The Art And Artists Of Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

Long-nose beasts and long-neck women starred in previous posts and indeed highlighted our time in Thailand’s northern star, Chiang Mai.

Yet Chiang Mai itself was one, big highlight made possible by the constant beauty of, from, and around the city.

DSC06251

Day Two in Chiang Mai had us load up into our vans and lumber up a nearby hill, offering the view above. On the way, trees were in full bloom, branch tips alit in a palette of pastels. I asked our driver about this, and he said that this was the month for tree blossoms. Lucky us. And yet just the tip of the iceberg of the artistry–natural or manmade–that pervades Chiang Mai.

DSC06327

Our first introduction to the craftspeople and artists took place on the balcony from which I took the shot overlooking the city. Up here, some came with works for sales.

DSC06242

DSC06257

Others set up shop for their on-the-spot service.

DSC06254

Another hilltop near Chiang Mai featured a Hmong village. Up here were artists of another type.

DSC06453
Land sculptors are the Hmong.

DSC06449

Nearby was some other structural art:

DSC06447

After this hilltop, we headed down to an artists’ studio, a large, open structure with cement floor, boarded back wall, and several local artists in a row of stations working their craft.

A few worked together making paper umbrellas–and I mean make from scratch.

This lady made the paper for the umbrella shade.

DSC06487
She pounded wood fiber into pulp. Put the fibers into water, sift them into a thin layer, let it dry, and you have paper for your parasol.

DSC06492

Other workers made the frame and the handle.

DSC06496

Check it out:


The other half of the this place saw a few artists perched on stools painting designs on clothes, bags, cell phone cases, or in my case, a camera case.

DSC06509

DSC06513

Interestingly, two days earlier, I had just had a discussion on Facebook with other traveling friends of mine, one of whom said they routinely pay more than asking price from local artists, particularly when the work is done for very cheap.

That was the case here. So, inspired by the conversation, I gave my guy an extra bump in compensation.

He seemed as pleased with it as all the artists here were for the business from our entire group. Of course, all of us–newly decorated–were happy as well.

DSC06518
Our group at the art coop, picture taken with a “paint” filter on my camera–appropriate for the day and for this particular article.

Next we were hungry, and mealtime in Thailand is often beautiful as well.

DSC06416

Artistic was also the guy who served our lunch:

DSC06413

So I took an expressive picture of him.

DSC06414

In fact, I went a little crazy with this “paint” filter on my camera the whole time in Chiang Mai.

DSC06279

DSC06243

DSC06253

But looking back, I see how appropriate it was for this city of striking artistic expression and beauty to inspire my own artistic side.

So let the filter pictures shine!

DSC06305

DSC06228

DSC06224

DSC06223

DSC06430

DSC06505

DSC06499

DSC06490

DSC06309

Seeing the lives here in Chiang Mai, and then the art created by them, perpetuated to a point of eye-popping beauty for which I was not in store.

***

I’ll be honest, neither of our next two destinations–Chiang Rai and Bangkok—would rival this attraction. But they would each offer amazements that Chiang Mai did not.

Next up was Chiang Rai.

Here, the touristy would give way for the authentic. If “real” village life was what we were after, we’d fall right into the middle of it. Old World and New World Hmong would interact. And developed/developing, Eastern/Western worlds would come together and learn from one another.

Today, we say goodbye to Chiang Mai. Next week, we begin our second leg on this Thailand trek, Chiang Rai Province, and the villages and schools in the hill country of northern Thailand.

 

What say you?