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The Moment for Ink: Shaking off Tradition Opening Reception

Saturday, February 23, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (PST)

San Francisco, CA

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The Moment for Ink: Shaking off tradition

Brush and ink in hand, Kiki Smith and seven other contemporary artists shed light on today’s issues in a group exhibition at San Francisco’s Chinese Culture Foundation

February 23 – May 18, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, January 24, 2013 — A teenage girl in jeans, sweatshirt and Adidas, bouncing on an unseen trampoline. Soldiers with assault rifles patrolling a chiaroscuro Middle Eastern street. Enormous women’s faces splashed across a wall, the outlines of their features as bold as a comic strip’s. A trio of empty, life-size chairs, scribed onto a pale field of creased paper by the renowned sculptor Kiki Smith.

What one element do these wildly diverse images share? Ink.

Coloring far outside the lines of traditional ink-wash painting, works by eight equally diverse contemporary artists explode the once-staid genre in The Moment for Ink, an exhibition opening on February 23 at the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, which frequently showcases innovative under-the-radar artists. (It’s one part of a larger four-venue show of the same name, co-presented and co-organized by CCCArts of the Chinese Culture Foundation and San Francisco State University, in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum and the Silicon Valley Asian Art Center; later this year, the combined exhibition travels to China, opening at the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou on July 18.)

Not coincidentally, February 23 is also the day of Chinatown’s famous Lunar New Year parade. One of the Bay Area’s unsung treasures, the Culture Center gallery is located on the third floor of the Hilton San Francisco Financial District, which faces the parade route. While lion dancers make their way down Kearny Street, ringing in the Year of the Snake, inside the gallery the standard fare of Chinese ink-wash paintings will be nowhere in sight. Instead, the likes of up-and-coming Oakland-based artist Nancy Chan, whose bouncing Kady can be seen on banners for the show, and recent California College of the Arts grad Jonathan Wallraven have used this centuries-old medium to explore themes as timeless as the relationship of the individual to the space one occupies and as timely as the contorted image of women in advertising.

In the process, the works prove that—despite the name on the gallery’s door—ink isn’t just for Chinese (or even East Asian) artists. “Ink can be found throughout the world,” says exhibition co-curator and CCF artistic director Abby Chen. “Why is it, then, that this ubiquitous material, when used as an artistic medium, immediately conjures up images of traditional Chinese art?”

Take the best-known artist in this installation, Kiki Smith. Despite the fact that Smith has used ink to make some of her most provocative works, Chen says, it’s “very little known to the Chinese ink community.” The same narrow perspective that sees ink painting as solely Chinese both “limits the way in which ethnically Chinese artists are understood, and glosses over the vital contributions of Chinese diaspora and non-Chinese artists,” she adds.

With this in mind, Chen has also chosen for The Moment for Ink works by such artists as Stanford professor Xie Xiaoze, whose densely inked, politically charged images of car bombings and soldiers on patrol—based on newspaper photos—have almost nothing in common with the airy landscapes of classical Chinese paintings; Wallraven, who paints his stark, comics-inspired female faces and speech bubbles as projected onto walls and boxes and pedestals, resulting in a still more distorted effect; and the Nigerian-born portraitist Toyin Odutola, who uses ballpoint pens to create striking “blackness and light” (as the New York Times critic Holland Cotter put it) images of black women. In addition, she has included intimate studies of Chinese and Tibetan villagers by Zhong Yueying, who divides his time between Marin and the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in northern China; a portrait of a lady by the late painter Chang Dai-chien, who synthesizes historical Chinese styles with Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism; and a charcoal scroll “painting” by the Chinese-born, Kansas-based Zhang Hong that shows larger-than-life black hair spilling onto the floor. Although her piece departs from the theme by not using ink, Zhang gives a traditional East Asian format a distinctly modern and metaphorical twist.

“These talented artists are a perfect example of what we stand to lose,” Chen says, “if we do not open up the dialogue on ink as a non-ethnic medium. We must break the cycle. It’s imperative that we continue to introduce and cultivate ink painting that isn’t necessarily influenced by Chinese culture or tradition if we wish this art to remain truly innovative, and truly contemporary.”

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About the Group Exhibition

The new exhibition The Moment for Ink represents an unprecedented collaboration by Bay Area Arts organizations to promote the awareness of the legacy of ink painting in America, both historical and contemporary. This project spans 120 years and features about 150 works by nearly 50 historical and contemporary artists who have left their mark on ink painting during their careers in the United States.

We hope our project helps build awareness of the vitality of Asian-inflected ink painting that has flourished in the United States for more than a century,” said Mabel Teng, executive director of the Chinese Culture Foundation. “It most certainly points to the centrality of cultural diversity in understanding the art of California and our nation.”

The Moment for Ink is on display at the Chinese Culture Center San Francisco Feb. 23 – May 18. The public opening reception will take place Feb. 23, 1 –4 p.m., with a simultaneous opening at SF State’s Fine Arts Gallery. It opens at Silicon Valley Asian Art Center on Feb. 24, and at the Asian Art Museum on Feb. 26. Admission is free at all venues except the Asian Art Museum. On July 18, The Moment for Ink will open at the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou, China. The University will publish a catalog, featuring essays by Abby Chen of the Chinese Culture Foundation, SF State Professors Charles Egan and Mark Johnson, SF State Fine Arts Gallery Manager Sharon E. Bliss, Joseph Z. Chang from the Asian Art Museum, and Jianhua Shu from the Silicon Valley Asian Art Center.

The Moment for Ink is a group exhibition co-presented and co-organized by CCCArts of the Chinese Culture Foundation and San Francisco State University, curated by Abby Chen and Mark Johnson, collaborating and associating with the Asian Art Museum, Zhejiang Museum of China, and the Silicon Valley Asian Art Center. This project is made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Terra Foundation for American Art, as well as support from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Zellerbach Family Fund.

Exhibition curators are: Chinese Culture Foundation Artistic Director Abby Chen, SF State Fine Arts Gallery Director Mark Johnson, Asian Art Museum Senior Research Fellow Joseph Z. Chang, Silicon Valley Asian Art Center Curator Jianhua Shu.

 

About the Foundation and CCCArts

Founded in 1965, the Chinese Culture Foundation aims to promote and influence the course of art and culture, contributing to the global discourse with crucial impact. CCCArts challenges perceptions, and encourages risk-taking by bringing critical visibility through open dialogue.

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Openings:

Chinese Culture Foundation
Saturday, Feb. 23 – Saturday, May 18
750 Kearny St. (at Washington St.), Third Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108
Admission: Free
Gallery hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Opening: Saturday, Feb. 23, 1 – 4 p.m.
Information: (415) 986-1822, www.c-c-c.org

 

San Francisco State, University, Fine Arts Gallery
Saturday, Feb. 23 – Saturday, March 23
1600 Holloway Ave. (at 19th Ave.), San Francisco, CA 94132
Admission: Free
Gallery hours: Wednesdays – Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Opening: Saturday, Feb. 23, 1 – 3 p.m.
Information: (415) 338-6535, creativestate.sfsu.edu/node/4616

Silicon Valley Asian Art Center
Sunday, Feb. 24 – Wednesday, March 20
3777 Stevens Creek Blvd. (at Saratoga Ave.), Santa Clara, CA 95051
Admission: Free
Gallery hours: Wednesdays – Fridays, 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays – Sundays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Opening: Sunday, Feb. 24
Information: (408) 248-2698, www.artshu.com

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Thursday, Feb. 28 – Sunday, Oct. 27
200 Larkin St. (between Fulton and McAllister streets), San Francisco, CA 94102
Admission: Free to $12
Museum hours: Tuesdays – Sundays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Thursdays open until 9 p.m.)
Information: (415) 581-3500, www.asianart.org

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Educational programs:

Film/Lecture: Chang Dai-chien in California and Paul Hau
Saturday, Feb. 23, 1 p.m.
Coppola Theatre, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave. (at 19th Ave.), San Francisco, CA 94132
Admission: Free
Information: (415) 338-6535; creativestate.sfsu.edu/node/

Panel discussion: Diana Liu, Jasmine Cheng, Arthur Musen Kao, and Jianhua Shu
Sunday, Feb. 24, 3 – 5 p.m.
Silicon Valley Asian Art Center, 3777 Stevens Creek Blvd. (at Saratoga Ave.), Santa Clara, CA 95051
Admission: Free
Information: (408) 248-2698, www.artshu.com

Diana Liu, (daughter of James Liu), Jasmine Cheng (daughter of Cheng Yet-por), art historian Arthur Musen Kao, and Silicon Valley Asian Art Center Curator Jianhua Shu discuss the legacy of ink painting in America.

Lecture: Gordon Chang and Hung Liu
Friday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m.
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Chinese Imperial Arts Gallery, 200 Larkin St. (between Fulton and McAllister streets), San Francisco, CA 94102
Admission: Free with museum admission
Information: (415) 581-3500, www.asianart.org

Stanford University Professor Gordon Chang discusses the work and life of his father, Chinese artist Chang Shu-chi. Mills College Art Professor Hung Liu discusses her art and life, as a child of the Cultural Revolution in China.

Lecture: The Modernization of Ink Painting
Saturday, March 2, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Silicon Valley Asian Art Center, 3777 Stevens Creek Blvd. (at Saratoga Ave.), Santa Clara, CA 95051
Admission: Free
Information: (408) 248-2698, www.artshu.com
Scholars including SF State Professor Mark Johnson discuss the Modernization of Ink Painting.

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When & Where


Chinese Culture Center
750 Kearny Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

Saturday, February 23, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (PST)


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Organizer

The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco is a major community-based, non-profit organization established in 1965 to foster the understanding and appreciation of Chinese and Chinese American art, history, and culture in the United States.

In its 45 years of work, CCC has played a pioneering role in introducing Chinese culture to the American public through exhibitions and public programming of a broad spectrum of Chinese traditional and contemporary artistic works in multiple disciplines: Visual Arts, Literature, Music and Theater.

750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108

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