Monday, November 8, 2010

Colors at the Studio

Balls of spun yarn in the garden.
Silk scarf I stlyed and photographed for the gallery.
Praying mantis on my hat after harvesting organic indigo.
Bundled indigo one day after soaking in water to extract the color.
Indigo dye paste in the later stages of production.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Pai is Falling in LOVE"

Pai is a backpackers town for expats, tourists, Bangkokians and local Pai people. My teacher friends and I had a mini-vacation there, where my private, dark wood cabin boasted a panoramic view of rice paddies tapering off at distant green mountains and a mud hut-like tile bathroom. Pai's laid back cafes, bars and restaurants in combination with the beauty of the natural landscape, hot springs and an elephant camp just a short motorcycle ride away contribute to the town's hippy-like vibe that can be romantic. If not for the excessive self-promotion of this famously chill backpackers town, I would have forgotten where I was and relaxed entirely! However, I remained a bit in shock by a tsunami of souvenirs with text proclaiming Pai's amazingness. There was a moment when I couldn't see anything in the market that didn't say "PAI! PAI! PAI!" "Love in Pai" "Pai is Love" "I Survived the Ride to Pai" "Pai is For Lovers" "Pai Love You" etc. Shopping for souvenirs in Pai is like witnessing a town make love to itself on every street corner and then buying a piece of the PAI love fest to take home. It was a bit awkward. I felt like I should have spent more time there to justify buying a keychain! =) However, I can enjoy myself in most places where there are people in good spirits, and I found the market experience entertaining. Souvenirs are often funny things anyway.

Yummy Brunch in Pai Beneath a Children's Art Exhibit

Selling kids' artwork or hosting a "coffee shop" art exhibition are fun ways for mom & pop places to charm and engage customers. At a cafe In Madison, WI I remember an attractive photograph series featuring fair trade coffee bean factory workers somewhere in a third world country. A previous Starbucks junkie, I'm thinking more critically about the role that coffee shop exhibits could play in supporting artists, pleasing consumers, and at times, in promoting human rights. For some reason, I didn't expect to see a kid's exhibit in Pai. I thought of how many unattended children I see working in the streets in cities here. They approach me with eyes glazed over in restaurants to sell flower garlands, even late into the evening. I don't know where the little painters work who colored these small canvases, but I imagine it's a safer place. The responsibility of being an informed consumer is on my mind these days. By the way, Thailand offers a never ending variety of fruits and veggies for the not-so-strict vegetarian too. Our brunch here was delicious and fresh. There is a cozy second floor up a short ladder. I'd recommend it for your next visit.