Fifteen years


My father, in those sepia-tinted photographs,
looked forward to so much.
After so many disappointments,
he would rise like grass beaten by wind and rain,
then, bent by disease,
and, in the last insult by his own body,
taken by a stroke,
this gentle, unobtrusive man,
always in the background –
life seemed to get the better of him.
He was just a very ordinary man
who remembered all of us
by making meticulous notes of names,
significant events,
and cards given and received.
He did not chronicle the events of his life
nor did he write about himself,
but the things he left
show what he cared about
and how deeply he cared.


April 24, 1921 - October 1, 2007

This is not normal

This is not normal, 2003

This set of prints, entitled “Critical Collages,” are composed from a random collection of printed ephemera, digitally retouched and enlarged. The images, as much the result of chance as of deliberation, hint at oblique commentaries on culture and society. Originally ATCs, they are available as 6″ x 4″ or 10″ x 8″ prints.

The Transience of Value

Gallery Gachet

Salon Shop exhibition: The Transience of Value by Lena Tan.


Opening reception: Friday, April 24th, 7.00 – 10.00 pm
Exhibition runs: April 24th – May 31st, 2015

Lena Tan carries forward forgotten traditions into a contemporary society that leaves a trail of increasingly obvious destruction behind it. Hand-worked lace, based on the pattern work of Irish women crocheting for survival through the Great Famine of the mid-19th century, meld with the flotsam of the daily commuter. Repurposed bus tickets & crochet become micro meditations on transit and transformation. Permanence fused on to transience. Can the invalidated be made valid again through art?

Living Wages

Reuters headline yesterday: “Minimum wage fight hits the streets of nearly 200 U.S. cities”

Aug. 17, 1998

I went to work for a day and they paid me $70 an hour for six hours. At $7 an hour that’s 60 hours, or 42 hours at $10 an hour, more than a week’s work, standing on your feet all day, lifting heavy bolts of fabric, opening drawers of dress patterns, bending and heaving, cutting and turning, until you hurt your back, your wrists, your legs. Arthritis, rheumatism, varicose veins, carpal tunnel, you’ve got it all. $10 an hour – that’s a lot of money. That’s a good job. They made you manager of the store.

“What about you? What do you do?”

“Oh, I – I teach. I work on my own. Not all the time. Just when they call me.” I mumble and avoid their eyes.

They look at me, not sure whether to feel sorry or envious. “It’s good to work for yourself. Set your own hours. No one to be your boss.”

“Ahh… well, I have to work when they call. It’s hard not to know when I have to work. A steady job is good.”

They feel sorry for me now. “Yes, a steady job is good. Bring in some money. Pay the bills. It’s not easy, getting a good job.”

Sad Pigeon Story

July 15, 1998

A pigeon, bald, smooth and shiny. Stick legs, walking on the paving stones at the side of the house, hurrying along ahead of me, stopping, then hurrying as I come up with my bucket, garden gloves and shovel. It stops when I stop to dig and pull. It moves away when I approach. Looks at me, walks into the plants, trying to keep its distance, a little hop and flutter, pit pit pitta. It reaches the front yard, doubles around and hurries to the back, sidelong glances at me digging and pulling. I go back with the bucket. It looks at me, head bobbing, skip, hop and flutter. It seems to like being on the paving beside the house, but it has to keep moving as I go back and forth with bucket, shovel, clippers and trowel.

Later, I hear voices outside the house. Two kids are looking under a parked car as other cars pass by. The pigeon pit-pats into the road, and the kids chase it back. They’re trying to catch it so it won’t get run over. But it’s under the car and the kids go away.

The next day I’m coming home from the gym and there’s a small smear with feathers on the road.


The red of the chrysanthemums on my desk is as red as… as red as… as the red of the chrysanthemums. The ones before had some orange in the red. These have some blue in the red. I can’t stop looking at them. Looking at them, I can only feel the joy of redness.