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In Daegu, the show must go on


DAEGU -- Eternal Reflections III: Back to Basics is a Daegu-based art initiative aiming to bring together artists of all levels of experience and background living in Korea, welcoming submissions from both Korean and expat artists.
The show starts on Wednesday, May 20 and finishes on May 24.
Hosted by Club: THAT in downtown Daegu, the art will be showcased on the club`s third and fourth floor gallery space. Meanwhile, the opening and closing concerts will be on the second floor stage area and feature acts of both local and national renown.
The event is the brain-child of Scott Fusion, born Scott McLaughlin, who said the original Reflections Eternal was born out of a desire to both exhibit his own photography and foster a community that would allow others to do the same.
"We wanted to let people know we were serious about this," Fusion told Expat Living. "We weren`t just some kids playing around." Fusion formed Blank Canvas Entertainment last year as a vehicle for the original Eternal Reflections. He and co-organizer, Edward Pye, were interested in creating an event that would unify a new community of expat and local artists, musicians, and writers.
After the success of the initial Eternal Reflections, the Daegu Art Association invited the winners of the original Eternal Reflections to participate in the Daegu Arts Shapes exhibit. This year, the winning entries will be displayed at the Daegu Pockets tent at the Dongseongro Festival on May 24.
The organizers gathered one sun-soaked morning on the third floor a studio loft to discuss the upcoming event. The office space is donated by Kang Jung-keun, the good-natured CEO of Tobor, a company that specializes in exporting robots. The festival`s executive community includes Fusion, Ha, Mi-yong, the Korean director, Lee, Yu-ri, the director of Korean press, and co-curators and art liaisons True Park, Kate Hampel and James Martin Pepper Kelly.
Ha Mi-yong, wide browed and cosmopolitan, is known in the community as Hami and is the owner of Hami Mami`s, a Western-style brunch restaurant in Daegu. She majored in architecture and met Fusion when he asked for her help renovating the third and fourth floors of Club: THAT before Reflections Eternal.
"When I think of expats, I think fearless," She says. "They aren`t afraid to try anything." Born and raised in Daegu, she offers the perspective of a native Korean who has witnessed the evolution of the city and its inhabitants.
"Many Koreans are all talk," she says. "And with Scott there was talk, but then it became `Let`s just do it!`" Hami works with Lee, who graduated with a major in Arts Management and was involved from Reflections Eternal.
True Park is the curator for Korean artists` submissions. He was born and raised in Korea, but left in 2000 for the United States, where he studied sculpture at the University of Omaha, Nebraska. He now works in Gyeongju in his family`s candy-making business, while continuing to practice his art.
"The motivation is different for expats," he said. "For Korean artists and their parents, often no pay equals no purpose, but expats are more interested in doing things purely for the experience."
"I`m learning as I go," Park says, with a chuckle, when asked about his status as curator. Together with Lee, he will canvas the internet as well as local arts universities to publicize their call for submissions.
Kate Hampel and Pepper Kelly both began as artists in the exhibition and are now co-curators for expat submissions.
Hampel, slender and artfully presented, won top prize last year for her untitled self-portrait and received a number of invitations to exhibit independently as a result of her exposure in Eternal Reflections.
"Our apartments are tiny and they have to hold our whole lives," Hampel says in regard to creating art in Korea. By necessity, she now operates on a smaller, more portable scale. Her work is visceral and immediate, weaving elements of whimsy and nostalgia over a stark, austere reality.
"I found color coming into my work," says Kelly, a photographer who had worked previously in black and white. "The mood is more frenetic, the colors more energized."
"It`s salon style, so anything goes," he says, in regard to the challenges of curating the many and varied expat submissions. "We won`t know what we`re going to get until it shows up."
The curators are allowed to exhibit, but are barred from competition.
It is a desire to unify a community that is constantly in flux, though in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- this constant change, the need for amalgamating elements is even more pronounced.
Hampel is leaving in June to attend grad school at the Art Institute of Chicago. She says, as she picks up her bag, "It`s important that the event goes on, even as the community changes." For more information, go to -- Ed.
By Christianna Lee