Artist Beans TLC Collective

The Blue Hour

A conversation with the sunset: being Van Gogh’s reincarnation, loving yourself, and strategies on how to not commit robbery at the louvre

By Meena Shayna Sarsaba // Art by Andi Sarsaba

The time is 1:43am. You were sure you’ve fallen into a nap somewhere around two in the afternoon today. Maybe the night is unfolding in reverse slow motion.

You catch your reflection on an android screen. wtf. this phone, i already bartered this phone at Facebook market place for 4 sacks of Ganador. 

It wasn’t long until you noticed your hair’s fringes are not solstice orange & stygian pink, but, but. black. all black. some of your tattoos are nowhere to be found. you look at your iPod, this too, why does this still work? Click. October 13. The year is 2018. Miss Anthropocene, which you built your personality around, has been deleted out of Spotify. You hear “One Kiss” is blasting softly in the distance and some neighbors are dancing to it like new. The sky paints itself darker but in shades like a few day old bruise. You’re feeling heavy. There’s a cloud of despair ringing in your chest. You have become an outlier in the body of linear time. Don’t worry, your physical form is in the last year you remember it being in. It’s out there crying to solar power or consumed by thunderous sleep trying not to turn over to the side where your new helix piercing is still tender.

It’s your second day here. You realize that you have not really been stripped of your social life, you have always chosen to function this way. You’re wondering why you feel a deep plunge of despair, it’s colored blue. What might momentarily stuff this void? It dawns on you. 

The louvre. I want to rob the louvre. 

You’ve thought of this before, this old you, is still you, anyway. You receive a vibration from your new old phone. There’s a message from a user named sunset:

Are you up?

Suddenly you don’t feel like they’re a stranger. Their arrival is so ominous. You feel that there is a chemistry between you and the sunset that is hard to deny. Now that we’re here, if I had nothing to do but be consumed by the bubbling fix of just feeling like girlbossing, I could, or would, rob a museum for fun. Maybe MOMA? LACMA? Pintô art museum? The Smithsonian? Or demolish an entire graffiti wall at Colon ala La poésie est dans la rue. Anyways, if I were you, i’d kidnap yayoi kusama in the midst of performing arts in her Infinity Mirror Room at Tate Modern and preserve her forever so feminism can still be taught & rule in the future.

You feel that there is a chemistry between you and the sunset that is hard to deny

Before you begin this, maybe pace a little and contemplate your options? Confide in the sunset and exchange a few texts that feel like lessons on how to live in the age of quarantine before quarantine. Maybe the sunset’s alter ego is named Chainne B and runs a local shop handpainting sceneries on shirts and totes called aestheticsXchin. Or maybe she just wants to converse with somebody like you. there is no how-to on life but we can try.

I wanna first say that when I look at the scene of where you take your paintings, I get teleported to a very sweet place. there’s a very refreshing, vibey song playing. When you paint, do you happen to be engulfed in sound?

Honestly, I just listen to my own playlists I have in my head. But really I just love to paint in silence. Just the sound of the outside world.

Where do you find your peak artistry, like when does it happen? Does it happen in the daytime? Nighttime? Your favorite spots? Where does all the magic take place?

I usually paint at night as well. Usually around 10-11 pm. Since everyone around is settled in destructive sounds or like people yelling or fighting. But it usually depends sometimes during sunset and the blue hour, 6pm. You know when that sun settles and then the next ambiance would be the cold breeze of blue hour. The smell of the burnt firewood because your grandma is cooking something for dinner in her dirty kitchen. Seeing everyone settling down as the night comes. And I just observe them in our terrace. Sipping coffee.

I also absolutely love your tagline “Wear an Artwork” like, no need to rob a museum anymore, you can just wear your favorite paintings!

Yes! I really came up with that wear an artwork since you know I would love anyone who wears my artwork feel like they are wearing something from a museum or they are already the museum because they’re bringing an artwork! Actually, I came up with that concept because of Van Gogh’s famous artwork. The starry starry night.

Have you also thought of robbing a great masterpiece? If so, what have you always got in mind, it’s our secret lang bitaw (and the rest of TLC Collective’s avid readers, it’s their fault they’re reading!)

Actually if I could rob one or pay for an actual artwork, I would definitely rob any of Van Gogh’s work of art and then sell them to someone for an expensive price. And all the money I will get from selling them would go directly to buying more artwork from unfamous artists and make them famous and give more to animal shelters since you know, Van Gogh never had the chance to sell more of his artworks in his lifetime and maybe by helping other artists who struggled the same scenarios as him, it could make Van Gogh happy.

Maybe you are Vincent van Gogh’s reincarnation! Yep, he would definitely support your causes. He himself was rebellious in his own authentic ways.

It’s safe to assume that the starry night swirls inside her eyes, I love how Chainne still takes in those destructive sounds emanating from her direct surroundings, not pretending they’re not happening but just isolating them. I can envision how she uses her emotions as paint & then uses the paint brush to direct them in strokes, make them a little less sharp, textured, just allowing it to flow like the changes of the sky.

Disclaimer: she used emojis a lot, trust me she’s one of us. Very giddy, cotton-candy sunset faerie. As we got deep into hypotheticals, I could see how Chainne’s energy sprang everywhere, like I was physically with her or listening to a vibrant podcast. She’s fizzy. “I hope I am making sense. I’m too excited to share so much about my passion. I feel like I am a can of coke.”

That’s so very sweet. Knowing all of the twists and turns behind the paintings makes me want to cop at least one from her collection. When I have my own money again I’ll just smile to myself knowing that this item holds another human’s memories & have the phantom smell of Chainne’s Grandmother’s sinugba on it! It is so homey. Home in a tote bag or a shirt. [Fingers crossed for XXXXL]

Sometimes we forget to humanize artists but really they go through rough patches too.

aestheticsXchin’s totes and bags are handpainted on Katsa Canvas material. “All Katsa Canvas! Similar with artwork museums hang on their wall.” It has earned its title as the “all around textile” because of its level of durability, affordability, reusability; made from biodegradable, natural cotton and plain-woven which minimises the spread of chemical residue and humidity resistant. With all those elements and a carefully customised artwork, it would make it ideal to carry around or give as gifts.

And to be honest, there were moments that I don’t want to paint at all and sometimes that moment comes every time I have tee or tote bag commissions. That’s why I always tell my clients that it will take up to 2 weeks upon making them. It’s really hard actually. But hey, I will be planning to have pre-painted or printed tees and totes just in case some surge of clients will come and want pieces of my artworks.

Sigh. I wanna hug her. We indeed should take it slowly, inspiration or even the will to live, doesn’t always shower, kind of like rain, it just happens unexpectedly but when it does, the bloom & yield of the fruits are so bountiful! Sometimes we forget to humanize artists but really they go through rough patches too. I’m so thankful she got to share her emotional process with me.

You are such a sensitive soul, it got me thinking if you happen to be a water sign. It’s like you have a relationship with the sky.

I am an air bender! Gemini! Wind and clouds are my fave.

Do you make something first personally? Like when do you know this is for selling & when do you feel like maybe this is just for private keeping? Your journal pages are very lovely and so well-put together!

Actually, the tote bag that I painted, the Clouds tote bag, I loved it so much I kept it for myself and I don’t sell it. I just advertise it in case someone would want to have it for commissions. I’ve been painting like since 6 yrs old. Because my parents are artists as well. Especially my dad. He used to paint on handicrafts and ukuleles you see in downtown Cebu and Mactan for souvenirs. And of course, before I had that courage to sell my artworks, I kept most of them through the years on bondpapers and journals. I also give my artworks to my closest friends. Hoping that someday I’ll be a famous artist and I had those old artworks signed then they can sell it in the future. Malay natin diba?

I’ve been enjoying her stream of thoughts, so funny, gentle and wholehearted! She carefully answers with time and a kick of spontaneity. We dont deserve her! She deserves to have more conversations such as this. She has a strong mental well-being conscience. Plus her walloping fizzy, Gemini energy is so contagious. I dont think I have to ask her what kindness means to her. She is kindness herself. Anyways, have you changed your mind yet? Still wanna raid a well guarded museum?

Maybe humans are interchangeably sunsets and sunsets are interchangeably human

I honestly let my drawings be consumed by the shadows because I think they’re too weird or revealing of my true, true self especially from my parents who aren’t quite open in those ways like Chainne’s but it’s a relief to know others do have such a solid support system. That alone is the beginning of a sanctuary which I’m very sure van Gogh would wish for all artists to have access to because he painted his last paintings in an asylum.

Thankfully but still quite lacking, mental health issues are now more addressed and not used simply for aesthetics these days. “Please do share your artworks to the world! I do have this phrase if I ever have doubts on sharing things to the world. I only live once, nobody really cares and the world will revolve itself. It’s more on YOLO.”

Maybe humans are interchangeably sunsets and sunsets are interchangeably human. Towering domelike nimbus hug chaos. A celestial body with some issues. The sunset sky is just the sun on its period texting you about its phases and moods.

Any Thingamabob Anyag stans? She painted Anyag! Chainne is open to do commissions. Find her painting corner at aestheticsxchin. Wear an artwork, or boldly wear your story through Chainne’s brushstrokes. Or why not have your stories collide into beautiful sunset colors. Pure heroine energy in the name of love for yourself & kindness for others. Physically wearing the sky, spiritually one with its infiniteness. The Sky is not the limit. Or how does that go again? [smirks in Anyag]

Sunset Playlist:

        ✧ Left It With The Moon – The Shacks
        ✧ Midnight Blue – Electric Light Orchestra
        ✧ PCH – Tokyo Police Club
        ✧ Sink Into The Floor – Feng Suave
        ✧ Vincent – Don McLean

Meena Shayna Sarsaba graduated from University of San Carlos and is now spending most of her days as an opalescent pink poisonous soft coral scape klepto dreaming inside an umbilical cord (yes, you read that right) and being an advocate for kindness since day one. She is officially Team Love Club’s fairy.

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