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Daniel’s Diary – SEPTEMBER 26th

I have a full nights sleep. I wake up around 7 am and start doing some writing on the computer. Around 9 am the door knocks Davon opens the door and it’s a film crew from one of the local television stations. I’m still in my boxers I tell them to wait for me to get dressed. The reporter is excited that I’m not ready and she say that it would be great to have me getting dressed on video. I think it seems a little ridiculous and I’m a little worried my mother-in-law here in Kazakhstan will see me on television in my boxers.

Daniel shadowed by the Kazakh video crew.
Daniel shadowed by the Kazakh video crew.

I quickly get dressed and they interview me as I clean up the hotel a bit and we go downstairs to eat some breakfast and I get interviewed about what I’m doing here. They walk with us down to the Tengri Umai and we finish the interview. We all wait for Vladimir. He shows up around noon. We start painting the canvases soon after. Some of the graffiti writers show up and start working.

Kazakh writers getting to work.
Kazakh writers getting to work.

We’re painting a bit in black. We’re using some Italian spray paint that is decent enough. Along the way we make small talk with the local writers and also some of the locals. I’m a bit concerned something will hit us on the head from the large apartment above. I follow James’ lead on the piece. We’re doing an oil well and mountain theme. Our letters are black like crude oil. Around 2pm the embassy officials come. They quickly assess our work and seem a little disappointed. It seems as if they wanted us to work more directly with the locals. We try to explain that we’re just getting started but it’s too late. The officials go and chat with Vladimir and it seems like there’s some communication issues about what the project would be like. James and I keep painting. We paint for around 5 hours. During this time Davon is preparing for a show and workshop in the downstairs gallery. His photos look nice.

We finish painting around 6 but after a meeting we don’t get out of there until 7pm. James needs to get back to Anna after he had agreed that he’d meet her at a certain time so we quickly get back to the hotel. We shower and return to see the opening of Davon’s show and we hang out with all the graffiti writers. We’re having some good times. We pose with them. Davon gives a talk to the crowd. He presents his work and talks about how we represent an alternative culture in the United States.

We quickly leave with Kyuanish and Saule to go to dinner at their house. We buy beer at the local store and we eat stuffed peppers and beet salad and drink vodka. Everything is so delicious! Everyone is having a great time. They seem to all really get along. I give the gifts Zhanara had packed for them. They’re so happy. I brought some coffee from home for them too.

We go to the studio and see their new works. Kyuanish says he sold all of his works from the last show and he says now he hasn’t done any new work. He says all he does is drink and watch football on the television. There are a couple of new paintings by him -one I really like of houses.

Kyuanish in the studio

Kyuanish in the studio.

Saule is working on a new series. She’s no longer working on her wax and acrylic media. She’s using vinyl printed photos stretched over frames and she paints pictures on them. The work looks super cool! She seems very happy about the new direction. We discuss her work and what it means to her. I say it’s really a great direction for her. During this time Zhanara talks with me on the telephone.

Saule and her work.

Saule and her work.

We go back to the hotel in a taxi. We go home put our stuff away and then I suggest we go check out the club on the corner. It looks terrible and so I tell them I know another place to go. SOHO Club. It takes about 5 minutes to walk there from here. There are too many ugly ex-patriots here. The music is good. We have one beer and then leave. James, Anna, Davon and I are all tired happy and a bit drunk.

We go back to the hotel turn the television on to see how bad things are back home with the further spiraling financial crisis. Things look bad there.

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