I have now been here for a little over a month and feel quite settled down. San Francisco is a very active place. There are numerous big and small events going on. I am getting to know the local galleries and artists and enjoying the energy.
The painting I showed you in the last email letter “Happy to be back in a familiar place” is now complete. Here it is shown in different room settings.
Also created two new paintings. Both are almost finished. The first one is still untitled and shows two trees and houses against a dark sky and a large moon. My friend Kayte wanted one such painting and this was painted for her. The second one is a more abstract painting of a waitress. An artist's style changes with the surroundings. After coming to the USA, I am starting to use much stronger lines and a more abstracted approach. Many of my recent sketches are in this direction. Here is the painting. Let me know what you think.
With friends: My friend Vikas and family had visited my studio/apartment in Oakland. Vikas was my room mate during my grad school in Delaware. It was nice seeing him after 3 years. Here is a photo.
Also met my hostel mate Gautum Ganguly from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He now lives here. We used to call him A Double Dash. I have not seen him in 25 years. So it was a great pleasure when he invited me to his home. We talked a lot and time flew. Here is a photo of him, his wife Moushmi and my painting in their home.
Here is another photo of them with their daughter.
Happy Diwali: Diwali is the most important festival of India. The Christmas or Spring Festival of India. I realized recently that I have not celebrated Diwali in 25 years. This year my friend Vikas has invited me to their home. Looking forward to it.
Tips for International Artists: Many Chinese artists have asked me to pass their portfolio on to the galleries here. So far, I have found it to be useless. Introducing foreign artists only works if the artist is very famous in that country. The correct approach is to visit oneself and get to know the gallery and local art folks. It's a long process and takes time. English would certainly be a requirement for this. On the plus side, the technical quality of Songzhuang artists is much higher than what I am seeing here in smaller events.
Question or comments? You can email them to me or leave them here.
I have been painting outdoors and many times passers by ask me "Where are you from?" Simple question. Most people will just say, "New York," or "India," or "ZhangYe." The first time someone asked me this question here in San Francisco, I had to hesitate for a second. Do I live in San Francisco? Yes, but only for a very short time. Do I live in China? Yes. But the very next question is "You don't look Chinese." I know its just a polite question seeking a one word or a simple one sentence answer. However no such luck here. After a few trials, I have perfected my answer. I am a US citizen, born in India now living in China. A global nomad. It's then followed by other questions ? Why China? How long? Do you like it? ….
Anyway, I am happy to be back in the USA - a familiar place. One's whose customs, ways and means I am familiar with. And here is the painting that I created, appropriately names "Happy to be back in a familiar place." Of course, I did not know what I was painting when I started. I never do. A true artist never does. The artist starts on a whim and the painting evolves on it's own telling the painter where to draw a line and what color to use and voila, you have the painting "Happy to be back in a familiar place."
Facebook: I was on facebook before, but because I haven't used it in a long time, I have lost access to that account. Here is the new one. If you are on facebook, go ahead and add me. I am back in touch with many of my old friends. Always nice to reconnect.
Art Walk: There was an art walk in San Rafael that I participated in. It's a new event and the attendance was rather low, but that was my public display of my art in the Bay area. San Rafael is quite far from Oakland, where I now live. Luckily, my friend Michael came over from Michigan and gave me a ride to and back from the event. It was nice catching up with him. Michael was also in Zhangye where there was a nice group of American teachers working at Hexi university. Here is a photo of me and him in front of my art work.
My work was featured in the newspaper San Rafael Times. Met the executive produce Michael Durand who stopped by to chat and photograph me and my paintings. Here is a link to the artist's page at San Rafael Times. Thank you Michael.
The next day, I met my friend Bruce who coincidentally also lived in San Rafael. Also met his friend Ann. He showed me the sites in the Marin county area - very beautiful. The clouds were low that day and as we drove up the hills we could see the clouds below - like an ocean. We also went to a pumpkin patch - where customers can go and select his or her own pumpkin to decorate for the upcoming Halloween. Had a very wonderful Saturday. Thanks Bruce. Here are some photos of Bruce in his home in front of my paintings.
Tip for international artists: International painters have a big problem - transporting their work. It's expensive to mail and difficult to move. I have been doing this for a while and have gained some experience. Here is a good method to solve this problem. Making the inner frames or stretcher bars for the paintings in the USA is horribly expensive. However, they can be bought in bulk for a cheap price from Jerry's Artarama. So settle on a standard size. Order it. Then in China or other country, paint to those sizes. Move only the canvas not the wood - thus not bulky and heavy. Then in the USA assemble them back. Will make the artist's life very convenient. Wish I had known this years earlier.
Wishing you have a happy weekend. You can write back to me or leave your comment here. Till next time.
Hello, Sridhar! Saw your message on Facebook under IIT KGP Friends. Great to find someone like you. I, too, am from RK Hall and Uuniversity of Delaware, where I did my PhD. I love your art and am proud that someone with whom I have two universities in two continents, and a hall of residence in common, has led such an extraordinary life!
I wish you all the best. Hope to see you in person some time, somewhere!
Hello Tapas Ray,
Really nice to meet someone who shares such special things with me. I have sent you an email. Hope to see you too.
The flight to the US turned out to be very smooth. Finding a room for 3 months was a little more difficult that I had anticipated. But anyway, after much searching I found one. Here are some of my paintings hanging on the walls.
I am living in Oakland, a few miles from San Francisco city. There are many artists here, although compared to Songzhuang they are very spread out and rare. In Songzhuang one can walk outside and meet artists. Not so, here. I met my first artist after a week here. The area I am living in has a large lake called Lake Merritt. Its a wonderful lake and many people go hiking, running or biking around it. Here is a photo.
Oakland is cheaper to live than the city of San Francisco, so many artists live here. Also, there are many homeless and drug addicts. Drugs are a major problem. Once a person becomes a drug addict and homeless, there seems to be no escape because the person just stops caring. Some of the streets also have prostitutes. So, its a very mixed place. On the one hand it has artists and "successful" yuppies. On the other hand, it also has the indigent. It breaks my heart to see some of the misery.
Yesterday, went to a fair. They have this every first Friday in downtown Oakland. There was all kinds of live music, food stalls, trinkets.... It was a lot of fun. There were about 15 art galleries that were also open. I was there for about 4 hours.
Been very active here and going to different places almost everyday. Quite tiring, but fun. Painted a scene by Lake Merritt. It's still not finished. Here it is.
Dear teacher, you are so great.
Ha, ha. Thank you. You are great too :-)
Hi Bro! Lovely work as always....
Thank you. You must be getting ready for your show!
Thank you for your share! My English is not good, use Chinese to express my gratitude! You want to see more of life to share, very interesting to share, I hope to know more about your life in the United States, enrich my knowledge, also hope to have the opportunity to come to China again! Say hello!
I will be leaving for the USA soon. Will live in the San Francisco area for about 3 months networking with the art community. I have not lived in the USA for more than 10 years and miss it in a way. My exhibition in Houston at Bisong gallery will be in November. Because all my screen paintings are medium to big and difficult to transport, I prepared three smaller screen paintings. I am quite happy with the way they turned out. Here they are:
Body Art: I had a friend drop by my gallery a few weeks ago. She wanted a painting on her forearm. I painted a golden snake using acrylics. Here is a photo.
Healthy Sridhar: I have been quite disgusted with the amount of weight I had put on. I was about 105 kg about 2 months back. I have been exercising almost everyday and my weight has now dropped to 95 kg. Here is a photo of me flexing my muscles. I still have lumps of fat, but its not as bad as before. Doing exhibitions internationally is lots of physical hard work. I think I am ready this time. This will be my fourth International exhibition and I am learning how to do them effectively.
Interview: A reporter of a big arts magazine dropped by my gallery and did an interview. He came back a few days later with his camera crew - very professional. They were very impressed that I rode a bicycle - very artsy they said. The interviewer also said that I was a natural model - this is the first time I am hearing this in my life. Happy. Here is a photo of the interviewer and camera crew.
It's mid-Autumn festival here in China, and people are crowding the streets and eating moon cakes. Hope you are too.
Thanks man. Hope things are great in Bangalore.
Been thinking about my life. Several years ago, really enjoyed my single, free life. Had no interest in getting married. Was having too much fun exploring life for that. Now..... things are different. Ready for the special one. Ready for the lover. Ready for the wife, family and children. How things have changed!
Made me wonder - why? Why this change in attitude? Here's how I see it. One should make a big, important decision only after one sees clearly. Book knowledge does not count. I have a Master's in engineering, but they taught me absolutely nothing about real life. For me, my education was my 10 month long hike. Before that I was just a fool running around doing what my parents, friends and society wanted me to do. "Run after money," they said. And so, I ran after money. I ran to the end of the rainbow, but there was no bag of gold. Heck, there wasn't even a rainbow - just a mirage of an idea.
The 10 month meditation in the forest, cleaned up the crap in my head. A memory reset. Things made sense. I understood. I understood myself. Who am I, what do I want and what is important for me. I understood. Life is actually very simple.... provided you can see clearly. Follow the masses and you are fucked.
Beijing University children art program: I was one of the artists invited to hand out prizes to school children studying art. This was my first visit to the famous Beijing university. The university is quite large, confusing and beautiful. It was fun meeting the young artists and chatting with them. Here are some photos.
Painting on vase: The vase that I mentioned in my last newsletter is now fired and done. This is my first painting on porcelain. I have learned a lot from this experience - mainly that after firing the color appears much paler than before. Here are two photos.
No blank would be better, its just my opinion.
Thank you for writing. I am afraid I did not understand what you wrote.
I am very happy to receive your special e-mail.I\'m also very happy to see your Chinese improved a lot. I\'m happy to hear that you think about your plan about your family, too.
Hearing from you after a really long time. Hope things are ok with you. The Chinese translation was done by a friend of mine. I guess his Chinese is very good :-)
The porcelain vases are incredibly beautiful and so fresh to my jaded, Western eyes. The colors and shapes are ... well they are simply, in a word, beautiful.
As an old artist going back to school, I can empathize with your frustration. Artists are often both exploited and used up while at the same time valued and revered. Save some money and look after your health. Truth will out.
Thank you so much for your kind comments about the vase. I also like them. However, after the baking process the colors turned out different.
Congrats on your decision to go back to school. I wish you lots of success.
I am looking after my health now. Watching what I eat and exercising regularly. Have been doing it for about two weeks and I feel great.
Thanks for visiting and your wonderful comments.