Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ta Gong - Tibet
Text by: gregory burns . . .Photos by: angie tan (all rights reserved)
Three bumpy days drive from Chengdu (China) and we finally stop in Ta Gong. At 3700 meters, one can be excused if breathless after 100 paces. And with mostly local Tibetans in this tiny town surrounding the Monastery, one can forgive the place for not having internet. But what it lacks in oxygen and modernity, the place more than makes up for with its culture and natural beauty.
This is the place God invented clouds which tower over the five holy mountains that ring this village. We watch mesmerized as the green pastures beam bright green then muted olive as the sun plays hide and seek behind giant cumulous clouds. In the distance, a young girl armed with a few rocks and twigs corals and persuades a dozen frisky yaks to head home across the cold rushing river. A burgundy wrapped monk makes his way high up the mountainside towards the bountiful strands of prayer flags fluttering in the evening breeze. On the single main street lined with little provision shops, a few pool halls and restaurants, the local boys and monks ride their motorcycles and buy apples from ladies with bulging sacks of fruit. Around the Monastery devoted Tibetans circumambulate and spin the many prayer wheels. Mangy dogs sleep wherever, covered with years of life without a brushing.

Ancient wrinkled men and women with wooden faces and hands head home after a long day walking, talking, collecting firewood and praying. This is the Tibetan Autonomous region and is thick with Tibetans and lean on Han Chinese except the dozens of police vehicles and goods trucks passing through town keeping everything stable and under control.

Beijing Games 2008
Text by: gregory burns
Photos by: angie tan - all rights reserved

In celebration of the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing, I felt it fitting to produce a series of paintings that salute the athletes and their efforts.
The series seeks to capture and encapsulate the essence of the athletic experience in individual and team sports. I put forth these paintings in a parallel effort with all the athletes who push their limits during the summer of 2008. For over a month we are ensconced in the Beijing Games. The first course is of course the Olympics, which go off without a hitch.
Rave reviews for everything from the opening ceremonies to the venues. Creating modern iconic structures such as the Cube and the Bird’s Nest juxtaposed with the Forbidden City lying on the same meridian line directly south of the Olympic Green, China has produced a new legacy that goes beyond sports.

The country has showcased its determination to succeed. The Olympics gave us numerous world records, but only one eight-medal sweep by Michael Phelps.
With strikingly few doping offences, happily the Games clawed back some of their original Olympic luster.
In no way less exciting were the Paralympic Games, where hundreds of world records also fell as did athletes in contact sports such as murder ball and wheelchair basketball.
Spectators and China suddenly realized that the disabled can be heroes. With daily extensive TV coverage on multiple channels, an entire nation (a quarter of the world’s population) has been primed to see people with disabilities in an entirely new and inspiring light.

Sitting in a small Beijing restaurant, we listened as workers spoke with genuine respect and pride about their fellow country men competing in the pool without arms. With President Hu Jin Tao in attendance at the opening and closing for both Games, the post Sichuan earthquake China is one where Head’s of State are connected with the people. Impressive as the Games and positive messaging has been, one only hopes that China, which the West once demonized, will continue to show itself as a truly caring and capable community. The Games have opened a door for a new China.