Facebook Twitter pinterest.png  Google Plus

Omphaloskepsis Blog

My Experience in Ecuador

May 2, 2010

PoseAlaro.jpgAnabella Azin, Kate Vrijmoet, Alvero Noboa, Shotgun Accident received third place. More photos below.

With a good sense of humor, I’m taking stock of my trip to Ecuador. There is plenty of work to do since getting back and I’m trying to tie up all the loose ends this weekend so I can get back to the “sowing” this week. I made plenty of mistakes and I’m also proud of myself for the things I did well. My main concern is to not let it impede my work. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that I need to be willing to throw it away and start from zero. I need to be willing to fail. If I build myself up, then I can’t work because I’m afraid to fail, that in itself is a failure. That’s why I think some artists become hacks, producing the same art over and over that brought them attention to begin with.

I figured out a while ago that I need to return to project based work. If I give myself an intensive project in which I can become immersed, then I can leave those ego based concerns behind. Any hoopla means little tomorrow, it didn’t mean anything yesterday. And again, the thing that I must learn and conquer now is the balance between the business and the making. I’ll have to go back and read my notes from Richard Ryan. Perhaps I should type them up.

I have figured out my intensive project. It’s so intense and rigorous that I need an implementation plan. I also have two other large projects to continue and two immediately upcoming shows, for one of the shows I need to create something. And of course, there’s everyday life to keep one humble; family, homework, laundry, and charity dinners...’tis the season.

Reflections on Ecuador: Things I learned, things I did well, favorite moments.

What I learned.

  1. Expectations. They’re human. When, in reality the events are unclear, I’d like to have looser expectations. Otherwise it enters the realm of fantasy. Perhaps gaining experience will help with this. I brought a suitcase full of art supplies, easel, boards, paints, medium, stool. I pictured myself strapping it to my back and hiking around painting. Of course, the bags never made it onto the plane, but in hindsight, perhaps that would have been a little arrogant in these circumstances anyway to announce my arrival in such a way.
  2. Assertiveness. I value timeliness, so perhaps I can choose to not subjugate this value to someone else just because they seem more sure of themselves, or because I’m concerned with offending them. Especially when it’s my reputation on the line. Mark did check, is this prompt or South American time? The answer was the latter. But my instincts were to be on time. We missed it. And I think PM was concerned that AN looked bad or that even he, himself looked bad.
  3. Recovery rate. Being aware of one’s limitations (mine is a slow recovery rate...although I’m getting better) means that one must compensate and adjust one’s attitude. Others may not always respond to us in ways we like, but choose to react how we would have liked them to respond to us.
  4. Do your research and think about the big picture. Then don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. (If I had, I would now have the correct photo, the one of Myself, Noboa and Anabella in front of the winning painting, also I would have liked to meet the other jurors and thank them.)
  5. Be gracious and smile. (got a little cranky a couple of times, especially after the fourth comment about being late, I’m usually good about being teased, but was a little PMS-y.)
  6. Wear the right shoes or break them in first. um, 10 open blisters?
  7. Don’t just think you know where you’re going ahead of time, write it down. even though we were already 15 minutes late. The cab driver was just not present in his own body and didn’t know the streets, couldn’t understand my accent and took 10 minutes to figure it out, then went the long way and dropped us off 2 blocks away, we walked the wrong way two more blocks before turning back. What should have been a 4 minute trip turned into a 35 minute trip. So I traveled all the way to Ecuador just to miss the entire event! Leave early. Have the address written down. Call ahead for a cab.
  8. The best way to take care of yourself is to take care of The Man. Make sure you make them look good when you have the opportunity to do so, but be genuine! Show up on time. Be where you are supposed to be.
  9. No matter how hard you work, there’s always someone who works harder. Work hard, enjoy life, love what you do, stop whining, and keep the focus on yourself in the here and now (only the part about others working so hard was actually lesson from this trip! The Ecuadorian artists I met work so F-ing hard. It makes me want to up my game.)
  10. Trust oneself.

What I did well

  1. Forgive myself when I make a mistake and move on. ;-)
  2. Traveled to a country by myself as a non-native speaker and an inexperienced traveler.
  3. Packed well and planned well and brought gifts (even though I never got the chance to give them to anyone but Mark)
  4. Genuine and honest
  5. Had a good time, explored, made friends, reached out, took chances, learned, laughed, loved, made mistakes and was good to myself about it.
  6. Interested in other people and listened.
  7. Didn’t throw anyone under a bus.
  8. Looked out for my friends.
  9. Introduced myself to the other winner who was at the reception, Saidel Brito and his wife Lupe. Extended congratulations and got to know them a little. Went to see his other work the following evening at the DPM Gallery.
  10. Said thank you.
  11. Sent myself a postcard thanking myself and reminding myself of how I kept my integrity and other nice things.

Moments I enjoyed:


I immensely enjoyed watching people I knew connect and interact with each other, and Joseph Robert’s expression when I found out that “the rest is a faint echo” was hanging in the show. And his excitement when I received my check. And I enjoyed seeing Eric Crisman’s kindness & humanity and hearing what he had to say.


I enjoyed when others were taking “celebrity” photos with my painting. That was a novel experience for me, and unexpected.


I enjoyed the campy Beatles cover band because of their accents when they sang combined with their complete earnestness, bobbing heads, and the audience love, excitement and support.


I enjoyed being invited to sit down “at home” after the reception and hang out for a bit, listen to some stories and talk about what to do next. Although, at one moment I did get a bit emo. re: my mom and had to leave the room briefly. The whole situation simply had such a sense of familiarity to me, as though I had lived it before. Like, “oh yes, here I am now.” (It was the same when I got pregnant with my son.) There were times on this trip, also, when I almost felt as though I was going to begin speaking fluent spanish suddenly. As though it were all right there. It was strange.


I took a long walk along the Malecon and up the hill. There were many uniformed guards. I climbed up and up until I reached a spot where there was another woman, well enough dressed, resting on one of the benches. I felt comfortable stopping here to sketch. I sat for 40 minutes drawing. Then her walkie-talkie started “screaming” out loud and I realized she wasn’t just another tourist! There I was, still seeing in stereotypes, another one thrown away. Thank you very much. When she left, be careful was what she told me. The uniformed guard remained behind while I finished up my sketch.


I love this photo for so many reasons. It’s almost anonymous, it reminds me of Cameron’s constant photos of his feet, Joseph is simultaneously shooting back, he reminded me to document-witness-my own life (big one), he was such a great sport and brought us all joy. The second photo: besides the color and the foreground character, Joseph was back there so long trying to get that shot, I don’t know, I just wanted to photograph that.


Andrea and I had such fun talking at the reception. It brought me right back to Ann and my childhood mischief and liveliness. It was great to connect with a kindred spirit.
On the right, Joseph is telling intense and personal stories. I understand how my art connects to him specifically and others generally and powerfully. I also greatly appreciated the things he said here.


We asked local fishermen to take us out in their boat while at the beach. I loved the spontaneity, ballsy-ness, and sense of adventure. Asking and receiving. It was fun. Getting out was great fun.
On the right is Saul, my cab driver. Look at his face! I love this! This was a first for him and he’s clearly delighted. What a story he’ll have. I love that.


What I loved about this moment was that I asked this woman to take my photo drinking the coconut juice (which I didn’t like-to my great surprise). She was afraid to do it. Saul and I showed her how and she took it. I loved that she did something  she was unfamiliar with. Then Saul, who told me he didn’t like coconut juice before I got one, drank all of it instead of wasting it!


I was glad I got up at the reception to seek out the other artists and get to know them a little bit. The Ecuadorian artists are incredibly hard working. In comparison, I feel like a slacker. Lupe, to my left, curates the museum, teaches at the university, and writes. And Saidel is her husband, whose artwork is behind us. He also teaches full-time. To see more of his work you can link to it here.

The rest of the photo album is located here:

Press links from Ecuador:
El Universo, “Juan Caguana lidera Bienal de Guayaquil,” April 30, 2010.
El Universo, “Dien finalistas para la Segunda Bienal de Pintura Guayaquil” April 28, 2010. http://www.eluniverso.com/2010/04/28/1/1380/diez-finalistas-segunda-bienal-pintura-guayaquil.html

Category: Biennale

Please add a comment

Leave a Reply

(Your email will not be publicly displayed.)

Captcha Code

Click the image to see another captcha.

blog comments powered by Disqus