaard and Ken Cadwallader were first in line and glided easily to a taxi, at least they thought it was a legal taxi, until the police came up and started yelling at the driver. Out jumped the two Kens and back to the back of the line to wait for another. Another of our group were shuttled around to three different taxi's, schlepping their stuff and waiting in longs lines. Finally we all arrived, sweaty, tired and hungry. Nothing like a wet hot towel to refresh a wear traveler!

Hmmm, for a change, we are thinking about Japanese food tonight's dinner? With our terrific skill with the Chop sticks now, this should be a piece of cake ( now that sounds good too)!

Making our way home

Now the wind down, but first some serious final shopping. By now we had scoped out the possibilities and narrowed down to our goals. First we had a terrific breakfast with several of the university professors, Middle TU and Tu's nephew. It had everything that we have come to love about Chinese food.

Then back out on the streets, making bee lines to our destinations. We didn't have a lot of time, but most of us knew that we had to get art books at the book store! and boy did we ever get great books and art supplies!...great big heavy art books, ooops.

Back at our rooms, the big challenge was to get all of this into our suitcases and still keep them under 50 pounds. The night before I had to buy a new suitcase because my suitcase had a broken latch, now came the test and YES! It all fit and only a little bit over 50 pounds... To be fixed in Hong Kong before we fly.

We stuffed our suitcases into three vans and our bodies and off we went to the train station.
Next came the travelers aerobics.... Or as I kept telling myself ... The character building challenge of the day, as we dragged, pulled, pushed and carried our luggage across the station and somehow onto the train. This was the last time that we would have the guidance of Tu and we said our good byes. He created a magical tour for us that we will never forget!!!! It was a ton of work for him to co-ordinate this complicated trip. As we waved good bye I could almost detect a sigh of relief on his face. He will stay here in China with his family in his home town. Once we were in the train station, past customs and schlepped our many heavy suitcases either and yon... and all of us made the train, it was a beautiful ride in the sunny country side.

Next stop, Hong Kong.

Day Twelve

Breakfast was a bit earlier today, at 7 am, because we were going to tour the Guangzhou Fine Art Academy! This is one of the Finest national academies in China. At the request of the central governemnt in 1953 this school was founded by Tu's Father in Law, Hu Yichuan (1910 - 2000). The school first opened in Wuhancity, then was moved to Guangzhou in 1958.

Hu Yichuan was an outstanding artist skilled in any medium. Prior to 1949, he was first famous for his woodcuts. To our delight, we actually were able to tour his home and studio, filled with paintings, sketches, woodcuts and sculptures. This is the place where our friend and fellow artist, TU, as a young man and his wife Dani shared many meals with her mom and dad (Hu Yichuan ). We lerned that Hu Yichuan was a Revolutionist and played a major part in the Mao Revolution ( 1921 to 1937). He is well loved and respected today in China. In 2000, after Hu Yichuan died, the government named the museum in Guangzhou, The Hu Yichuan Museum.

This outstanding university held a special spot in Tu's, heart. Not only was this where his father-in-law taught, but this is where Tu was a student for 6 years and later a professor for 6 years. He, too, - is well loved and respected.

We toured the new campus, the studios and classrooms, met the professors and the students, even had a chance to critique some of the student's work. Several of the professors gave us copies of their books!

We were awed at the classical drawing skills of these young students. We saw painting classes and sculpture classes and a display of a the most outstanding work from their graduates. This is a huge campus. Actually it now has two locations in Guanghzhou. The first and original campus is near to our hotel. That was so successful that a gorgeous new huge campus was built about a half hour away.

To our surprise, before going to dinner, we stopped by Middle Tu's studio. He is an incredible photographer in all areas: fashion, portraits, landscapes, etc. , winning many national and international awards. We have enjoyed his company at many of the places that we have been on this tripl He kept his camera clicking! To our delight, he gave each of us three of his photography books!

The Chinese are such gracious, giving people. Everywhere we were given gifts, from the owner of the tea shop to the photographers that accompanies us and even the interpreters. Our cup over flowth with gratitude.

All that was left at the end of this glorious day, was a couple hours of shopping in the main shopping area. Here it was, 9 pm on a Thursday night and the place was packed with people, all the shops were busy. The lights were sparkling everywhere, it was filled with excitement. The Chinese economy seems to be doing quite well! We all spread out...and none of us got lost!

What an amazing day. Like I said yesterday. This is the grand finalle of an incredible trip.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day Eleven

Dressed in our finest clothes ( how does one make the same clothes that one has been wearing for 2 and a half weeks look dressy?) we arrived at the Museum exhibition of our final 91 paintings. This was by far the most outstanding exhibition for us. Our paintings were beautifully exhibited, museum style, with terrific lighting and excellent placement on the walls. Hanging side by side, the paintings looked terrific. It is a very strong show and we are all pleased. There were banners and huge displays of our names, bios and faces. First there was a ceremony out in front of the museum. We were formally introduced by the officials of the area and thanked for coming and showing our work. Our exhibition was the kick off of the International Cultural Week for Guangzhou! The show will be hanging for one month.

After the speeches and lots and lots of photos, we entered the exhibition. as each of us entered, we signed a big red display book with a big black pen. This is tradition for important events. Then the public flooded into the exhibition. It instantly became very crowed. People were asking to have their photos taken with us. Each of us were surrounded by school children asking for our autographs and photos, lots of photos. It was an amazing feeling to be so admired and honored.

Lunch with the officials was as delicious as ever and as beautiful. I will miss the huge turntables that gracefully glided the dishes around the table.

Then it was time to put the suitcases on the bus and say good bye to our wonderful interpreters, our dear friends. That was the hardest part of the trip. These young people have shared their love with us and stolen our hearts. There were teary eyes, lots of hugs and notes of appreciation slipped into our hands. They made our trip so special and were missed instantly as we drove away.

On to Guangzhou. It was supposed to be a 3 hour drive, no problem. Instead, we experienced the most intense traffic jam. For miles (and several hours) we were sandwiched between trucks creeping along or stopping. I was very very happy that I wasn't the one driving! We arrived more that 2 hours late and very very tired! Get this, we were so tired that we actually went to McDonalds for supper! Radical difference from the dinners we have become used to, but we were just needing food and fast. Hmmm. Guess that is what they do best!

After that quick supper, we hit the streets to do a little shopping. Most of us just stumbled along the Streets for a while, then went back to the hotel and to bed.

Sorry, no photos this time, can't get to my camera right now, but soon I will send some for you to see!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day Ten

The last strokes of paint were composed today. We painted our last paintings and tonight we put away our brushes. All that is left is our final exhibition of about 90 paintings that opens tomorrow.

Our painting marathon ended today at the MT. Dabao Mining site. This is one of the largest mines for iron an copper. The government is very proud of this huge mine and is planning to make it into a national park. First we toured the top of the mountain to see the broad expansive vista of the mining operation. This was an hour before it was scheduled to set off several explosions. Sure enough at 10:30 am, after several warning sirens, two explosions rocked the valley. By then, we were safely down at the headquarters painting, but even our feet felt those impacts.

The day was lovely, the air perfect and the sun flirted with us all day. In and out... In and out, it danced with the clouds. We painted, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Lunch was serve yourself and we all questioned how much to put on our plate. For the past 16 days, we have dined from many dishes at each meal. We would take a bite of food from this dish and another spoonful from that dish. It all added up to a delightful and exciting meal. At the end of each meal, we had no idea how much or how little we had eaten. We just had to trust our stomachs and eat until we felt full. The meals were very slow and leisurely and that gave our stomachs time to really decide when to stop. Facing a full plate of food, now, seemed confusing at first, but it didn't take long for us to gobble it down and get back to painting.

In the afternoon, we actually had about 4 hours to paint our last painting in China. It felt good to put some extra time into these plein air creations. Our eager and very helpful assistants/interpreters were there, as always to help us with anything that we need. It is going to be hard to leave these great young people. They have really gotten into our hearts.

Back on the bus, then dinner with the officials of the Mine .... That means many many toasts ....and finally, back to the hotel. As we filed off the bus, our wet paintings appeared one by one, ready to be framed tonight and whisked away to the museum for our last show.

We are a tired lot. Several of us stayed up too late or rose too early to get our paintings ready for delivery this morning. Tonight we are delighted to get to bed early!