Friday, June 23, 2017

Second to None

As a follow-up to the previous two posts: LEXICON didn’t win the Chicago Reader’s #BestOfChi (it’s the runner-up), but I still think it’s the best. Thank you to everyone who voted!

A photo my mom took of a visitor to LEXICON.

(Also, it’s the runner-up to a show that’s actually on a national museum tour where Chicago was merely one of many stops. An independent exhibition being second to a huge organization like that is no small feat!)

The back of Tuesday’s daily Dreams of a City postcard is, on a visual level, another one of my favorites.

Postcard #2365 back: 24 July 2013, NW. corner of Fullerton at Ashland.

To read the front and for more dreams, visit @dreamsofacity, where I’ve been sharing one mapped Chicago dream a day, every day (Monday’s was moving too, especially since I’ve been thinking a lot about the passage of time lately), and to learn more about my ongoing large-scale interactive art project, visit this page.

Happy summer! (Even to you readers in the Southern Hemisphere, because yes.) From the solstice on Wednesday:

Best summer solstice ever.

(Pictured above was the view from a nerd alumni event—I was the only Columbia University person and think I represented you well, CU kids!—on the rooftop of a Streeterville high rise. Much love to everyone I met!)

Update: At this gallery opening, someone I always thought was cool told me they admire me. You all make my art life worthwhile!

Monday, June 12, 2017


Sneak peek and first time drawing myself since I was a kid (although I painted myself a couple times like 10 years ago?): Here’s a quick sketch that’s part of my story in the upcoming graphic novel anthology New Frontiers.

Also adding this to my Scribble Sunday series
[even though it's Monday].

(Thank you to Asian American Millennials Unite—an organization that “spotlights the political power of the new generation of Asian America”—for all the related love on Twitter and Instagram! Apparently I’m “one of [their] favorite artists who’s not afraid to use [my] medium to push AAPI issues forward.” Shucks.)

When folks still ask you about a piece you wrote 5(!) years ago:

Thank you, Babu!

(P.S. The post is “Midwesterner in the Middle Kingdom // The Outsider” and just so happens to be what I based my New Frontiers story on!)

A reminder: If you haven’t yet, vote LEXICON for “Best Gallery Exhibit” in the Chicago Reader’s #BestOfChi! Voting ends today at 12pm CST! (Refer to the previous post if you have any difficulties viewing the ballot.) Thank you in advance, thank you to those who’ve already voted and spread the word, and thank you for nominating LEXICON in the first place!

Like, 1/8 of LEXICON.

And speaking of shows, a recommendation: Takashi Murakami’s The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is now open at the Museum of Contemporary Art! (Pretty much all of Chicago was at the exhibit on the first public day and I ran into and met so many people and I loved it.) It’ll be up all summer, and admission is free for Illinois residents every Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


LEXICON made it to the final round of the Chicago Reader’s #BestOfChi voting, thanks to you! Now, vote for LEXICON (the artist statement-less interactive show I created and curated featuring 47 talented artists from diverse backgrounds in the 7,000 sq. ft. exhibition space of the Zhou B Art Center) for “Best Gallery Exhibit”! (Click the Arts & Culture category.) Thank you! [Update: Voting has now closed!]

(Important tip: I’m unable to view the ballot in Chrome so I assume many of you might come across the same problem; if that happens, try your phone instead, or, if you have Windows 10, use Microsoft Edge on desktop. Update: Basically, I think you need to disable ad blockers for the Reader.)

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day Weekend! (Mine consisted of this loveliness, this life-long tradition, spotting this helpful reminder in the form of street art, and—of course—this.)

Chicago house music blasted in the background
of this photo. Lurie Garden, Millennium Park.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival, everyone!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Can you tell me how to get

Artists, take charge of your own historical narrative! Submit your ephemera to the Chicago Artist Files at the Harold Washington Library; refer to the last paragraph on this page for details. I started a file of my own at Sixty Inches From Center’s Chicago Archives + Artists Festival this past Sunday, which was, well, amazing. (Here’s another [completely unrelated] reason why Sunday ruled.)


As I’d mentioned in this caption, although I was born in Chicago, I’m actually ESL; Cantonese is technically my first language and I picked up Toishanese listening to my maternal grandpa. I taught myself English as a baby by watching Sesame Street on WTTW, the local PBS station. PBS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, one of about a dozen agencies (along with the NEA and NEH) that will be eliminated under the proposed Trump Budget. These programs literally change lives. In my case, they start them. #Resist.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New Frontiers

An original story of mine (including artwork by me) will be published in New Frontiers, an original graphic novel anthology inspired by George Takei by the team behind the Asian American superhero anthology Secret Identities! Thank you so much to the editors, Jeff Yang and Keith Chow (founder of The Nerds of Color)!

Image courtesy of SIUniverse.

(Fun fact: When I was 16, I founded a free English tutoring program for immigrant youth in Chicago’s Chinatown called New Horizons. So I’d like to think this is fate.)

The back of Saturday’s daily Dreams of a City postcard has always been, on a purely visual level, one of my favorites. Thanks to Mary Iwanicki who helped leave this one. To read what was written on the front, visit @DreamsOfACity, where I’ve been sharing one mapped dream a day, every day. [Keep] follow[ing] along!

Postcard 1009 back: January 2013, Komoda (2559 W. Chicago).

And a reminder: If you haven’t done so already, I’d love it if you could take a couple minutes to nominate LEXICON for “Best Gallery Exhibit” in the Chicago Reader’s annual #BestOfChi poll! (More details and tips about the process in the previous post.) Thank you! [Update: Thanks to you, LEXICON is a finalist! Now, time to vote!]

Thursday, April 27, 2017


The Chicago Reader’s annual Best of Chicago poll is open for nominations, and it would mean the world to me if you nominate LEXICON (the interactive art show I created and curated featuring 47 artists in the 7,000 sq. ft. exhibition space of the Zhou B Art Center) for the “Best Gallery Exhibit”! Thank you! (This is the first round of voting; [hopefully] I’ll be bugging yall again in May for the final round.)

Xavier Johnson, me, and Michael Zhou the moment after
I sold Arturo Mazon's Oct on My Head to fellow artist Xavier
[in an amazing Pusheen hat]. LEXICON was Art's 1st show
ever! Photo by Gerard Rodriguez.

If you need to refresh your memory, check out the LEXICON tag for related blog posts!

(Also, a few people have told me they had trouble viewing the ballot depending on their desktop browser. Mobile worked for me, as did Microsoft Edge [aww yeah Windows 10 default] for desktop. Let me know if you need help!)

More words of gratitude: Thank you to everyone who visited The Subject Is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities at the Chicago Cultural Center, where my interactive installation was on display! The exhibition (thank you again to the museum and to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events!) may be over, but I’m still sharing one postcard a day, every day, at @DreamsOfACity. Keep following along!

(Speaking of my project, Dreams of a City was mentioned as one of the highlights in this article about the exhibition. Thank you, Loyola Phoenix and Marc Rosales II! There are some great visitor quotes in the piece too.)

In other Chicago art news: 150 Media Stream, a new media art installation of 89 LED panels inside 150 N. Riverside, is now open to the public! The first rotating artist is Jason Salavon.

In case you’re wondering about my recent Hong Kong trip, I’ll be writing a post about it soon / “soon”! In the meantime, check out my photos at @artistsonthelam on Instagram.

Me at Art Basel Hong Kong. Iván Navarro,
Impenetrable Room, Paul Kasmin Gallery.
Photo by my mom.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Southern Song

I’m traveling to Hong Kong today! (Thank you to Art Basel, Art Central, and Asia Contemporary Art Show for inviting me to your VIP programs again!) You know what to do; follow along on Instagram and Twitter for live updates and photos.

Some of my phone photos from last year's Hong Kong trip.

As you also know, I’m usually on my own for my annual HK trip. This year, however, my mom’s tagging along so she can finally record an album there! She’s an amazing Cantonese opera singer, and I’m so happy she’ll finally be able to share one of her myriad gifts with the world. I’m also happy because this means double the food portions I usually order. Watch out, HK; we Lam ladies are gonna’ come eat all your dim sum.

My mom at the storefront her family owned
and lived behind and above
in Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

To tide you over ‘til I’m back: Part of my ongoing large-scale interactive mapping project is currently on view at the Chicago Cultural Center, selected by the City of Chicago as part of the “Year of Public Art” initiative for 2017. People back home, check out the exhibition if you haven’t yet and get the chance. And everyone everywhere, follow my Dreams of a City account, where I’m sharing one Chicago postcard a day, every day. (The last time I counted, there were 356. After my art-making event during the Open House a couple weeks ago, though? Expect even more!)

Monday, February 27, 2017

City of [Ours]

Me at The Subject Is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center Open House (check out whose name is next to [/ repping Ward] 32):

Thank you to everyone who came on Saturday (your support means everything to me), to everyone who participated in my art-making event (I ran out of postcards within the hour! so amazing), and, of course, to the museum and to the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for selecting me and giving me this opportunity! And to the fellow exhibiting artists who came by my table, it was so wonderful meeting you! What a kind, creative, and overall incredible group to be a part of.

If you missed it, the show runs ‘til April 9, and you can (and should, to be honest) follow my ongoing interactive public art / mapping project at @DreamsOfACity, where I’m sharing one mapped Chicago postcard a day, every day. (As of this writing, there are 356.)

And, via my Twitter, here are some Oscars thoughts.

Monday, February 13, 2017

People, Places

I went and checked out the exhibition I was selected for, and only a fraction of my postcards are on display and you’re unable to see both sides (I envisioned them suspended from the ceiling, with visitors able to touch and handle each one), heh. (Not ungrateful, by the way; I’m still so honored to be exhibiting at the Chicago Cultural Center, and I’m proud to be the artist chosen to represent Chicago’s 32nd ward in this show! Thank you, again, to those who gave me this opportunity.)

I want you guys to be able to see all 355 cards. So I’m sharing 1 every day at my new Instagram account, @dreamsofacity. Follow along!

Scanned, protected, and matched the dates and locations of 355 postcards
I got back over the past 4 1/2 years.
You're looking at the hopes and dreams of a city.

(More about Dreams of a City, my ongoing large-scale interactive public art / mapping project, including scans of all cards in the 2008 New York City edition, at this old page.)

In other Chicago news: The Field Museum is free for IL residents all February! (I applaud them for releasing a statement against the Muslim ban.)

(I also applaud the National Park Service for going rogue. Especially [mostly?] because I’ve been wearing their gear I won from their Centennial Project, like, every other day for the past year.)

Also, apparently On The Real Film made a print of what I said in my episode of their political documentary Transition to Power! All profits from sales of the poster will go to the good cause of your choice.

Hope everyone had a lovely Chinese New Year! (Here are a couple glimpses into mine.) May your Year of the Rooster be filled with love, prosperity, and #resistance.

Friday, January 13, 2017


I’ve been selected to exhibit my art at the Chicago Cultural Center! The exhibition is called The Subject Is Chicago: People, Places, and Possibilities and runs February 11 to April 9. Thank you, City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events!

Hope” for 2017 indeed.

(P.S. As an addendum to the previous post, after the Anti-Inauguration Screening of Transition to Power is an Action Session. I’ll be there. Come!)

Monday, January 9, 2017


Happy New Year! I was interviewed for the political documentary Transition to Power, and my episode’s up! In collaboration with Sixty Inches From Center, On The Real Film’s web series “dives into the aftermath of the election through the eyes of artists.” Thank you, again, for asking me to participate, Erin Babbin and Michael Sullivan! (Special cameo by my “Rebel Scum” sweater.)

(How do y’all like my new Facebook cover photo?)

(And, uh, related to something I said in the video, this happened.)

As mentioned in the previous post, there will be an Anti-Inauguration Screening of the film (including new episodes and unreleased footage) on January 20, 7-9pm, on the 5th floor of Mana Contemporary Chicago in Pilsen. Snacks and beverages will be available, and the event is free and open to the public. (Then go protest!)

[Update: Apparently OTRF made a print of the transcript!

All profits from sales of this poster will go to the good cause
and organization of your choice.

From an amazing night with amazing people at the Action Session.]

Another freebie for locals: The Art Institute of Chicago’s Free Winter Weekdays for Illinois residents begin today. Also, free year-round museum admission has been extended to Chicago teens ages 14-17.

Lastly, the response to “Hope,” my year in review and words for the future, has been overwhelming. Thank you, everyone. Keep reading, keep sharing, and keep commenting!

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