FALL 2011 NEWSLETTER
Executive Director's Welcome|
Welcome to Current, the quarterly e-newsletter of the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA). It has been a very busy year for us at VAALA! The art exhibition, Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry, marked the opening of our gallery space within the VAALA Cultural Center. We strongly believe that art has the ability to bring people from different backgrounds and experiences together. The success of the exhibit's opening reception proved that the gallery is a much welcomed space in our community! In this issue, you'll read about the many other exciting VAALA events which have occurred in the last few months as well as some not-to-be-missed events coming up. We are also incredibly excited to announce that we successfully reached and surpassed our goal of $5,000 through the Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign! All of these successes would not be possible without the generosity of VAALA's long-standing sponsors, supporters, and dedicated volunteer staff. Thank you for your support, and we look forward to continuing to enrich the community with many more artistic events!
Ysa D. Le
WE DID IT! VAALA Supporters Raise $5,680 through Kickstarter Campaign|
On October 4, 2011, VAALA completed its Online Fundraising Campaign through Kickstarter.com. With the goal of $5,000, VAALA outreached to its community supporters to help support arts programming for the Vietnamese community in Orange County. The unique aspect of a Kickstarter campaign is that a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Through an outpouring of viral support ("You tell your friends and I'll tell mine!"), VAALA was able to not only meet but surpass its goal with $5,680. All donations will go directly towards continuing to providing free artistic events such as the annual Moon Festival Children's Art Contest, art exhibits, literary readings, Hat Boi and puppetry classes. Additionally, funds will also support improvements to the VAALA Cultural Center in Santa Ana, a new exhibition space created specifically for community events and art exhibitions for local artists. Ovee the last few months, VAALA's team of volunteers has turned what was once a dark and damp storage space into a beautifully functional art gallery. Improvements are still in progress and any support to secure the basic necessities, help make additional improvements and space maintenance would be greatly appreciated!
Click here to donate to VAALA
Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry Attracts Orange County Community |
On a balmy Friday evening on August 26th, the VAALA Cultural Center welcomed several hundred guests to the opening reception of Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry. The art exhibition marks an important milestone for VAALA, as many hours were invested in completing the necessary infrastructure upgrades to make the Cultural Center a fully functioning and beautiful exhibition and performance space. Improvements included the addition mobile exhibit walls with track-lighting, storage areas, seating, new wall paint, among many others. The Cultural Center will henceforth be a great asset to the community as a whole.
Guest curated by Thuy N. D. Tran, the exhibition showcases recent works by artists Trinh Mai, Christine Nguyen, Tammy Nguyen, Trinh Ponce, Dao Strom and Van Tran. The artists selected for this exhibition, all of whom happen to be young Vietnamese American women, are very diverse in their approach and thematic emphasis; however what they all share in common are works that invite viewers to delve into the many overlays of meaning. The artworks encourage audiences to read visual art in the same way as poetry -- through the contemplation of visual metaphors and their interpretive possibilities.
Aside from introducing the audience to a wide array of artistic creations (ranging from a photographic mural, paintings on canvas, fiber arts, ceramics, to mineral sculptures), the opening reception also showcased an exciting lineup of musical performances by Miniature Houses, Whalesound, and Sea Moon. The performers immersed the audience in music ranging from guitar folk to alternative rock. As it so happens, two of the exhibiting artists‚ÄîDao Strom and Christine Nguyen -- were part of the musical performances, further proof that traditional artistic boundaries no longer hold. Additionally, special recognition was given to Mr. Vu Duy Tu and Mr & Mrs. Than Nguyen for their long-standing support of VAALA.
The opening reception was one of those rare occasions when old and young, Vietnamese- and English-speaking people of diverse backgrounds came together in one space, being engaged by art, music, food, drink, and, perhaps most importantly, conversation. The success of the opening night, the exhibition, and the refurbishment of the VAALA Cultural Center would not have been possible without the generous contributions of the community and volunteers. Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry runs until November 5. Gallery Hours are Saturday and Sunday, 12 ‚Äì 5pm, and by appointment. The VAALA Cultural Center is located at 1600 North Broadway, first floor, Santa Ana, California.
-photos courtesy of Jade Ha
Click here for more pictures from the opening reception of Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry.
Vietnamese Cinema Night at 2011 OC Film Fiesta|
This year, VAALA makes significant strides in outreaching to other local communities in Orange County. In particular, VAALA partnered with the 2nd annual OC Film Fiesta, which celebrates the Santa Ana Latino community and the rich heritage of the region. VAALA hosted a wine reception at its newly renovated gallery space followed by Vietnamese Cinema Night at the elegant Yost Theater in downtown Santa Ana on Saturday, September 10, 2011. Both these events were free and open to the public.
The wine reception opened up our cultural center for guests to view the amazing artwork on display at VAALA&os;s current exhibition, Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry (now through November 5, 2011).
Following the wine reception, VAALA organized screenings of two shorts -- The Fading Light (dir. Thien Do) and Dangdiggity: Corner Shop Poet (dir. Viet Nam Nguyen) -- and a feature -- Touch (dir. Minh Duc Nguyen). The Yost Theater was filled to capacity with audiences hungry for more representations of Vietnamese/Americans on the silver screen. In the elegant atmosphere of the Yost, where patrons can sip a cocktail and lounge on plush sofas, the audience reflected a diversity of ethnicities and backgrounds.
After the screenings, OC Film Fiesta Director Sandra Pocha Pena and VAALA's very own Ysa Le moderated a Q&A Session with the two directors present, Thien Do and Minh Duc Nguyen. An impressive number of Touch's cast was also present and helped create buzz and excitement for the film. Audience questions ranged from the inquiries about the technical side of making movies to the broader implications of their films in representing Vietnamese/American experiences.
VAALA will continue to make a more concerted effort in collaborating with other organizations that have the common purpose of strengthening community through art. This collaboration with the OC Film Fiesta has proven to be a great success, and VAALA looks forward to more opportunities to serve as a bridge between Vietnamese American and other communities.
-photos courtesy of Pocha Pena
Article by -Thuy Vo Dang
Click here for more pictures from Vietnamese Cinema Night
Layers of Paint|
-photo courtesy of Chrissy Olivia
A VAALA volunteer reflects on community through her sensory-laden experience at the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Tet Trung Thu) Children's Art Contest
"Oh that looks really nice! Is that a lantern?" I asked one of the young artists drawing at my table. "No, it's a trash can," she replied.
Of course it was a trash can. Duh! This year's theme for VAALA's annual Tet Trung Thu Art Contest was "How to Take Care of Our Earth." Like so many VAALA events, this year's Moon Festival tried to impress youth with layers of meaning embedded in every activity throughout the weekend.
"But you can just draw anything," one of the emcees frantically said on stage. Sadly, many artists were suffering childhood-onset painter's block. As if the heat of competition wasn't enough to bear, I squeezed between rows of tightly packed tables and chairs in the Nguoi Viet Conference room. Over 300 youth packed this year's event. I spun on my heels to keep a steady flow of colored pencils and tempera paint for the young artists.
The emcees tried to subdue the 5-15 year old artists: "Let's keep it quiet for your neighbors, who might need some space for their creativity." Somehow, I don't remember my childhood crayon scribbles being that intense. But maybe times have changed for this new generation of Vietnamese Americans. "Also, no Pokemon or anime cartoons, because that's not creative!" Well, let's not get VAALA sued for copyright infringement either!
No, if anything, VAALA created the opposite problem: amazing original art work from the community's youth! After volunteers poured the last cup of dirty paint water down the bathroom sink -- hopefully not straight to the ocean -- we gathered to admire the amazing paintings about how to preserve our beautiful earth. Some pieces simply blew my mind: I'd love to raise a child prodigy of my own some day.
VAALA kept the party rolling all weekend, displaying the hundreds of paintings at Westminster Mall. I hopped back and forth between craft tables for lantern-making and display boards with ribbons congratulating winners. I tried hard to remember how to say "Honorable Mention" and "scroll the golden piece together, glue here, and then slide it in between the blue piece" in Vietnamese. This lantern was made for kids??
Just when I was getting the hang of the glue and the Vietnamese, I got a special job that I'll never forget. "Ok so this knob is the master volume. The other ones are for the mics. Got it?" one of the new emcees for the show explained. I said yes, but I should have said, "My finger broke just now, sorry!" My apologies to all the grandmas I offended with my obvious lack of technical skill. I'm a grad student; I don't have any transferrable skills!
Despite being subpar with the subwoofers, my favorite part of VAALA's Moon Festival was the Fashion Show. I am your typical Viet intellectual, expatriated punker queer girl, except that, unlike Mimi Nguyen, I'm definitely not into fashion. But I stand officially converted. The emcee brought each stylish fashionista to the stage with an introduction as articulate and cool as the threads they were flashing.
I looked down at my own piece of VAALA fashion, my volunteer t-shirt, a design created by one of last year's winners. It left me remembering all the layers of meaning that our community puts on and takes off in creative ways throughout the year, and throughout our histories, like painting over a perpetual mural. Thank you VAALA for letting me add my layer of paint this year!
By Natalie Newton
Photos courtesy of Huy Tran
Photos courtesy of Huy Tran