Friday, November 30, 2012

Allegory — The Butcher

The Butcher
The Butcher | Oil on canvas | 48 by 36 inches

"The daughter of the cruel king.

There was once a princess by the name of Miao Shan. She was the daughter of a cruel king who had wanted her to marry a wealthy, but uncaring man. The daughter told her father that she would obey his command, so long as the marriage could ease three misfortunes.

When asked what they should be, the princess explained that the first misfortune the marriage should ease was the suffering that people endure as they age. The second being the suffering endured when people fall sick. And the third was the suffering caused by death. If the marriage could not ease any of the above, then she would rather retire to a life of religious piety.

When the king asked who could ease all the above, Miao Shan pointed out that a doctor was able to do all of these. Her father grew angry as he wanted her to marry a person of power and wealth, not a healer. Miao Shan was forced into hard labor, and given little food and water, but this did not cause her to yield. She in turn begged to be a nun instead of marrying.

Her father eventually allowed her to work in the temple, but made sure the monks gave her only the toughest chores to discourage her. Miao Shan worked all day and night, but she had such a kind heart that the animals living around the temple began to help her with her chores. The king seeing this, became so frustrated that he attempted to burn down the temple. Miao Shan put out the fire with her bare hands, but suffered no burns. This struck fear in her father, who later ordered her to be put to death.

The executioner who tried to kill the princess would be led to a chain of unsuccessful attempts. His axe shattered, while the arrows targeted towards Miao Shan would mysteriously veer away. Fearing the king might harm him for his incompetence, Miao Shan would eventually let herself die at the hands of her executioner.

It is said that she voluntarily took on the massive karmic guilt the executioner generated for killing her, thus leaving him guiltless. It is because of this that she descended into the Hell. She witnessed sufferings and horrors that the souls had to endure, and was overwhelmed with grief. Filled with compassion, Miao Shan released the good karma she had accumulated through her many lifetimes, thus freeing many suffering souls back into Heaven and Earth. In the process, the realms of Hell became a paradise. It is said that the king of hell sent her back to Earth to prevent the utter destruction of his realm, and that upon her return she appeared on Fragrant Mountain.

The Legend of Miao Shan ends with her father falling ill. No physician was able to cure him. Then a monk appeared saying that the illness could be cured by making a medicine out of the arm and eye of a person without anger. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain.
When asked, Miao Shan willingly offered up her eyes and arms. The king was cured of his illness and went to the Fragrant Mountain to express gratitude to his benefactor. When he discovered it was his daughter who had made the sacrifice, he knelt and begged for forgiveness.

The story concludes with Miaoshan being transformed into the Thousand Armed Goddess, and her family later building a temple on the mountain to honor her."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Allegory — The Perfect Face

A Perfect Face
The Perfect Face | Oil on canvas | 24 by 30 inches

"That maiden's face.

At T'ai-yuan there lived a man named Wang. One morning he was out walking when he met a young lady carrying a bundle and hurrying along by herself. She was of such exquisite beauty that he became much smitten.

He inquired where she was hurrying to at such early hours, and was surprised to learn the girl was attempting to escape enslavement. She had been sold as a concubine by her greedy parents. The new family was wealthy, but the lady of the household was so jealous of the girl's beauty, that the young thing was often subjected to cruel abuse. After hearing her story, a sympathetic Wang offers refuge.

The girl agrees but made Wang promise to not tell anyone she was hiding out at his library. Wang promised to not divulge her secret, but later told his wife. Fearing that the girl might belong to some influential family, his wife advised him to send her away, to which he would not consent to.

One day while in town, Wang met a Taoist priest who warned him that he had been bewitched by a demon. Startled but bewildered, Wang insisted he had not encountered anything peculiar and decided the priest was probably trying to swindle him. When he returned home, he found the library door tightly shut. Curious, Wang decided to climb over the wall. His little snooping led him to discover a hideous demon that had a green face and jagged teeth.

Spread upon the bed was a human skin which the demon was painting on. Later, it picked up the skin, and placed it over its shoulder, transforming itself into the young beautiful girl.

Terrified, Wang hurried away in search of the priest. The priest gave Wang a brush, and told him to hang it at the door of his bedroom. Wang did as he was told, but the amulet was weak against the formidable demon. Angered, the demon ripped open Wang's chest and tore his heart out.

Later, when he learned of Wang's demise, the priest returned. He struck the demon and chopped off its head, causing the painted human skin to come sliding off its shoulders. Wang's wife pleaded for the priest to save her husband, and was advised to seek help from a mad man that roamed the town streets.

When she did find the town's destitute, she was given a thrashing instead and ridiculed into swallowing a loathsome pill. Overcome with rage and shame, the grieving wife returned home to mourn for Wang. She was setting out to close up the frightful wound on her husband chest, when she felt a rising lump in her throat. The strange glob subsequently got expelled and fell straight into Wang's gaping chest. At closer inspection, the wife realized it was a throbbing human heart and immediately worked on getting the wound stitched up.

By morning, Wang woke and was alive again."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Allegory — A Moonlit Meadow

A Moonlit Meadow
A Moonlit Meadow | Oil on canvas | 40 by 30 inches

"An elixir, a lady on the moon, a jade rabbit, and an archer.

Perhaps not known to many, Chang’E and Houyi were a pair of of lovers who served the Heavens. She was an attendant to the Queen Mother of the West, while he served the Jade Emperor. Because Houyi had aroused the jealousy of the other immortals, they occasionally slandered him before the Jade Emperor. This eventually led to the downfall of the pair who were subsequently exiled and banished to Earth. On Earth, Houyi hunted to survive, and overtime, became a skillful archer.

It was during this time that ten three-legged bird like creatures had gathered and came to circle Earth. Legend has it that they resided in a mulberry tree in the eastern sea, and were actually suns that took the form of the queer creatures. Each day by practice, one of the sun birds would travel around the world on a carriage that was driven by its mother. With this routine altered, the coming together of the ten suns created such intense heat that caused the Earth to burn.

The emperor of China had seek for the reputable archer and commanded Houyi to use his skill to shoot down all but one of the suns. When Houyi successful completed the task, the emperor rewarded him with a pill that granted eternal life. He was advised to prepare himself by praying and fasting for a year before taking it. The archer took the pill home and hid it under a rafter.

During Houyi's absence, his wife noticed a white beam of light beckoning from the rafters and discovered the hidden pill. She swallowed it instantaneously and found herself levitating off the grounds. Houyi returned home and found his wife flying out of the window and up into the sky.

Houyi pursued Chang'E halfway across the heavens but was forced to return to Earth because the winds were too overpowering. Chang'E eventually reached the moon, where she coughed up part of the pill. She pleaded with the jade rabbit that resided on the moon, to make another elixir which could enable her to return to Earth.

It is said that the jade rabbit is still pounding herbs, trying to make the elixir.

The distraught husband later on built himself a palace in the sun, and once every year, on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Houyi visits his wife. This is the reason why the moon is very exceptionally full and beautiful on this night."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Allegory — Daphne's Toys

Daphne's Toys
Daphne's Toys | Oil on canvas | 40 by 30 inches

"The becoming of lust.

Pan Jin Lian was born into a well-to-do family, but was sent to a wealthy landlord to become a housemaid when her family went bankrupt. The landlord coveted Pan's beauty and tried to violate her. When Pan told his wife about his misconduct, the landlord retaliated and gave Pan away to a dwarfish looking man as a punishment for her rejection of his sexual advances. Wu Dalang's luck was Pan's nightmare.

The neighbors would jeer Pan as a flower planted in cow's dung. She was beautiful and young, while her husband was an unsightly dwarf, who made a living by peddling bread. Pan later discovered to her delight that her husband had a younger brother named Wu Song, who was tall and handsome.

Wu Song had returned to the town as a hero for single handedly killing the tiger that had terrorized the country for a long time, and was made lieutenant by the magistrate. Pan who loathed her husband's shortcomings, began to let her flirtation explicitly known to Wu Song in her husband's absence. Her insidious move caught Wu Song by surprise, and made him mad. Not only did he reject her indecent proposal, but gave her a dressing down. When Wu Dalang returned home, and inquired about the tense atmosphere, Pan accused Wu Song of harassing her. Confounded and anguished, Wu Song left without explaining himself.

One day, as Pan was trying to shut the windows on the second floor with the help of a bamboo rod, it accidentally slipped from her hand and fell into the street, hitting a pedestrian on his head. He was the drugstore owner named Ximen Qing. Qing was a man of influence and also of debauchery. Seeing that the culprit was a pretty woman, his anger immediately turned into lust. His dandy gracious pardoning of her imprudence left an indelible impression on Pan.
Losing no time, Qing went into the tea house owned by Old Woman Wang, who lived next door to Pan. Pleased with his bribe, the old woman agreed to arrange a meet up between Qing and Pan. 

Brief and awkward greetings soon gave way to intimacy. But, the adulterous couple was soon caught red handed by Wu Dalang when the neighbors who had discovered the affair, went and told him about it. Qing while trying to escape, hit Wu on his chest, and the nearly fatal injury confined Wu to bed. Instead of taking care of her husband, Pan went to meet Qing, and continued with the affair.

When Wu threatened to disclose their doings to Wu Song, the couple murdered him. Wu Song eventually returned to avenge his brother. He killed Pan and Qing and then later surrendered himself to the authorities. He was pardoned because Pan was deemed a scarlet woman."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Allegory — The Concoction

The Concoction
The Concoction | Oil on canvas | 30 by 24 inches

"The figure that stands below the bridge.

This was a character of rare beauty during the ancient times of China. She was formed from one of the leftover fragments which was used by Nu Wa, the creator of earth when she was repairing the skies. The fragment became a grass stalk that attaches itself and grew under the bridge in hell. It eventually became a spirit that assumed human form.

The beautiful grass spirit later fell deeply in love with and married a young and aspiring scholar who went on to take the imperial exams. She made him promised that he would not be unfaithful during his departure, but afraid that he would fall for another woman, the spirit cast a spell on her husband. Should he break his promise to be faithful, he will lose his life. Unfortunately her worst fears came true. Her husband passed the exams, married a new wife, and never came back. The spell worked, and all breath was taken away from him.

Realizing what she had done, the spirit knelt before the King of Hades, and pleaded for a chance to see her husband once more. Seeing how broken she was, the king allowed her to serve soup to her husband. Not wanting to let her husband remember her evil doings, the spirit pulled a strand of hair from her head and cast a spell into the soup. Upon drinking the soup that tasted sweet, sour, acrid, bitter and salty all at once, her husband soon loses all his memories and passes on to the bridge that led towards reincarnation.
The King of Hades was furious at what she had done, but also realized that it was a good thing for re incarnating souls to forget everything to start anew. As a punishment, the spirit was made to stand under the bridge to serve soup to every soul that will be passing the bridge for reincarnation. 

This Chinese folklore gave rise to the character Meng Po who is also widely known to many as Granny Meng today."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Allegory — Dear Diary

Dear Diary
Dear Diary | Oil on canvas | 40 by 30 inches

"Her deadly secret.

There was once a scholar named Guo who was on his was to Beijing to take an exam. During his travels, he met a lady who sold fans for a living. They fell in love with each other, but fearing hesitation from the lady, the scholar kept the secret of his illness. One night during their heat of passion, the scholar took his last breathe and died.

Terrified of people finding out about their affair, she buried the scholar's body under the bed. To grieve and comfort her lover's soul, she placed fresh flowers, food and wine by the bed. However, to her dismay, she became pregnant and gave birth to a boy. When questioned by the suspicious people in town, she replied that the baby was God sent because of her routine practice of the offerings she laid by her bedside. The people were amazed and those who wanted children began to follow suit.

This belief gradually spread and became the story we know today as the Lady of the Bedchamber or Chuang Mu, the goddess of love and sex. She is a goddess that resides over multiple aspects of what goes on in the bedroom, specifically presiding over sex, sensuality, and lust. She rules all activities of the bedroom, including sleep, dreams, and recovery from illness. Chuang Mu teaches the protocol of true love making, and develops trust between partners. This Goddess is traditionally dressed in red and honored with gifts of rice, tea, and fresh flowers during the annual Lantern Festival in China."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Allegory — Honey Roasted

Honey Roasted
Honey Roasted | Oil on canvas | 30 by 24 inches

"The man with one leg.

There was a man named Zhang Lang, who had married a virtuous woman, but ended up falling in love with a younger woman. When he left his wife to be with his new young lover, the heavens afflicted him with ill-fortune as a punishment for his adulterous act. Zhang became blind, and his young lover soon abandoned him, and left him to resort to begging to support himself.

One day, while begging for alms, he happened across the house of his former wife. Being blind, he did not recognize her. Despite his shoddy treatment of her, she took pity on him, and invited him in. She cooked him a fabulous meal and tended to him lovingly; he then related his story to her. As he shared his story, Zhang became overwhelmed with self-pity, and the pain of his wrongdoings.

Upon hearing him weep and apologize, Zhang's former wife told him to open his eyes, and miraculously, his vision was restored. Recognizing that it was his wife whom he he had abandoned, Zhang felt so much shame that he threw himself into the kitchen hearth, not realizing that it was lit. His wife attempted to save him, but all she managed to salvage was one of his legs. The devoted wife then created a shrine above the fireplace to honor her former husband. The heavens take pity on Zhang's tragic story, and made him the god of the Kitchen. Zhang was later reunited with his wife.

This much celebrated Kitchen God is also known as Zao Jun. His association is with the stoves in Chinese homes. To this day, a fire poker is sometimes referred to as "Zhang Lang's Leg".

It is believed that on the twenty third day of the twelfth lunar month, just before Chinese New Year, Zao Jun returns to Heaven. His duty is to report the activities of every household over the past year to the Jade Emperor, who in return, either rewards or punishes a family based on the report.

On this day, the lips of Zao Jun's paper effigy are often smeared with honey to either sweeten his words to the Jade Emperor, or to keep his lips stuck together."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Allegory — Dance of the magpies

Dance of the magpies
Dance of the magpies | oil on canvas | 30 by 24 inches
New painting I've created that is based on popular Chinese folklore — Niulang & Zhinu (Cowherd & Weaver Girl). Here's the original tale.

"This is a love story between a weaver and a cowherd.

The young cowherd had came across a beautiful weaver girl, who was the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven. The weaver had escaped from the heavens in search of earthly delights and had fallen in love with the cowherd. They later got married and bore two children.

But the Goddess of Heaven upon discovering that her daughter had married a mortal, became furious and ordered for her to return to heaven. The weaver was thus forced to abandon her mortal family and resumed her former duty of weaving colorful clouds in heaven.

Back on earth, the heartbroken cowherd poured his woes to an ox and to his astonishment, the animal replied telling him that its hide has magical powers and could enable the cowherd to go to the Heavens.

The cowherd killed the ox, put on its hide and carried his two beloved children to Heaven in search of his wife. His appearance in the heavens angered the Goddess. Taking out her hairpin, the Goddess scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever. This was later known was the Milky Way between Altair and Vega.
The weaver must sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while her husband watches her from afar while taking care of their two children.

Touched by the couple's love for each other, it was said that the Goddess of Heaven decided to let them unite once on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

It is also during this day that all the magpies in the world would take pity on the couple and fly up into the heavens to form a bridge, so as to enable the lovers to unite. This is the reason why many magpies are seen bald the next day, because the weaver and cowherd walked and stood too long on the heads of their loyal feathered friends. There is another belief that sometime during this night, the two stars Altair and Vega will actually unite on the same side of the Milky Way."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Seaside Bubbles

Seaside Bubbles
Seaside Bubbles
A little work in progress snaps of Seaside Bubbles, an oil painting from last year's exhibition.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Allegory, my first solo in Singapore is upcoming and happening this 6th of November at Galerie Sogan & Art. Here're the details of the show.

Dance of the magpies
Snippet from painting, Dance of the magpies

Allegory — A Solo Exhibition by Jolene Lai.
Featuring new works from up and coming US based Singapore artist.

Reception with the artist: Tuesday, 6th November 7PM

The exhibition, Allegory showcases a series of paintings depicting female characters from various traditional Chinese mythologies and classical literature such as Pu Songling's Liaozhai Zhiyi - The Strange Stories from a Chinese studio.

Inspired by her traditional Asian upbringing, the artist attempts to trace the wealth of traditional Chinese folk stories to understand the characteristics that make Chinese people the way they are today. Aside from the well- known celestial beings such as Guanyin and Zhao Jun (kitchen God), characters such as Pan Jinlian (Jin Pin Mei - The Plum in the Golden Vase), Meng Po and Hua Pi too entertain us with mocking tales of scandalous sexual affairs, romance, justness and humility.

As known in numerous Chinese folklore, these heavenly folks are after all deified humans; thus, they are prone to making mistakes just like we do. Based on their virtues, peppered with lots of subtle humors, Jolene re-tells their stories in contemporary setting, creating familiar everyday scenes, yet, ones that still retain their dreamlike quality.

Take a sneak peek at the work in progress for Allegory

About Galerie Sogan & Art:
Founded in 2010, Galerie Sogan & Art is a Singapore based art gallery specializing in modern & contemporary Asian art. Through research and education, the gallery strives to instill the concept of culture, as well as historical and contemporary issues among artists and art lovers.

Galerie Sogan & Art works with Institute Seni Yogyakarta, National University of Singapore, The National Art Gallery Singapore, Singapore Sculpture Square as well as established and emerging artists in Asia. It will create and run a series of artists’ educational residency programs for young artists. Future exhibitions will feature the works of Davy Linggar, Paul Kadarisman, Sinartus Sosrodjojo, Marsio Juwono, Jolene Lai, Eddi Prabandono and Caroline Rika.

To provide further insight on Asian culture, Galerie Sogan & Art also exhibits vintage and contemporary Indonesian textiles. In promoting fine batik as a textile art form, the gallery works with the Museum Batik Pekalongan, as well as traditional batik art masters and well-established contemporary textile artists. By incorporating traditional methods in addressing contemporary topics, we focus on instilling a sense of identity and historical appreciation in textile collectors.

Allegory is on view from 6th November through 30th November 2012.

Venue: Galerie Sogan & Art | 33B Mosque Street, Singapore 059511
Hours: Mon – Sat: 12PM – 7.00PM | Sun: 2PM – 5PM
Email: |
Contact: (65) 6225 7686 | (65) 8138 0277

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fly away birdie

Strawberry Pie

Friday, woke up excited, motivated and then it trickled into a state of frenzy and confusion. Dropped my brush for the day and decided to take the day off. I ended up baking and put to good use the pie whistle that Dave had bought me few weeks back at Sur la table.

I jammed music in my ears, rolled out dough and chopped up some strawberries. Result? The world is a better place again.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

decomP Magazine September Issue

Hello Fish on decomP

decomP Magazine is featuring a piece of my artwork Hello Fish this month. Many thanks to art editor Jason Behrends for the exposure. In reading some of the poetry and short stories decomP has also published for the month of September, I came across Greg Billingham's poem and felt I had to share it. 

A Sailor Speaks Of Shipwrecks

For what wonders it has drank, the sea shall keep me company.
The rich sea that spares me its charters of sunken ships
and disputed treasures, only to find how it wastes what follows of moonlight
on a stillness that starves drowning sailors.
I've known the widows of saltwater barons, I've seen their jewel-green 
dresses tugged by the jealous fingers of land, 
I've seen the night air leaning on their balconies in prayer. 
For it is the moon that ripens our myths, the tides that make two ships 
of our eyes, and the kelp-wrapped waves that beach them, 
beside shells and broken sails. 
Ah, but who would pay a mind to that maritime language of loss, so blue 
and akin to crumbling, were they not drunk with disaster amid 
the ceaseless moans of those horrible lighthouses, laughing...?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Condor No.12

Condor No. 12 | oil on canvas | 30 by 24 in

The Traveller

I watch the shutters go down and the lights go out
I waited the entire evening for you to show
Simply because you gave me your word

Well, I guess I’m the bigger fool here, 
Falling for empty words and useless promises.
Now its closing time and I have nowhere to go

I’ll tell you a story 
Of how I never did belong 
In a world where truth and values have no place

I came from the sky because I didn't like it there
But now the time has come
And it seems I don’t like it here either

So once again, another journey has ended
So let us kiss and say goodbye
And off to someplace else, I’ll fly.

- Nicolette T. Marshall

Condor No.12 is an artwork that I had created based on the California Condor. Here's the original article I had came across that was written by Jan Hamber, a condor biologist at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and Bronwyn Davey.

AC8 (#12), AC9 (#21) & the Last Days of Wild California Condors

On a spring day in May 1982, in a remote cave atop a cliff in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, southern California, a tiny pink California condor chick pecked its way out of its hard egg shell that had protected it for nearly two months. He was greeted by his mother, a giant black bird, with a mottled orange head and a wing span of over nine feet, who gently stroked him with her powerful beak and nestled him close under her warm body.

This same scene had been repeated for tens of thousands of years. However, this scene was about to end. The mother and chick were part of a species that without drastic measures would cease to exist forever. The California condor population had experienced significant declines for decades and less than 26 California condors remained in the world. Neither the chick nor its mother was aware of how significant this event was for their species or how critical a part each would play in efforts to save their kind from extinction. The chick, later named Xolxol (hoho), became the original member of the captive breeding program. This event marked the beginning of the California Condor Recovery Program. The mother, later known as AC8 (Adult Condor 8), was the last free flying wild-born female California condor captured for the recovery program. Later, she was the first wild-born condor to be released back into the wild – the first time that a wild-born California condor had flown free for almost 13 years. Two years later, AC9, the last wild California condor captured for the recovery program, was released after 15 years in captivity. AC9 was AC8’s last mate in the wild.

This is their story, and that of their peers, the last wild California condors. AC8 (#12), AC9 (#21) & the Last Days of Wild California Condors. After the capture of Xolxol, AC8 continued to nest successfully in the wild, with her unnamed partner (known as #3 by modern researchers). In 1983 and 1984 she laid several eggs, which were removed and now form a significant part of the captive breeding program at San Diego Wild Animal Park and Los Angeles Zoo.

By late 1984 the numbers of wild California condors had dropped by nearly half. AC8, together with her partner, was one of only five actively breeding pairs in a total population of 15 wild birds. Tragically, in November 1984, AC8’s partner disappeared and never returned. Although this was a serious setback for the condor program, biologists were still optimistic that California condors from the captive breeding program could still be released back into the wild where a wild condor population existed. The other wild pairs were breeding successfully and 14 eggs and chicks had already been produced to form the nucleus of the captive breeding population.

Jan Hamber, a condor biologist working on the program at the time, recalls “all we needed was just one more successful breeding season and 1986 would then have been the year that young birds could be released from the captive group and used to augment the wild population.” It appeared that the recovery plan was working and success was just around the corner. But it was not to be. As the biologists fanned out into the nesting areas in late January 1985, reports came filtering back that either one or both members of pairs were missing from the breeding territories.

By April, when the missing mate of a new pair was found dead from lead poisoning on a ranch in the Sierra, it was clear that some disaster had struck. Six condors were missing from the population. Only nine birds survived, and worse yet, only one pair remained to breed: the Santa Barbara pair known as AC2 and AC3. The bottom had dropped out of the Recovery Program’s plans which led to a phase of acrimonious debate as to whether to take all the remaining nine birds into captivity or leave some out to keep the wild population going. The battle raged during the remainder of 1985 and three birds were removed during the summer and fall until only six were left, two females: AC3 and AC8 and the rest males: AC2, AC5, AC6, and IC9 (immature AC9).

Then in mid-December 1985 disaster struck again. It was reported that AC3 was down on Hudson Ranch. It was obvious that she was sick. She was finally captured on January 3, 1986. Despite constant care and treatment at San Diego Zoo, AC3 died January 18, 1986 – another victim of lead poisoning. Now no breeding pairs remained in the wild and only one female, AC8, was left with four males. The remaining adult males, whose partners had also disappeared, desperately tried to court AC8. However, she was uninterested and instead chose AC9, a young male just coming into adulthood.

AC8’s breeding experience over AC9’s was obvious. She accepted his advances and immediately began inspecting various caves for a suitable nest site, with AC9 in pursuit. She eventually found one and together with AC9 produced two eggs. Their first egg was found to be so thin-shelled that it was crushed - a casualty of DDT. The second egg survived and was taken to the San Diego Wild Animal Park to be incubated and hatched.With only five remaining wild birds, only one breeding pair and the ever-present threat of potential death, two more condors were captured. First AC6 on April 20, 1986, and then AC8, on June 5, 1986. Now only AC2, AC5 and AC9, all males, remained.

Eventually the call came to take into captivity all the remaining three condors. AC2 was the first to go on December 13,1986. Condor biologist Jan Hamber watched as AC2 was captured, a male that she had watched, along with his now dead partner AC3, for 11 years at 11 nest sites.

AC5 was next and was caught under a cannon net on February 27, 1987, in the late afternoon. For trapper, Pete Bloom, it was a moment never to be forgotten. As he placed AC5 in the sky kennel for the trip to the zoo, he noticed AC9 watching him. The last wild California condor in the world was perched in a large oak tree above the trap site, his body silhouetted against the setting sun.

And then came the Easter Sunday when AC9 was captured. For the first time in tens of thousands of years there were no California condors soaring in the sunny skies of southern California. All 27 living birds were in captivity. At the time, it seemed that it was the end of the road for the wild population. All those involved in the program felt a pervasive sadness. Would these majestic birds of the sky ever soar again?

After their capture, AC8 and AC9 were separated and partnered with other condors to maximize the genetic diversity within the captive population. Both AC8 (known as #12) and AC9 (known as #21) are parents and grandparents to many of the young condors which have been released into the wild. This article was originally written in 2002 in advance of the re-release of AC9 into the wild. At that time, AC9 was over twenty years old and his genetics were well represented in the captive breeding program. It was hoped that with the release of original wild birds they would act as mentors for the captive-bred, free flying condors and to give them an opportunity to live out the rest of their lives flying free. The interaction of the captive-bred condors with original wild-birds was hoped may provide the young birds with additional skills for survival in the wild.

Three juvenile condors, approximately 12 months old, were also released with AC9. One of these juveniles was from an egg laid in the wild the previous year in the Santa Barbara back country. This chick was raised by AC9 in the Los Angeles Zoo. The juveniles spent several months in a flight pen at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge with AC9 and other adult birds. The young condors were placed into the flight pen with the adult birds in order to gain experience competing for food and to form social bonds prior to release. While in the flight pen, the birds underwent power pole aversion training to help them avoid deadly encounters with power poles once released.

AC9 and the younger birds were transported to a holding facility at the Sespe Condor Sanctuary about a week before the release to give them time to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. On May 1, 2002, AC9 returned to the wild. He returned to his previous territory and has since paired with #192, who had been hatched in the breeding facility at the Los Angeles Zoo in May 1998 and released into the wild in January 1999. They have produced two wild-born chicks who are now flying in the wild. They have an active nest again this year.

AC8 and AC9 are each great-grandparents of Santa Barbara Zoo condor #440. AC8 was one of the oldest condors in the world when she was rereleased into the wild in April 2000. Her exact age was unknown; however, she was at least 26 years of age, but probably much older (ie. over 40). She had not successfully bred in captivity since 1995 and was believed to be past her breeding age.

On February 13, 2003, while sitting on a tree on Tejon Ranch, AC8 was killed by gunshot. Her remains are on display at the Tribal Council Hall of the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indians. She is remembered as a genetic “founder bird,” having produced 16 offspring and is a great-grandparent of all four Santa Barbara Zoo condors: three with #3 (her first wild mate), and one (#440) with AC9 (#21).

Article link

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wild At Heart: Keep Wildlife In The Wild

Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild is an upcoming art exhibition that will be held at Thinkspace Art Gallery. Curated by Andrew Hosner and Amanda Erlanson, this art show will open on 26th of May 2012 and held through 9th of June 2012. In addition, 20% of all sales will go to benefit Born Free USA and the world's endangered species.

Here's a look at what I will be creating for this upcoming show.

Condor #12 | Concept sketch

Condor #12 | Work in progress | 30 by 24 in

Wild At Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild is on view from May 26th through June 9th, 2012
Reception with the artists: Sat, May 26th 5-9 PM

Thinkspace is proud to present Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild, an exhibition to raise awareness about the precarious predicament of wild creatures around the world, and to benefit efforts to protect them in their natural habitat. Featuring a stellar cast of more than 100 artists from all corners of the art world, this exhibition brings together some of the most profound and innovative voices making art today. In recognition of the imperiled state of much of the world's wildlife, each artist will apply their own unique perspective to our relationship with the fascinating creatures with whom we share our planet.

As the natural world becomes increasingly impacted by shifting climate, human greed and diminishing resources, protecting those creatures that still roam free becomes ever more vital to the soul of humanity. For even if we could continue to exist without wildlife, the spirit-crushing sadness that our species would take upon itself would surely rob all joy from life. Those majestic, miraculous, elemental beings which we admire from afar are at the root of who we are as people — from the woodland protagonists of our childhood storybooks, to the metaphors we use to describe ourselves as adults, to the animal spirits that visit us in our dreams. As we take steps to protect them from those who would rob them of their freedom, we also improve our own species' chances to persist far into the future, both by preserving the natural world we all share, and by cherishing the sacred genesis of our imagination and symbology. 

In appreciation of the magnificent creatures with whom we share the planet, Thinkspace will donate 20% of the sale price of each piece of art to Born Free USA and the Animal Protection Institute, which operate jointly as a non-profit organization that advocates worldwide for the ethical treatment and protection of wild animals, and also maintains a large sanctuary for rescued primates. To honor the animals closest to our hearts, the gallery will be accepting donations of old blankets to donate to area shelters so dogs don't have to sleep on cold hard concrete, as well as other used and new pet supplies. The opening will feature the release of a gorgeous limited edition screen printed poster especially created for the exhibition by the incomparable Aaron Horkey. We hope you will join us on May 26th to celebrate and defend the wild things that fill our lives with wonder and mystery.

Featuring new works from:
Aaron Horkey | Adam Caldwell | Ako Castuera | Allison Sommers | Amy Dover | Amy Sol | Ana Bagayan | Andrea Offermann | Andrew Hem | Anthony Clarkson | Aron Wiesenfeld | ARYZ | Asylm | Ben Strawn | Benjamin A. Vierling | Brad Woodfin | Brooke Grucella | Bumblebee | Caitlin Hackett | Chet Zar | Catherine Brooks | Christina Mrozik | Craig "Skibs" Barker | DABS MYLA | DAL | Dan Lydersen | Dan-ah Kim | Darla Jackson | David Jien | David MacDowell | Derek Gores | Douglas Miller | Drew Young | Edwin Ushiro | Ekundayo | Esao Andrews | Frank Gonzales | Fuco Ueda | Fumi Nakamura | GAIA | Ghostpatrol | Guy McKinley | Henrik A. Uldalen | Jacub Gagnon | Jason Limon | Jason Thielke | Jasper Wong | Jennifer Davis | Jeff Ramirez | Jeremy Hush | Jessamyn Patterson | Jesse Hotchkiss | Jessica Joslin | Jillian Ludwig | Joao Ruas | John Brosio | John Malloy | Jolene Lai | Jonathan Wayshak | Josie Morway | Julie West | Katherine Brannock | Kelly Allen | Kelly Vivanco | Kikyz 1313 | Know Hope | Laura Bifano | Leontine Greenberg | Lindsey Carr | Linnea Strid | Liqen | Lucrezia Bieler | Luke Chueh | Martin Wittfooth | Mary Iverson | Matt Doust | Matthew Grabelsky | Megan Wolfe | Meggs | Mia Brownell | Michael Ramstead | Mike Alvarez | Mike Brown | Mari Inukai | Naoto Hattori | Nathan DeYoung | Nimit Malavia | Pakayla Biehn | Paul Barnes | Pedro Matos | Phil Hale | Philippe Baudelocque | Rebekah Bogard | Regan Rosburg | Reinier Gamboa | Rob Sato | Robert Proch | Rodrigo Cifuentes | Rodrigo Luff | Rose Sanderson | Sarah Muirhead | Scott Belcastro | Seamus Conley | Sean Chao | Sean Mahan | Seth Armstrong | Shark Toof | Simon Prades | Souther Salazar | Stella Im Hultberg | Stephanie Buer | Tasha Kusama | Tessar Lo | The Yok | Timothy Karpinski | Tom Haubrick | Wayne White | White Cocoa | Yosuke Ueno

PLUS a silent auction of donated rare prints from Mark Ryden, Marion Peck and Audrey Kawasaki with all proceeds going to support Born Free USA

Born Free USA is a national animal advocacy nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, contributions to which are tax-deductible. Our mission is to end the suffering of wild animals in captivity, rescue individual animals in need, protect wildlife — including highly endangered species — in their natural habitats, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. Every year, millions of animals suffer in fur farms and circus cages. In our campaigns against such cruelties, we use powerful tools including legislation, public education, litigation, and grassroots networking. We also work actively with media to spread the word about challenges facing animals. 

Our primary campaign areas currently include animals used in entertainment, captive exotic animals, trapping & fur, and the international wildlife trade. 

Venue: Thinkspace Art Gallery | 6009 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232 | Contact: (310) 558-3375
Hours: Wednesday to Friday: 1pm - 6pm | Saturday: 1pm - 8pm
Gallery Website:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Picks of the Harvest 2012

Invite frontInvite back

Beginning of 2012 saw me preparing for my first ever show with Thinkspace Gallery, Los Angeles. The exhibition, titled Picks of the Harvest 2012 is showcasing over 60 talented young contemporary worldwide artists from all walks of life. 

Waiting for Walter is an oil on canvas piece that I've created for the show. I often go around hunting for interesting urban spaces to feature. This particular background was snapped while I was wandering around Melrose, Los Angeles. At times it tickles my fancy to ponder about the reactions of the residents upon discovering that their familiar spots has been featured on my canvas. Sometimes I think about dropping small printouts of the space relating paintings into their mailboxes. Then shyness gets the better of me and I retreat back into the comforts of my studio space.

Waiting for Walter | Oil on canvas | 30 by 24 in
Waiting for Walter | Detail

Picks of the Harvest 2012 is on view from March 3rd through March 24th 2012.

Venue: Thinkspace Art Gallery | 6009 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232 | Contact: (310) 558-3375
Hours: Wednesday to Friday: 1pm - 6pm | Saturday: 1pm - 8pm

Interview with Japan Cinema

Check out my latest interview held with Japan Cinema's Marcello. Thanks JC for featuring me as one of your creative spotlights.