the Chinese New Year began today. we have hereby entered the Year of the Dragon. being Year of the Pig Studio, i suppose i feel some closeness to the start of this Chinese New Year.
first of all, i live in Chinatown. i don’t live near or around Chinatown, i live on Chinatown. the main drag for tourists is on Grant Street, two blocks from me. the main drag for residents (a.k.a. lovers of vegetables and pink plastic bags filled with said vegetables) is Stockton Street, one block from me. my location is somewhat ideal because i am close to the hustle and bustle of everything Chinatown, but because i do not live on either Grant or Stockton streets, i rarely have to deal with the hustle and bustle of everything Chinatown unless i am walking to work.
my walk to work requires me to cross both Grant and Stockton, which is somewhat precarious for me because Stockton is a street filled with vegetables and fish on the sidewalk, literally. sure, these things are sold in various bins and carts, but the sidewalks of Chinatown are a mess with slime. slimy old fish bits (i shudder to think what parts of a fish i pass by/step on every day on my way to work) and fallen soggy vegetables. i regularly see giant scary googly eyed fish heads and entire pigs thrown over peoples shoulders and deep fried ducks hanging upside down suspended in window displays. Stockton Street is essentially one giant drag of a farmers market where chaos, little old ladies with carts, and pushing and shoving is not only acceptable, but encouraged.
i say “precarious” because i am (clearly) accident prone. if the shoes that i am wearing to work are not equipped with proper traction, i will almost always slip. i don’t always fall, but i have fallen a few times despite my best efforts to watch my footing. sigh, it’s just one of the consequences of living in Chinatown. if you can’t handle rotting slimy fish bits underfoot with the potential to land in the them ass first, then you’d best not live here. we’re a strong breed we are, us Chinatown dwellers.
chinatown alley lights
speaking of year of the’s – i’m not certain i have ever informed you of how my little studio business got its name. as much as i appreciate the zodiac calendars (western, chinese, and otherwise), i take that sort of thing with a
handful grain of salt. it’s always fun to turn to astrological what-have-yous to make sense of life, but really? it’s like visiting a chiropractor when you probably need back surgery. that sounds extreme, but i you know what i mean.
pigs are generally a symbol of gluttony. they are considered greedy, filthy, fat, and somewhat self serving. pigs are also known for being quite smart creatures, but this fact is often overlooked due to the descriptions above. i was born in 1984, which is considered by westerners to be the Year of the Rat. however, since the Chinese New Year begins about a month later than the Western New Year, i am technically a pig. i was born on January 27, 1984. the Year of the Rat began on February 2, 1984. so, you see, i am a pig and not a rat, just barely.
i’m not entirely sure when the love of and for pigs entered my life. i suppose it all started when i got a tattoo in 2007 on the top of my right foot. i have only a few tattoos, all of them being in black ink and taking up no more than a post-it size space on my body. i’ve always admired those with full sleeves and other tattoos that take up massive amounts of skin space because that’s a commitment. it’s almost like having a baby, it’ll be with you for life and in twenty years you might entirely regret having it, but what’s done is done. you can get them removed if you feel so inclined, but it will cost you a pretty penny. and, like having a child (if you are a woman), if you end up regretting the ink on your skin you will probably feel as though that part of your body is ruined forever. that stubborn baby weight will never leave your side and you’ll be left scarred. i’m sounding far more cryptic than i had intended. truth is :: i adore children and i think there are few things more beautiful than a pregnant woman, but i’m just being a cynical self righteous asshole because i can be. apologies. at least you only pay for a tattoo once, you’ll never have to worry about covering their rent, tuition, or bail?
for the record, i’ve never been to jail. i’m off topic and being a smart ass.
paul klee pig tattoo, right foot
so, this tattoo on my foot is of a pig. this drawing of a pig is by Paul Klee, a swiss born german artist. i found this drawing in an art history book during college and fell in love with it immediately. mr. klee drew this pig while wearing a blind fold. apparently, he and his buddies decided to blind fold themselves and draw pigs in a sketch book. this explains why the pig looks somewhat unfinished, but when i first encountered this drawing i thought it was the perfect pig. i can’t remember the exact quote (directed at his fellow artist friends) from Klee that accompanied this drawing, but it was something along the lines of :: “dear friends, i hope we can achieve this kind of success in our lives.” meaning :: though we will never be perfect or entirely finished or completely satisfied with our work, if we persevere with our hearts and talent, we’ll probably be just fine. it’s the whole, “perfection within imperfection” concept. a concept that i adore because i adore people and things not despite their imperfections, but because of them.after that, pigs just kind of entered my life in strange and unexpected ways. my best friend began a band which she named, “Blue, Pig.” a reference to the movie Disco Pigs, where two lovers (named Pig and Runt) are discussing love. Pig asks Runt, “what’s the color of love?” and Runt replies, “Blue, Pig.” when i first dabbled with the thought of having my own studio, i mulled over many names. Jessi Kempin Studio sounded dull and everything else that came to mind was so incredibly cheezy (yes, so cheesy it deserves a “z”). after much legwork and consultations with the oracle (a.k.a. google), i took a shining to Year of the Pig. it rolled of the tongue nicely (even though the url is a bit word-y) and i s’pose it just felt right. there have been many more pig related things in my life, but i will not bore you with that. i have yet to describe to you, properly, my new living arrangement. over christmas weekend i moved from my embarrassingly small room into a new room, in the same apartment. the room is larger. the closet is larger. and i finally ditched my crumby hand-me-down-on-the-floor single mattress that i’d been sleeping on for over a year and upgraded to a firm foam mattress in a lofted bed (thanks, ikea). this means that i sleep three feet from the ceiling, which means that the entire room is now devoted to being my studio space. this upgrade was a long time coming. it came at the expense of my french roommate moving back to Paris, so it was incredibly bittersweet. losing him in this household was more than painful. the day he left, i was on the floor in his then empty bedroom reduced to tears. he is one of the best people i have ever met in my life. he made me laugh on a daily basis. he cared for me deeply, and i him. and san francisco just isn’t the same without him. boy oh boy, how i love that boy. this friday i will be turning twenty eight years old. i care not for my own birthday. i do adore celebrating other peoples’ birthdays, but have never cared to celebrate my own. i feel the same way towards my own birthday as i do to the new year. 365 days have passed and that’s that. and technically, i came into existence nine months prior to the day i was born. if we celebrate our lives, we ought to celebrate the day we were conceived, not the day our mothers went through hell and back only to have us erupt from her body as a slimy, screaming, ungrateful, demanding, crying mess of a thing. i already warned you that i was feeling cynical this evening, so i won’t bother to apologize again. thanks to my new space, i’ve since whipped out my oil paints again. oil painting is my first true love, but it requires a proper space and ventilation – i had neither in my previous shoebox sized room. but here, i have both. and it’s so exciting! i’m currently in the process of painting a portrait of my best friend in new york. her name is Katie and she is the best person i know. exhibit A :: other than that? i have more stories to tell, but i’ve already rambled on for far too long (per usual). i hope to post in the coming week (not sure if i’ll be 27 or 28 when that happens, but no matter). until then, i will be painting, hiding in my lofted bed with my cat, and listening to the excessive amount of Chinese firecrackers going off around my home. the new year celebration lasts fifteen days, starting today. i may invest in a pair of ear plugs because those firecrackers sound a lot like gunfire. happy Year of the Dragon from Year of the Pig Studio! [iPhone Instagram photos] jessi