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Archive for August, 2009

Bayu Utomo's portraits convey a complex narrative of identity.

Bayu Utomo's portraits convey a complex narrative of identity.

As Malaysia’s Independence Day draws near on August 31, a group of Malaysian artists can reflect that this year, they reached a new milestone in their artistic journeys.

For the first time, the Matahati group of artists exhibited their works in the United States. The exhibition “Matahati ke Matadunia: Malaysian Contemporary Art to the World” was held in May through June in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles California. A forum and several workshops with American artists were also part of the whole event.

The event also marked a milestone for Fausin MdIsa, a Malaysian designer, artist and entrepreneur, based in California. His vision is to bring Malaysian contemporary art to the United States, and it took him two years of organization to finally put it all together.

Shukri's art reflects his concerns about the environment.

Shukri's art reflects his concerns about the environment.

The Matahati group is known in Malaysia and in the region as an influential group of artists whose technically accomplished works feature personal narratives, commentary on social issues, history and identity, often daring and thought-provoking. The artists who brought their works to the United States are Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Ahmad Fuad, Ahmad Shukri, Hamir Soib and Masnor Ramli Mahmod. Each has his own unique style.

Fausin considers the exhibition a success on several levels. “The art enthusiasts in California were pleasantly surprised to see not only the mastery of techniques by the artists, but also the themes and the global issues that they express in their paintings,” he adds.

At the opening, many of the guests were intrigued by Fuad’s “To Whom It May Concern”. In this painting, a crowd holds pictures of Obama facing a backdrop of historical figures, both inspiring and notorious, such as Ghandi, Churchill and Stalin. Fuad explained that people all over the world, not just in America, were excited at Obama’s election. At the same time, the backdrop of faces symbolizes the question which path of leadership will Obama take. History meets uncharted waters, and the world watches with hope or cynicism.

The guests were impressed by the depth’s of Fuad’s questioning and the historical sweep of the image.

Bayu’s portraits evoked this reaction from an art enthusiast: “As an artist who works with charcoal, I find his manner of using this medium to be very creative. There is a palpable sense of passion and an inward quest in his portraits.”

“At the same time, exposure works two way,” says Fausin. “Just by being in a different environment and getting feedback on your work contributes to the growth of an artist.”

The exhibition will be going to another American city next year, and onwards to other destinations. After all, Fausin and Matahati believes that art is a universal language, with the power to unite us globally.

Fuad's painting on Obama generated a great deal of interest.

Fuad's painting on Obama generated a great deal of interest.

Fausin (with microphone), gallerist Delia Cabral introduced the artists: from left, Fuad, Masnoor, Hamir and Bayu.

Fausin (with microphone), gallerist Delia Cabral introduced the artists: from left, Fuad, Masnoor, Hamir and Bayu.

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The baby that brings hope and change. (Pic from The Disney Blog)

The baby that brings hope and change. (Pic from The Disney Blog)

Everybody will love this baby Obama.

The first baby rhinoceros born in Uganda in almost 30 years has been named Obama, because his father is from Kenya and his mother was born in the US, The Telegraph reported recently. Obama’s mother was donated by Disney Animal Kingdom in Florida.

Researchers at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, north of the capital Kampala, said that the calf was actually born at the end of June. But they have only recently been able to approach him as the mother was too aggressively protective earlier on. “He’s a real little scamp, running all over the place like crazy, his mum can barely keep up with him,” said Angie Genade, director of the sanctuary in The Telegraph report.

This special arrival delivers hope that the white rhino will thrive again in Uganda.

Some rhino facts:

  • The rhinos’ eyesight is poor but their senses of hearing and smell are extremely acute.
  • The calf does not live on its own until it is about three years old. After two to three years, the mother rhino drives her calf away to live life on its own.
  • The rhino’s horns are made out of keratin which is the same material found in our fingernails.
  • The rhino can sleep both standing as well as lying down.

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The county fair is a rite of summer that I have grown to love. You always have a great time bearsthere.

The Orange County Fair was created in 1890, and the first few fairs were mainly livestock exhibitions and horse races. Till today, the livestock and plant exhibitions have remained perennial favorites. It’s great to be so near to nature, and it’s a nice change from the strip malls that dot Orange County today, a far cry from its early Californian agricultural landscape.

Which goes to show there is always a place for one’s root and history.

And so, every year people come back for the joy and the comforting familiarity of the exhibitions, the atmosphere, the carnival and the food. Funnel cake, cotton candy, and just about any and everything that can be deep fried. Fried vegetables, fried burgers, fried Twinkies. Just leave your cholesterol count at the entrance.

In addition, I learned something new this year. I never knew that brussels sprouts actually grow on the main stem of the plant. How fascinating!

I never knew brussels sprouts grow on the stem.

I never knew brussels sprouts grow on the stem.

Colorful stalls beckon folks to stop and eat.

Colorful stalls beckon folks to stop and eat.

It's non-stop action at the carnival.

It's non-stop action at the carnival.

I'm bored with all those people gawking at me.

I'm bored with all those people gawking at me.

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Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff seems to have made a wise decision.

Katherine to raise the children.

Katherine will raise the children.

On August 3rd, he appointed Katherine Jackson as the permanent guardian of her grandchildren Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11 and Prince Michael II, 7. Debbie Rowe was given visitation rights with her children, Prince Michael and Paris.

Katherine will be a stable, loving pillar in their lives. However, there is some debate whether it would be good or detrimental to the children to get to know their mother and adjust to the presence of Rowe in their lives, especially in the light that she has never shown any interest in them. And there is also the perception that she used them as a pawn to get money from Michael Jackson.

I believe, on balance, her participation in their lives would be better for the children. I say this because I have known situations, where after a bad divorce, one of the parents disappears from the child’s life or is prevented from seeing the child. When the child becomes a teenager, he or she would use the Internet to locate the parent.

Rowe gets visitation rights.

Rowe gets visitation rights.

It must be quite painful and sad to grow up wondering who your father or mother is, and why the person is not around in your life. And when the child finds the missing parent, there is the work of starting a new relationship with so much emotional baggage in the background.

That brings us to the youngest child, whose nickname is Blanket. The identity of his birth mother is unknown. Oh, there will be women coming out to claim to be his mother. But let’s hope Michael Jackson had kept some information about Blanket’s mother somewhere under lock and key.

When Blanket is older and is curious to know more about his mother, then he would be able to search for her, and complete this puzzle of his roots.

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