HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A Grand Space

Carol singing under the big tree

Opera Season opens in Chiang Mai

Baan Chulasai’s Sunday Xmas Music in the Garden

A Grand Space

Two shows at CMU’s Grand Museum

Jim Messenger

Among the many wonders of Chiang Mai is its burgeoning art scene. With two or more institutes turning out people proficient in many of the ‘fine arts’, Chiang Mai is rapidly becoming an arts hub. Certainly for Thailand, this second city has always been a haven of rest and recuperation, where a number of very well known artists have their studios.

Another example of what is on exhibition right now.

Nestled away in the hills around CMU or as far a field as Padang, Lamphun, these scions of the art scene give life and inspiration to all they come across. Their roots blend into the fervor of campus life, enriching the younger breed of artists. Consequent to this is the opening of a number of galleries showing work of innovation, depth and style to rival any Western show place.

An example of what is on exhibition right now.

At the forefront of this explosion and in no small part responsible for its flowering is the CMU Fine Arts Dept Museum. This is the hub, where many interesting activities rotate around. The three shows on right now point that out.

Spreading out over the main reception area and filling every nook and cranny is the “Dtamsee Samgsan Sungkonthai” show of Northern Thai Youth drawings and paintings. It a very colorful show representing vignettes of Thai life from all over the North. The painting is quite imaginative and well worth seeing. Surrounding this is a concurrent exhibition of mature Northern artists with some very good pieces to come and view.

The 3rd show, in the back space, is “Thailand ASEAN Art Award 2003 (for Phillip Morris)”. It the shortlist of 40 or so pieces of Thai artists from around the country. This is a really good show with some fine, arresting pieces and new techniques being used.

Case in point: Anuchart Piriyakitdumrunghal’s “BKK Carbon Monoxide” ... The title says it all. It’s a gigantic thing, like BKK itself. 180 x 200 cm, all dirty brown and grey over etched and painted tinfoil, with a view of a traffic jam as seen from above. Cars and busses fill the space, with buildings pushed to the sides. Nothing moves, everything is stagnant. The only alive thing being this film of dirty brown-black smoke over everything. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Sorry about that, but it’s really a great piece.

The next one is “Reflexion of Life in Metropolis #1”, by Panot Plnemchasak. This is another monumental (150 x 200) piece built in layers, with an image etched on a piece of glass reversed over a second image, juxtaposing light and shadow, positive and negative, quite clever really.

As well, there’s another piece by this artist, around the corner in the big room. Lots to see and take in everywhere you look. Both shows run until December 28.

This museum space is really quite attractive, with an art book store, cafe, and a theatre where art movies are played (for free) every Sunday, 3 to 5 p.m.

As well on the grounds are a wonderful massage school/shop, some interesting artist ateliers, and the burgeoning collection of old wooden Thai houses that are being rescued from destruction and displayed there in the back. All is there for you to see and enjoy.

The museum is located at the corner of Suthep and Nimmanhaemin. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (+ -) For info (try to speak to Naomi) call 053 218 280.

Carol singing under the big tree

Mary, Bob, Noi and Tooiee sang along with her

Natchawi Srirat

On a lovely chilly Friday evening, more than one hundred residents of the Thai and expat community of Chiang Mai gathered at the Gymkhana Sports Club to celebrate Christmas. There was music in the air with children on stage singing and playing saxophone, flute, guitar, drum and even a clarinet.

Please Santa, did you bring something for me?

The Christmas songs started with “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” followed by the cheerful “Santa Claus is coming to town”, and while people were still singing, Santa Claus’ bell was heard from afar. All the children became more and more excited as they knew Santa Claus was coming with a big sack of presents.

Candles, chorals, and a chilly breeze on the Friday before Christmas.

When Santa arrived, all the kids came around, hoping that they would get some of his treasures.

The party was set in the romantic setting at the back field of Gymkhana Sports Club, with Christmas decorations under the shade of a massive tree.

Opera Season opens in Chiang Mai

Rebecca Lomax

If the opera won’t come to Chiang Mai, then Dr. Howard C. Graves Jr. has decided to sponsor it himself. Friday evening saw Tosca, featuring the magnificent voice of Placido Domingo, playing in Dr. Graves’ apartment on Huay Kaew Road.

Dr. Graves, host, with guest Jennifer Dyson.

Opera lovers gathered for an evening of videotaped opera, accompanied by a champagne toast to the season (and Dr. Graves’ creative ideas!) plus a lovely meal served at each of two intermissions.

Dr. Graves promises more to come, a lovely addition to Chiang Mai’s social scene.

Baan Chulasai’s Sunday Xmas Music in the Garden

Dr. Rebecca Lomax

Sunday afternoon’s Christmas music at Baan Chulasai, Charoen Pratet Road next to Montfort Boy’s School, was one of the most international programs yet presented. Compositions by Mendelssohn, Mozart, Brahms, and Schubert were featured, as were traditional Christmas carols from Germany, England, and France.

The most technically challenging piece was the Andante in C by Mozart. Not usually heard in a casual garden setting, the audience was delighted when this was presented.

One of the most pleasant features of this series of matinee concerts is Ajahn Xavier Pitijet Vichitporn’s penchant for interacting with his audience. Not only is the music discussed, feedback from the audience is encouraged as are requests.

Ajahn Xavier is also quite spontaneous and very humorous. At one point, his dog joined the concert, watching with rapt attention until its attention was diverted to an itch behind his ear, which jingled the bell on his collar. Ajahn Xavier immediately changed from playing “Deck the Hall with Boughs of Holly” to “Jingle Bells”, keeping perfect time with the scratching dog.

The final concert of this series will be December 28 and will feature New Year’s music. You can make reservations at 053 273 746 or via email [email protected] hotmail.com

Each concert includes a delightful early supper at 180 baht or 230 baht. Proceeds from the concerts support music programs for the School for the Blind in Chiang Mai.