Category Archives: photos

It is what It is.

I once worked for a man whose mantra was “It is what It is”. It was his way of dealing with anything out of his control when he and his team had done all they could, but things still worked out other than the way he was hoping for. This is also a good mantra for China where “letting it flow” is a necessary survival tactic.

Last night I had dinner with some friends. We hoped to catch up on the last month-and-a-half; to share stories of travel and experience. After talking for quite some time – one of my friends leaned in and said “so, I can’t get a read on this – What did you think? Did you like Beijing?” I had to be honest. She was reading me correctly, and I had to admit that I wasn’t sure how I felt about my visit to the “Wild Wild East”.

Beijing, itself, being so different than any city I had visited; and the AIR residency being such a different situation that I had ever found myself in, as well… I think I still need more time to process.

As it turns out (not to be too dramatic) I find myself in some kind of confucian rabbit hole – hurling into a socio-philosophical conundrum where I can’t seem to reconcile what I learned and saw with the reality of my life. I seem to have no current choice other than to divorce myself from the pursuit of understanding culture and comparing values at all, and keep returning to extreme base principals of human to human  interaction as the only thing tangible and true. Even so, my instinct is to share with friends and family the stories that both affirm cultural assumptions and satiate the mind just about as much as  Travel+Leisure columns. It is easier.

But I feel like you, my readers, can handle this challange, so here are just a few of the contradictions and juxtapositions that are fighting over space in my mind: (more to follow, some images borrowed from co-residents via facebook.)


One of many 798 "white box" style galleries; Girl from adjacent Village whose play ground is the dirty street which leads collectors and tourists to similar art spaces


2 Chinese paintings derivative of European art history
local Cao Chang Di chaotic construction practices; and Ai Weiwei's clean architectural design


Polluted skyline; crisp national gallery presentation of history re-telling rather than arti-fact

Did you miss it? Let’s try again sometime!

Before I left for Beijing this Summer I co-hosted a last-minute event that turned out AMAZINGLY well. I would love to have you come next time if you missed it. Here are a few photos (thanks to crow) of the talented women who performed.

Presenting Emily
Emily Frembgen

Presenting Elizabeth Dishman's Choreography
Elizabeth and fellow dancer
Lea Fulton - interactive performance
Presenting Sarah Painter
Sarah's monologue
Sarah originally planted the seed in my head for the evening - so great to see it happen!

Presenting Natty Green and Pony of Good Tidings
Pony of Good Tidings
Co-Host Matt enjoys the success of the evening


a poem.

When it is raining in August
It’s like a great storm at sea
I can feel my building move like the mast of a ship
And I am at the helm
Small as I am, I am at the helm.
I steer the island toward the breaking sunshine
and sigh
as I take her safely back into her harbor
When it is raining in August
It’s really an adventure brewing.



Temple O’ Heaven; Hot as Hell

It was a scorcher the day we ventured to see this temple, but it was, none the less of an experience. We found that being American is like being moving-target tourist-traps; some girls asked to individually take photos with us – they didn’t even want the building in the back ground.

This was also the day we discovered the phenomena of public dance/work-out groups. The best entertainment I have found yet!

dancing at the temple

Following the temple scene, we headed to the Pearl market for some deals on “Beats” (knock-offs) and (Tiffany quality) Pearls. All-in-all; pretty indicative of our extra curricular days here.

Coming up on the last week in Beijing

The end of this journey is sneaking up fast, and I will have lots of follow up research to post after my return to New York. Pieces of information we learned in the first few days are fitting together with things we are experiencing up-to-the-moment. And this sponge is ready to be squeezed!

But for now, here are a few mundane shots I wanted to share, in order to give a glimpse into the more normalizing factors of my day-to-day over the last several weeks…

continuing with the Sacred…

I left off a little short last Sunday due to a lack of battery power. Here is the continuation of THIS post – with images from a lunch out, the Lamma Temple, and Houton exploration (including a project space where you wouldn’t expect it) …

(photos taken on Alli’s camera – at least one taken by Alli)