song of the open road

The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten and undenied—adhere to me?

O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave you—yet I love you;
You express me better than I can express myself;
You shall be more to me than my poem.
-WW, SOTOR, Leaves of Grass

I wrote a bit last year about the passing of my friend John. Grief journeys look different for everyone; in my case, it needed to be an actual journey, in the form of that un-taken motorcycle adventure  that I’d failed to do in 2017, commemorating our epic 1997 voyage.

Having set aside a bit of time this summer to go on this journey, I’d originally planned to take my classic old BMW R75/5 on the road. A minor electrical fire (!!) in the headlamp assembly in June suggested to me that I risked spending more time by the side of the road than on it, were I to attempt taking a vintage bike on a long trek.

the bmw slash five
I scrambled to research and procure a more modern, road trip-worthy bike on my budget on short notice, and ended up in possession of a 2014 Suzuki V-Strom that more than did the deed.

the suzuki wee strom

The John Francis Donahue Memorial Road Trip took place in July and August. Our mutual friend Max rode with me for the first 2 days, and other than a few days off the bike here and there with Herb and other friends, it was an entirely solo bike adventure. (I’m pretty sure John joined me for a few days between Nanaimo and San Juan Island, though.)

While there were plenty of moments of grand fun and delight, it was, on the whole, an incredibly tough trip, emotionally more than physically. My body can still hang with long days in the saddle, I was happy to learn, but my heart and mind don’t have quite the same steeliness I thought they once did. (Hell, maybe they never did.) There were a number of days where I felt a total loss of nerve, and a great deal of sadness and anxiety. Still, I’m proud of having taking this trip; I don’t think it’s my last.

After 3 weeks, 3 states, 1 Canadian province, 2717 miles and 126 adventures, I arrived back in SF pretty drained, and glad to be done. John Donahue, I don’t know how you did things like this so often and so effortlessly, but I’m glad to have had a chance to have ridden alongside you a long time ago and somehow on this trip, too. Thanks for keeping me safe.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens;
I carry them, men and women—I carry them with me wherever I go;
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them;
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

Carlos Villa: Worlds In Collision at BAMPFA

As some know, my mentor Carlos Villa organized an iconic series of exhibitions, symposia, curricula, publications, and web projects under the “Worlds in Collision” umbrella from 1976 until his passing in 2013. I was deeply influenced by these projects as a young undergrad at SFAI, and for many years afterward. These projects and conversations addressed multiculturalism, education, activism, and identity politics with the intention of shaping a more inclusive art world and art history.

When friend and curator/writer/archivist Lian Ladia (of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and Planting Rice) asked if I would be interested in organizing a symposium revisiting Carlos’ legacy for BAMPFA, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to reflect on Worlds In Collision as a whole, to see where we stand currently in relation to its original concerns.

event header, adapted from the cover design of the 1994 book

Styled in a format reminiscent of the original symposia, the April 21 event was a mix of panels and breakout conversations, organized around 3 themes: Carlos Villa’s History/Legacy, Worlds In Collision Then and Now, and Filipino American Arts. An extraordinary group of panelists framed each conversation for about an hour; this was then followed by smaller moderated breakout discussions to engage all attendees, ensuring that everyone took an active role in these conversations.

Peoples’ dedication to the event was clear, with participants flying in from Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington DC, or driving in from hours away within California. And it was truly glorious seeing the mix of generations and communities that attended, all so ready to engage and collaborate. It was a lively, often emotional afternoon: it seems clear that Carlos’ vision, and the work of Worlds In Collision, continues on in good hands, in many forms, with tremendous generosity of spirit.


Opening Keynote: Amalia Mesa-Bains

Carlos Villa’s History/Legacy: Theo Gonzalves, Jeff Gunderson, Lian Ladia, Dewey Crumpler, Amalia Mesa-bains

Worlds In Collision Then and Now: Moira Roth+Mark Johnson, Thea Quiray Tagle, Brett Cook, Jacqueline Francis + Kathy Zarur

Filipino American Arts: Patricia Cariño Valdez, Kimberley Acebo Arteche, Michael Arcega, Jenifer Wofford, Alleluia Panis

Closing Remarks: Theo Gonzalves

Breakout Conversation Moderators: Jessica Tully, Johanna Poethig, Valerie Soe, Patricia Cariño Valdez, Rafael Vieira, Maurizzio Hector Pineda, Dorothy Santos, PJ Gubatina Policarpio, Dara Danger Del Rosario

M.O.B. in HK

Manananggoogle continued its conquest of Asia with its presence in Our Bones Are Made of Starlight, a group exhibition at 1A Space in Hong Kong, curated by Justin Hoover.

M.O.B. was unfortunately unable to go to HK, since this show came not long after we returned to the US from the Manila Biennale. Justin and the 1A gallery team shuttled and installed the work and procured additional props on their own; many thanks to them for their efforts.

The exhibition ran March 24 – May 6, 2018.
Here, a few snaps of the installation.

mob hk1mob hk3 mob hk2

M.O.B. at the Manila Biennale

In February, M.O.B. went on a week-long whirlwinder to Manila for the first-ever Manila Biennale. Open City 2018 was held in and around the walled city of Intramuros, in an amazing mix of exhibitions, performances, lectures, presentations and market events. Manananggoogle was invited to return to its ancestral haunts as part of the Biennale’s performance program, curated by our old comrade Carlos Celdran. (The brilliant Ringo Bunoan curated the visual arts components). Congrats to everyone on Team Manila Biennale, from organizers to volunteers, for a great first run!

It was a week of utter mayhem, stress and delight: it was an utter blast. I’d do it all again at the drop of a hat. Here, a few out-takes from our Biennale adventures and performances.


It’s a good thing this blog came with a caveat regarding its occasional-to-sporadic nature, but I’d say I’ve been pushing the boundaries of this into something more like non-existence. Back now with a few updates from the past six months.

Woffles in new gafas, getting focused
Woffles in new gafas, getting focused

While fall and winter 2017 were easy-going for the most part, spring 2018 was largely a blur. Key components of this were an extra-heavy teaching load (beginning with pre- and post- spring course intensives bookending a crushing 4-course spring load), new M.O.B projects in Manila and Hong Kong, intensified duties during a highly stressful period at the arts org I’m on the board of, planning and coordinating a major half-day symposium in Berkeley, and flying to Southern California to give a couple of lectures. Oh, and planning and co-hosting my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration in late June. Plus some protests here and there. I’ll piece out some of these events in separate posts, but all this to say it’s been a doozy.

This pattern is nothing new, and I’ve certainly written about it before: I regularly go through insane flurries of work where anything nonessential falls to the wayside, followed by long periods of inertia where I’m on the wayside myself. One might acknowledge these slow stretches as necessary recuperation and regeneration, but sometimes… they’re really just straight-up inefficiency and sloth. I accept some of this, while still trying to con myself into imagining and creating without an agenda, too. Returning to keeping my art journals is usually a good way to do this.

recent journal entries
recent journal entries

In any case, I am now one week into what I hope to be an extended period of reflection and anticipation; updated news and more to follow.