Sunday, January 06, 2008

Connection Shanghai 2007
text & paintings: gregoryburns

photos: angietan, 2008 copyright all rights reserved.
The series “Connection Shanghai” concludes with a fitting scene of the Bund on a background of towering skyscrapers all painted upon a giant map of China titled, ‘No More Concessions’, drawing to a close sixty days of painting frenzy.
Stretching back to tickle memories of trips through China decades ago, I have now reconciled with myself and the country that there has been and always will be far too much more to record or express about this gigantic land. Kidding myself that I could resurrect old art created when life was far simpler and bring it into a contemporary drama only gave me a jumping-off point as I launched into a bottomless pool of culture and inspiration.

China and I changed since the 1980’s and we are no longer quaint. We have attitude and command respect for our accomplishments. Hard work and sacrifice define these changes and growth and with it comes the confidence that sets the trajectory for new dreams and destinations that were launched years ago and now proceed towards the heavens. Connecting the dots of past, present and future into art for today has been my command.

Having achieved some element of satisfaction, it is now time to let all go and move forward. Like the student upon graduation, the clearing after the typhoon, the country around which I have circulated for twenty years and I now head boldly into the future with some sense of completion. With this comes poise and hopefully a level of grace that will empower us to raise water levels so that all boats can drift free of the entangling reeds of ignorance and discontent. We must all paddle on.

Connecting Random Thots:
I see the old man with the bags searching garbage cans for plastic bottles and I realize that I am just the same as he – collecting sketches and experiences to later use and fuel my life. Not so different really.
Angie and I photograph and sketch our way back to where and when eunuchs and concubines entertained important men who gave thumbs up or down to the lives of many people.
I realize that the Great Wall psychologically and physically kept out invaders until a human being opened the gates and let them in. so in the end the wall kept nobody out forever because no matter what men make – others will compromise it out of greed.
Our date with Shanghai grows to a close for now. Having mounted this major show with extended legs of potential – I settle back into seat 37G bound for Singapore. Weary but content it is time to revisit a healthy lifestyle and breathe fresh air. I am grateful for this chance to return and to complete the circle. Half a century on this planet and over two decades in Asia, I feel blessed that I have been privileged enough to see so much. My palette brims with layers and shades of the rainbow, beaming with life and the excitement of exploration.

On canvas I funnel the hues this life has granted me and spreading wings trust that I will be able to continue on this great adventure.
Singapore 70.3 Ironman

text & paintings: gregoryburns photos: angietan, 2008 copyright all rights reserved.

A month training in Bali at the Four Seasons pool and gym may not have been an ideal regiment to satisfy the needs of a half Ironman, but it was the best I could manage at the time. Building on a maintenance base that had been holding steady for months helped, but I was not able to ride my bike or race in my chair until the morning of September 3 when the gun went off. Fortunately, the swim in the sea was painless and besides colliding with a styrofoam cooler at the half way point, the swim was uneventful and I exited the sea five minutes after the professionals who had started at the same time as the ten PC athletes.

Change channels and it was onto the bike and down the East Coast Road, my usual training ground. With none of the usual Sunday drivers to dodge, the openness greeted me like a cool wind and I peddled towards the City. Over the bridge and through the woods to the first of four loops around town I cruised. The sun hadn’t begun to scorch us and the temperature was not yet sweltering so things progressed well. Other athletes pasted me on their bikes as we all criss-crossed town. A fitting 30km per hour ride had me finishing the 90kms in just over three hours and it was time to slip into my racing wheelchair.

A bit light headed when transferring into my chair I pondered pausing. But recalling the mistake of sitting around for too long between legs of the Korea Ironman, I opted to push on immediately and let my head clear on the course. But after just two minutes I flipped over backwards while making a turn and smacked my cranium on the pavement. Fortunately, the cement and I suffered no injury and I pushed on. The course was windy and bumpy so my time suffered. But I completed the 21km distance in 1:40 which had me over the finish line in a total time of around 5:40 since I managed to miss the finishers’ shoot and over shot the ribbon on my first approach.

No sooner had I crossed the tape than the sky opened up and showered all of us with gentle rain and a reminder that the day had given us everything we needed to put in a good performance. Certainly not first, but rather somewhere near the front half of the pack, this respectable time made me consider if training in Bali at the Four Seasons should remain my game plan for future races…