Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday Night Follies and Niana Liu

Perhaps calling this post "Friday Night Follies" is a bit overstated. It really should read along the lines of "Friday night flops." The real folly was me thinking that I could do just One More Thing after a very busy week.

One of the great things about this stage of my life is all the fun, fantastic and fabulous things I get to see and do - writing for the (web page only, no politics involved!), the blog, painting, calligraphy, book making, attending classes at SFSU thanks to a supportive history department who lets me audit classes, meeting people and making new friends... the list is endless.

Unfortunately for me, while my interests and ambitions are endless, my energy isn't! This week was packed to the gills with events, none of which I could bear to miss. So, while the spirit wanted to go to the De Young, I simply could not force myself to get up and go, face the crowded MUNI, the walk to the De Young and the search for my friends amidst the Friday night crowds.

My get up and go had gone up and went.

However, I refused to just crawl into bed. After all, it's Friday night. Move that body! I saw the notice on Face Book that Friday was an art night at City Hall. I don't live that far from City Hall so I walked over there. I didn't have to face MUNI but the weather was not to my taste. I felt like I was in Trinidad, where I had lived for a while. I hate the tropics and this was tropical weather, humid, airless and suffocatingly warm.

When I got to City Hall, I saw a red carpet and lots of people dressed in their sparkly evening clothes. There was some sort of gala going on up on the 2nd floor - where the art event was also being held. Because the foyer was all decked out and one hallway was blocked by the catering people, I got turned around. I tried to go around the edge of the "gala event" only to be stopped by a very stylishly dressed woman. She had a cell phone clamped to her ear while she waved waved me away with the other, screeching at me with a very posh English accent, "THIS IS A PRIVATE EVENT. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED."

I said, quite politely given the circumstances, that I was looking for the art event, held in the supervisors offices. She spat back at me that she knew nothing about that but I was to "GO AWAY, GO AWAY, GO AWAY!" I almost expected a platoon of security guards to kick me over the balcony but then, that would have made a mess in the entry way and that simply would. not. do.

I don't know what set her off but it sure wasn't me. I was dressed, as I always am, in respectable clothes. But maybe my pink windbreaker or my sensible shoes gave me away. I was completely taken aback or I would have replied quite curtly that if I wanted to crash her event, I would have worn the back breaking shoes, my Halloween tiara and would not be asking directions.

Nevertheless, I am stubborn and after walking completely around the second floor, I finally found the offices. But by this time, I was only standing through effort of will and really couldn't enjoy myself. But I did see one artist whose work I really liked. Niana Liu's work is part of the SF Art Commission's art in storefronts project and I'd seen her storefront in a walk through Chinatown. Her current exhibit at City Hall was both funny and politically astute. She's made "posters" of ducks, satirizing politician's lies and promises.

Given today's right wing, tea party rhetoric, I also found her project for the SF Arts Commission very appropriate.

"As a Chinese artist, I would like to offer a perspective that encourages business owners and consumers alike to reconsider the importance of quality in our society, our culture, and our individual lives. I use as examples Chinese cuisine and craftsmanship, both of which were developed over thousands of years and brought to this country by generations of Chinese immigrants. We should not let valuable skills and craftsmanship be buried alive by fast food and disposable good

Speed, quality and price are competing constraints, although occasionally we do encounter products or services that are good, affordable and delivered fast. Usually, one of the three constraints must be sacrificed - when quality is the constraint that is sacrificed, what are we really sacrificing?

Shouldn’t we also be concerned about the quality of the workers’ lives? And what about the quality of our living environment? In this economy where everybody is on a tighter budget, should we produce and buy more cheap disposable goods, or fewer?"

Wage theft in Chinatown:

All images from Ms. Liu's website (I took photos but they are not very good. I think I need to bring my personal photographer to these events - anybody interested?"


Zoomie said...

I wonder who the b--ch was and what wonders she was guarding? How'd you like to be the Party Police - no wonder she was crabby, no one invited her to the shindig!

namastenancy said...

Maybe she was the party organizer? It's almost funny because everybody was offered wine and appetizers as you stepped off the elevator. I didn't take anything because I knew it wasn't for me. So, she was yelling at an honest person - but then, life is full of ironies, isn't it?