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West Coast Easy Livin'

I was inspired to write another entry after reading one of my friend's post. She's currently traveling through (southern?) Japan areas and reading it, it made me reminisce on when we went to Japan earlier this year. It really is nice over there, and seeing their nice sunny beaches makes me truly envious, although the snow has only just begun over here.

I've also just come back from California. Another warm place. The environment is so sunny and nature feels much more relaxed than here (to be clear, I do not mean in the city or on the millions of highway miles you need to travel to get anywhere). I mean, it was shocking to see succulents growing so freely, planted in those street-side planters. Meanwhile, people over here on the east coast have a hard time growing them past whatever tiny nub they arrived in...maybe I just don't have a green thumb.

Anyway, I was in California for Lightbox Expo. The first thing we did was go on a hunt through the Los Angeles Zoo for the elusive Aaron Blaise. There, we met Kahenya and Max, a charismatic and funny duo that we ran into many more times at the Expo. Their group joined ours for the hunt. We met more people, asked a photographer and got a promising lead on where our quarry might be. We had this whole plan to split up and message a group chat we made on WhatsApp if one of us found him. Of course, just as we were about to execute the plan, who else but Aaron himself turned the giraffe corner, followed by a stampede of artists. We also met up with our friend Tony who left us for Finland (Hi Tony!).

a meerkat standing on a rock.
Meerkat! :3

Lightbox Expo itself was alright. In thought, knowing that so many artists that I've been following for years were gonna be there was exciting, but in person it's kinda of just like, "yup, wow, there they are. doing that thing they do." Don't get me wrong, it was nice to see them, but also, they're just people like us, fellow artists and humans living their lives, promoting their work/product, selling things so they can live. I did do an art trade with Amber Aki Huang, and got her signature mochi deer-cat plush, but ended up giving it to my friend because it was way too large to fit into my luggage.

A deer-cat mochi plush by artist Amber Aki Huang on a couch, next to a cinnamon roll pusheen and large penguin plush.
Deercat next to my friend's other plushies.

I met Andrea Blasich, an animation sculpture legend. I asked him if he thought sculpture in animation was still viable. He said no, that it was even hard for him to find work nowadays, which saddens him and me. It was the answer I expected, although not the one I wanted. So after having my hopes dashed and feeling quite morose, I went to speak to other big sculptor names at the Expo, Kristine and Colin Poole. They were exceedingly nice, and wells of knowledge. Colin basically gave me a very down to earth pep talk to keep doing what I love, and good things will come. I left this interaction much lighter-hearted and with hope of a future.

The rooster from Disney's Robin Hood, sculpted by Andrea Blasich.
I did get this sculpture from Andrea Blasich though.

We stayed a bit longer after the Expo to go visit my long-time friends in San Diego. That city was much nicer than Los Angeles imo. As he said, "San Diego is in real life what Los Angeles is in the movies." You still had to take a highway road to get anywhere though. It was a 5 minute drive, or a 40 minute walk! Goes to show how car-centric some cities in the US are.

We stopped by Gallery Nucleus and got to catch the last day of Lily Seika Jones' exhibition. I love the atmosphere in her paintings. I find there's also a kind of humor in them. Like, small bunny holding a mace. So funny.

Visited some gardens, some museums, saw some lizards and koi fish. We also visited some tide pools! It was my first time and I got scared when I stuck my finger into an anemone and it wrapped itself around me. It was freaky. The formations that the rock pools have are so cool though! And there were seagulls in their natural habitat (crazy!), pelicans, sea lions and seals, and even some sandpiper-looking birds and curlews!!

Sandpiper-looking bird!

I also got to ride in a convertible for the first time. Pleasant in the front seat, but if you're in the back, better hold onto your hat. And in the California sun, we were wearing hats.

My friends also treated us to omakase. It was the first time I've ever had it and it was amazing! Nick was very brave (he doesn't like fish). We finished the trip off with some amazing tacos and a burrito (three times the size of my arm) at Mike's Red Tacos. Easily the best tacos I have ever had.

Maybe I'll table at Lightbox someday!



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