"Beautiful things happen when your passions exceed your fears"
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting MAIIAM in Chiang Mai, the first contemporary art museum in Thailand. The museum visit plus my Uber ride experience surpassed all my expectations.
Sometimes, you get really lucky and the universe sends you the nicest person at the right time which helps make experiences like this one, all that much more special. At least that’s what I’d like to think about my Uber driver.
The museum is located in the historic crafts district of Sankampang, about half an hour away from my apartment, so of course, I called an Uber. As soon as I got in the car, the driver explained that he could take me to MAIIAM but he would have to wait for me there because I wouldn’t be able to catch an Uber from that far out of the city. I thought he was going to charge me somewhere along the lines of $20 for his time but when he said $10, I said, “Ok-ka!” (which is the polite way to say Ok in Thai) Considering the fact that a one-way ride to the museum was already $8, I quickly took him up on his offer. I thought that was really nice of him to warn me. He could’ve just dropped me off and left me there to fend for myself. Thank goodness he didn’t!
Vesspa, my Uber driver, was so incredibly sweet. We talked the entire car ride. I learned that he went to Chiang Mai University and got his degree in business and marketing. He works full time at a bank and drives part time. He said he loves being an Uber driver because he gets to meet people from all over the world. We talked a lot about other things and I even got to practice some of my Thia with him. He was actually impressed with my Thia and said that I was really good. I know for a fact that he was lying but it was still nice to hear. All this was going on while listening to Disney cover songs in Portugues by Edu Lobo and Claudette Soares. (If you read my last post, you’ll find this funny) The music was so calm and melodic that it helped mask some of my excitement but when we arrived, he said, “You will love it, I already know!” And he was just as excited for me to go see the museum, as I was. When a complete stranger notices your passion for art from the front driver seat, I think that says a lot.
The museum is located off a busy road and it’s easy to spot because of the giant glass mosaic facade. The glass façade is cladded with millions of tiny decorative thin mirror tiles as those commonly used in traditional Thai architecture. The façade refers to traditional temple walls in the city but with a modern and contemporary feel that uses new patterns and new installation techniques.
The museum was founded by the Bunnag-Beurdeley family. Before you enter the actual gallery space, you walk through a small room where you can learn a little bit of the family’s history and how the museums collection came to be. I could go on and on about all the art I saw but instead, I’ll just let you go through the pictures.
Every piece of art left me more impressed than the last. However, as I walked through the space and appreciated the art, I couldn’t help but notice how well the architecture complimented it. The architects really accomplished their goal of transforming an old warehouse into a house of art. In this quiet but well-facilitated platform, the art and not the architecture is the main attraction. The space is minimalist, elegant, modern and spacious. It was also nice that there weren't too many visitors on this particular Thursday afternoon so I got to enjoy the gallery all to myself.
All of the artwork was incredible and moving at times but my favorite piece was "Super (M) Art Bangkok Survivors" by local Chiang Mai artist, Navin Rawanchaikul (cover picture). It is located in the second floor of the gallery's permanent collection. This painting took more than 10 years to complete and when you look closely its easy to see why it took so long to finish. In this massively detailed painting, the artist depicts what happened before in the circles of Thai Art and also sets a query for the future of Thai art.
I could’ve spent all day looking at the art but Vesspa was waiting for me so I really only spent about an hour and a half inside the museum. When we were leaving, he said, “You look so happy!” To what, I replied, “I am happy! Art makes me so happy!” Again, it’s weird when someone acknowledges my excitement for art. It really is my passion and for so long, I tried to hide it or forget about it but somehow art always found me. Instead of fighting it, I’ve decided to fully embrace it. If I could get paid to travel and visit art museums; that would be my dream come true. I still haven’t figured out how to accomplish this goal but I feel like I’m getting closer. For now, I will continue to live my passion for art and travel and let the universe figure out the rest. I will continue to live my brand in hopes of inspiring others to embrace their creativity. I have faith in the universe and that it will bring the right art circumstance into my life when I’m ready for it; just like it brings nice people into my life when I least expect it.