It’s Wednesday! Time for another update from me about my creative projects, but first, I wanted to let you all know that the new film Crazy Rich Asians opens in theaters today, August 15th, across the country!!
It is produced by a major motion picture studio and has an entirely Asian cast. This is worthwhile to support because this kind of representation and diversity has been sorely lacking in mainstream entertainment in America! Also, it’s a fun and salacious story that makes for a lively movie-going experience.
I’m going to see it this week. Find it at your local theater and go see it too!
Okay, on with the update . . .
1. Remember that drawing I started last week. Well, here is a photo of the progress I am making. I’m thinking it is the first of a series of flowers done in pencil that I will do. I should be much further along by next week.
2. This coming Sunday, August 19, 2018, I am hosting my annual Piano Salon. I will be showcasing fellow musicians Oliver Flowers, Matilda, and Goatboy, in addition to performing some of my own songs with Nashville guitarist Andrew Weitze. This is a private concert that I will have in my home in the woods. If any of you are interested in coming out to see the show, let me know in the comments, and I’ll get you the information. I’ll post pictures from the show in next week’s update.
3. Pianissimo COMING SOON!
I am launching my new and revamped monthly email newsletter! It is going to feature all kinds of information about upcoming creative work, art, and what I am calling visual poetry. The inaugural issue comes out later this month.
4. Here are the newest posts from my blog Tropical Shade of Green:
This is another weekly check-in on progress that I am making toward all of my creative projects. I have to admit that it is challenging to be productive in the summertime. It is sunny outside and the warmth in the air makes it conducive to lounging about and being decadently lazy. I’ve done some of that, but there is always a small voice in my head telling me to get up and do what I do.
I’ve been doing lots of creative work despite the sun and her temptations. Let’s run this down . . .
1. I have started a new art piece. I’ll post a photo of my progress every week on these updates. It will be glacial in its formation.
Check out the first photo:
2. My blog, Tropical Shade of Green, is my way of practicing my writing and laying out my thoughts in an engaging and concise way. Here are links to my most recent posts. (This first one is particularly valuable.)
3. I am an avid book reader, and much of my time this summer has been spent getting lost in several writings. I just finished the first book in the His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman called The Golden Compass. Before I tackle the next book in that trilogy, I am currently reading this:
4. As I reported last week, the music from my first album Seahorses is now available on Bandcamp in a “pay what you want” format. You can download the songs for free or pay a nominal amount that would go toward funding my musical pursuits. Here is the link:
5. I have an annual show that I do in my home in the woods. It is called Roque’s Piano Salon, and it will feature local performers and all three of my pianos. There will be food and refreshments. This is a private event, but if you are interested in going, please let me know in the comments. This is the event flyer:
Well, that’s all I have to report on my end.
Until next week, be kind and generous to yourselves and each other.
In honor of my birthday month and for a limited time, the songs off of my debut album Seahorses will be available on my band camp store with the option to pay what you want. This includes a free option if you so desire; however, any amount you can give will go a long way toward supporting my music and my visual art projects.
I am having a piano concert at my home in Liberty, TN in a couple of weeks. My friends and pianists Oliver Flowers, Matilda Earl, and others have been scheduled to play. It’s gonna be a super fun show that will involve three different pianos!! Yay!
Accountability is a good thing. Sharing is a good thing, and as such, I have decided to post weekly updates on my website roqueinbloom.com regarding my musical and visual art projects that are on the way. I have reached a new time in my life in which I want to share more about my creative work and ongoing progress I am making on several fronts. This is the inaugural RWR post, and it will be an ongoing review of the work I have accomplished on a weekly basis. I also feel that if I tell you what I am working on and when it will be ready, then I am accountable to you to make it happen. This is a good thing that will help keep me on track.
New editions of RWR will come out every Wednesday from now on. So, here we go:
1. Tropical Shade of Green
As some of you may know already, I relaunched my weekly blog into its own dedicated web space this past month. That space is called Tropical Shade of Green, and there are a couple of newer posts up if you haven’t seen them already. Here are some links:
What company do you keep? How discerning are you about the kinds of people you spend time with? Are they good for you?
Over the last several years, I have released a monthly e-newsletter called The Wonderful World of Gordon (also called the WWOG for short). It’s been a while since I released an issue, and since I now go by the name Roqué, it is time for a newsletter revamp. This newsletter has a new name that is one of my most cherished words in the English language. It refers to one of my favorite ways to play the piano. Pianissimo means to play softly and slowly. This is the new name of my newsletter. It will include a slew of updates on upcoming projects as well as artwork and a reimagined poetry room. The first issue comes out on my birthday month August 2018. More details to be announced.
3. Where Pianos Roam
A new installment of episodes from my darling side project Where Pianos Roam is forthcoming. I cannot promise that this will be a long season, but it will be a good one. Oreo and her rowdy bench are up to more adventures and shenanigans.
4. Roque’s Piano Salon
My annual piano concert at my home in the woods happens again on August 19, 2018. There will be guest pianists on hand to dazzle us with their sweet and enchanting melodies. More details to be announced.
Obviously, I have a lot going on, but it is all creative work that I love and enjoy.
Stick around for the ride and check in for another edition of RWR every Wednesday from now on.
This summer, I am releasing short digital art pieces that I am calling “Visual Poems”. They will generally be no more than one minute in length and will include video footage with any combination of spoken word poetry and/or original music.
They can be viewed exclusively on my new Youtube channel, and I will announce on all social media when new poems are released.
Why am I doing this?
I want to explore different ways of expressing my ideas. I have always been a musician, visual artist, and writer/poet. As such, why don’t I combine all of these skills into something that is textured and multi-dimensional? Why stick to only one when I can utilize all three?
In any case, I am releasing the first visual poem today. It includes part of a song that I wrote last fall called “The Memory”.
It’s June!! Now that summer is upon us, I am feeling blissfully excited to create magical, beautiful things. There is a small handful of projects I want to take on over the next three months, and I’ll be sharing my progress on Instagram and social media.
Here are the upcoming projects in a nutshell.
Creative Thesis Project
The biggest project I am tackling is one related to school. This is a sizable undertaking that will require a large amount of thought, time, and effort. Work begins this month. More on that later.
Some of you may have noticed the photos of flowers I’ve been posting on social media. Those photos are the result of my tinkling around with my new DSLR camera which is a Nikon D5600. I want to get better at photography, and I’ll be posting more floral and landscape photos.
You may recall the pointillism art that I have done in the past. Here is an example of one of my pieces:
I want to start a new piece, and I am trying to decide what it will be. I may or may not incorporate some watercolor. These pieces take a long time to finish, and I will probably just take my time with it. We’ll see. I’ll be posting my progress on it on Instagram once I get started.
Where Pianos Roam
Finally, there will be a new season of my whimsical side project, in which I document the exploits of a traveling miniature grand piano and her rowdy bench. I’m hoping the new vignettes will start appearing in late July across all social media.
I am working on integrating my music and poetry with visual video vignettes. This is one of the first steps in this direction. I have lots of ideas I want to try out. Look for the first video vignette to launch from my youtube page soon.
So, that’s my upcoming summer in a nutshell. I will not have a full schedule of classes to contend with, and my cat Steinway already has me penciled into his schedule for daily feedings, cuddling, and poop-scooping. Sigh.
I recently wrote a post about the dominance of White people and culture in every facet of society here in America (you can read the post HERE.), and I have been thinking a lot lately about Asian representation in popular culture. Surely there are more than just classic martial art films? (Cue the sound of crickets endlessly chirping away.)
I look over at the African-American community. They have come such a long way. Last year, the film Moonlight won best picture. They have won Oscars in all of the major acting categories. They have formidable pop stars. (Beyonce and Rihanna anyone?) Rap, R&B, and Hip hop have become mainstream mainstays. They have brought us jazz, blues, and Michael Jackson. A man by the name of Barrack Obama showed us all how its done, and recently, they have given us Black Panther–the first real African American super hero franchise. They are AMAZING.
Then, I look over at the rest of us–the Asians, Latinos, and everyone from the Middle East. We have yet to fully stake our claim at the table. You can argue that many opportunities are being denied us, but what we must ultimately do is stand up and show up.
Unless we actively share our art with the world, no one will hear our voices. As a person of color, I need to rise above the limitations, the whitewashing, the gentrification, and the marginalizing. I need to stand up and be heard.
The cultural landscape is not completely devoid of empowered Asians. I wanted to highlight a small handful of them here who are officially kicking some serious ass. They are forging a path for the rest of us. We will all stand up and follow . . .
He is, arguably, the Michael Jordan of figure skating. It was refreshing to see a Chinese-American be the face of the US Olympic team in the media and in commercials leading up to the winter games in Pyeongchang, Korea. Even though we’ve already had titans like Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan before him, it felt as if this time someone of Asian descent was legitimately embraced as marketable and worthy of hype and attention.
By the end of the competition, he made history by being the first of any Olympian to land five quad jumps in a single program in competition. He’s bad ass, and I’m so proud of how the whole country rooted for him.
Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen
Asian women have been dominant forces in American figure skating over the past few decades. Again, Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan come to mind. Carrying on in this tradition are Mirai Nagasu who was the first American woman to land a triple axel in Olympic competition and her teammate Karen Chen. Both of them have been US Champions and Olympians. Gritty athleticism, hard work, and pure talent have taken them this far. I hope many more will follow.
The show “The Splendid Table” on NPR has been a longstanding favorite among food enthusiasts in America and all over the world. When its founder and host Lynn Rossetto Kasper announced that she was retiring, there was much trepidation surrounding the show’s future. It was not long before it was announced that Francis Lam would take over as host of the show. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of food and cooking, as well as an easygoing and comforting over-the-air presence, he has taken the show into new directions toward international flavors and delicacies. He is the son of Chinese immigrants and is so good at his job! Listen to the Splendid Table on NPR! He’s totally worth it.
In the indie music scene, she is well-known, revered, and beloved. Vienna Teng is a singer/songwriter and pianist whose music is rich with poetic lyricism and gorgeous melodies. I’ve been to her shows, and she is the real deal. Her piano work is first-rate. There is a gentle shrewdness behind each of her songs. She gives us narrative arcs that force us to cram our minds into tight and uncomfortable spaces, only to set us free by the final chords. Currently, she splits her time between a successful indie music career and work as a climate change consultant for international corporations. Isn’t that amazing? If you haven’t heard her music yet, check her out.
I will be featuring more Asian artists and content creators in the future, and I too, will stand up to be heard.
This week, I wanted to highlight a recent episode of NPR’s food and cooking show The Splendid Table in which they explore the growing Filipino food movement here in America. Being a Filipino myself, I grew up eating some of the most delicious and flavorful foods from my home country.
I have always been sad that Filipino food is not as ubiquitous as Chinese or Japanese cuisine, but maybe this is actually a blessing. Dishes like adobo, sinigang, and lumpia can continue to be the best kept secrets that they are, and they can be spared from becoming generic and homogenized.
Here is the episode from The Splendid Table. Its engaging host Francis Lam interviews several Filipino chefs and talks about some great Filipino restaurants across the country. Check it out and press play . . .
One of this episode’s interviewees, Joanne Boston, also lists some of the more prominent Filipino restaurants throughout the country. If you live in or will be visiting these areas, check them out! If you have never had Filipino food, it is like nothing else from Asia . . .
Joanne Boston’s Suggested Restaurants for Filipino Cuisine in the US
SF Bay Area:
Guerrilla Street Food
Skip to Malou
Hood Famous Bakeshop
Food & Sh*t Pop-Up
Los Angeles and surrounding areas
Uncle Mike’s Place
If you find yourself in a Filipino restaurant and at a loss for what to eat, I would recommend chicken or pork adobo for starters as well as lumpia. Adobo is a sweet and savory flavor that is a Filipino staple applied to any kind of meat. If cooked well, the meat is juicy and tender and the sauce can be mixed in with the warm and sticky rice that should come with it. These elements combine to make a dining experience that will make you want to hug somebody.
Lumpia is the Filipino version of a fried egg roll, except that it is generally meat based and tastes nothing like the Chinese version. It is usually packed with all kinds of seasoning and is unapologetically crunchy and oily. They are decadent and delicious. You will want to eat a few of these.
This will not be the last time that I blog about Filipino food. I may share some recipes and show photos of what I have cooked. So far, I know how to make adobo, Filipino fruit salad, pansit, lumpia, and dinuguan. Learning tinola and sinigang are next up on my list.
Feel free to post any thoughts and questions you might have about Filipino cuisine. Find or make a dish and savor every bite.
I have learned to redefine what I believe a creative person is. It is not solely about the label of being a “performer”, “musician”, “inventor”, or “sculptor”. As one’s identity relates to creativity, it has less to do with an actual title and more to do with an active state of doing creative work.
A creative person performs music every day. She works on developing a new invention on a regular basis. She has designated times to work on a current sculpture or 3-dimentional concept. He is constantly tweaking a new business plan or marketing strategy.
A creative person is actively engaged in the work and craftsmanship of creating.
To settle on a label such as “artist”, “singer”, or “strategist” is to be passive. We are all more than what any one word could encapsulate. This is why I think of creativity as a constant state of movement and innovation.
I make this distinction because I get asked all of the time what I like to do. For the most part, I tell people that I create art through music and visual media every day. I stay away from using labels, and I choose not to limit who I am and what I can or cannot do.
I know that labels help everyone else understand, relate to, and conceptualize what I do, but first of all, it is not my responsibility to help everyone do that. Secondly, I can be intentional about describing the work I do instead of just giving a label.
Creativity is a way of life. A fluid mindset. A flow of movement.
This perspective and small pivot in how I perceive myself keeps me more open to limitless possibilities as a creative person.
Creativity is in the doing. The being will always be secondary.
If any deeper explanations are needed, your creative output that you actively work on every day will speak for itself.