Bilingual Pride

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The Power of Naming

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As part of Blogging 101, I am supposed to re-examine and then possibly edit my title and tagline. To do that I have to remember why I choose that wording…
Where did you begin when there are so many choices?
After a rough period at work and upon some reflection, I remember thinking that the view of an outsider nicely summed up my position. I am a 外国人 (gaikokujin), which is literally a person from an outside country, in Japan but all my life I have been told that I do things differently from everybody else. New kid? Yes, that was me time after time. Above average test scores? Yep. Did not wear sweats in high school but wore something more interesting or personal? Let us just say that the mall was not primary source of clothing as a teenager. Does my art fit any established styles or genres? No, not as far as I can tell. My artwork, regardless of the medium, tends to be too artsy for the conservatives and too conservative for the artsies. I just seem to have a rough time toeing the line of conformity. I needed a blog name that could reflect me and my position.
Why that specific title?
The hard part was the actual wording. I wanted to call my blog, “Looking In from the Outside”, or something like that, but it was already being used by somebody else. Do you know how hard it is to find a title that nobody else is using? After much searching, I discovered “Viewed from the Outside” was available. Thank goodness!
Which tagline is better: old or new?
Next was the tagline. The current tagline says, “Outsider’s View on Art and a World Where Being Creative is a Daily Necessity.” To be honest, I do not really like repeating “outside” or “view” but I did not know how else to explain my objectives. I could leave it like that or perhaps I could tweak it a bit. What do you think of, “Outsider in a World Where Being Creative is a Daily Necessity”? Now that I write it down I think I actually prefer this new version.
What do you think?
Which version do you like better? Do you have any other suggestions? Share your opinions and viewpoints in the comment box, please. I am open to all suggestions if it improves the content of the site.

PS The physical format is slowly being changed, so please be patient. MZ

Why am I Blogging?

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Autumn is a time to ponder many things, including why I started this blog. To help me figure this out, I joined the Blogging 101 group at WordPress.

Why are you blogging publicly instead of keeping a private journal or a website?
As a Canadian artist in Japan, I do not have easy access to the amazing network of artists, the artist union CARFAC, and other related information in Canada; I also do not have easy access to information in Japan because of a lack of existing networks, a lack of experience with the system here, as well as linguistic limitations. After living here for several years, I no longer had to spend all of my energy getting by, learning the language, and developing survival skills. Although I still had to work at my job that provided income, I finally had more energy to devote to my art. The next step was to create a website to promote my art.

Should I hire somebody to make a website? Then I would have to keep paying them to update it periodically. What a pain! Would a static site with a few pictures attract repeat visitors? Would I have to wait until I had a large collection of current artwork before I started? I wanted to start as soon as possible and perhaps use the new exposure as incentive to get more work done. After noticing that some sites had a blog attached, I realized that I could do that! I might even be able to do it by myself! It would also provide the immediate exposure or contact that I wanted!

What topics do you think you’ll write about?
My art and…anything else? Life in Japan? Those are a dime a dozen. I doubt that a J-blog would reflect much on my art or art in general. Life in Japan is not all about paper designs, family crests, and elderly craftspeople. I decided to focus on my art, my creative friends, art I see in Japan, and the role of art and artists in general. When I started my blog, I did not have many people to discuss arty issues with so I thought a blog would be a good outlet for me and my meandering thoughts as well.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
Who might read my blog when there are so many out there? I would like to think my friends all over the world will read it or at least look at the pictures to see what I have been doing. Creative friends will perhaps be more interested. Now that I live closer to Tokyo, I also hope that other artists in Japan, gallery owners, or curators will also take a look and hopefully follow it. Prospective buyers and art collectors? That would be nice. I also hope that other readers will include people who are interested in what the art scene in Japan is like for people who are not Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, or Yoshitomo Nara. I also hope that other artists in Japan will learn more about other artists who might even live in their neighborhoods or that they meet and start networking with me and others. I really do hope that my blog can be a way for me and for other creatives to expand their networks and get to know each other.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
Timely question. I will have to post more often about the places I go in this upcoming year instead of just filing away their postcards, flyers, and pamphlets. That means I should also write much shorter posts more often. This is hard for somebody who is as equally verbal as I am visual! What else? I need to make my art more visibly prominent and not just focus on my writing. I do live in Japan after all, and many people will be intimidated by hundreds of words in English when all they want to do is just look at pictures of my art. I am in the middle of reorganizing my blog with my friend’s help now. It would be great if i could tinker under the hood of my blog without her help by the end of the year.

I hope that I can increase my audience and improve my profile in both the real and virtual worlds. Doesn’t everybody want somebody they do not yet know to read their writing and become fans of their work? Becoming friends would be an additional plus.

CIMG3894If you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you can subscribe to this blog and follow me here at http://www.mzacharias.com or you can follow me (Misheru32) on Instagram.

CSI: Criminal Snow Investigations

 

Aftermath
Aftermath

It was a dark and stormy night in the greater metropolitan area of Tokyo, perfect weather for making snowmen. It was the worst blizzard to hit the city in more than forty years. Who would’ve guessed that the low pressure system would so suddenly leave as soon as it came? I, the sole technician on the roster for what had been expected to be a slow weekend, was left to examine the chilly remains of somebody’s beloved at various locations on our now fine and sunny streets.

The Morning After
Carnage

Large areas of carnage could be seen everywhere.

bicycle parkade, bicycle parking, Japan
The Search

I slowly began my search in the concrete jungle. Snow people were gradually becoming increasingly hard to find as the heat sinks and asphaltum slowly spread.

Lonely Snow Bunny
Lonely Snow Bunny

Snowmen and their families usually congregate near dwellings inhabited by human children, but the grounds were barren around nearby highrises. All that could be found was one sad-looking snow bunny who was missing one ear. These li’l critters obviously did not multiply like rabbits under the heat of the midday sun.

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Parasol Protection
Parasol Protection

Parasols and umbrellas were popular choices to prevent evaporation of delicate surfaces with high-moisture content exposed to the harsh reality of the day. Tucking an umbrella into the spokes of a bicycle was probably not a good idea considering that snow people usually do not have legs worthy of mobility. Escape was futile.

The Circle
The Circle

Some sought solace and support, drifting sadly into circles looking for comfort from others like them.

Dregs of Society
Dregs of Society

After searching in the distant hills, I found those who had dirtied their previously pristine reputations.

Spattering
Spattering

Burial Grounds

The photographs I was taking were the last remaining records of what were once some upstanding snow men and women. Additional forensics staff would have to be called in to determine more details by looking at the photos of the splattered snow.

Fleeing...
Fleeing…
Departure Gate
Departure Gate

Several victims had obviously realized the serious of their predicaments and tried heading for cooler pastures where the dark pavement would not absorb the sun’s harmful rays. Like Lot’s wife, they were immobile.

Relationship Dissolving Before Your Eyes
Salvaging What is Left

Some sought to console each other even though their relationship was dissolving before their eyes.

Skid Row
On the Skids
Desperate Drunk
Desperate Drunk

Some did not make it out of Skid Row; some sought sanctuary in local drinking establishments. I guess the Creator knew that those with bottle caps for noses might have a weakness for the brew.

Wreckage after a hit-and-run
Wreckage after a hit-and-run

Some poor sods never made it past the intersection where the nitty gritty of urban life ground them down to pulp.

Kamakura aka Snow Hut
Kamakura
Snow Family
Snow Family

Others only wanted cool shelter on an increasingly warm day. Entire families of snow people and snow animals fled for the hills and hunkered down in some kamakura, the local version of a snow hut or quinzee. Parents were willing to sully themselves if their children could remain untouched.

Battlefield
Battlefield
Fortification Remains
Fortification Remains
Interior of Snow Fort
Interior of Snow Fort
Shelter Against the Elements
Shelter

I stumbled upon the aftermath of what looked like the Great Snowpocalypse of 2014. I could picture it all: Snowman against snowman, snowballs piled high, and the thick, cold walls of the snow forts. These snow people were obviously great engineers and architects as well as masters of warfare.

Witness to Massacre
Witness to Massacre
Inmates I
Inmates
Silent Witness
Silent Witness

Few wanted to step forth and give testimony about the horrors that they witnessed. The ducks and the rabbit refused to squeal. The dwarves were too happy about the whole thing for my liking.

Danger
Danger
Unnatural Habitat
Unnatural Habitat

Did anybody ever warn them that places with fuel trucks and palm trees might not be the best places for snow people?

Remains Piled High
Remains Piled High

Mountains of innocent victims piled high on every street corner? No sanctuary in refrigerated quarters or delivery service of items that must be kept cool was offered.

Carcass
Carcass
Evidence
Evidence

By the end of the day, all that was left was some sloppy, grey slush and a tin can that might have been a trendy snowman’s fashion statement in better times.

Altar to the Snow Gods
Altar to the Snow Gods

What can a snow man in Japan do but pray to the snow gods that they will be reincarnated as a snow drift or possibly a kamakura in Akita or Hokkaido to provide shelter to others in similar straits.

Close-up: Bewilderment and Shock
Close-up: Bewilderment and Shock
Close-up: Desperation
Close-up: Desperation

Remember these faces the next time you bear your shovel and think about who you might be hurting. Do not let their deaths be in vain.

Fear of the New

 

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I am afraid that I have not been diligent in writing this blog. Why not? To admit the truth is the hard part. I could choose the easy answer and say that I have been busy moving to a new city and starting a new life yet again in a new apartment since my show ended in February, but I would not be completely honest with myself if I wrote that. It’s not wrong but it’s not right. A friend who is doing the Artist’s Way programme with me encouraged me to explore deeper.

By the time I confessed my fear of writing anything new on my blog, we were already on Weeks 8 and 9 of the twelve-week programme. This is when Julia Cameron talks about blocked artists and how they sabotage themselves.  JC wrote that it was fear not procrastination that was blocking these artists. I happened to read that little insight a few seconds after I had patted myself on the back for my excellent procrastination skills. Do you think the forces that be were trying to tell me something? I had to stop for a moment and think about why I was scared to write this blog.

My friend had asked me the same question, and I very quickly told her that bad experiences with other blogging platforms resulted in me being scared of using WordPress despite several successful attempts using it. That was the easy answer. Once again it was not wrong but it was not right. Was I afraid of writing? No, I love words. Was I afraid of writing long passages? No, you cannot shut me up once I start. Was I worried that I had nothing to write about? No, I told my friend that I had many topics and experiences to write about. So what was wrong?

I think I might have overwhelmed myself with the seemingly possibilities of blog topics that I now had at my disposal since I moved to Saitama City near Tokyo. I could write about my art, my adventures in exploring continuing education at schools in Japan, my introduction to traditional nihonga painting, and the people I encountered there. I could write about the shows I went to in Kyushu, Kansai (area around Osaka and Kyoto), and Kanto (area around Tokyo). Other artists asked me to write about the problems they have working in Japan and they were flattered when I asked if i could write about their work on my blog. I could write about the various types of venues, shops, and people who I see. The list goes on and on, and that is the problem. How could I write about all of them and do them justice? I scared myself by just thinking about it!

UrbanFears

Was that it? Was there more to my fear? Many of these proposed entires would be about my adventures in this new stage of life. Did I know what was going to happen or what was expected of me? Not really. These changes are all too new and came out of the blue last March. I no longer had a packed schedule with little free time; I had no schedule with mainly free time. The possibilities were infinite. That is terrifying!

Fear

Several other friends who are doing the Artist’s Way with me are also trailing spouses who have accompanied their husbands to new locations when employers decided it was time for a transfer. They reassured me that this fear and sometimes rejection of the new is natural and all too common. I am already much more settled than I was a few months ago so I hope I can remove this block and write many more entries. Wait! Maybe I should not promise a large number of posts. I should promise myself to start small even if it is only the occasional photograph or a few sentences. One step at a time…