MY DREAM, FEBRUARY 12, 2005
This dream occurred probably at 3 a.m. as I awoke to remember some of it at 4:15am. I lied awake attempting to recall parts of it until 5:15 a.m. Then I reawakened at 6 a.m. I had falling back to sleep and in the dream recalled the lst scene by redreaming it. Cool!
1st scene - I am the only member of this group displaying in our interior space of sorts. I have at least 3 6'x4' works on the high walls. Over my main one another unidentified painting overlaps it on the bottom 4th of my wider painting. It depicts a side view reclined female figure. The work is bedecked with jewelry and other ornamental decoration. The work is somewhat Asian - Buddhist and there are little symbols in the background. Later a written review of sorts is circulated and I am very disappointed not a single word is mentioned about my works. There is lavish praise of the quality of the decorative piece. I complain. The director of the place tells me, well, "Your work is abstract, not understandable, that is why people's attention is not attracted to it. The one that is written up has so much detail, symbolic meaning to people not expert in art. But I reply, "It looks so cliché'."
2nd scene - I am with another volunteer and we are painting walls with new white paint. The paints are cheap stuff, as part of it is like lard and we are mixing some sort of ginger-like substance to get the right consistency. The last batch, mixing the two ingredients has the detrimental effect of making the paint evaporate. So instead of creating more paint that flowed, the mixture made the last quantity of paint disappear. So I left with another to go buy more paint. I enter a store and ask the attendant for paint. He, disinterested, said, "Go in that room and help yourself. Just stick in coins and the paint will come out." I enter this small barren room. It's all wooden wall like cabinets with spouts near the floor; almost like entering a locker room. I locate "White - Shiny" at "$3/gallon." Nah, not what I want for a museum wall. That's it - "White - Dull" and at $2/gallon. I remember thinking I thought it would be around $15 a gallon.... boy this place is a deal. I take an empty recycled paint can, dried colored paint residue still inside, remembering next time to bring my own 5 gallon drum, and open the spout to let the "dull white" pour into it like vanilla ice cream. I was getting paint to remodel my own display space for my own art.
3rd scene - I am in some small confined room where packages are picked up. I'm with 2 women strangers, one in the early 20s, the other around 40. I in a show off mood, ask if they would like to see some of my new paintings just arrived. They are excited to see new images in their eyes. I open the package, each image is individually wrapped. The light is not very good on the wall on where I am situated. I hand a painting to be unwrapped to the younger woman and say "Here, the light is better on wall next to you, why don't you open it?" Of course she is excited as it feels to her she has been handed a gift to unwrap.
It's a well rendered around 24"x30" oil on canvas of an environment with photo-realistic little dinosaurs! We all marvel at the exquisite detail of shading in oil of these little depicted creatures standing on their hind limbs. The oil paint sheen with subtle shading creates realistic creatures, the canvas texture under the paint providing a believable skin texture. I take this to be my painting.
Then 2 or so more canvases were unwrapped but I forget what they look like, only remembering they are not colorful and not as exciting as my current digital work. Then in this series I believe, a magnificent head and shoulder close up portrait of two African women, with turbans. The whole painting is kept on the dark side, dark skin, dark clothing, all focus on the white of the eyeballs of these two benevolent women with pride, looking out to the viewer. I like the close up composition, filling the whole canvas with just heads and shoulders, hardly any decipherable background. Such a dignified portrait and it was my work. The piece after that one revealed a painted by hand email starting with "Dear Jeff," with small thumbnails (2 or 3) on the left border of the text, images of some African place with what appears to be a white man traveler or researcher of the Bush. It was my letter. I thought how stupid for the painters, my "human printers," to get confused and paint the actual writing besides the disappointing small pictures, now miniature paintings of not much use. (When I awake later I think this is a cool Webist conceptual idea for a piece : send a fragment of email with an image attachment to be rendered in oil, then framed! Wow - hot new contemporary conceptual art from the dream state!)
Then something colorful. As I unraveled it I realize the brilliant colors and detailed lines on this 30x40" silky canvas was a parakeet! Even with its head left out in the compositional crop, its full body with the neck position at the top level, provided a brilliant tropical image of powder blue feathers with white areas graced with fine black lines; complemented by the bird perched in thin blade young bamboo leaves of "apple green" color. The women were taken back by the wonderful colors and patterns. I said, "Now can you see this fabric (think it was painted on something like silk) used to make an Aloha Shirt? They approved of the idea, nodding their heads and smiling with consent. Hmmm, a bird of Africa or South America, in an Asian tree, but the location is Hawaii.
There are two other wrapped packages within this one container. I open the first and find a work folded in 4, around 8x10" folded. I unfold and behold a Chinese painting. It appears to be oil but follows the watercolor tradition, with oval blotches (2 or 3) simulating the bleeding into paper at the edges. The major oval forms are light gray, but with detail around them that is limb like and darker gray, with accents of gold and white. I think to myself, "nice composition, but a bit cliché, good according to expected culturally dictated rules of good design." I peek into the next open wrapping and see a folded large mostly white carp like those that fly during "Boys Day" in Japan and China. I'm disinterested to take it out and review it in toto. After reviewing these last two I realize "Hey, these are not my works, it's somebody else's order!"
At that point, maybe coming back to the present, I visualize one of the 12 oils that I just had delivered from the painters. In fact it is the one that my giclee printer in Oregon most wants to print once the oils were available. She had seen the photo of the completed work online but the painters had not yet made delivery to me. (To dream such is an indication that this particular piece of the dozen new oils must be rendered into the maximum 40x50" giclee canvas print and IT WILL BE A STUNNING SMASH IN PUBLIC.)
I awake and wonder what this dream means. Could it be that I was a painter of dinosaurs in that prehistoric time? Was I an artist in Africa? Was I black in a previous life? Interestingly, when I was the "Disco Doc" in the early 80s I sported an Afro hairstyle and went cruising a lot to Waikiki dance clubs with my Black friends, being accepted as a "brother." Was I a Chinese painter before I became an artist living in Hawaii? Why was I disinterested in further unwrapping of the Asian package? Why was it this type of work that made me realize, even as I am ethnic Chinese, that this was NOT MY WORK? These women opening and marveling at the new imagery - does this display my need for an audience and the desire to share and have my work with and in the public? Why was one of my latest digital works rendered to oil on canvas identified and singled out from the lot? At the end of the dream, I do remember feeling guilty for tying up their time in this package pick up room, making them my captured audience. So I told them to give me their contact information and later they could see all the works displayed properly in my museum setting. They agreed to come for the grand opening and felt special as they saw the works first, straight out of the box, as some sort of preview showing.
What a lovely dream; have to remember what I ate for dinner the night before. Oh, "jai" Monk food and "gau" rice cake-pudding as it is Chinese New Year. And some chicken with green veggies, Chinese take out as there was no time to cook. The pop corn hot tea was soothing and mixed well in taste and texture with the gau as dessert.