Yogyakart Indonesia

Drum roll, please ……. we did it!! The Sama-sama/Together catalogue has now been printed!! Arie and I were at the printers until late Tuesday night watching as the book ran through the press. Sama-sama!!!

Yogyakarta Indonesia

Great last two days! We had our first two meetings for the wall project. We met at my hotel at 3:00 pm — about 10 of us. The hotel I’m sure thinks I’m crazy — last year the kittens, this year I’m bringing a bunch of artists in to have a meeting for which I cleared the furniture in the lobby so we could sit on the floor and plan our guerilla project.

The group of artists that I’m working with is awesome! I feel really honored to get to work with such a talented bunch. They solely work on the streets doing posters, stencils, and spraycan work. The group includes: Novi, Anton, Puji, Roly, Anto, Aries, Karyadi, Gedheg, and Nova; and Aries 2 (dua) is videotaping our project. Later, we met at 10:00 pm at Sam and Ade’s to make more of a plan of action and the materials we’d need. One of the things I love the most about the art community here is that they’re so organized in that if you decide to do a project it happens in a flash.

This morning Novi and Anton picked me up at 9:00 am and we headed over to Sam’s to meet up with Roly, Anto, and Aries dua.

Then off to toko chat Spartan (the paint store). Several people there remembered me from years past.

We then headed over to the site to scrape the wall that was layered with posters, old and new. Puji, Karyadi, Gedheg, and several others joined us there later.

The highlight of the day was when I looked across the street and saw a familiar face — Farhan!!!! I was so happy to see him. Farhan worked with me on the mural that I did here in 2003 — Bungas, as part of the Sama-sama project. He’s married now and has a 6 month-old baby!

I’d heard word that he’d done a new mural project in Jogja recently, but I hadn’t seen it yet. So we headed via motorbike to see it and got caught in a downpour of rain. We had to stop twice to wait for the rain to let up. When we got there I couldn’t believe my eyes — or really, his. The mural is incredible!!!!!! Totally KARAN!

Meanwhile, Arie has been putting in many hours working on the catalogue — Nadiah too (she did the copyedits on the Indonesian text). The film has now been printed and they’re starting to print tonight! So Arie and I’ll be heading over there later to check on the progress and colors.

Tomorrow, we start again at 9:00 am to paint the wall.
Until then, Salamat!

Yogyakarta Indonesia

Nano picked me up at noon. He’d called earlier to see if I wanted to come over to his place to visit and say hi to Minnie and Willie (the kittens that we’d given to him and Dani a year and a half earlier). On our way we turned into ISI (the art school) and as it turned out we were going to a talk in collaboration with the exhibition he curated, Enjoy: Sculpture #1.

The talk was being given by artists Samuel Indratma and Yuli Prayitno, moderated by Rain Rosidi. Even though I couldn’t understand it, I really enjoyed the accompanying slide show. Nano also filled me in that one of the reasons he curated this show is because many of the professors at ISI are still teaching from a very traditional model and only consider sculpture to be made from carved or cast wood, stone, or metal. However, many of the students are interested in looking to new modes of creating sculptural work, not that they don’t respect traditional work, but they feel stifled by the parameters that are being set.

Of course I could relate to this, having experienced similiar perspectives in both undergraduate and graduate school.

Following the talk, a group of us went to lunch at a nearby warung. It’s really frustrating not being able to speak the language(s) here. However, we were able to communicate in English. Lots of political talk around the state of the world. And I’m still surprised when I realize that most people here are really surprised to here a dissenting voice from the Bush administration propaganda — even in the artists’ community. I’m always thrilled to inform them otherwise; however, it’s depressing to know that their mainstream news/information is so skewed from the reality as well. At least the mainstream American press is currently forced to report that Bush’s approval ratings are hovering around 25 – 30% (so we know it’s actually lower).

Nano then took me to see Minnie and Willie. Aaron Noble and I found these two kittens on the railroad tracks a year and a half ago. There was no way I was going to leave them there so we took them back to our hotel room and raised them there for a month. The hotel was very accomodating, letting us store our susu (milk) in the hotel refrigerator, and the girls at the front desk would make fish rice for them. It was a very wonderful and challenging experience as we’d have to take turns getting up in the middle of the night to feed them, and I especially was bombarded with attempted suckling, since they’d figured out I was the female, mama figure. But we really loved them and took pains to find a veterinarian to check them and give them their needed shots. We also made sure that it would be arranged for them to be “fixed” when they were old enough (they were only about 3 weeks when we found them). We’d also found a home with Nano and Dani and we made sure to explain and give them the receipt for the neutering etc.

So I arrived at Nano and Dani’s and saw Willie!!! So adorable. He was as sweet and loving as when he was a kitten — though much bigger ….. and with ….. BALLS!

And then I saw Minnie!!!!

With her new kittens — actually, only one is hers and the other two are adopted because their mother died. We had a naming ceremony for the new kitten — Arlo. Minnie is also just as adorable and loving as when she was a kitten.

Arlo! so tiny! He’s only 2 weeks old.

With Arlo and Willie.

Megan and Dani and the kitties

In the evening, I went to a performance at Kedai Kebun — a mix of traditional and contemporary.

Yogyakarta Indonesia

It’s dusk here…. lightening is flickering every 15 – 30 seconds, bats are flying around, and I’m looking out from my balcony at a dark skyline of roofs and trees against a fading blue. The air is warm, yet not heavy. The call to prayer on the loud speakers is drowning out all traffic and street chatter. It’s really beautiful — mosques throughout the city start their speakers at slightly different times so Jogja rings with a chorus of call to prayer rounds.

Talk here is about Merapi — will it erupt or not. I met a correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and New York Times, Peter Gelling, who is writing a piece about the mythology around volcano. The folklore is that everytime Merapi erupts it signals a political change in Indonesia. The last time this happened was right before the economic crisis in 1994. The eruption was predicted by an old man who is known as the gatekeeper of Merapi. He lives nearby it and in 1994 he foresaw the tragedy, which killed 60 people. The recent concerns have come from scientists and the government, and within the last several days, the Sultan, who handed down a decree to the residents living in the area that they must evacuate. However, the old man says it’s not going to happen.

My subconscious vision of Merapi in 2003.
The catalogue is in its final prep — I spent 4 hours yesterday copy editing and Arie spent several hours today fixing something else. Sama-sama!

I finally met up with my friend Kuta, the becak driver whose becak was one of the ones I painted in 2004. He took me on a ride through Jogja and over to see Alicia’s mural — when Carolyn and I tried to find it we got lost.

It still looks great — even better with time.

Alicia, Codit, and Farhan had painted this pole with white paint and it looks awesome now as its rusted.

This is one of my favorite graphics in Jogja and we passed after leaving Alicia’s mural.

This is for the most special Indonesian cuisine.

As you can see from the clouds rain was on the way — and rain it did in thick sheets with huge gusts of wind and loud thunder accompanying.


Yogyakarta Indonesia
Week 2

Carolyn left a few days ago. Her final day we spent the morning/afternoon at an opening for the exhibition Enjoy: Sculpture #1
curated by Nano Warsono at ISI (the Art Institute of Jogja). All I can say is — spectacular! In the evening/night we had a big reunion with our artist friends here that was a much needed and great experience. Since then I’ve been doing work for the non-profits that I work with, helping Arie with the final preparations for the Sama-sama catalogue before we go to print on Monday, went to a meeting organized by Samuel of a large group of artists from here (about 30) to start a new community project/space, and met up with a great group of young street/mural artists to begin discussing doing a project here next week. All good. Though there’s a lot of talk that Mount Merapi (the volcano near here) is going to erupt within the next couple of weeks!

Who knew Nano was such an amazing performer!!!!

This was a performance where a group of artists smoked and burned the letters to spell out Enjoy Sculpture. Carolyn and I were definately having flashbacks to the Art Institute.

Our friend Codit in the center with the lit cigarette (Bambang was there too).


The reunion begins ….

Carolyn andRhoman

Arie in yet another wrestling mask brought by CC

Nano and Dani join us

Yay! Arya finally shows up!!

Sam & CC

Nadiah & Arie

Yogyakarta Indonesia
Week One
Carolyn and I have been here for a week now and having a great time! Here’s a taste of our experience:

New mural by our friend Arie Dyanto. It’s awesome! There are now over 500 murals in Yogya.

Candy shop

Aaron Noble’s mural (three years later) — this one has held up the best.

Andrew Schoultz’s mural (three years later) — faded and peeling a bit, but still looks pretty great.

Sadly, Carolyn Ryder Cooley’s mural did not hold up so well — it was repeatedy bombed with graffiti and the city asked Samuel Indratma to repaint it.

We went to what was once the Sultan’s Water Palace — very beautiful, the city has just renovated it. However, what we really loved were the batiks (made by the neighborhood residents). Check these out — they couldn’t be more over the top:

Pretty awesome!

We then visited the Sultan’s old underground mosque.

And I still have my obsession with vehicles — especially cool old trucks. I would love to be able to bring one home from here.

And the catalogue editing begins!!! Gebang (at computer) is our newest addition to the crew — he’s helping with the final work.


What’s work without a little play?! We took a break to paw Arie (in his new Mexican wrestling mask that Carolyn brought him).

Meeting up at Via Via with Ade.

Hanging out at Sam & Ade’s.

Samuel Indratma’s new project.

Sam’s project

Very cool vest made by Samuel Indratma

Bag made by Samuel Indratma

Yogyakarta Indonesia

In Yogyakarta (also referred to as Yogya or Jogja) now. This is my 5th visit here. You can read about my initial experience here.
Two days after Corey left Bali, my good friend Carolyn arrived. Carolyn and I traveled to Tokyo and Indonesia together in 2002 to work on the Sama-sama/Together project and do a collaborative project, Random Acts of Beauty. We also came together to Yogyakarta as part of the Sama-sama/Together project in 2003. This was a collaboration between 6 artists from San Francisco (myself, Carolyn, Aaron Noble, Alicia McCarthy, Carolyn Ryder Cooley, and Andrew Schoultz) and 4 artists from Yogya (Arie Dyanto, Samuel Indratama, Nano Warsono, and Arya Panjalu) – though there were many other artists and collaborators involved as well.

Carolyn joined me this year to visit our friends and help work on the catalogue/book that we’re publishing about the Sama-sama project. After spending one day in Bali, we flew to Yogya, arriving to MORE rain! It started pouring the minute we landed and was quite comical as we deplaned on stairs outside and Garuda (again – I can’t believe this isn’t in MS word spell check) airline workers ran as fast as they could to greet passengers and open up umbrellas for the walk to the terminal.
After getting our luggage, we found a driver to take us to the Prambanan Hotel near the center of Yogya. We were giddy as we drove through Yogya, familiar with the city and anticipating seeing our friends. Part of the fun was that we didn’t tell any of them that Carolyn would be joining me.

The first night we settled in and made contact with friends to meet up the next day – Thursday. We also made a shopping trip to Marlioboro Street by becak to get Sim cards for our cell phones to work in Indonesia and to do a little batik shopping. We were very aware of all the new graffiti covering many of the city walls/buildings -feeling a little guilt.

I awoke this morning at 4:30 to the call to prayer and felt a sense of being home – it’s always been one of my favorite things about being here. I spent about half an hour meditating and then fell back to sleep until 6:30. I love how everything is already so alive by then – and I have such a different internal clock here – I think partially because of the early chanting.
We then headed over to the becak yard to see if our friend Kuta was around. He wasn’t, he was back in his village. However, I did get to see the becaks that I painted in 2004 – they’ve held up pretty well. Many of the becak drivers at the yard remembered me and began requesting that I also paint their “helicopters.” I told them that if they could get me a PKI t-shirt I would (the PKI was the People’s Communist Party in the sixties that was outlawed following the murders of 6 generals). They excitedly agreed, however, I learned later that these t-shirts don’t exist. So I guess I’ll see what they come up with – though more likely they didn’t understand exactly what I was requesting.
Our next mission was to check out the murals that we’d painted to see how they look now, almost three years later. We went by becak over to Jalan Ireda where they’re housed, and they looked about the same as they did over a year ago when I visited.

Carolyn’s looks like an old mural that was painted in the fifties and mine, an old mural that was painted in the sixties. We ran into several of the neighbors that remembered us from the summer we were painting and they were happy to see us and expressed their appreciation etc.

Next on the day’s agenda was to hit the CD and DVD street stands. We scored on a collection of bird Cds and some flicks (both new and old).

We met up with our friend Arie at our favorite restaurant/office, Via Via at noon. Our friends Mie, who owns the restaurant and her girlfriend Ingville were also there – and then our friend Nano showed up with a couple of his students from the art school ISI –Great reunion!! Lots to catch up on and plan for the catalogue publication.
Here comes the rain…..

Excerpt from a letter Carolyn wrote to a friend back home:

Just writing from Indonesia..It’s pretty amazing here. I had a lay-over in Singapore for five hours. It was in the middle of the night so I didn’t get to check out the sights, But they have their shit together. Orchid park in the middle of the airport, Coach store, Prada Store, Beauty Counter with all the creams and lotions from France. A nice mix of people…Chinese, Indian, and Malay’s. I really thought of you and how much you would like it there. I think you should come with Vio on your honeymoon. She would flip out.

Megan and I are in Yogyakarta now. Meeting with friends and having beers.The first day we went to check out our murals. Megan’s is still looking pretty good, but mine is fading. Looking more like an X-ray. With all the flourescent pink washed out. The black running down the wall, like mascara.The weather and pollution is so intense here that the mural is slowly decomposing. it’s like the earth is reclaiming it. Also, Didn’t they teach us in art school that flourescent colors are fugitive??

Our favorite mode of transport is the Becak driver. We get carriaged around the city like princesses, with car exhaust blowing in our faces. It’s still Monsoon weather, so every afternoon it rains buckets. The rain drops are the size of nickels. We’ve been taking pictures of interesting signs and graffiti around town. It seems since this Redheaded lady from San Francisco appeared five years ago, the city has taken to graffiti art. Now you can see it all over. They’re doing it on the rolltop doors of shops, So you can only see the tags at night when the doors are rolled down. So smart! It’s a language just for them. The artists who come out to write at night.

Yesterday, we took a Becak ride around the Sultan’s Palace. It’s the ancient walled city.Which now houses the old palace , but also its where the middle class families live. We were on our way to buy batiks or just look around. It was threatening to rain, So we asked our driver to take us back. The air smellled like rain, fumes, and fried foods from the nearby bazaar. People would look at us, point to us, or smile. sometimes giving a quick glance at our exposed legs. A few have remarked on our sunglasses. Megan’s are Ralph Lauren, Mine are Liz Claiborne.

Anyway, I’m so inspired here. Just having the quiet to allow other thoughts to come in. To read and lounge and talk with friends. It’s amazing what could happen when not busying one’s self with the noise and freeways, and to-do’s of my capitalist lifestyle. okay I thinkyou would like it here. They’re doing that layering and transparency thing in some ways. It must be the tropical weather in your veins.

One more post till I get to Yogya — and this one is dedicated to you, Gordon (the “Fake Woodgrain Guy“)! It’s the real thing.

Bali Indonesia Final Images
These are the final images from Bali — our last couple of days. I’m now currently in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and will post on that tommorrow. Salamat!

Bali Indonesia Day 8
Part 3

We also took a 2-day trip to Amed; this is an area on the eastern coast of Bali. Very beautiful and remote – it doesn’t attract many tourists, probably because the beaches are mainly rock and filled with the small wood floater boats used by the local fisherman.

All of the reasons that I love it. I have also been visiting here since my first trip to Indonesia and have always stayed at the Meditasi bungalows, owned by a man named LaGoza, who is quite a character – somewhat of a Rastafarian Balinese, though without the dreads and reggae. Needless to say, the place is very laid back and is run by a number of boys and young men (my first trip felt a little bit like I was in the setting for Lord of the Flies) – the main one being Mario, who I always really look forward to seeing, very sweet and a jokester.
The bungalows are heavenly – two stories with a stone bathroom area on the ground floor and stone steps that lead up to the sleeping chamber and a deck with a couple of chairs and a “day” bed that looks out onto the ocean, which is about 60 feet away. The day bed is actually the day and night bed since it’s so incredible to go to sleep under the stars and watching & listening to the ocean tides. Corey and I took very long day hike for several hours along the road that follows the coastline and winds through several villages. More things that I’ve learned over the years here: not to where shorts, not to bare shoulders, and not to show too much physical affection with your sweetie. While Balinese (and Indonesians in general) are used to this from tourists – and Balinese will where shorts and bare shoulders (both men and women), it’s looked at as being disrespectful from tourists; and I’ve definitely noticed a difference in the way in which I’m treated when covered up a bit more. On the Muslim islands (the majority of the country), this is a definite must.

We took our walk early in the morning – starting at about 8:00, so most of the villagers were in the midst of counting the large baskets of fish that had been caught. We also saw many goats, cows, pigs, and chickens, all housed under their own thatched roof structures.

Then there were lots of kids and they loved to run out and say “hello” with big smiles and wanting their pictures taken. I had a flashback to when I was a little kid and we had movie stars staying a few houses down on our street. “The Missouri Breaks” was filmed outside of Billings Montana (my hometown) and rather than staying in a hotel; the stars – Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando wanted to stay amongst the “locals.” They were there all summer and we kids would constantly ride our bikes by and ogle. My mother and her friends would wait for our reports on what they were doing. One afternoon when Angelica Houston was visiting (she and Nicholson were a couple at the time), the whole crew of them started running through the sprinklers and my brothers and I and our friends stopped on our bikes and just watched (normally we’d just keep riding back and forth, like a hundred times). Pretty soon Jack Nicholson invited us to come over and join them – we really didn’t know how to respond – we just continued to stand there with our bikes. So he went inside and got his camera and came out and started taking pictures of us! We totally giggled and it lightened us up, so we joined in the fun – and then they invited us to come into the house, which was a bit of a mess with lots of alcohol bottles etc. Marlon Brando was inside sitting on the couch watching TV. They were all very friendly and very inquisitive about our lives. A very memorable summer to say the least – and reminder that some experiences really are relatively universal.

Later in the day the monsoon rains hit again; so we spent the rest of the day/evening reading and talking to a woman named Jackie from Connecticut who has been coming to Bali and staying at Meditasi several times a year for the past 9 years. She’s a pilot (non-commercial) and has been publishing an aviation magazine. Last fall she sold everything and in January she moved to Bali and into Meditasi temporarily while she builds a house (next to the Meditasi property). We got to see the plans and a book of Bali homes with examples of elements she’ll include and it looks like it’s going to be quite beautiful – a total of 1,800 square feet, including upstairs and downstairs. We learned that in order to own property on Bali one either has to have a Balinese partner or one pays an ongoing mortgage annually. And in all reality – the government actually owns all of the property. So buyer be aware!

Our final morning we got up at 5:00 and went out on a fishing boat – I’ve done this twice before and it’s always a treat for me because I don’t know how to swim, so I haven’t spent much time in/on water – and especially not so close in the middle of the ocean. I LOVE it! We watch the sun come up and the fisherman does his line fishing – catching mackerel. Corey ended up being his assistant as he reeled in fish after fish after fish – he probably caught at least 100. We were out on the water for about 3 hours and this was the first time that the trip back in was smooth and without huge waves of water pouring up and over into the boat – a terrifying experience for me.

Our driver picked us up at noon and we headed back to Ubud, saying goodbye for another year to friends there. And next time we visit – Jackie’s house will be done!