Monday, March 25, 2019

How to make the most of Hong Kong’s Art Gallery Night // or, Art Basel Hasn't Even Started Yet and My Legs Are Already Tired

Guys, I did it. I managed to attend 14 opening receptions within 2 hours* at Hong Kong’s Art Gallery Night tonight. And I was handed champagne at almost each one. And my last two stops required me hiking up a mountain (not really but it was uphill and that’s hard as a Midwesterner OK). *(Might I suggest that not every Hong Kong gallery host their event from 6-8pm on the same night?)

Leonardo Drew at Pearl Lam Galleries (no relation).
Hong Kong's Art Gallery Night 2019.

My expert-level (half-kidding… but seriously) route that I recommend to anyone who’d want to see the highest concentration of high quality art within a limited amount a time (and, suffice it to say, the pictured pieces and linked exhibitions are my highlights / picks if you can only view a few):

If you’re taking public transit, exit at the Central MTR station. Arrive a little early and walk into the luxurious Landmark, where there’s always an art installation suspended from the ceiling. Once it’s time, start your gallery-hopping next door at the Pedder Building, which I’ve been visiting every single year I’ve been doing my annual Art Basel Hong Kong trip. Take the elevator to the top floor and work your way down via the stairs. This year’s Hong Kong Art Week / Hong Kong Arts Month, you’ll hit Leonardo Drew at Pearl Lam Galleries (no relation) on the sixth floor; What’s Up/Hong Kong on the fifth; Yeh Shih-Chiang: Edge of Sea and Sky at Hanart TZ Gallery (I always love coming here for Chinese art) and Edwin Wurm at Lehmann Maupin on the fourth; Overheated at Massimo De Carlo, Yoan Capote at Ben Brown Fine Arts, and Heimo Zobernig at Simon Lee Gallery on the third.

Vibing out to music at Yeh Shih-Chiang's Edge of Sea and Sky
at Hanart TZ Gallery. Hong Kong's Art Gallery Night 2019.

Then, walk west on Queen’s Road and go to H Queen’s, which was a new destination last year. Again, take the elevator to the highest floor that has art and work your way down. This year, you’ll hit Zhang Yanzi: Seclusion at Ora-Ora on the seventeenth floor, Louise Bourgeois at Hauser & Wirth on the sixteenth and fifteenth, Mary Course at Pace Gallery on the twelfth, Unlock at Tang Contemporary Art on the tenth, Zhou Yangming: Continuum at Pearl Lam Galleries (yes, they have a second location here) on the ninth, and Miwa Komatsu: Divine Spirit at Whitestone Gallery on the eighth and seventh.

Stomping down seventeen flights in a stairwell can get tedious (as well as dizzying); good thing there’s a “site-specific public art experience” throughout the stairwell called Exit Strategies. (Fun fact: When I was 18 at Columbia, I built a 12-ft.-tall site-specific sculpture in what I thought was an abandoned stairwell and the grad students filed a complaint about it/me to OSHA. (Yes, that’s what that line refers to in my “About” page.) Thank goodness for my professor Lisi Raskin who had my back. Eventually, I destroyed my sculpture as part of my project. The transience of art! My piece was called Asymptote and remains one of the craziest and greatest things I’ve done, to be honest.)

HOCA Foundation | KAWS: Along the Way at PMQ.
Hong Kong's Art Gallery Night 2019.

For the third and final leg, walk west and up all those steps that plague I mean characterize Sheung Wan to get to the Hollywood Road gallery area. I went for KAWS: Along the Way presented by HOCA Foundation at PMQ and Okuda: Digital Zoo at La Galerie – Paris 1839.

Okuda: Digital Zoo at La Galerie - Paris 1839.
Hong Kong's Art Gallery Night 2019.

Of course, there are galleries you’ll be skipping, but you can’t see everything in two hours. (Before H Queen’s existed, after the Pedder Building, I’d also visit the galleries around Ice House Street as well as attempt to see White Cube and others on Connaught Road.)

Note that I’m not factoring in any time for socializing—I purely viewed the art—so your mileage may vary. (I did, however, run into the HKwalls folks at the Okuda show.)

Lastly, this goes without saying for me (since I’m always in sneakers) but might not be as obvious to everyone else: Wear comfortable shoes.

And that’s the first night of Hong Kong Art Week! See you at the fairs!

Friday, March 22, 2019

“Life’s too short for sad art” // A preview of HKwalls 2019

(As you know from my previous post, I’m in Hong Kong for Art Basel right now. Hello from the true city that never sleeps! Upon my arrival last night, I had a late dinner with my paternal grandma and uncles at nearly 10pm on a weeknight in a food court in Mongkok, Kowloon, and it was still packed. I love it.)

I write this with multiple cocktails* in my system. *(Went with my old favorite: Old-Fashioneds. Thank you to HKwalls for treating us!) Today I had the pleasure of attending the HKwalls Media Preview, in which I, well, previewed the 2019 edition of Hong Kong’s annual street art festival, which has impressively expanded this year to include a multi-floor alternative art space called The Clubhouse—renovated from a traditional tong lau, which had previously fallen into disrepair, to be an inclusive venue where people can view art, make art, and hang out—as well as many other public interactive (also my favorite) art activities that will take place this week; got a [hot and humid (not that I’m complaining considering the brutal winter we had in the Midwest)] guided tour of all the art to come throughout the Wan Chai neighborhood, where the festival will be held this year; and, alongside the participating street artists, was treated to a sit-down family-style dinner (which none of us anticipated, going, “I didn’t know we were getting a full meal…”) and drinks at an Italian American restaurant (said one of the artists to me, “It’s not like there’s any pizza or Italians in Chicago…”).

Waiting on the 3rd floor of The Clubhouse before the HKwalls 2019
Media Preview. Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

In The Clubhouse, we watched artist talks and demonstrations, including a hands-on encaustic painting workshop by Elizabeth Briel, who uses local beeswax. You all know how much I love data and mapping, so Elizabeth’s mention of a project of hers caught my attention; she has encaustic pieces of photos she took all over Hong Kong, each a square foot in size, and she’s selling each one for the same price of real estate per sq. ft. in the corresponding location where she took each picture.

Elizabeth Briel's encaustic workshop, HKwalls 2019 Media Preview
at The Clubhouse. Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

(She herself lives in a 150 sq. ft. apartment in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon. Honestly, though? Despite the size—and despite my admitted initial reaction of “That’s crazy!”—it sounds nice; it’s a rounded building, and her outer wall is all windows. To compare, my dad and his brothers grew up in the famed Shek Kip Mei public housing projects, where multiple families resided in 120 sq. ft. concrete units, with the only window in each one looking out onto a narrow corridor. Like I said in that classic blog post I just linked to, however, they were happy. And now I truly digress.)

Erig Ng, HKwalls 2019 Media Preview at The Clubhouse.
Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

Another talk by artist Eric Ng involved a fun and wholesome little skit featuring “Mr. Bean.” In keeping with all that’s good and pure, around the corner outside, San Francisco-based street artist fnnch was spray-painting one of his Honey Bears. “Honey bears make me happy,” he explained. “Life’s too short for sad art.”

fnnch, HKwalls 2019. Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

Over 30 street artists will be creating colorful murals for the festival this week. One piece that’s already been completed is INSA’s “gif-iti” mural; if you download his app and view his piece through it, the image moves!

INSA, HKwalls 2019. Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

Towards the end of the dinner and drinks, since I happen to be wearing my Logan Square Blue Line CTA station t-shirt and carrying my Block Club Chicago Founding Member tote bag (hey, being Chicagoan and proud is a thing, man), fnnch caught me by surprise when he turned to me and went, “So, Chicago!” and proceeded to tell me he knows Logan and chatted with me about the Chicago places where he’s painted murals. (It’s always wild and beautiful and wild to talk about ­­­the familiarity of home out of context halfway around the world.) I learned something today; apparently, San Francisco doesn’t really have a street art scene (particularly of the under-40 generation), which is good news for fnnch and, like, his four peers so they’ve pretty much monopolized that area. (And that was a tangent about being an artist in San Francisco.)

HKwalls officially begins tomorrow (March 23), with an opening party at The Clubhouse (6 Steward Rd.). Check their website for a mural map, a schedule of events such as workshops, and more. Everything is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Happy first day of spring! I’m going on my annual Hong Kong trip for Art Basel today! (Thank you, as always, to Basel, Art Central, Asia Contemporary Art Show, et al. for the VIP program invitations!) Feel free to follow along on Twitter and Instagram for live updates and photos of my travels. Anticipate a blog post or two as well. (One of my highlights from last year? A studio visit with self-taught artist Fung Ming Chip.)

To celebrate the season: The dyed green Chicago River in 2018.

Until I’m back on April 3, you can: Apply to Line Dot Editions’ 3rd Annual Open Call Group Show (I’m one of the guest judges); look forward to my upcoming exhibit at the Chicago Public Library during May in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month; and vote in the Chicago mayoral runoff election before (like I did) or on April 2. Be a part of history!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


First, two bits of upcoming art exhibition news (one of them a call for artists):

I am proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, I’ve been chosen to exhibit my work at the Chicago Public Library during May to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I’ll be showing at the Coleman Branch, serving the Woodlawn, Hyde Park, and Greater Grand Crossing neighborhoods (last year, I was at West Chicago in Austin). Thank you, CPL!

The call: I’ve been invited to be one of the guest judges for Line Dot Editions’ 3rd Annual Open Call Group Show! It’s always a pleasure to be on their jury. Chicago and Midwest artists, apply! You can view all the details here. (Important dates: The application deadline is April 30, and the opening reception is June 21.)

At the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei.
(My parents and I traveled to Taiwan for the first time in November.)

An art review of sorts: A few weeks ago I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago to check out the new Laurie Simmons exhibit, Big Camera/Little Camera, without knowing anything about Simmons beforehand. And. Well. Here’s my two-tweet criticism of her and the exhibit. (My friend—and former Columbia classmate!—Trilbe’s responses were more eloquently put than mine.) And here’s when I learned that Simmons’ daughter is Lena Dunham, and suddenly it all made sense…

Speaking of propping up Asian women instead of whatever mess is going on in the fourth floor of the MCA and how important it is for us to tell our own stories: A couple weeks ago I went to a discussion and signing by Chinese American activist and journalist Helen Zia for her new book, Last Boat Out of Shanghai, and what a night it was. Read my Twitter thread about it (and our history, and the things we inherit, and hope) here.

Political nerdery: Holy shit, Lori Lightfoot! I voted for her in our municipal elections, which were already historic since there were 14 mayoral candidates and no clear frontrunner, and she ended up in first place! I truly thought Bill Daley was going to win. She and Toni Preckwinkle will face off in runoffs so either way, Chicago will get its first black woman mayor! And if Lightfoot wins, she’ll also be our first openly gay mayor! This is so exciting. Fellow Chicagoans, be a part of history and be sure to vote again on April 2. (Or earlier, like I will, since I’ll be out of the country.)

Social media: Yesterday I realized I have over 2,000 followers on Instagram! Thank you! (Another social media-related feat? When my childhood hero Michelle Kwan liked a tweet of mine. My literally mouth dropped.)

My top liked Instagram photos of 2018, thanks to you.

Lastly: I know posts have been sparse here lately so this is, believe it or not, the first blog post of 2019. Oops. As a year in review, here’s my Twitter thread of my highlights and favorite blog posts of 2018. Wishing you all a [very belated] very happy new year and Year of the Pig!

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