How do I find art
A common question I get is how do I find and choose art. I think it finds me. I just have to be where it is.
As Anthony Bourdain proved to us: there's no substitute for human interaction, sharing a meal with a stranger, and sitting down with him at his house. The best way to find the most authentic and unique art is to meet the people who created it. In places where they live. In places where it was created.
From South to North
In May 2022, I traveled to Vietnam. First real internation trip after the Covid-19 pandemic. Anthony Bourdain land, his favorite country. Motorbikes and chaotic traffic. Fish sauce and food, food, food, food. Everywhere. I totally loved Vietnam, and don't let your first impression be your last impression. Vietnam is the place to be discovered, slowly, attentively, with an open mind. Rich cultural history. And yet, it's greatest gift is its people: warm, kind, friendly, independent, welcoming.
Climbing Mt. Blanc
Climbing Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe. The Alps. Food. Mountain flowers. Food. Cheese. Fromage. Gorgeous views. Mont Blanc. Fromage. Honey. Wine. Chamonix. Alpinists. Paris. I can see why it's one of the most romantic places in the world. Food. Did I mention how good French food is? :). The Louvre. Bread. Architecture. Exquisite taste. Exquisite style.
Backpacking in the Volcano valley in Armenia and climbing Mount Aragats. While backpacking, we met local Armenian shepherds, tasted authentic Armenian khash, exchanged skin cream for goat cheese with nomadic Yazidi people, swam in mountainous Sevan lake, and even traveled through the demilitarized zone of the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
History. Rugged mountains. Antiquity. Christian faith. It feels like you're in Biblical times. Shepherds. Shepherd dogs. Nomadic people. Time machine. Old Soviet factories. Respectful people. One foot in the West, one foot in the East.
Kali and I
Four flights. San Francisco to Guangzhou. Guangzhou to Kathmandu. Kathmandu to Pokhara. Pokhara to Jomsom. 4 days in a saddle, 8-10 hours a day. Lo Monthang for two days. And the same trip back. This is how remote this place is. And another week in Kathmandu Valley backpacking.
Unforgettable. Trip. Of. A. Lifetime. Four days in a saddle feels like I time-traveled to the times of the Great Mongols. Becoming friends with my horse. Drinking yak ghee tea with a monk. Wisdom of a monk. People are full of inner light. Gompas. Tibetan Buddhism. Spirituality. Mountains over us. Always. Ever-present. A land rich in people and spirit.
Two trips to Chile. Over 3,000 km on the road from Santiago through Valparaiso, Antofagasta, Atacama desert, Northwestern Argentina and Jujuy province, Mendoza and the Andes. And on the second trip, driving and backpacking from Ushuaia in the southern tip of South America through Patagonia and the Lake District back to Santiago.
Flamingos. Valparaiso. Murals and Street Art. Civil unrest. Anarchism. Empanadas. Penguins. Allende. Pinochet. Astronomy and telescopes. Desert. 8 passport stamps. Volcanos. Lamas and Guanacos. Patagonia. Friendly people. Brave art. The Pacific Ocean and the Great Andes.
On top of mt toubkal
Africa. North Africa. Medieval bazaar. So many scents and sounds. The Atlas Mountains. Reminds me of California. Olive trees. Berbers. Ancient villages. Mint tea. Stained glass and teapots. Mosques. 4am morning prayers. Inshallah. Namaz. Tagine. Sahara desert. Riding camels hurts. First time in the mountains. Helicopter rescue mission for two climbers, one dead and one severely injured. Ancient African port and the smell of fish. So many colors. So many different people. Friendly and welcoming.
Few weeks in May
Few weeks in Israel, visiting Apple offices in Herzliya and Haifa, meeting coworkers. Also meeting my relatives and the extended family.
West Bank. Israeli Settlements. Relatives. Nieces and nephews. Grandma. Apple Herzliya. Haifa. Bahai Temple. Jerusalem. Crazy nightlife in Tel Aviv. Humus. Nomadic tribes. Kids with automatic rifles at bus stops. Palm trees and dates. Dead sea and trying to swim in it. Watchtowers and East Jerusalem walls. Russian taxicab drivers. Warm sea.
Laugavegur and the ring road
Two trips to Iceland. One for a couple of weeks in Reykjavik and the Ring Road. And the second one backpacking the Laugavegur Trail and off-roading in the volcano country, interior Icelands, and the Highlands.
Volcanos. Moss. Fifty shades of Green. Geysers. Waterfalls. Black sand beaches. Lupine. Puffins. Midnight sun at 4am. Reykjavik never sleeps (in the summer). Best off-roading ever. Closest you can get to travel on the Moon. Great music. Mystic spirits. Volcanic rock. Icelandic horses. Potatoes and lamb. Oh, that's how I can get hypothermia? Rain and cold temperatures. Surreal landscapes. Meeting people on the Moon.
Art Week, Art Basel and Art Central
A few weeks in Hong Kong. The Art Week and big art shows. Art Basel, Hong Kong. Art Central.
Art Basel. This is a real Picasso, right? Fancy people from all over the world. Dim Sum. One of the best subways. Bed bugs. Ferry Boat. Pearl tea. Best tea. What a beautiful city. the most modern and yet charming and cozy. The mainland is so close. Giant inflatable Kaws mickey mouse. Hibiscus flowers. So many different cultures. So many different art fairs. Very different art. Very cutting edge. I will have to come again for this tea.
the Highlands and Edinburgh
A few weeks backpacking and traveling through Scotland. The Highlands, Inverness, Edinburgh, Dundee, Loch Lomond, and Skye.
Miserable weather. Gale winds. Frightened Rabbit. Trainspotting. Scotch. Distilleries. Castles. So many different accents. "You're not getting any younger, Mark. The world's changing. Music's changing. Even drugs are changing. You can't stay in here all day dreaming about heroin and Ziggy Pop." The Highlands. Good beers. Not so sure about the food. Loch Ness creature. Highland cattle. A perfect teapot. Jenny Saville exhibit in Edinburgh.
Tbilisi, Kazbegi, Signagi
Republic of Georgia
A week in Tbilisi with day trips to main attractions.
Friendly and welcoming people. Great food. Great wine. So flavorful and sweet, and dry, so much variety. Great music. Tbilisi is full of young people, relaxed and creative. Old City. Balconies and cobblestone streets. So many artisans. So many artists. People seem happy and chill. Grapes. Mountains. Christian church. Pretty people. I have to come here again to backpack in Svanetia.
Lima and Macha Picchu
Pachamama. Ceviche. Corn, not just your typical corn. Inca Empire. The Amazon. Coca. Military parades. Inca Time. Inca Cola. Lamas. Breaking my shoulder in a mountain biking accident. Weird and huge bugs in the jungle. Lima and Mira Flores. Artsy crowds of Lima. Stray cats and dogs. Coca tea. The last refuge, they thought they were safe in Macha Picchu. Escaping a road strike, people with red banners. Socialist ideas still live here, somewhere in the mountains. The Andes.
Tokyo in a week
Work trip to Tokyo a few years ago. An urban jungle. Salarymen in the morning flowing into the subway. Small cars. Small chairs. Small plates. People everywhere, nowhere to hide from them. Very polite and hospitable. Yet, feeling as if people are squeezed in a bottle. On a beach, couples sit 15 feet away from each other. Even distances apart. The best sushi ever. (Yet, sushi is only for the rich). The Pacific Ocean and Tokyo Bay. Must come here again. The most futuristic culture, they live ten years ahead of us.