Monday, April 22, 2019

Roy Irwin, Gladstone's Grow Op & Sean Mendoza

Weekly Update 2019-17: Sombre 80s-inspired slow jams from Roy Irwin, visiting my happy place at the Gladstone Grow Op and remembering a lost friend, Sean Mendoza.

You will never be forgotten, Sean.

Music: Roy Irwin
A true throwback to 80s slow jams, Roy Irwin is a solo artist out of New Zealand. I've been feeling sad and this fits the bill. Irwin's music is soft, flowing tones that repeat and layer over each other in interesting ways, drawing me into a calm state. It's good to have comforting music when you need it.

Birthdays are sometimes a challenge for me; I especially get a bit overwhelmed every third or fourth year when mine falls on Passover. This year was very bittersweet for me, but I did manage to make a really tasty birthday "cake" that met my requirements for the holiday.

It involved three layers, one of which being a sort of "jello salad" aka an aspic. Of course I am in a Facebook group called Show Me Your Aspics, and of course I had to share my results with the group (to some positive reviews):

I also managed to nab two tickets to see Junji Ito at TCAF, which I'm super stoked about. I think tickets sold out in about 15 minutes - I noted there were only 450 in total! You may remember Ito's work from my earlier post on Uzumaki. I actually don't own any of his works, so I'm excited to buy a couple of his books and get his signature on them...only a few days after I return from California!

Tomorrow marks Vena's celebration of Earth Day, and while we clean out our desks I'll be giving a little talk about Bunz. My hope is that people may want to trade each other for the items they clean out of their desks, and people are welcome to bring items from home as well.

After work tomorrow I have a coffee chat with another designer - a hackathon contestant I met at ElleHacks. She's just finished third year in the IXD program at Sheridan, so it'll be cool to chat about our past experiences and see if I can help to demystify anything for her. After that, I am spending tomorrow evening packing for my trip as I have two BrainStation classes and drumming practice, and then I leave on my trip. So tomorrow's the only day. Starting Friday, it's truly time for a vacation.

Inspiration: Gladstone's Grow Op
This weekend marked Gladstone Hotel's annual Grow Op plant-based art exhibit, along with a wonderful clothing swap and repair cafe. I was able to drop off some old clothes, find some new ones, and meet a wonderful woman named Wendy who fixed my leggings for me.

Grow Op itself was a miraculous wonder, same as every year I've attended in its seven-year-run. Some real stunners were as follows:

I walked into a blacked-out hotel room, divided into two by a net, on the other side of which was a huge, growing mushroom (mycelium). It was connected to a piece of equipment that emitted MIDI sounds, literally the sounds of the organism. Visitors were invited to enter the other side of the net and touch copper plates that were also connected to the mycelium. Immediately upon touch of the copper plates, the MIDI sounds changed and swayed with a new addition of the user's own life pulses. This intimate experience was provided by Tosca Teran (aka Nanotopia).

Tosca Teran's Primordia.

I was mesmerized by a 20 minute film by Peter Mettler on how our landscape is slowly, gradually changed through nature. The camera follows sheets of lava flowing over land for long, luxuriously slow shots. It was impossible to look away from.

Finally, the cover art of the exhibition was a beautiful design called Microbial Feast by Noni Kaur. Her practice explores how personal culture and materials are adapted or transformed in different spaces and environments. She carefully coloured and set out a vibrant design of a woman's uterus, in dessicated coconut, on the floor of a room. It looked and smelled amazing.

And finally, I got to take another visit in my favourite room in the world; on display from January 2019 to January 2020. It is a second floor communal meeting room in the hotel, especially visible from the outside through both west and south facing windows, glimmering for the iridescent film covering the windows, with a beautiful silver sculpture behind the windows to help out with the job.

It is my happy place. I also make note of how the windows change colour based on the time of day and angle of the sun, and bike past it twice a day in all lighting conditions to make not of its changes.

I might be's a selfie of me in the room.

It was blue at the moment, but it can be all colours.

And above all else, the ticket collector for the show was none other than my neighbour and Young Urbanists League Admin Rachel Lissner! We caught up a bit on life (I haven't seen her in over a year!) and she told me about her updates to the modern seder plate she uses for her Passover dinners. It's pretty spectacular:

The lollipop hit me most hard: in America, where drills are run in schools to prepare for gun attacks, children are given candy to pacify them so they won't make sound. It's horrifying.

Random Thought: Sean Mendoza
Amongst everything else, it was a really difficult weekend as I received terrible news on Friday. After not answering his phone for two days, it was finally discovered that my dear friend and bandmate Sean had passed away. This being a huge surprise to everyone in the band, I was in shock. I really don't know how we will carry on, as Sean was such an integral part of TDot Batu.

As the principal double-surdo player in the band, Sean was the figurative and literal heartbeat of our band. Both in instrumentation and in genuine spirit, Sean was someone you could rely on for a smile and a joke.

Sean was a gentle soul and just one of the best people I knew.

I'm hoping to hear about funeral plans from his family before I leave for my trip. Meanwhile, I think the band will put together a memorial ceremony of some kind during practice on Wednesday.

It's so strange to lose someone so quickly, and without any warning at all. I still can't really believe it, to be honest. It'll definitely be weird not to have him there. Even at our last practice on Wednesday, when we were putting the drums away, Pato said, "Be careful putting the drums away, since Sean is not here to do it". Though if I am sure of anything, I know some form of his spirit will watch over the band. I don't know if I believe in that sort of thing exactly, but some sort of energy will still remain from his memory...and the hole he left.

Sean actually art-directed this Instagram photo with me before practice a month ago...

It'll be a while before I stop thinking about it all the time.

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