NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: March 18 – March 24, 2016

Baidu Rhyme No. 2

Regular readers will notice that in our weekly posts, we include trailers with our posts about films, but art exhibitions, though equally visual, are presented only with text.  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?  So, beginning with this week’s listing, we will include an image from the exhibition to accompany newly listed shows.

This week: Fou Gallery’s A Piece of Paper opens; three full-length films and a short film from Chinese directors are playing as part of New Directors/New Films series; a discussion about China’s queer/feminist movement; a talk about feminism under Xi Jinping; a talk about how early western films and theater influenced China; a talk about gender and social control under Xi Jinping; a curator’s tour at MoCA; new film and exhibition listings.

Coming up:

Old School Kung-Fu Fest at NYC’s newest indie theater, Metrograph.

Films by or about Taiwanese women.

Twisted Machine (扭曲机器), one of China’s most popular rock bands in the past two decades stops by NYC on its first ever US tour.

Storyteller musician Jen Shyu introduces a new composition.

We add talks, films, performances, exhibitions, featuring or relating to Chinese, Taiwanese, diasporic artists and topics to our event and ongoing exhibition calendars as we learn of them.

If you’re interested in contributing to Beyond Chinatown, whether writing an article, contributing photos or artwork to be featured with our weekly events and exhibitions listing, letting us know about an event, send an email to beyondchinatown@gmail.com.

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This week’s events

1) Behemoth 《悲兮魔兽》– Political documentarian Zhao Liang draws inspiration from The Divine Comedy for this simultaneously intoxicating and terrifying glimpse at the ravages wrought upon Inner Mongolia by its coal and iron industries. A poetic voiceover speaks of the insatiability of desire on top of stunning images of landscapes (and their decimation), machines (and their spectacular functions), and people (and the toll of their labor). Interspersed are sublime tableaux of a prone nude body—asleep? just born? dead?—posed against a refracted horizon. A wholly absorbing guided tour of exploding hillsides, dank mine shafts, cacophonous factories, and vacant cities, Behemoth builds upon Zhao’s previous exposés (2009’s Petition, 2007’s Crime and Punishment) by combining his muckraking streak with a painterly vision of a social and ecological nightmare otherwise unfolding out of sight, out of mind.

Dir. Zhao Liang
2015, 91 minutes
China/France Mandarin with English subtitles

Plays as part of the New Directors/New Films series.

Friday, March 18, 6 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 West 65th Street
$16 ($12 with NDNF2016 promo code)/General Public; $12/Student and MoMA members

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2) Coming and Going – In Tianlin Xu’s documentary, her feature-length directorial debut, is the story of four boys from the Chinese countryside, their hopes and dreams, and the challenges they face. Two orphaned teenage brothers leave their remote mountain village behind to seek their fortune in two separate major cities. Meanwhile, their young neighbors anxiously await the return of their father, a migrant worker who left the village a year ago.

Dir. Tianlin Xu
2015, 89min
United States

Part of the Queens World Film Festival.

Friday, March 18, 6 PM
All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 43-12 46th Street, Sunnyside
$12/General Admission; $9/Student and Senior

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3) Into the Woods – Filmmaker and video editor Anne Hu, who has produced nationwide commercials and edited theatrical film trailers and commercials for television shows including The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, returns to the QWFF for a second time with the metaphorical Into the Woods, which follows an idealistic couple seeking love through the treacherous woods of their relationship.Plays as part of ‘Love, Loss and Lies’ short film series.

The short film screens as part of “Love, Loss and Lies” in the Queens World Film Festival.

Dir. Anne Hu
2016, 4 min.
United States

Saturday, March 18, 8 PM
P.S. 69 Jackson Heights, 77-02 37th Avenue, Astoria
$12/General Admission; $9/Student and Senior

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4) Underneath the Grey – Patrick Xi Hao Chen’s short film about a blind Asian man falling in love with a black woman is “the discovery of inner beauty through self-acceptance”. It was conceived while he learned techniques for film color grading. He was intrigued by the notion of a person’s senses adapts to their surroundings and their imaginations.

Underneath the Grey precedes the feature film She Sings to the Stars.  Part of the Queens World Film Festival.

Dir. Patrick Chen
2015, 15 min.
United States

Saturday, March 19, 12:30 PM
Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave, Astoria
$12/General Admission; $10/Student and Senior

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5) Under the Sun 《日光之下》 – An incident of random nature entangles two families and brings their plights into sharp focus.

Dir. Yang Qiu
2015, 19 min.
China, Chinese with English subtitles

Screens as part of New Directors/New Films Shorts Program One.

Saturday, March 19, 1:30 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 West 65th Street

Sunday, March 20, 1:30 PM
MoMA
$16 ($12 with NDNF2016 promo code)/General Public; $12/Student and MoMA members

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6) A Piece of Paper Opening Reception – Opening reception for Fou Gallery’s first exhibition in its new space.  Artists include Chang Yuchen, Xinyi Cheng, Michael Eade, Lin Yan, Zhangbolong Liu, Morgan O’Hara, Wei Jia, Zhe Zhu.

See our article about the space and exhibited artists.

Saturday, March 19, 5 – 8 PM
Fou Gallery, 410 Jefferson Avenue, #1
Free, but RSVP required

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7) Life After Life 《枝繁叶茂》– Zhang Hanyi’s exquisitely restrained ghost story combines the gentle supernaturalism of Apichatpong Weerasethakul with the clear-eyed social realism of Jia Zhangke (one of the film’s executive producers). A young boy, Leilei, becomes possessed by his late mother, Xiuying, whose spirit has wandered the Shanxi Province’s disintegrating cave homes for years. With the help of Leilei’s father (who receives his late wife’s return with matter-of-fact equanimity), they set out to move a tree from her family’s courtyard before she departs again. In ethereal, beautifully composed sequences of a barren rural-industrial village on the edge of collapse, itself a kind of purgatorial space, Zhang captures the spectral gap between life and oblivion.

Plays as part of the New Directors/New Films series.

Dir. Zhang Hanyi
2016, 80 min
China, Mandarin with English subtitles

The Hollywood Reporter says: “In more uncertain hands, Life After Life could have been riddled with the sentimental cliches commonplace to paranormal dramas about dead people coming back to life and reflections on the good old days. Instead, Zhang and his DP Chang Mang opt for minimalist aesthetics spiced up by the odd moments of pitch-black humor, armed with a ceaseless string of strange happenings or anomalous representations of mundane everyday life. The end-result is a Chinese ghost story with a difference, its characters — man or ghost — struggling in an absurd world at once strangely hilarious and eerily terrifying.”

Life After Life still

Life After Life still

Saturday, March 19, 6:45 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 West 65th Street

Sunday, March 20, 6:45 PM
MoMA
$16 ($12 with NDNF2016 promo code)/General Public; $12/Student and MoMA members

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8) The Effect of Early Western Movies and Theatre on China – The introduction of early Western theatre and movies into China in the 1850s and 1890s respectively contributed to an unprecedented cultural blending between the East and the West. Prof. Tang Zhenhai, a literary critic, will analyze the effect on China by revealing how the Western theatre and movies forced their way into a closed country and were readily embraced by the public.

歐美的戲劇和電影分別於十九世紀五十年代和九十年代傳入中國。近年來新史料的發現與充實,有助於我們更為全面客觀地認識和把握這一撥波瀾壯闊的東西方文化的大交融。

華美人文學會2016年3月20日(星期天)特邀文藝評論家湯振海教授做《歐美戲劇電影傳入中國之後》的講座。湯教授將向我們梳理出歐美的戲劇、電影究竟是如何打開古老而又緊閉的晚清大門,在神州大地傳播開來的清晰脈絡; 西方戲劇傳入的時間將比以前所認定的提前半個世紀,地點也將從“曲線傳入”的日本變為中國的本土上海。戲劇很快走出象牙塔、教會與學校,和社會生活擁抱,成為大眾歡迎的“普羅藝術”。

湯振海,畢業於蘇州(東吳)大學中文系,留校工作。後就讀南京大學中文系戲劇學影視方向的研究生班。先後被蘇州大學、韓國國立全北大學、復旦大學上海視覺藝術學院聘任為助教、講師、副教授、教授。 2000年來美國,在紐約市立大學教授中文;同時也在聖約翰大學、市立大學亞美研究所講介評述中國電影和電視劇。自1995年始,先後出版了《影視采風集》、《影視名作賞析》、《影視藝術概述 》、《中國電影景觀薈萃》四部個人專著,以及與他人合作的《文學藝術鑑賞辭典》。

Sunday, March 20, 2 PM
China Institute, 100 Washington Street
Free

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9) Beauty of Kunqu: 2016 Spring Performance – A joint presentation between Queens Public Library in Flushing and Kunqu Society.

Sunday, March 20, 2 PM
Queens Library at Flushing, 41-17 Main St. Flushing
Free

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10)  A Staged Reading of “A Book By Its Cover” – Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America presents a Staged Reading of “A Book By Its Cover” by Damon Chua and directed by Chongren Fan

Long-lost cousins Millie Wu, a Chinese American, and Chan Pui Mun, from southern China, reach across the Pacific Ocean for a family reunion that starts well but soon descends into misunderstanding and conflict, as selfish and economic motives get the better of them. A BOOK BY ITS COVER is a hilarious yet pointed glimpse of two lives becoming intertwined and whose fortunes reverse, set against a world where China begins to challenge the United States as a world power.

Sunday, March 20, 7 PM
Monday, March 21, 7 PM
The Celebration of Whimsy Theater, 21-A Clinton Street
Free.  $10 suggested donation

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11) Doctor’s Hours for Artists in Mandarin – New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) hosts the first Mandarin Doctors’ Hours, a program developed to serve Mandarin-speaking visual artists, performing artists, film and video makers, writers, and anyone whose work crosses disciplines.

Are you at a crossroads at the beginning, middle or end of your project and looking for direction? Are you seeking professional feedback on a work sample, trailer, website, outreach strategy, written material or grant application? Networking may be the single most valuable thing you can do for your career. This is an opportunity to meet professionals in your industry and make them familiar with you and your work.

Register for a 30-minute one-on-one appointment with a Mandarin-speaking consultant to receive feedback about your website or an application you’re working on, and ask questions about building your artistic career.

Tuesday, March 21, 6 PM
Lair East, 424 Broadway, Unit 602, New York
Free, but RSVP required

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12) Kaili Blues 《路边野餐》– A multiple prizewinner at the Locarno Film Festival and one of the most audacious and innovative debuts of recent years, Bi Gan’s endlessly surprising shape-shifter comes to assume the uncanny quality of a waking dream as it poetically and mysteriously interweaves the past, present, and future. Chen Sheng, a country doctor in the Guizhou province who has served time in prison, is concerned for the well-being of his nephew, Weiwei, whom he believes his thug brother Crazy Face intends to sell. Weiwei soon vanishes, and Chen sets out to find him, embarking on a mystical quest that takes him to the riverside city of Kaili and the town of Dang Mai. Through a remarkable arsenal of stylistic techniques, the film develops into a one-of-a-kind road movie, at once magical and materialist, traversing both space and time.

Plays as part of the New Directors/New Films series.

Dir. Bi Gan
2015, 113 minutes
China, Mandarin with English subtitles 113 minutes

The Hollywood Reporter says: “Kaili Blues invites academic thesis-level dissection, but thanks in part to Chen’s unforced performance, it never feels pretentious. How it has managed to stay so under the radar since its debut at Locarno last August is anyone’s guess.”

Dir. Bi Gan
2015, 113 minutes
China, Mandarin with English subtitles 113 minutes

Monday, March 21, 6:30 PM
MoMA

Wednesday, March 23, 6 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 West 65th Street
$16 ($12 with NDNF2016 promo code)/General Public; $12/Student and MoMA members

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13) We Are Here: LesBiTrans in China: Film Showing and informal talk with Lala Pioneers Shi Tou & Mingming – What happens when 300 lesbians from around the world attend the largest United Nations conference? How did two busloads of lesbians headed to an underground nightclub help spark the birth of a lala (LBT) movement in China?

In We Are Here, artists and filmmakers Shi Tou and Mingming chronicle the LBT movement in China from the landmark event at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing where the first ever lesbian tent at an UN NGO Forum was established to the present to show China’s lesbian feminist activists’ hard fought journey for recognition of basic human rights for the LBT community.

Curated by Christen Clifford with support from The Feminist Art Project.

Dir.: Shi Tou, Jing Zhao
2015,60 min.
China, Chinese withEnglish subtitles

Monday, March 21, 7:30 PM
Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie Street
Cost not known at press time

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14) Chinese Queer/Feminist Activists on Collective Future – Since 2012, in concert with the new waves of global protests, Chinese feminists and queers have become more action-oriented. They playfully and creatively reclaim different spaces, such as subways, public bathrooms, and so on. This event brings two generations of queer and feminist activists together for a dialogue on the current landscape of Chinese queer/feminist movement, as well as their versions of collective future.   With Lu Pin, Feng Yuan, Xiong Jing, and Di Wang.

Wednesday, March 23, 7 PM
Blustockings Bookstore, Cafe, and Activist Center, 172 Allen Street
Free

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15) Ren Hang: Athens Love and Lam Tung-pang: I Was Once Here Opening Receptions – See below for exhibition descriptions.

Thursday, March 24, 6 PM
Klein Sun Gallery, 525 W. 22nd St.
Free

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16) Gender and Social Control in the Era of Xi Jinping – With
Leta Hong Fincher, Visiting Assistant Professor, Columbia University
Moderated by Dorothy Ko, Professor of History, Barnard College

Thursday, March 24, 6 PM
Room 918, International Affairs Building, Columbia University
Free

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17) Curators’ Tour with Kerri Culhane: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923-1968 – Curator Kerri Culhane leads her exhibition of the legacy of Chinese American architect Poy Gum Lee.

Thursday, March 24, 6:30 PM
Museum Of Chinese In America, 215 Centre Street
Free with museum admission


Ongoing Films and Shows

1) Papa 《‎洛杉矶捣蛋计划‬》– Shot entirely in Los Angeles and distributed theatrically in China, the comedy is  heartwarming family-comedy about a Beijing music manager who travels to Los Angeles to convince his #1 female pop star client to return to China—but through a sudden series of unexpected events… he becomes the legal guardian of 5 mid-teen and pre-teen orphans. The kids’ struggle to stay together turns the gruff manager into an admirable man, and the triumphant leader of their tight knit and unconventional family.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 March 18

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2) The Mermaid 《美人鱼》– Stephen Chow’s latest absurdist comedy is about a businessman who falls in love with a mermaid who was sent to kill him.  While the movie is the biggest film ever in China and worldwide, Sony who purchased US distribution rights does not seem to be promoting it.

Review by the South China Morning Post

At AMC Empire 25

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3) Mountains May Depart 《山河故人》 – The plot of Jia Zhangke’s new film is simplicity itself. Fenyang 1999, on the cusp of the capitalist explosion in China. Shen Tao (Zhao Tao) has two suitors—Zhang (Zhang Yi), an entrepreneur-to-be, and his best friend Liangzi (Liang Jin Dong), who makes his living in the local coal mine. Shen Tao decides, with a note of regret, to marry Zhang, a man with a future. Flash-forward 15 years: the couple’s son Dollar is paying a visit to his now-estranged mother, and everyone and everything seems to have grown more distant in time and space… and then further ahead in time, to even greater distances. Jia is modern cinema’s greatest poet of drift and the uncanny, slow-motion feeling of massive and inexorable change. Like his 2013 A Touch of Sin, Mountains May Depart is an epically scaled canvas. But wherethe former was angry and quietly terrifying,the latter is a heartbreaking prayer for the restoration of what has been lost in the name of progress. A Kino Lorber release.

Read Aliza Ma’s interview with Jia Zhangke for Film Comment in which he talks about Pet Shop Boys, his connection with music, cinematography, changes in China, and his relationships with family and wife Zhao Tao.

At Film Society Lincoln Center


Current Art Exhibitions

Asia Week New York runs from March 10 – 19.  Auction houses and dealers will exhibit their works and host talks.  Take a look at this roundup from artdaily.org and Asia Week’s calendar for more information. [Updated]

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Opening and newly added:

1) A Piece of Paper (Fou Gallery, 3/19 – 5/8) – The inaugural exhibition in Fou Gallery’s new space features Chang Yuchen, Xinyi Cheng, Michael Eade, Lin Yan, Zhangbolong Liu, Morgan O’Hara, Wei Jia, Zhe Zhu, eight artists from various cultural backgrounds — some for whom an empty sheet of paper is a canvas where ideas are visualized and others for whom paper is more than a surface.

Have a look at our write-up about the space and the exhibited artist.

Chang Yuchen, Heart Sutra, 2015. Etching on paper, accordion bound, 4.5 x 8 in. x 12 pages, edition of 12.

Chang Yuchen, Heart Sutra, 2015. Etching on paper, accordion bound, 4.5 x 8 in. x 12 pages, edition of 12.

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2) Ren Hang (任航) – Athens Love 《雅典之爱》(Klein Sun Gallery, 3/24 – 4/30) – “Athens Love” consists of snapshots Ren Hang took in Athens and other parts of Attica, Greece, during an artist residency in April, 2015.  The images evoke faded memories of escapades with friends and lovers against the saturated backdrop of the Mediterranean. An incandescent face rises from a tumble of long black hair, bordered by a blue sky and sea; protruding genitals cheekily reflect the surrounding natural landscape. Linking these images is a narrative Ren Hang subtly pursues in all his work, in which man and nature each react to the other’s magic.

2015 C-print 39 3/8 x 26 3/8 inches (100 x 67 cm)

2015, C-print, 39 3/8 x 26 3/8 inches (100 x 67 cm)

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3) Lam Tung-Pang (林东鹏) – I Was Once Here 《我曾经在此》 (Klein Sun Gallery, 3/24 – 4/30) – Lam’s solo show, “I was once here,” is the result of his ongoing relationship with New York City. In 2012, he was granted a fellowship by the city’s Asian Arts Council, which allowed him to live and produce work in an apartment in lower Manhattan for several months. During this period, he viewed the space as a vessel, able to expand and export ideas calibrated according to experiences that day, or the guests who would frequently drop by in the evenings. Lam also religiously visited various museums and institutions between 9am and 1pm every day. The immersive show “I was once here,” is a composite memory of those visits, a puzzle to be filled in by the visitors that inhabit the space. The projected images and installations in the room are ephemeral fragments, or clues of pictures that lead to Lam’s larger recollections of a place where he once was, and of a past life strolling quietly in museums, that was once his present.

Details A, 2016 Wooden toys and UV print on plywood 16 1/8 x 19 3/4 x 4 inches (41 x 50 x 10 cm)

Details A, 2016, Wooden toys and UV print on plywood, 16 1/8 x 19 3/4 x 4 inches (41 x 50 x 10 cm)

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4) Contemporary Photography Asian Perspectives (Laurence Miller Gallery, 3/9 – 4/29) – Featuring over 50 works from six decades by more than 20 Asian photographers, the underlying theme of the exhibition is memory. Miyako Ishiuchi’s recent large-scale color images of charred clothing from the aftermath of Hiroshima is juxtaposed with Shomei Tomatsu’s classic image of a watch frozen at 11:02 A.M., the exact moment of the atom bomb over Nagasaki. China’s Cultural Revolution and the strict rule of conformity under Chairman Mao, exemplified by earlier propaganda photos from the Xinhua News Agency, were an inspiration for Tseng Kwong Chi’s self-portraits in his “Mao suit.” Reagan Louie’s street portraits of stylish Shanghai residents in European-influenced dress further emphasize the recent rebellion against conformity, and the embrace of capitalism.

Xinhua News Agency Archive, Beijing circa 1970 silver gelatin print 5 x 8"

Xinhua News Agency Archive, Beijing, circa 1970, silver gelatin print, 5″ x 8″

The revisiting of tradition through a modern lens is evident in Fan Ho’s cinematic interpretations of mid-century Hong Kong and in Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s modernist pictures of the 17th Century Japanese villa Katsura.

Traditional reverence for the splendors of nature has been challenged by the highly abstract color landscapes of Toshio Shibata, which embrace man-made infrastructure in harmony with natural surroundings, as well as in Hiroshi Sugimoto’s view of a polar bear in the snow, actually taken within our city’s Museum of Natural History.

Other photographers in the show include: Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Masahisa Fukase, Fan Ho, Daido Moriyama, Yoko Ikeda, Yoshihiko Itō, Byung-Hun Min, Dodo Jin Ming, Masumasa Morimura, Yuji Hamada, Kazuo Sumida, and Magdalen Wong.

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Closing soon:

Cai Dongdong (蔡东东) – Fountain (Klein Sun Gallery, 2/18 – 3/19)

Zhong Biao (钟飙) – The Other Shore (彼岸) (Klein Sun Gallery, 2/18 – 3/19)

Fu Xiaotong (付小桐) – Land of Serenity (寂净之地) (Chambers Fine Art, 2/11 – 3/26)

SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape (Museum of Chinese in America, 9/24 – 3/27/16)

HER Gaze: An Exhibition of Contemporary Women Artists from Taiwan (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, 3/14 – 3/30)

Yi-Husan Lin – A Chicken and a Dog, They Walk (Jeffrey Stark, 3/6 – 4/1)

Chen Dongfan – Punk Bookstore (Square Peg Gallery, 3/4 – 4/3)

MARKING 2: Drawings by Contemporary Artists from Asia (Art Projects International, 3/3 – 4/3)

The Eccentrics (Sculpture Center, 1/24 – 4/4)

Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923-1968 (Museum of Chinese in America, 9/24/15 – 3/27/16)

Visit the exhibition calendar (http://ow.ly/pxe9o) for details for the current shows listed below.  As always, check the museum or gallery’s website for hours of operation.

Cai Dongdong (蔡东东) – Fountain (Klein Sun Gallery, 2/18 – 3/19)

Zhong Biao (钟飙) – The Other Shore (彼岸) (Klein Sun Gallery, 2/18 – 3/19

Fu Xiaotong (付小桐) – Land of Serenity (寂净之地) (Chambers Fine Art, 2/11 – 3/26)

SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape (Museum of Chinese in America, 9/24 – 3/27/16)

Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923-1968 (Museum of Chinese in America, 9/24/15 – 3/27/16)

HER Gaze: An Exhibition of Contemporary Women Artists from Taiwan (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, 3/14 – 3/30)

Yi-Husan Lin – A Chicken and a Dog, They Walk (Jeffrey Stark, 3/6 – 4/1)

Chen Dongfan – Punk Bookstore (Square Peg Gallery, 3/4 – 4/3)

MARKING 2: Drawings by Contemporary Artists from Asia (Art Projects International, 3/3 – 4/3)

The Eccentrics (Sculpture Center, 1/24 – 4/4)

James Wong – Invasion of the Pods (Gallery 456, 3/10 – 4/15)

Qiu Xiaofei – Double Pendulum (Pace Gallery, 25th St, 3/11 – 4/23)

Chinese Textiles Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/06)

Chinese Lacquer Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th–18th Century (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/06)

Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/31/15 – 10/11/06)

Lead image: Du Yanfang – Baidu Rhyme No. , 2011.  Giclee print on fine art paper 120 x 100 cm. Recently exhibited at CAFA ‘s Fantastic Art China show at the Javits Center.