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.)

Tribute to Freda

© Photo by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Cedro and Freda // October 2010 // San Francisco, CA

My good friend, Freda Koblick, passed away today.

If you know me well, you know how much she meant to me.  She was a great friend and mentor and huge inspiration.  For those of you who don’t know her, here’s a great article describing her life and her work.

I can’t believe she was 90 years old (almost 91)!  I’ve known her for 17 years.  I met her right after graduating from college in ’94.  It was a happy accident.  I was trying to figure out what to do with my life and it just so happened that a good friend wasn’t available to work as her apprentice so I took the position instead.  I always looked forward to visiting her at her space in the Mission District of San Francisco — half of an entire synagogue converted into a loft/gallery above and studio and machine shop down below.

She taught me so much about being an artist and living life to its fullest.  She was infinitely wise and elegant and charming, yet warm and approachable and hysterical at the same time.  I always felt smarter and a better person after hanging out with her.  We spent a lot of time chatting at her dining table over the years.  I smile at the memory of her casually sipping her chilled vodka from a beautiful pewter shot glass at meals. She always seemed so regal but at the core she was always so much fun and so funny.  I loved hearing her adventures from when she was younger.  For example, she would talk about those McCarthyism days when she was certain her phone was tapped.  She and her best friend, Henrietta, would call each other up and just read smut novels out loud to make fun of the FBI agents listening in!

And she continued to have adventures!  Despite all her serious physical ailments from the past 5 years, she was always so sharp and alive and gracious. She would always joke, “I’m gettin’ old!”  But she could recall details about our friendship just like that.  No problem.  No matter how much time had passed since we last spoke, she could always pick right back up from where we left off.

I’m so glad she was able to meet my husband, Brian, and was so supportive of his acting career.  The last time she saw him back in October of 2010, he played the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) for her in her living room and it sounded so amazing resonating through the loft space.  I know she enjoyed it… And I’m so glad that she was able to meet my baby boy, Cedro.  I was so pleased by how much she enjoyed his company and how much she would talk about him afterwards.  It’s a great feeling when important people in your life meet each other!

I’m so glad that I got the chance to know Freda Koblick.  She will always be an important part of my life and who I am.

I was able to visit her one last time a couple weeks ago.  We didn’t say any final good-byes then; more like “See you later…”

See you later, Freda.  I love you!

Portrait by Imogen Cunningham, 1945

Portrait by Imogen Cunningham, 1945

Barkada(ko) Boxing Fans on TV!!!

It’s nothin’ but MANNY MANIA this week!

We’ll be posting some of our own videos soon from our “Up Close and Personal” encounters with Manny Pacquiao. (Check out our previous blog posts.) In the meantime, here’s a short clip of us in the background for a moment in Episode 3 of HBO’s 24/7 series on the Pacquiao vs. Cotto fight. OK, so it’s blurry and you can’t really tell it’s us, but we WERE there and SO PROUD and honored to be there! It’s not every day that one gets to meet the Pride of the Philippines!

They’re replaying all the episodes tonight to get us all pumped for the fight! If you take a close look you’ll see us in the background during a shot of Buboy Fernandez in the parking lot of the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles… That’s Arlene wearing the orange Team Pacquiao hoodie (given to her… by Buboy himself!) and Ardith is wearing the Barkada(ko) Logo T in gold while our new friend from Team Pacquiao, Roweena Encarnacion, is rockin’ the Barkada(ko) Philippine Flag T in navy… PINOYS UNITE!

Many thanks to our close friend and Barkada(ko) supermodel, Gary Zane, who introduced us to Roweena and got the ball rollin’ so we could get on this Pacquiao Train!

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!

AWESOME!

woodenblockpaintingNow, I am by no means taking credit for the art pictured above, but i must say that i’ve ALWAYS wanted to create one large painting creating by many smaller paintings; like a mural if you will.  I thought it would be easier to tackle such a large project by doing it little by little.  Having said this, I just happened across a great piece of art at the Korean Cultural Center where i take korean language classes (yes, yes…tagalog will be next!!)  The artist took little blocks of wood and created mini-pieces of art with each one!  It really looked spectacular!!  And if you look at each block, they weren’t all flashy or intricate… but together…WOW.  Some blocks had dry cleaner tickets, some had stickers, two of them were mirror images of each other, one had a little envelope sticking out of it.  The artist used paper, stickers, paint, everykind of medium imaginable!  Totally inspiring me to get off my butt and start my “big painting made up of small paintings” project.  Keep an eye out for updates on this!