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In February of 2006 I was invited to be a special guest of the Korean Housing Fair 2006. My unique urinals had received a lot of attention in Korea after my exhibit in San Francisco in May of 2005. The Housing Fair used images of my work in all of their advertising and paid for Bob, my partner, and I to travel to Seoul for the event. The Housing fair also constructed a beautiful exhibit space in the middle of the hall and shipped 12 of my piece to and from the show. It was an experience I will never forget. If you ever get a chance to visit Seoul, I suggest you do it. The people are the most polite, well-dressed and charming people I think I have every encountered. The city is spotless and beautiful. I was so touched by the reception of so many artists and art lovers who visited my exhibit and took the time to tell me how much they liked my work. I was not excited at first about sitting in my exhibit for 6 days but I soon became enthralled by watching thousands of people laugh, point, stare and pretend to use my urinals. Even the poised and impeccably dressed Korean women couldn't help themselves from pretending to use my urinals.

As an artist, it is always so gratifying to be appreciated. This adventure was such an unexpected roller coaster of discovery and joy. I hope I can return to Korea some day very soon.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos I took during my two week visit to Seoul.

KOREAN HOUSING FAIR 2006
Photos of my exhibit & the fair

I couldn't resist! posing for this picture.

 


I was very happy with the booth. I wanted it to be like a gallery or museum and I think it turned out well.
 

Over the course of the 6 day exhibit, tens of thousands of people giggled and pointed their way through my booth.
 

Several views of my exhibit
 

 

 

Bob was the best helper EVER!!! He didn't realize he was going to know all about urinal flush valves by the end of the day.
 

Bob, Clark, Bora - organizer of the show, Sun Hee & Ko my translators

 

Booth in progress

 

......and the crush begins. Over the course of 6 days I estimate that 20,000 people saw my works. I learned quickly how to say: "urinal" and " Please Don't Touch!" in Korean - although I don't think anyone really understood me when I tried to say anything in Korean.

 

The woman directly to my left, Sienna Kim wrote an internet article as an intern for a news service that was instrumental in my being noticed and invited to Korea - she was very nervous and shy to actually meet me and is now a full time reporter! Congratulations Sienna Kim! People were often very shy around me) Bora -my fabulous host and Sun Hee - my super translator are also in the photo.
 

some choice reactions from a stylish woman - this woman just laughed and laughed.
 

This is me, Sun Hee, my translator, and her fiancÚ, Hee Hyun.

 

Plastering, painting, tiling, wood floors. There were even booths that had working kitchens and displays with bubbling hot tubs.
 

I was amazed by the extent of the construction that went into the other booths.

 

construction went on 24hours a day for 4 days before the show
 

I was amazed at the complex structure that were built for this event.
 

In October of 2005 I was included in a book about new trends in design. The woman on the right, Juhee Kim, is the author and she came to the exhibit and gave me a copy of the book. She was also very shy about meeting me. It was such an honor to have met these people who truly valued my art.
 

they even built full size houses in the parking lot! - just for this show.
 

 
this is the KINTEX center where the event took place

 
The first day of the Housing Fair  they had a ribbon cutting and..... ....some fantastic drumming by some very energetic girls
   

From the Seoul Tower in the center of the city you can see miles and miles of buildings, the development appears to go on for ever.......
 

.....in every direction.
 

.....as far as you could see.
 

The only MINI we saw
 

I loved the painted beams of the Palaces we saw
 

 

 

It was bitter cold and foggy as we wondered the city during the first full day of our visit.

 

The palace grounds were vast and quiet compared to the rest of the city
 

 


Often the English translations were very interesting.
From many of the translations I am guessing that the Korean language is very flowery.
The mistakes were mostly very cute. They kept us smiling all throughout our entire visit.
 

This was the first sign we noticed. There was a little recreation of an old Korean farm on an island at a very busy intersection.
 

Is this where you withdraw or deposit hair??
I'm pretty sure it was a hair salon

what is a vitamin animal??
we could only guess that "vitamin" has some sort of health conotation
 

 

Someone told us that "two-two" has something to do with the sound a chicken makes or some famous chicken reference...
 

 

I'm not sure I would be confident using this bank
 

Imagine a place where I would be the best speller!! (anyone who knows me well knows that I am retarded when it comes to spelling)
 

what a strange name for a motorcycle
 

We were in Seoul on Valentines day. There was quite an effort by merchants to promote this western holiday. This is a box of chocolate, it was like always reading beautiful HAIKU on all of the merchandise.
 

Of course we found many Starbucks, often filled with young orange clad monks seeking refuge from the cold.
 

An obvious typo for "crab" - needless to say we didn't order this dish
 

   

these pictures don't adequately show the enormity and the multitude of the signage in some areas. I never did get a good photo of the streets that were explosions of colored signs. It was as if my little digital camera could never handle the amount of light.
 

This is a typical city street. We found the city rather quiet. We discovered late in our visit that there are vast underground passageways lined with shops that were teeming with activity and warmth!
 

I loved these stone walls. Who would have thought to put the blocks at an angle. It's probably stronger and so pretty!!
 

Sensitive plants and trees were carefully wrapped in straw to survive the harsh winter weather......
 

.......even the ends of the tree limbs had a little decoration on them. It was really cute. There was so much attention to detail and design in Seoul.
 

more stone walls
 

There were little bits of snow in some places.. The weather was quite cold some days and the sun went down early.
 

This little tower of rocks made me think of my friend, Mir.
 

believe me, there are way more photos of these walls than I am sharing here!! I just loved them! They are a perfect example of the delight I get in seeing something done in such a different way that makes visiting other places so fascinating.
 

 

 

 

I had such a wonderful time visiting Seoul. I did not expect the grace and sophistication that I found. The first thing I noticed was how well dressed everyone was. It seemed as thought 99% of the people were on their way to church or a special occasion. My translator was puzzled by my amazement and explained that Koreans dress for other's eyes and it is good manors to always look nice.

Another thing that took me by surprise was the sophisticated technology and energy saving that is a much bigger part of the city. The first time we went on the subway we walked up to the escalator and because it wasn't working, we took the stairs. About half way down we saw people going down the escalator. We realized later that the escalators had motion sensors and only worked when someone walked up to them. There were many examples of how well thought out the city was. There were beautiful public toilets everywhere. They had this thing called "t-money" which was basically a debit card system that you could use in subways, phones, vending machines, shops. We bought a card to use but most people could use their cell phones to store the money and just wave it over the readers to get food, groceries or entrance to the subway.

It is always good to visit other countries and cultures - it makes me realize that as Americans, we think we know everything and have the best of what the world has to offer. It is humbling to realize that this is far from the truth. Besides having many superior technologies in place in Seoul there are many  customs that create a beautiful and cultured society there. And to add further to their charm, they are not at all boastful or loud about their achievements. I was so very impressed by almost every Korean person I dealt with on my trip. Sadly, I cannot say that about many of the other places I have visited in the world. I will count the days until I have another opportunity to visit this wonderful place again.

Thank you so much, Bora Kim, and the Kyung Hyang Housing fair for introducing me to Korea. It was such a great experience.

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