Inspiration in West LA

Limited Edition Mint Tins by Audrey Kawasaki, one of my favorite artists — purchased as set of 5 from GR2 // Giant Robot Gallery in West LA

Limited Edition Tins designed and signed by Audrey Kawasaki, one of my favorite artists — purchased as set of 5 from GR2 // Giant Robot Gallery

During a lazy Sunday afternoon of mundane errands, I had a serious “Ah ha!” moment.  (More like, “No duh!” moment.)  I was reminded that there is way more to my life than a 9-to-5 job and emails and agendas and deadlines and things to prove.  That everyday things can be works of art and that I am completely content simply spending time in a Japanese grocery store or Tokyo Outlet.  And it was all thanks to our old neighborhood, Little Osaka along Sawtelle Boulevard.

I decided to wander into GR2 and was immediately inspired by the current Stories group show.  Galleries and museums can often be so alienating but I love the shops on Sawtelle.  The art scene here in West LA feels authentic yet approachable and even fun.  Always inspirational.  I love checking out what other artists are trying.  Edwin Ushiro‘s graphite on vellum drawings are amazing.  And I am totally in love with Jeni Yang‘s paintings on wood with laser cut embellishments.  My favorite is her Nuke piece.  I couldn’t stop staring at it.

Just as I was about to leave, a little stack of  Audrey Kawasaki tins caught my eye.  I couldn’t resist.  Audrey Kawasaki is one of my favorite artists.  And just when I thought my modern Asian-American art adventure was coming to an end, who happened to be the cashier but none other than Eric Nakamura himself!  Founder of Giant Robot.  I was completely awestruck.  I tried desperately to think of something intelligent and thought-provoking to say as I paid for my tins.  Instead, all I could think of was, “Uh that’s a cool watch in the display case…  It’s on sale?  Can I take a look at it?”  I’ve bumped into famous people both in NYC and in LA and I usually have no problem chatting it up.  “Excuse me, are you Henry Thomas?… OMG, I loved your work in E.T.!  Wow!”

Oh well.  I was never a very good extemporaneous speaker.  Next time I run into Eric Nakamura, I’ll have my speech prepared about how inspirational his work has been — both in the art world and in the Asian-American community.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to say my somewhat silent thank you via this blog post.

Interview with Ardith on “The Art Directed Life”

© Photo and Art by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

I am proud to be featured this week on the art blog, “The Art Directed Life.”

(The story behind the photo: Here’s a collage that I created with one of my illustrations.  I felt weird submitting a picture without my son, Cedro, so I included his sippy cup.  (a) He is obsessed with Lightning McQueen right now, and (b) I have been known to drink the rest of his drinks at the end of the day straight from his cup.)

Superhero Character for the Stan Lee Foundation

© Illustration by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Super Happy Baby!!!! © Illustration by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

My latest drawing is a submission for the Stan Lee Foundation creative invite to design a superhero.  Of course, this is a perfect excuse for me to use Cedro as a muse.  My superhero is Super Happy Baby!!!!! He can fly!  He can dance!  And he can make ANYONE happy just with his laugh/giggle and golden, sunshine-like radiance.  PLUS he has the ability to make anyone an amazing dancer!  Imagine that!  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone were happy and knew how to dance well?

(Voting starts on February 8th, 2011 and ends on February 14th, 2011.)

Pacquiao Shirts are Here (Again)!

 

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Revised Pacquiao: Living Legend design © Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Still Christmas shopping?  Look no further!  We’ve redesigned our Pacquiao shirts to comply with the Zazzle content guidelines.  (We think.)  Hopefully, the new shirts will be up there for more than 24 hours!  For those of you who tried to purchase shirts for the Pacquiao vs. Margarito fight, we apologize for the inconvenience. 

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Revised Pacquiao: Pride of the Philippines design. © Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Pacquiao: Shadows Boxing design © Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Tito Manny is My Hero! © Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Exhibition One Hundred Exhibit Closing Day

© Photo by Ardith Ibañez NishiiI wasn’t able to attend the opening reception so I feel fortunate that I had a chance to swing by the gallery space today.  The experience means so much to me on so many different levels.  First, it’s a thrill to see my work on display IN PUBLIC.  It’s the same feeling I get when I bump into someone out and about who happens to be wearing a Barkada(ko) tshirt.  Second, it’s an honor to see my work alongside those of esteemed artists.  Third, it simply makes me happy that I’m drawing again.  Fourth, with my new muse, baby Cedro, in my life, I feel so inspired and motivated to create more art. (Just need to find a way to do it with this breastfeeding lifestyle!)

© Photo by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

original charcoal drawing

And last but not least, the act of going to Hollywood with Cedro on my own is a BIG deal!  Leaving the house lately tends to require a 2-hour ritual of feeding, changing, diaper-bag-prepping and emergency-bottle-prepping on top of changing myself into a presentable nursing-friendly outfit, putting on a little makeup to disguise the fact that I’m sleep-deprived, packing some water and a snack for myself, packing whatever I need for my final destination and looking up directions in case my navigation thingie on my phone poops out.

Thanks to my husband, Brian, we were able to get out the door together in 35 minutes!  So, out we went in the Nishii-mobile minivan.  We dropped off Brian at his audiobook recording gig in Studio City so I could have access to the car and continued on to Hollywood at the A & I Gallery.  I feel more and more empowered to run errands on my own with Cedro and generally live life beyond our little apartment!  It feels like yesterday when I felt like it would be next to impossible to leave the house at all!  I’ve definitely come a long way.

© Photo by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Cedro, my model and muse

So here’s to new beginnings!  To the rebirth of my artistic career and to my new life as a mommy.

While today is the closing day of the exhibit at A & I Gallery, you can continue to purchase a print at the Exhibition One Hundred website.  I must give a shout-out to Barkada(ko) supermodel and superfriend, Cat Jimenez, founder and curator of Edition One Hundred.  Thank you, Cat, for believing in me.

Edition One Hundred Art Show

Ardith's submission to Edition One Hundred - LOVE COMES FIRST

"Love Comes First" by Ardith Ibañez Nishii... featured on Edition One Hundred

I am pleased to announce that (a) I am drawing again! and (b) one of my drawings has been selected to be a part of the Edition One Hundred “Freedom + Revolution” show!  What is Edition One Hundred?  It’s a curated online gallery of limited edition art prints.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the opening art reception on October 2nd.  (I’ll be in norcal for a cousin’s wedding.)  The LA launch party sounds like another spectacular event put on by my dear friend and founder of EOH, Cat Jimenez.  I encourage you all to attend!

For more info:

ARTY PARTY 2009

part of the ARTY PARTY projection

part of the ARTY PARTY projection

I can’t believe that 4 days have already passed since my Arty Party last Saturday!  It came and went in a blink!  I couldn’t have been happier!  Great turnout (~100 guests), great vibe (Gstaad bar and lounge), great music, and great friends!

I have announced The Big News countless times that this was supposed to be the year that I was going to make It happen — to follow my true passion and do something about my art.  So I set a date (October 3rd, 2009) and went to work on assembling my art to share.

I spent one month prior to the party reviewing and studying my 50+ journals and sketchbooks.  I have to say that it was a fun and self-indulgent exercise.  I essentially forced myself to read my illustrated diaries from the past 24 years!  I approached my Arty Party with low expectations.  I didn’t pressure myself to create any earth-shattering masterpieces.  The event was an excuse to throw a party and force myself to create something.  Anything.

Some observations or recurring patterns in my journals:  (1) I have been complaining about how lame I am for not pursuing my art, yet I created 24 years’ worth of art (in the privacy of my sketchbooks), (2) I have been repeating like a broken record how much I want to work on some sort of film production, (3) I like to make lists and diagrams, (4) I seem to enjoy drawing mountains, buildings, plants, animals, portraits, random everyday objects, as well as images from my dreams… I know.  I know.  That’s everything!  It’s true.  I seem to enjoy drawing.

I pulled approximately 100 images and either cleaned them up in Photoshop and/or created an entirely new illustration based on a particular image or moment.  For the party, I pared down the set of images to 50 or so and animated them in Flash.  Time ran out pretty quickly so my husband, Brian, came to the rescue and animated my “mountain” sequence and stitched it together with the rest of my animation in AfterEffects to create the DVD.  The finished product was a 15-minute looping animation.

It was quite a learning experience to work in the DVD color space.  Because the venue only had a DVD player connected to their projector, I had to tweak almost all the colors of my original animation — toning down the whites and the blacks.  A pain but good to know.

I also made some limited edition prints of 10 of the illustrations in the animation.  (I’ve reordered new mats to make the rest of the collection available for sale at the Barkada(ko) website hopefully by the end of next week.)

some of the matted prints

some of the matted prints

Special thanks to my sister, Arlene, and my cousin, Stacy for matting and bagging the prints!  Wow!  I couldn’t have pulled out this event without them.  So glad that they flew in from California to help!

I also have to thank my sister-in-law, Lisa Nishii, who took my idea of providing gifts bags for the kids to another level!  She generously supplied the extra treats and went out of her way to get special snacks for the 12 kids who attended the party.  I think the kids had a great time!  I WILL take credit for these amazing LED glow cups that I purchased from ExtremeGlow.com.  Those were a big hit with the kids!  With a press of a button, you can change the color of the cup or even cycle between all the colors!

photo by Mike Wilkins

photo by Mike Wilkins

My sister also created custom stickers, tattoos, and coloring books using my illustrations!  As you might have guessed, assembling the kiddie bags was almost just as much work as creating the art for the party!  I have so many close friends and family with young kids that I wanted to make sure that they were properly entertained during the 3 hours of the party.

EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS:

  • Brian Nishii: my loving husband & A/V expert
  • Stacy Pascual: my cousin (aka Event Coordinator Extraordinaire)
  • Arlene Ibañez: my devoted little sister & lifetime slave
  • Lisa Nishii: my sister-in-law & Kid Party expert
  • Kim Brothers: Ray, Chuck, Sonny (DJ crew)
  • Gstaad: Anthony, Matt, Soraya, & Dan (43 W. 26th Street, NYC)
  • Gourmet Garage: catering
  • Rik Panganiban, Cori Kaylor, Anne Tamayo, Edowa Shimizu, Cliff Pershes, Mike Kearney, Remy Casasola: my investors!  Thank you for purchasing a print!

I finally did it.  No class project or client deadline to follow.  I finally made time for myself.  I finally made time for my art.  It feels good.

This is just the beginning.  Stay tuned for ARTY PARTY 2010. In the meantime, you can check out the animation that we projected below. You’ll have to play your own soundtrack or ask Arlene and the Kim Bros to come over and DJ for you!

Birthday Painting

paintingLast night, my NYC homegirls and my loving husband, Brian, surprised me BIG TIME .  For my birthday, they treated me to dinner and drinks at Pastis!!! (chosen for the French cuisine, the French fries, and the fact that it was the location for one of Brian’s “Sex and the City” episodes!)  Plus, Cyn was in town from Haiti!  IE: I was surrounded by my VIPeeps on my birthday!  The biggest surprise of all was the beautiful painting collaboration that they created for me.  Of course, it made me bawl my eyeballs out.  I was so touched.  I love my girls!  Here’s the museum-ready description that they put together to accompany it:

***

Cynthia Casasola, Liz Casasola, Cori Kaylor, Anne Tamayo
“A Girl Named Ardith” (June 2009)
Acrylic on canvas
16×20 in.

Four friends of Ardith created this piece to celebrate her birthday.  They each drew something that symbolizes Ardith.  The circles represent eternity and the infinite gratitude and connection those feel for her.  The circles also represent halos for her angel-like qualities.  The heart represents Ardith’s big, open heart, her generosity of spirit, and the abundance of love she has to share.  The gem represents a rare find, as is her friendship to many.  The flowers represent Ardith’s beauty inside and out.  She sees and brings out the beauty in everyone and that makes her beautiful.  The two flowers represent Ardith and her sister, Arlene.  Arlene is an important part of Ardith’s life so the two flowers represent how close they are to each other.  The sun represents her sunny and radiant personality, as well as hailing from California.  It also represents a part of the Philippine flag, because she is a proud Filipino.  The ocean waves represent Ardith’s love of the islands and her dream of living there one day with her family and friends.

The tree that joins all the elements together represent Ardith’s roots — she represents stability, strength, and wiseness to her friends and family.  The tree also represents Ardith’s alma mater — Stanford.  It is also reminiscent of the Japanese culture, which she has embraced in her life.  The multitude of colors in the background represent Ardith’s many layers as a person as well as her depth.

***

Awwwww!  Thanks for a birthday that I’ll never forget!

Me, Cyn, Cori, Anne, Liz

Me, Cyn, Cori, Anne, Liz

Pru also hung out with us to make the birthday celebration complete!

Pru also hung out with us to make the birthday celebration complete!

Last but not least, here I am with my boo, Brian.  I must've done something really good to have him in my life!

Last but not least, here I am with my boo, Brian. I must've done something really good to have him in my life!

BARKADA(KO) ONLINE STORE LAUNCH!

Barkada(ko) Store Grand Opening!!!

Barkada(ko) Store Grand Opening!!!

This is my first attempt @ posting a blog from my phone! Stayed up late last night testing the new store with Ging (pronounced “Jing”, aka my sister, Arlene) so we haven’t had a chance to blog… Now here I am on the bus back into the city after working all day on MallyBeauty.com…

HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE THE GRAND OPENING OF OUR FIRST ONLINE STORE!

It has been 5 years since we started Barkada(ko) & 4 since our last appearance selling our shirts at Filipino festivals across the country. We took a little break and now we’re back! Our goal is to liquidate our inventory of first edition shirts so we can pave the way for the next projects. We’re really excited about using bigcartel.com as our web store thanks to a blog post we stumbled upon in MyModernMet.com! Since we’re a very small sis-n-sis operation, this will help out tremendously in fulfilling orders & managing our inventory! YAY!

Thanks again to family, friends, & newfound fans for your love and support over the years!!! We couldn’t have done this without you! But thanks most of all to my lil sis! She painstakingly counted, recounted, triplechecked & polybagged each remaining shirt — getting everything ready for the launch!!! All in all, she spearheaded this whole effort. She’s my inspiration! Can’t wait to live in the same city! It’s been almost 20 years!!!

Celebrating Filipino Pride Worldwide!!!
xoxox

Artist Residency – Day 07

Silhouette Idea for "Experiment" Video

Silhouette Idea for "Experiment" Video

What have I been doing these past few days?  Well…. hmmm… let’s just say that Mom would NOT approve.  In addition to helping out with props and costumes, I was assigned to create storyboards for videos to be used in the play.  The videos were shot yesterday; in silhouette and are of freaky hospital scenes.  I’ll include some illustration examples here and maybe include shots of the final videos later.  I’m only including the Rated PG-13/Rated R ones.  :)

I had intended to do a blog post each day that I’ve been here at the residency but there has been no time.  We start each day with 10am yoga (for those of you who don’t know me, 10am is EARLY) and then rehearsals all day long until 9pm.  The past few days have been especially long and hectic for me.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, I rented a car to drive 1 hr. 20 minutes each way to Monroe, NY for my MallyBeauty.com work.  So that means that I would get up extra early to do drawings for the play and then come back and continue drawing.  Despite the grueling days, it’s still so much fun.  Somehow we find time to cook for each other and chill out and watch movies.

Storyboard Idea for "Girl and Assistant Director" Video