Fascinating Rhythms, Paddyside

By Renee Melchert Thorpe

Cheers! Mojitos and Bintang and soda water are in our glasses, each catching a gleam of sunset. I’m in a small crowd of NGO workers, musicians and entrepreneurs. Tattered scarecrows, more sculpture than agricultural aid, hold vigil over the vast green padi behind us. This is the accommodation and performance space Omah Apik, and another magical night of music and performance is about to begin.

Once a year, architect and activist Etha Widiyanto hosts a 2-day festival of inspiration and creativity. It’s her Festival Tepi Sawah, 3 years new, assisted by sound engineer and music impresario Anom Darsana, and jazz great Nita Aartsen. It’s a happening of art, dance, indigenous music, and jazz; with cultural workshops, craftsmen, and more.

Fine for families, the festival buildings buzz with hands-on activities, refreshments (one year a food truck was dishing Balinese tacos), virtuoso performances, and breathtaking jam sessions. Half the fun is exploring Etha’s beautiful structures (like her massive old teak joglo with a floor of salvaged wood), and its exquisite surrounds. You can even book a room at Omah Apik and stay right within the grounds. On facebook, Omah Apik Pejeng Bali has the link to reserve.

Next festival is slated for July 6 – 7, one so good that I want to tip you off now. It’s a stone’s throw from Ubud (and truly rural), in the storied village of Pejeng. Already confirmed are Kids of Kupang / Jakarta Big Band, wunderkind puppetmaster Cilik Narend, Papua dancers, and crowd-pleasing Jogjakarta songstress Endah Laras. Workshops: Made Taro and Clean Bali Series, master dancer and musician I Made Bandem, Sumatran filmmaker Erik Est, and photographer Vifick Bolang.

Year-round, Etha stages music events called Fascinating Rhythm on at least one Monday evening per month, with January 7th up next, 7-10pm. Past FR events have featured Mbira music from Zimbabwe and a world class jazz bassist from Italy. These evenings include a little tutorial or informative intro to the instrument, but mainly it’s a whole lot of great music in a fun space.

Subscribe to Omah Apik updates with What’s App on +62 8123909334.


What a year for culture it’s been! Take poet Saras Dewi, who wow’d Ubud’s writers festival with her tuak song. Watch this space for upcoming news about this dynamic activist/singer/philosophy professor. Artists had a hand in community building, like mental health reformer Budi Agung Kuswara (Kabul), whose stunning cyanoprint series, Anonymous Ancestors, are included in Art Bali’s Celebration of the Future exhibition, now through 15 January at the AB BC Building smack next to Nusa Dua’s Bali Collection shopping mall.

Art Bali? Apa itu? In October while diplomats were convening in Nusa Dua, government body BE KRAF baptised a pavilion-like exhibition space with Beyond the Myths, a Bali-centric show of celebrated local greats like Ashley Bickerton, Yoka Sara, Agung Mangu Putra, and I Nyoman Erewan. Curator Rifky Effendy used the big white cube’s surrounds for eye-catching installations to punctuate the statement that Bali is on the world art map. Connect with artbali.co.id for exhibitions throughout the year.


Regionally, it’s art biennale time, so if you’re traveling, google these hot art and culture spots:

Kochi Biennial on now, through 29 March. India’s Malabar Coast and art: unbeatable combo.

Thailand Biennale Krabi on now, until 28 Feb 2019.

Taiwan Ceramics Biennale through 3 March 19 (tour de force clay works)

12th Shanghai Biennale on now, through 10 Mar 2019

Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) Australia Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art now through 28 April 2019

Taipei Biennial through 10 March 2019

India Art Festival 17 – 20 Jan Mumbai (check out the pavilion for independent artists)

Indiaartfair 31 Jan – 3 Feb New Delhi

Singapore Art Week 19 – 27 January 2019 (when the city comes alive with events and fun)

Art Stage Singapore 25 – 27 Jan

Singapore’s Bicentennial 28 Jan – 24 Feb (includes a festival of Asian Horror Films)!

Now and in the new year, look for these local art and culture events:

Indigenous Movie Nights at Paradiso, Ubud. Organized by David Metcalf, of the Indigenous Festival at ARMA. Next screening mid-January: check paradisoubud.com or 085737614050 for info.

Denpasar 2018: Jingga show continues til 7 January. CushCush Gallery, Gang Rajawahli 1A, Jl Teuku Umar, Denpasar. What’s App for hours: 081805542430 PLUS: CushCush stages children’s workshop Make Your Own Charcoal (charcoal drawing sticks) 17 January: What’s App Nike at 089664772657.

X Jam street art event, in the big skate park behind the Allcaps Store, 23 December, Jl Raya Canggu 18A Call 085737614050 for details.


Please send (with plenty of lead time) your art & cultural event announcements to mala.arts.bali@gmail.com Have a creative new year!

Spreading art news? Make comments and suggestions by email: mala.arts.bali@gmail.com

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