March 2007

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i’ve been keeping a secret for the last little while. i’m pregnant! no wait, i told that news already. something else…

i’m doing a show at the mendel art gallery! this is really exciting for me — i’ve never had a show in such a serious gallery before. the mendel gallery is famous in saskatoon and known across the country, so i didn’t want to write about it here until everything was in place.

the show is part of a program called “artists by artists”. it matches an established artist, david geary, with me, an emerging artist. it’s funny, because last month i was happy to find out that the women’s art festival didn’t think i was “emerging” anymore, since i got accepted as an established artist there. so i emerged already, but now i’m “emerging” again. maybe i’m really a “floating artist” in the art world.

i met alexandra badzak, who coordinates the artists by artists program, at the opening of my first drawing show in saskatoon, last february. at that time, i didn’t know many people in saskatoon, so i made a bunch of postcards and posters and gave them to people who might be interested in coming to my opening. i went to shops along broadway and downtown to drop off postcards and invite people in person.

it was -20 that day, and i felt cold and miserable walking around with my bag full of postcards. i thought, “since i’m working this hard and feeling this miserable, i might as well go to the mendel art gallery to invite the staff.” so i went, even though i didn’t really expect anyone from the famous art gallery would come to my little show. i walked into the gallery and went to the back and up a staircase because i thought the offices would be upstairs. there was someone sitting at a desk looking suspiciously at me when i walked in (the door was open). i gave her my postcards and a poster. when she saw them, she got enthusiastic and said she’d definitely give them to the staff.

i still didn’t think anyone would show up. but when my opening started (i was still setting up the food i made), alex was there and she came up to me and gave me her card. i just couldn’t believe she was one of the curators at the mendel. i was touched.

the show title is “personal :: political”. my part of the show is “personal”, and david geary’s part is “political”. dave and i met in the summer of 2005, just after i moved to saskatoon. i was selling my drawings on the street at the fringe festival. he stopped by my section and we chatted for awhile. he told me that he was doing a show at the mendel that summer, so i went to check it out.

dave makes propaganda posters for modern life and politics in saskatchewan, based on actual soviet propaganda posters. he imitates the colors and figures and text layout, but the message is about saskatchewan. i love the propaganda motif. he does a drawing and then makes a poster from it. he uses his images to make greeting cards and t-shirts and he also shows his work at street festivals.

so dave and i have a lot in common in the way we like to work, even though our styles are quite different. he invited me to do this show with him, and he’s been a great mentor to me. he’s very relaxed about the idea of art, so he helped me keep my confidence and have fun getting ready for our show.

my part of the show includes many of my favorite drawings (17 of them). i’m also showing some of my useless toys, including the decapitated version of the maximum team power duck. i’ve shown most of it online here already, but one of the toys is new. i’ll be making a mendel show collection of images and putting it in my online gallery.

it was so exciting to see everything on display today. the drawings are all framed and the toys are in clear plastic cases. for my previous shows, i put up drawings with thumbtacks, so i’m not used to seeing them this way. the layout and the hanging were all done according to my plan by professionals (not just paul and me), and i’m really happy with how it looks.

the show is up now and will be available for viewing at the mendel art gallery, saskatoon, until june 3rd. the opening will be friday april 13th, starting at 8pm. please come if you can, even though it’s friday the 13th. i’d be very happy to meet some of the people who are reading my blog!

david geary and i will also be doing an open studio for “something on sundays” this weekend: sunday april 1st, from 2 – 4pm. please come if you can, even though it’s april fool’s day (i won’t play a trick on you). at the same time, the “children’s art adventures” will have a workshop on how to make pala-pala flipbooks. maybe the most amazing thing for me about this show is seeing the word “pala-pala” on a art gallery website in canada.

the mendel has also invited me to have some of my prints and postcards available for sale in the gallery shop. i’m still arranging this, but i’ll give an update with what i have available there.
anyway, that’s my latest secret. i hope many of you can come and enjoy our show.

show details

personal :: political
david geary
yuka yamaguchi
march 30th to june 3rd

something on sundays (open studio)
sunday april 1st, 2-4pm

opening reception
friday april 13th, 8pm

the mendel art gallery
950 spadina crescent east
saskatoon
open daily 9am – 9pm

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apology440.jpg

this is my attempt to draw a newspaper-style comic. the caption says:

“anything you want to say?”

“…………………….. no.”

as a japanese, i know many different ways to apologize. humbly apologizing is a japanese tradition. somehow i think people in western countries might not have as many techniques for giving an apology. here’s an instructional video prepared by social scientists at the japan culture lab, designed to help everyone appreciate the japanese art of apologizing, and learn how to use these techniques for themselves.

also posted on videosift.

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brilliant synchronized dance by two guys wearing brown jumpsuits and nintendo power gloves. the song is from 1999.

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i don’t usually like the word “perfect”.  but when it comes to my pregnancy, i’ve never been happier to hear it.

i just started my 28th week and i had my monthly visit with my obstetrician. she always assures me that i’m doing great. my weight gain is ideal and the baby’s growth is on schedule. i tell her my concerns, which are usually nothing to worry about. she always says, “don’t worry. you’re doing great! perfect!” without problematizing my tiny worries. i walk out the door encouraged. i think i’m doing the best i can, but i can’t really see what’s happening in my womb, so i need some reassurance from a professional. when she says “perfect”, i really believe her.

after my visit with the obstetrician, i had a public nurse over to my apartment. she asked about my personal and medical history and about my pregnant life. she was trying to find out what needs i have, so she could connect me with community services applicable to my needs. but i didn’t have anything i needed support with, so we had a nice chat for an hour and a half or so. the best moment was when she asked me if i was happy when i found out about my pregnancy. i guess i expressed maximum happiness with my words and my face. she wrote “extremely happy” on her chart. she said that the criteria of “happy” was not enough to describe how happy i was, so she exceptionally noted it.

the 24th to 27th weeks were a dramatic ride for me. around my 24th week, my belly started to get really big really fast. i could see it getting bigger every day. i felt a little bit overwhelmed. as i looked at my belly, it became obvious there is a life growing inside. it sounds like an absurd realization, but it felt so real. there was no doubt about how happy i was that poko-chan was growing, but it felt like my baby was going forward and my mind was making a late start. i really hoped that i was doing good for this new life. when i got too serious about it, poko-chan rolled around. it felt so ticklish that it made me laugh.

luckily the overwhelmed feeling lasted only a couple days at the beginning of my 24th week. after that, i just stopped worrying about it. i just have to do the best i can.

poko-chan is doing awesome. it’s getting bigger and it’s incredibly active. it not only kicks hard, it vibrates. i’m guessing it’s hiccuping — it’s definitely different from kicking. these days, i can clearly see a bulge whenever poko-chan kicks my belly. if i’m reading a book or holding the newspaper against my belly, it knocks it off by kicking. poko-chan especially likes to start kicking when i’m listening to music or eating. i think that means it’s happy.

so far the rule is, if i like it and poko-chan kicks, then poko-chan likes it. if i don’t like it, and poko-chan kicks, then poko-chan doesn’t like it either. this works really well, because we’re always agreeing with each other. :)

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their name means “sex for fun”. the song is from the album citrus (2006).

hazy & gorgeous…

it was cold yesterday for the first day of spring. it looks like it’s going to get warmer today (high of plus 4). so let’s start all over again, shall we?

i hope you all have a happy second day of spring!

asobi seksu

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millefeuille440.jpg

in japan, women give chocolate to men on valentine’s day. and men return gifts a month later on white day (march 14th). on white day, men can give anything in white: underwear, handkerchiefs, jewelry, etc.

in canada, men give roses to women on valentine’s day. i have the luxury of receiving a gift, but there is no official day to return the favor. so i decided to return the tradition and give something white on white day. last year, i made white mochi filled with raspberries and white chocolate. this year, i made mille-feuille.

for valentine’s, paul and i went to moose jaw, about two hours drive south from saskatoon. moose jaw has a spa with a natural hot spring outdoor bath. i didn’t realize there was a hot spring in saskatchewan — i thought they were only in british columbia and alberta. so it was a nice surprise when paul found out about the spa in moose jaw.

the room we stayed in had a jet bath right next to the bed — no door involved. it reminded me of love hotels in japan, but it was surprisingly less tacky. maybe because there was no neon, or mirrors over the bed.

there’s an indoor pool on the top floor of the hotel that extends outside, where there’s a balcony surrounding the hot pool with the open sky above. in japan, this kind of thing is called “rotenburo” (literally, “bath under the skies”). people like to go to rotenburo especially in winter, when you can take a bath surrounded by snow.

this is canada, so the “rotenburo” was a pool, not a bath. everyone wears swimsuits, unlike in japan.

after dinner, we went to the outdoor pool. it was nearly midnight – around closing time, so there was only one other couple there. they were making out in the middle of the indoor pool, so we headed outside. the bath was surrounded by thousands of tiny christmas lights wrapped around the winter trees and we could see stars overhead. clouds of steam softened the effect. it was very beautiful. when the steam wrapped around the bare trees and fell down to us, it was as if we had thousands of leaves wrapped around us.

here’s the recipe i used for mille-feuille, from the joy of cooking. i cheated and bought frozen puff pastry, instead of making my own.

recipe

you need puff pastry. i bought it, cut it with a cookie cutter, and baked it according to the instructions. you can make your original pastry, if you know how. good luck…

the trick with the pastry is to press it down while baking so it doesn’t rise too much. i didn’t have anything to press it down with, so my mille-feuille is way too puffy.

pastry cream

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolk

beat in a medium bowl on high speed until thick and pale yellow (about two minutes).

meanwhile, in a medium saucepan:

  • 1 1/3 cups milk

bring to a simmer.

gradually pour about one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking to combine. scrape the egg mixture back into the pan and cook over low to medium heat, whisking constantly and scraping the bottom and corners of the pan to prevent scorching, until the custard is thickened and beginning to bubble. then continue to cook, whisking, for 45 to 60 seconds. using a clean spatula, scrape the custard into a clean bowl.

stir in:

  • 3/4 tsp vanilla

cover the surface of the custard with a piece of wax or parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming. let cool, then refrigerate before using. this keeps, refrigerated, for up to two days.

raspberry sauce

combine and bring to a boil over low heat:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

add:

  • 1 cup fresh or unthawed frozen raspberries

stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

add:

  • 1/2 tsp grated orange zest, vanilla

blend it with a hand blender and strain and discard seeds and pulp. pour the sauce back into a saucepan and reduce sauce by half.

layer the puff pastry circles with custard and raspberry sauce. serve with a glass of milk and a kiss.

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amazing work.

you can watch it full-size and high-quality here.

music: trentemoller

also posted on videosift.

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50% off!

50off440.jpg

the kanji says “hangaku”, meaning half price.

i went to earls restaurant in saskatoon on st. patrick’s day. the restaurant has several ostrich heads mounted on the wall. there must be at least 15 of them. i was wondering what happened to the rest of their bodies…?

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i don’t know what you call these toys for babies in english. they’re called “nigi nigi” in japanese (“nigiru” means “squeeze”). these are toys for babies to squeeze. i found a japanese website that shows how to make handmade toys for babies and children. of course, i couldn’t follow the exact instructions, so their eyes are different and their holes should be smaller. but they turned out pretty good, i think.

as a child, my parents and grandparents bought me many toys. but the toys i remember most are the things my family created. my favorite was a car my brother made out of a cardboard box. we would both get in the car and pretend to drive around inside the house… my brother also made some kind of transformer costumes and we fought in them. he made many things and it was really amusing to watch him destroy things like an alarm clock to examine how it’s made. when he was 12, he actually built a house out of wood. it was a two-story house, with a meeting room, a manga reading room and a kitchen (or just a place to eat snacks). unfortunately he and his friends built the house on someone else’s property, so the house had to be torn down. too bad — it was impressive. i don’t think we have any photos of it either.

my mom and grandma made things for me as well. they made me some cloths for my rika-chan doll (my rika chan was second generation). my friends and i would get together with our own rika-chan dolls and do fashion shows in a portable rika-chan house.

anyway, i hope poko-chan likes these handmade toys too and has fun playing with them. or eating them, at least.

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part 1

part 2

This is so brilliant and weird. Award-winning 2006 Russian cartoon version of a Sherlock Holmes story. Talking corpses, finger licking, a surprising baby and a steak that may or may not be tasty…

also posted on videosift: part 1/ part 2

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