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It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).
Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.
Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.
Previous in This Series
Last week I mentioned that I’ve been going through some old files on my computer hard drive and I found the original rough drafts of my old Artomatic blog posts from previous years. (There was a time when Artomatic gave everyone who participated their own blogging account. For Artomatic this year, I had to step up and volunteer to be a blogger before I received my own blogging account.) It’s pretty appropriate to share some of these posts here since Artomatic is going on until next month.
While I visited a few previous Artomatics, the first time I actually participated was in 2007. I enjoyed that experience so much that when Artomatic was announced again in 2008, I jumped at the chance to participate in it again.
2008 was a momentous year for me for reasons other than Artomatic. I was born with a dislocated left hip and, as some old baby photos have documented, I was placed in a body cast for several months. My left hip joints snapped into place, the cast was removed, and I learned how to walk like an average child soon afterwards. I sprained the same left hip in a roller skating accident when I was 12 but I managed to recuperate and I walked like a regular person again. All that changed by late 2007 when I began to walk with a limp. As time went on, I had a harder time walking and by the time of Artomatic 2008, I had to use a cane to get around.
Despite my hip problems, I wanted to participate in Artomatic and I did so. That year I decided to focus mostly on photography, with the exception of this Peep Floyd diorama that I originally did for The Washington Post‘s annual Peeps diorama contest but it failed to make even Honorable Mention. Here is the original online catalogue that I put up to promote my exhibition space.
Here are just a few selected posts I made in my Artomatic account’s blog that year as archived on my hard drive. (That blog has long since been deleted since Artomatic tends to totally revamp its website whenever a new Artomatic event is announced.)
I’m Participating in Artomatic 2008, March 27, 2008
I’ve finally finished with registration. This year I’m going to emphasize my photography more mainly because I’ve been more successful at that than doing strictly drawing and painting.
Now my next task is to sift through my vast trove of digital photos to pick out the right ones to display. I am quite a shutterbug. I’m glad for the invention of digital cameras because I still remember the pain of running out of film and I had to choose between shelling out more money for film (then have to shell out more money to get them processed) or quit my picture taking for the day. I have a monumental task ahead of me so I’m going to sign off now.
Latest Stuff About Me, April 18, 2008
Last Saturday I went to the Artomatic orientation where I picked out my site. I’ll be located on the 7th floor, NE Quadrant, Area C4. I know it sounds like gobbledygook now but I’m sure it’ll become more apparent once the show opens and the maps/brochures are printed. For the time being, I’ll just say that my wall space is located right next to the men’s restroom on the 7th floor.
My Exhibit for This Year, May 8, 2008
I know that some of you who are familiar with my exhibit at last year’s Artomatic will be wondering if I’m doing anything different. Well, the answer is yes. I’m going to describe the difference between this year’s exhibit and last year’s.
Last year I had a variety of different media ranging from digital photographs to drawings to paintings. I even had a couple of dolls I customized myself that were on display in small glass cases that were mounted on the wall.
This year I’m focusing exclusively on digital photographs. That’s mainly because I wanted artwork that was more transportable than my larger art pieces. All of my photographs are either 8″ x 10″ or 5″ x 7″. Keeping the photos at those two sizes made frame shopping really easy for me since those two are standard sizes. On top of that, I’ve had people tell me that my biggest strength is in photography so I decided to highlight that some more.
The biggest challenge I had was whittling down the hundreds of digital photographs that I have on my hard disk to just 32 photos. (Sixteen of them are 8″ x 10″ while the rest are 5″ x 7″.) Then I had the additional challenge of printing since, as experienced digital photographers and computer graphics artists know, what is seen on the computer screen doesn’t mean that the print version will turn out the same. But I managed to get everything done in time for the opening tomorrow night.
I’m also pricing my photos at $10 for the 8″ x 10″ and $6 for the 5″ x 7″. I know my pricing methods may become controversial but there’s a method to my madness. If you’ve been reading a newspaper or watching any of the cable news channel, you’ll know that this country is in an economic crisis due to rising gas costs, higher food prices, and the subprime mortgage crisis. I really don’t think that people are in the mood to shell out $100 or higher for a piece of art no matter how much they love it because of the economy.
I also had an epiphany around the end of last year’s Artomatic. I got someone who wanted to buy one of my drawings but she wanted to know how much it would cost if I would remove it from the frame. Since I didn’t have any other serious buyers of my artwork last year, I told her that I would take $25 off my drawing. So I sold it to her and took home an empty frame.
This year I scoured the local big box retailers looking for the lowest frame prices. A.C. Moore had the best prices with many frames being sold for $3 and $4 and with some going for as low as $2. What’s more, the frames still looked pretty decent despite the low prices. Then I went to Staples where I bought a pack of satin-finish photographic paper for $35. I calculated each sheet as costing around sixty cents per sheet, which isn’t bad.
I even have a catchy ad phrase that I put on a sign in my area: “Affordable Artwork for Uncertain Economic Times”.
What’s more, since I have my photos on a hard drive, I can easily print multiple copies so if one person buys one of my photos and someone else wants that same photo, I can print and frame another copy and sell it to that other person.
I will have a small table next to my photos where I will have a guestbook for you to sign and a digital frame that will rotate digital photos of some of my other works of art like my drawings, paintings, sculptures, and crafts. I purchased this digital frame at Target and I love it because I can display more of my art than the space that’s alloted to me.
I will also have a diorama displayed on that table called Peep Floyd. I originally created this diorama for The Washington Post’s second annual Peeps contest but it didn’t make the final cut among the judges. I was disappointed but my husband was even more heartbroken than I was. (He felt that I was robbed.) So I decided to give my little diorama a second chance by displaying it with my artwork. I’m even putting it up for sale for only $5 (which is about how much money I spent making it in the first place). What’s even amusing is that there will be a display of the winning Peeps dioramas on the 10th floor while my display will be on the 7th floor. So if people decided to start on the first floor and work their way up, chances are that they will see my own diorama first before they see the winners on the 10th floor. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Last year I printed three photo zines that I sold on the honor system where people can put money in a box if they wanted one or more of my zines. I did it mainly as a promotional item, even if it was a pain to print multiple copies for the duration of Artomatic. (The fact that I was using a 10-year-old Epson color printer didn’t help matters much.) I thought that I would get some sort of opportunities from the zines after Artomatic in the long run so I toughed out the time spent printing, collating, and stapling the zines. I also gritted my teeth as I spent lots of money on printer ink since those zines did use up tons of ink. Even though the zines sold pretty well (some people did leave money in the box), nothing ever came of those zines after Artomatic ended. No one contacted me saying, “Hey I liked your zines and photos and I want to do some work with you.”
Basically it really wasn’t worth the time or money spent making and distributing the zines so I’m not going to do any more this year. I know that some of you will be disappointed but that’s the way things go.
The biggest change from last year to this year is myself. Yes, I am a year older but my health has gone down a bit. I have an old injury in my left hip that was repaired a long time ago but I’ve now developed osteoarthritis in it. Last year I was able to walk normally most of the time (although I did limp if I overextended myself by doing too much walking or other physical work). This year I’m walking with a limp and I use a walking stick whenever I have to walk around outside for any great distances. I’ve consulted an orthopedic specialist and he’s recommending that I undergo a hip replacement, especially since my left leg is now a little bit shorter than my right leg, thanks to the osteoarthritis.
But, before I undergo the surgery, I have to lose weight and do exercises to strengthen my hip. As a result, I’m still able to participate in Artomatic since I won’t be able to undergo the surgery until July at the earliest.
Having osteoarthritis is a bit of a bummer. I get more physically tired than before, partially because of having to take prescription version of ibuprofen (which has drowsiness as a side effect) and partially because it’s just more physically taxing to limp around. My current condition was a major factor in my decision to focus on smaller photographs than my larger canvases since the photos are easier to cart around than a big canvas. Since I decided to eliminate the zines, I will find Artomatic less taxing than last year.
I will be at the opening tomorrow night with my husband. This weekend I will be working as a vendor at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland. I will have a packed schedule.
I’m Doing Pretty Well at Artomatic This Year, May 26, 2008
So far I had someone who wanted six copies of my “Shalom Y’all” photo because she wanted to give them away to her Jewish friends. I also have one other person who may be potentially interested in purchasing something from me but I haven’t heard back from him.
So far I took part in a drawing workshop on Opening Night and I’ve also worked one shift so far. (It happened to be on the same night as the “Meet the Artists Night” so I couldn’t be at my area, with the exception of a brief break that I took around 8 p.m.) Right now I’m typing this entry from a hotel room in Charleston, South Carolina but I intend to participate in more Artomatic events once I return.
I happened to be in Charleston at the same time as their annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival—an art-filled festival that includes special exhibitions at area art galleries, special theatre shows, special musical concerts, and a crafts fair. I intend to check out the crafts fair at least. I also intend to visit the City Market, which is filled with stalls of people hawking food items and various types of crafts. It’s also where a local African-American group of people known as the Gullahs sell their speciality craft–making baskets, vases, flowers, and other items out of sweetgrass.
Well, anyway, see ya later!
My Artomatic Videos, June 2, 2008
This year I’ve been doing more at Artomatic than just showing my artwork and attending a few events. I’ve also been taking photographs and shooting video. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with the photos yet but I’ve already edited and uploaded three short video clips on my YouTube account.
All three videos are of the firedancing troupe known as Flights of Fire. I shot this during the second hour of their show on May 16. (I missed the first hour because I was finishing up the last hour of my own volunteer shift during that time.) I was pretty exhausted after working my five-hour volunteer shift so I basically went outside, sat down, and unwind a bit by watching the group perform the rest of their show. I happened to have my videocamera with me so I filmed them as they did their various fire tricks to some lively dance music.
This first clip is a general highlights reel as I focused on the troupe’s most spectacular firedancing tricks:
The second clip is a very sexy and erotic routine that is performed in its entirety:
The third clip is the grand finale that is also performed in its entirety. Imagine a bunch of people dancing and swinging flaming torches at the same time and you’ll get something like this:
Two More Artomatic Videos For You to View, June 5, 2008
I shot two more videos at Artomatic that I’ve uploaded to my YouTube account. The first one is the Peeps artist reception that was held on May 31, 2008.
The second one is the first-ever Artomatic 500 cardboard car race, which is just as hilarious as it sounds.
A Posting From Artomatic, June 13, 2008
I’ve just finished the third required volunteer shift over an hour ago and I’m waiting for this workshop on “Urban R & D: Developing a Community Research and Design Lab” to begin in a few minutes. Actually volunteering wasn’t too bad despite my totally arthritic hip (which has given me a bad limp in recent months and has definitely put a crimp on my mobility) because I was given desk jobs. (I worked the front desk on the first floor the first two times and I worked the fourth floor this final time today.)
Last night I attended the Artists’ Social. I met someone whom I had volunteered with on a previous shift and I also met up with other people whom I had met at other Artomatic events. What was cool was that I sold two of my photographs to someone who loved by two robot photos (one of the Toyota Partner Robot and the other of the Honda Asimo—both taken at a Japanese cultural festival at the Kennedy Center a few months ago).
I’m looking forward to attending Artomatic tomorrow night–they are having the first-ever Art in Fashion show, which is supposed to have fire as the theme. From the way this event is being hyped, it sounds like Project Runway on steroids.
Well, anyway, I gotta wrap this entry up and head off to tonight’s workshop.
More Artomatic Videos, June 21, 2008
I shot and posted a few more videos at Artomatic before it ended last Sunday but I’ve only gotten around to blogging about it now.
First is a video of my own exhibit, which was displayed on the 7th floor next to the men’s bathroom.
Next is a video of a couple of interactive exhibits that were done by other artists.
I previously videotaped the Peeps artist reception where I spoke with prolific Peeps diorama artist Carl Cordell. At the time he was working on a fourth diorama, “The Day The Earth Stood Peeped”, that wasn’t ready in time for the reception. I kept on going to the Peeps area for the next few weeks but the diorama didn’t make its appearance until last Saturday, the day before the last day of Artomatic. I made a short video highlighting that diorama.
I did a three-part video about the Art in Fashion show, which was the closing event of Artomatic. (It was held the night before Artomatic’s final day.) It highlighted fashions created by fashion designers in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. I had fun attending this because I’m such a fan of Project Runway and I had never seen a fashion show in person before.
After the fashion show ended, there was a big party that included all kinds of activities. I videotaped some of it but I was running out of battery power by that point so I didn’t film as much as I wanted to. But it should give you an idea of what it was like. (Some parts of this video are definitely NSFW because it includes scenes of body painting on partially or fully nude bodies.)
Well, anyway, that’s it for the Artomatic videos.
Visiting the Artomatic Site for the Last Time, June 21, 2008
I had successfully sold yet another photo to someone and he and I agreed to meet at the Artomatic site today. After the transaction was made and he took his newly-purchased photo with him, I took down my exhibit. I felt wistful as I did it but, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
Goodbye For Now, June 23, 2008
Now that Artomatic is over and I’ve picked up my artwork from the site, it’s time for me to say goodbye to this blog until the next time I decide to participate in an Artomatic.
Three months after I wrote that last farewell Artomatic post, I underwent a hip replacement followed by physical therapy that lasted until well into 2009. In early 2011 I suffered two falls within a week that knocked my hip replacement out of alignment so I had to undergo hip revision surgery followed by more physical therapy. Right now my hip is doing fine. <knock wood!>
Next in This Series
Here are a few photos I took not too long ago at Makerspace 125, the STEM center that’s located in Greenbelt, Maryland.
First up is a giant robot that seems to hover over a Lego scene.
A Lego Minifig scene as shot from two different angles.
The next two photos show a Star Wars themed Lego scene complete with a Minifig version of R2-D2.
The last photo shows a scene from the first Lord of the Rings movie, which was showing on the big screen TV at Makerspace 125.
I spent last Saturday attending three different events in one day. It’s a good thing that it was sunny with low humidity because I was outdoors most of the day. First my Unitarian Universalist congregation held an early afternoon picnic in celebration of Loving Day. The picnic got a relatively small turnout as the first photo below shows but I still enjoyed myself anyway.
There were only two kids at the picnic so they got the lion’s share of both blowing and chasing bubbles.
The picnic broke up after a couple of hours, which left me plenty of time to take a brief rest at home before I headed out again. I went to the local Crazy Quilt Festival because a friend of mine was performing as part of a duo known as The Bachelor and The Bad Actress. I took a few photos of the group and the audience during their set. By the way, if you happened to recognize the male singer, there’s a reason for that. He was the main focus of a recent Throwback Thursday post where I took part in a community art project known as “Color Me Joe.”
The guy petting the dog in the next picture is my friend Dorian, whom I’ve known since my undergraduate days at the University of Maryland at College Park.
The Bachelor and The Bad Actress was one of the many acts that played at the Crazy Quilt Festival all day. Unfortunately my friend’s group was the only act I was able to catch live in person because I attended the Loving Day picnic earlier. I have to leave the festival after the group ended their set because I had to be at the third event of the day.
My support group for people who are separated or divorced were having a baseball outing where we would attend the minor league Bowie Baysox baseball team. We knew that the game was being held the night before Father’s Day but we didn’t know that it was also Star Wars night until after we arrived and we saw so many people dressed as various Star Wars characters.
The front of Prince George’s Stadium had this Star Wars-themed car parked outside the front gates.
The gift shop had light sabers on sale for $10 each. I saw plenty of kids brandishing them during the game.
There were vintage Star Wars toys, Star Wars related tables, and many people who cosplayed as their favorite Star Wars characters.
Despite all the Star Wars stuff everywhere, there was still a baseball game going on. The next photo is my first view of the baseball diamond.
I eventually found where my friends from the support group were seated. I paid only $15 for a ticket that had this close view of third base. Getting similar seats at a Major League Baseball stadium would be way more expensive.
The Bowie Baysox played the Harrisburg Senators. Between innings there were all kinds of fun stuff. There was a multi-part Star Wars light saber battles between the forces of good and evil. The first part of this battle took place near our area where the good guy lost the battle and was taken away by the bad guys working for the Empire.
The other parts took place in other areas of the ballpark and they were way too far for me to get a decent shot. All I remember is that the last part, which took place towards the end of the game, involved a bunch of kids and Louie the Bowie Baysox’s mascot and they defeated the evil people.
There was also a mock horse race near my seat between three kids who bounced on these horse-shaped bouncing balls.
During bathroom breaks I would look at the Star Wars tables. I got this postcard with a Star Wars comic on the back.
I got some free temporary tattoos as well.
Since it was first trip to a ballgame since I got my new Droid Ultra smartphone last November, I decided to try taking a few action shots. I have to admit that the newer Droid phone performed better at action shots than my last Droid phone. But I still didn’t take too many shots because home plate was a bit far from my seat. I was seated closer to third base but I didn’t get too many chances to take photos of the action there because the Baysox didn’t do too well that night. (The Baysox remained scoreless until the very last inning where they suddenly got four runs.)
Louie the mascot did his best to cheer the team on but he spent the bulk of the time on the other side of the stadium. He briefly made an appearance in our section only once before moving on.
I took a few more action shots towards the end of the game with my smartphone.
Despite the Baysox’s sudden improvement in getting four runs in the 9th and last inning, the Harrisburg Senators won with an 8-4 score.
If Star Wars wasn’t enough, there was even a short fireworks show after the game. I’ve taken pictures of fireworks before but I decided to take more using my new smartphone to see how it performs. Actually the results were pretty nice and impressive, as you can see in the photos below.
The end of the fireworks signaled the end of the event and everyone started to file out. I saw these National Bohemian tables that looked pretty nice, even though I hate that beer. (My late father used to drink National Bohemian when I was a child and I took sips where I thought the beer tasted pretty rank. It wasn’t until after I was an adult and I tried Budweiser and I found that Bud was a step up from National Bohemian.)
Louie the mascot walked near me, which was pretty cool.
I saw the same Star Wars car as I walked out the gates and I saw that parts of the car was lit up.
I was totally tired by the time I got home. I had toyed with going to the Hon Festival in Baltimore (which was also held this weekend) on the following day but I woke up feeling so tired and sore that I decided against it. I was glad I did. Besides, I went to the Hon Festival last year so it was no big deal for me to miss it this year.
Yesterday I checked out the second annual Awesome Con DC. There are definitely changes from when I attended that event last year. First of all tickets have doubled in price. (Last year I paid $15 for a Saturday-only pass while this year I paid $30 for the same type of pass.) Awesome Con DC has definitely doubled in size from last year and it was definitely more crowded this year. It took me twice as long to get a pass. Even though I purchased a ticket online I still had to stand in this long line just to get a wrist bracelet that said “SATURDAY ONLY” on it.
When we got inside there was yet two other lines—one for those who had pre-ordered their tickets online like did and the one for those who didn’t. I noticed that the latter line was way longer. But it made for a very crowded experience.
The next photo shows the cover for the official program guide, which I thought looked pretty nice.
The next photo shows inside the program guide, which has a price list for the major media guests, all of which was pretty pricey. I noticed that there were separate pricing for both photo-ops and autographs, which indicated that if you wanted to get both an autograph and a photo-op from Billie Piper (best known for playing Rose Tyler for a few seasons on Doctor Who) it’ll cost you a whopping $100.
Billie Piper was giving a Q & A at 1:45 p.m. and I made every effort to get there in time only to get held up by both a Metro ride where the train remained in one station for a long time before it moved on and having to stand in that totally long line. By the time I arrived there was that really long line that stretched down the hallway (similar to the one in the photo below) where the Q & A took place and I gave up out of frustration.
In fact it seems like Awesome Con DC this year is getting to be like Otakon was last year where, unless one stood in a line outside the room at least a half-an-hour before the event, there would be no seats left. This is what one room looked like when I made an ill-fated attempt to go to a Steampunk Show and Tell.
As a result of the crowds I spent most of my time at Awesome Con DC perusing the Dealers Room and Artists Alley while taking photos of various cosplayers. (I saw a lot of women dressed as either Anna or Elsa from the hit Disney movie Frozen.)
Like I wrote earlier, there were a lot of women who were dressed up as either Anna or Elsa from the hit Disney movie Frozen, such as these two who were among the four people trying out the Microsoft XBox Kinect version of the video game Just Dance.
I even shot a short video of this.
There was a local DC organization, called R2DC Builders, that is dedicated to building their own replicas of R2-D2 from the Star Wars movies.
I even shot a short video showing R2-D2 in action.
There was this puppeteer in the Kids’ area who performed with a sock puppet.
I even managed to shoot a short video of this performance.
There was a long line of people waiting to get inside a replica of the Tardis from Doctor Who, which was really a photo booth. The resulting photos were shown on the screen outside, which was just as well because I really didn’t want to wait in yet another very long line. I later learned online that this Tardis photo booth can be booked for parties and special events.
Another area of the Dealers Room that also drew a large line was this opportunity to get an autograph and a photo taken with actor Ernie Hudson, best known for appearing in the Ghostbusters movie. It cost money to meet him so this photo was the closest I ever got to meeting him. (That’s him way in the back—near the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man—wearing a Ghostbusters t-shirt while shaking the hand of a lucky fan.)
One of the few events that wasn’t quite as crowded so I was able to find a seat was at a movie I had seen before a few years ago at the Utopia Film Festival called Every Other Day is Halloween, which is about the career of local legendary DC horror movie host Count Gore De Vol. Here he is signing a DVD that I bought from his booth.
Before I left for the day I spent some time in the Video Game room but that one was also crowded so I just took photos then went on the Metro.
This last photo is of a lovely sunset I saw while I was riding the Metro back home.
The night before the start of the first day of Otakon I took a plastic grocery shopping bag and reused it in order to pack a few extra things to bring to Otakon with me. I had heard of various meetups that were taking place and I decided to pack a variety of small items just in case I happened to run into a meetup already in progress. The items were a mix of tiny Asian ball-jointed dolls, My Little Pony figurines, and a couple of Japanese-imported Arpakasso plushies I purchased at previous anime conventions. The below photo shows what I brought. The figure in the foreground is Derpy Hooves. In the back are (from left to right) a small pink Arpakasso plushie, Rainbow Dash, Orient Doll Ji, Soul Doll Kimmy, Soom Mini-Gem Uyoo, Bobobie Sunny, and a larger light beige Arpakasso plushie.
I didn’t get any opportunities to open the bag on the first day but on the second day I found one meetup where I could display what I had brought.
Anyway, I had every intention of checking out this panel titled "Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland’s Effect on Anime & Manga" even though it was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. (which meant I would’ve had to get up really early for the commute to Baltimore). But then I woke up in the middle of the night with total muscular pain throughout my whole body. I tried shifting around in bed but it was no use. I finally had to get up and take some ibuprofen before the pain finally stopped. As a result, I overslept so I not only missed that panel but also another panel that was scheduled for 10: 15 a.m. that I wanted to go to titled "Nintendo: Entertaining Since 1889." I was so tired and stiff that it took me a while to get my body into gear so I could do something simple as to take a hot shower (which helped loosen my tight muscles). I also decided to put on some compression socks that I originally purchased when I underwent my hip replacement back in 2008 and I suffered from edema in the immediate aftermath of that surgery.
I arrived at the North Linthicum light rail station where I saw these cosplayers.
By the time I arrived in Baltimore I managed to miss the scheduled 1 p.m. showing of a video that I really wanted to see titled Beijing Punk. I managed to get into the Baltimore Convention Center through the front doors because the line of people waiting to register and get their badges was way smaller than the last two days.
Once I got in I went up to the 400 level of the Baltimore Convention Center where I found one of the many Asian ball-jointed meetups that were being held throughout Otakon weekend and they were all organized through the Den of Angels forum. I’ll admit that I had my trepidations about attending because I still remember this bizarre incident from last year when, at the first meetup I attended on the first day of Otakon 2012, these two women came up to me, claimed that I had posted a photo I took of a bag that belonged to one of them on my own Kim’s World of Art website five years earlier, asked me to remove that photo, then walked quickly away before I had a chance to ask them any questions (like "Do I know you?" or "What photo are you referring to?"). While the other doll meetups I attended last year were all free of similar weirdness, I was still unnerved by that incident.
Fortunately the meetup I attended on the second day of Otakon 2013 was free of such weirdness and everyone present were pretty nice and friendly. I also got a chance to take a lot of photos of gorgeous dolls while I took my own dolls out of the plastic grocery bag and displayed them in public.
Fortunately the meetup I attended on the second day of Otakon 2013 was free of such weirdness and everyone present were pretty nice and friendly. What was cool was the willingness of one meetup participant to help another meetup participant re-string her doll after her doll literally fell apart during transit. (That’s why some of the photos include doll parts.) I also got a chance to take a lot of photos of gorgeous dolls while I took my own dolls out of the plastic grocery bag and displayed them in public.
It turned out that the 400 level terrace was a very popular place to hold meetups so there were usually many of them going on at the same time. In addition to the Asian ball-jointed doll meetup, there were also meetups for Star Trek,…
In addition to the meetups, a group of cosplayers (including one dressed as Santa Claus) were playing cards in the same area.
When the Asian ball-jointed doll meetup began to break up, I headed down to the lower levels. I wanted to visit the Artists Alley but I found the best way to reach it is through the Dealers Room, where I took this photo, which is a bit on the NSFW side.
I didn’t spend much time in the Dealers Room because I really wanted to visit the Artists Alley and I didn’t get a chance to do so yesterday because my feet grew very tired and sore after all that walking in the Dealers Room. I finally made it to the Artists Alley, where I ran into someone cosplaying as Luke Skywalker standing next to R2-D2.
The Artists Alley focused on aspiring artists and crafters who sold a variety of handmade items including drawings, jewelry, plushies, hats, lolita dresses, and self-published zines.
While I was in the Artists Alley, I looked in on the progress of this giant work of art that Eric Maruscak of Pepper Ink was working on throughout Otakon.
I wanted to go to Video Gaming room but it became a challenge to do so because the security would block off certain stairs or escalators in the name of crowd control. I found that walking around outside then going back inside the Baltimore Convention Center was the quickest way of going to the Video Gaming room. While I was outside, I took a photo of the bleachers that were recently set up in advance of the upcoming Grand Prix of Baltimore, which will be held on Labor Day weekend.
I managed to re-enter the Baltimore Convention Center where I found these cosplayers.
After much maneuvering around the security’s maze-like crowd control efforts, I finally made it to the Video Gaming room.
There were a variety of video games that were all on Free Play. However getting to a video game console was difficult because nearly all of them were occupied with small lines forming behind the current players.
The one video game I was able to reach wasn’t working and one of the Otakon staff told me that he thinks that someone had beaten the game and the game became inoperable as a result. One interesting tidbit about this busted game: it used a vintage pre-Wii Nintendo controller. (I’ll admit that I didn’t realize I was holding the controller upside down until a few days after Otakon ended.)
I managed to try my hand at one of the pachinko machines because they were less crowded (I had never used one before and I couldn’t find instructions in English on how to play one so I just shot the metal balls at random and I have no idea if I did well or not) but that was the extent of my hands-on experience. The proceeds from the pachinko machines went to a charity called AbleGamers and I was given three free unopened packs of Magic the Gathering cards as a "thank you" gift for paying to play pachinko.
There were smaller less-known video game companies who were showing demos of their latest video game.
Even though it was the Video Gaming room, there were plenty of card games and board games as well. The non-electronic games were just as crowded and popular as the video games.
There were plenty of cosplayers in the Video Gaming room.
After a while I left the Video Gaming room and just took pictures of cosplayers in the hallways and outside the Baltimore Convention Center.
After my earlier failed attempts at attending workshops and panels, I finally managed to get to one scheduled Otakon event but I had to really go through all kinds of obstacles to get there. I saw the English-dubbed version of this feature-length anime titled Wolf Children. I hadn’t originally planned on seeing that movie until I saw a description about it in the programming booklet while I was eating the dinner that I had brought with me while sitting in one of the comfy chairs in the hallway. I thought the plot of the movie sounded interesting. On top of it, when I pre-registered a couple of days ago I had a choice of a variety of designs for my badge (most of which were anime scenes) and I picked this one design because I thought it looked really cute. When I looked at my badge and saw "Wolf Children" on it, I thought it would be really cool to see the movie behind my Otakon badge.
I know that crowd control can be a challenge for a really big convention like Otakon but there were times when I questioned some of their methods of crowd control. The event I wanted to get to was held in a room that was located on the lower floor of the convention center and I was on the floor directly above that room. Normally one could take either the escalators, the steps, or the nearby elevator to get to the lower floor. I had no argument with reserving all of the elevators only for people with major disabilities. But access to the steps and the escalators was also closed off. In order to get to the lower floor, I had to exit the building, walk around the building from the outside until I hit the front doors that led to the lower floor, then re-enter the building. I have no idea why people had to leave the building in order to get to the lower floor.
Once I got to the lower floor there was this scrum of people that I had to literally push my way through in order to get into another line so I could get into the theater showing the film that I wanted to check out because the synopsis intrigued me. In this case the term "line" could be used very loosely. It was almost like you had to pick a large group at random then endure more waits as the security alternated between letting each group get into a more organized line that led to the doors where the movie was being shown. There were so many people trying to get in that the movie ended up starting a half an hour later than originally scheduled. At least the room was very large so there were plenty of seats for a giant crowd like the one that I was a part of.
The movie was worth the wait. It’s got a similar "human female student meets fellow male student who’s a supernatural creature" story to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series except I thought that Wolf Children was way better than Twilight. The main female character, Hana, faces (and eventually overcomes) all kinds of obstacles that would’ve brought Bella Swan to a total nervous breakdown. The animation is incredibly beautiful and the story was very well written. I saw the dubbed version and I thought that the dubs were done very well. It’s too bad that a film like Wolf Children doesn’t get a wider theater distribution because I think that movie would definitely hold its own against the likes of any Pixar film.
Since the movie started a half an hour late, I ended up arriving at this workshop that I wanted to check out late. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get in at all because over the last few Otakons, the conventional wisdom is that if you want to guarantee of even getting inside the door, you should arrive at least a half-an-hour early. If you want to guarantee of getting inside the door and getting a seat, you should arrive at least 45 minutes-1 hour before the start. But, amazingly, I was able to get inside and get a seat with no trouble at all. The workshop was titled "Introduction to Deleter Neopiko2 Marker" and it was a hands-on demonstration of the Japanese-made Neopiko2 markers that many artists use when creating manga. I was very impressed with the quality of the markers and I felt that they were way superior to Sharpies. (FYI, in case you were wondering, I didn’t do that drawing below. It was originally a black and white photocopied drawing and I only colored it with Neopiko2 markers.)
After the workshop ended I did a little walking around the Baltimore Convention Center. For once I was actually at an anime convention past sundown and I noticed that one of the hallways of the Baltimore Convention Center was bathed in this really pretty blue light that reflected on all the people walking down it.
While there were a few late night panels and events that intrigued me, I was totally exhausted. The good news was that the compression socks I wore the entire day helped my feet alot and I was able to physically last longer on my feet than the day before. However, even with the compression socks I had hit a point where I couldn’t take Otakon any more so I decided to leave. As I was on my way out the door I took this one last photo of Otakon’s second day.
Last month I decided to check out this event that I learned about via Facebook. It’s called Robofest and, as you can guess from the name, it’s a celebration of all things robotics. Thanks to that event, I learned for the first time that there is actually a National Electronics Museum. It’s located near BWI Airport in Linthicum in an office park that’s not exactly a tourist destination, which is why this place seems to be obscure compared to—let’s say—the National Air and Space Museum.
I shot this short video of robots and other types of electronics in action.
I shot more still photos than video mainly because most of the robots and electronics either didn’t move very much or weren’t operational at all.
When I first entered the festival through the museum parking lot, there were quite a few outdoor tables set up featuring all kinds of robots, electronic parts, and models of military ships.
There were some hands-on activities for kids.
There were also a silent auction tables set-up where one could submit bids in the hopes of obtaining a robot kit, a robotics book, or even a robot plushie.
I entered inside the museum where there were more displays. There were robots made from Lego Mindstorms kits.
The coolest robots I saw were the ones that were replicas of R2-D2 from the Star Wars movies. The resemblance to R2-D2 is really amazing. I never knew there was a sub-culture of people (such as those in the R2-DC Builders Club and R2DC Builders) who are interested in creating their own real-life versions of R2-D2.
There were also plenty of original robots around that were also pretty impressive as well.
The smallest electronics I saw was this device mounted on cardboard that powered a tiny LED light. This item was among the items that kids could work on at the hands-on kids’ tables.
There were a few people who were experimenting with embedding fiber optics in fabrics (including even sewn clothes). The results reminded me of one of the many unusual off-beat challenges on Project Runway.
I got a look at some of the 3-D printers that were on display (such as MakerBot) along with the results from those printers (including vases, small statues, and jewelry). Some of these printed pieces were available for sale.
Going to Robofest gave me a chance to visit the National Electronics Museum for the first time. The museum is small and its exhibits provide a greater emphasis on military electronics hardware than on consumer electronics. The displays would excite anyone who’s a regular viewer of The Military Channel with all the information on military hardware. My ex-husband would’ve loved this museum since he has long have had a fascination with military technology and he loved watching The Military Channel. (He could tell you the difference between a B-1 Bomber and a Spitfire.) If he hadn’t abruptly walked out on me in late 2011with no advanced warning (he told me he loved me all the way until the night before he left) and decided to start up a new relationship with one of our friends, I would’ve invited him to come along with me to Robofest so he could’ve had the opportunity to drool over the museum displays in the photos below. (Oh well, it’s his loss. LOL!)
It’s a necklace. It’s a pin. It’s BOTH!!! The photos are based on the ones that I actually took myself using my digital camera. I edited each photo in Photoshop, printed it out on Shrinky Dinks that are especially made for ink jet printers, cutted out the image, punched a hole on top of the image, baked the item for 3 minutes (when it shrinked to 1/3 of its original size), sealed the printed item in an acrylic varnish, placed a necklace loop on top, then glued a pin backing on the back. Regardless of whether you decide to wear it as a necklace or as a pin, it’s the ultimate in wearable art!
This particular image is based on my own photograph of a mailbox that was decorated to resemble the famous Star Wars robot R2-D2 that I took in Crystal City, Virginia in 2007.
Approximate size is about 2 inches x 2 inches (5 cm x 5 cm). There is a necklace loop at the top so you can add your favorite chain and a pin backing in case you want to wear it as a brooch.
R2-D2 Mailbox, Crystal City, Virginia, 2007
Can be sized up to the maximum of 8.5 inches x 11 inches (22 cm x 28 cm).
In 2007 I took part in my first Artomatic show that was held in an office building in Crystal City, Virginia. I found this mailbox that was painted to resemble R2-D2 from the Star Wars movies located near the Artomatic building. I later learned that George Lucas (the original Star Wars creator) had teamed up with the U.S. Postal Service to come out with a limited number of R2-D2 mailboxes that would be displayed throughout the U.S. I took a few photos of that mailbox.
The following year, I took part in Artomatic once again (which had moved to the northeastern part of Washington, DC) and I decided to focus exclusively on my photography (instead of the mix of photography, drawing, and painting I had featured at Artomatic, 2007). By then the R2-D2 mailboxes had been dismantled so when it came time to select photos for that exhibition, I chose that one.