NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: May 19 – May 25, 2017

Ren Yi

This week: Documentaries about a small family-run bank in Chinatown, the only institution prosecuted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and the first licensed Chinese female pilot in the United States; talks about the Belitung shipwreck, Chinese Mexicans, and treasures from a Han Dynasty tomb; and more…

Also, on Thursday, May 18, The James Gallery hosts Glitch Girls: Jen Liu with Aliza Shvarts, screenings and a conversation on two commentaries by artist Jen Liu on femininity, labor, and resistance — The Pink Detachment of Women, a reinterpretation of the Cultural Revolution-era model opera The Red Detachment of Women that replaces the peasant girl protagonist with an accident-prone inefficient meat worker, and Pink Slime Caesar Shift, a generative fiction about meat production in China, centering on the inability of Chinese factory workers to organize due to state-controlled social media.

Coming up:

May 26 and 27 – Poetry, Sizhu, and Taiwanese opera

May 28 – Passport to Taiwan Festival

June 3 – 18 – 410 [Gone] – Yangtze Repertory Theatre’s newest production is a play by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig that mixes Chinese mythology, humor, and cyber-imagery to explore how we release loved ones when they are gone.

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.

We post frequently on our Facebook page.  So check the page for links we share and get a heads up on events before we include them in these weekly posts.  Take a look also at our Instagram page.

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


1) Chinatown Food Tour – Join MOCA for a companion walking tour of its current exhibition, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America. Get to know and taste the diverse food and cooking styles of Chinese cuisine while exploring stories of the neighborhood through this multiregional tasting tour of Chinatown. The tour includes 5-6 food samples.

Saturday, May 20 2 PM
Museum Of Chinese In America


2) Aviatrix: The Katherine Sui Fun Cheung Story – Ed Moy’s Aviatrix: The Katherine Sui Fun Cheung Story is an award-winning documentary film that chronicles the inspiring story of Katherine Sui Fun Cheung, who defied racial and gender barriers in pursuit of her dream of flying during the Golden Age of Aviation in the 1930s. She earned her pilot’s license during an era when less than one percent of all pilots were women and joined the Ninety-Nines, an all-women pilot’s club. She is considered the first licensed Chinese woman pilot in America.

Saturday, May 20, 2 PM
Chatham Square Library


3) 38th Annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration – The Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans brings performances and Asian Pacific American community and interest groups together for their annual celebration with these year’s theme, “Celebrating as One”

Sunday, May 21, 11 AM
Mott Street, South of Canal Street, Chinatown


4) Green, Blue, and White: The Tang Shipwreck Ceramic and Precious Metal Cargo and Global Trade in Medieval Asia – Scholar and curator John Guy explores the unique insights that shipwreck archaeology can bring to our understanding of historical trade and exchange. This unprecedented ensemble of late Tang dynasty ceramics, gold and silver, discovered in the Belitung shipwreck, throws light on both Chinese arts of the period and those of the Abbasids in the Persian Gulf, the intended clients for this ill-fated cargo which sank in the Java Sea in the early ninth century.

Monday, May 22, 6:30 PM
Asia Society


5) The Expression of Emotion in Traditional Chinese Music – Chai Found Music Workshop Artistic Director Huang Chen-Ming (黃正銘) and the ensemble will introduce different characters of six iconic instruments in traditional sizhu: erhu (two-string spike fiddle), pipa (four-strings plucked lute), guzheng (Chinese zither), yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer), ruanxian (or ruan, lute with a round body, played by plucking the strings), and dizi (bamboo made transverse flute).

Thursday, May 25, 6 PM
Flushing Library, 41-17 Main St, Flushing


6) Chinese Mexicans and the Shaping of a Mexican National Identity – Join MOCA for a conversation with Jason Chang, author of Chino: Anti-Chinese Racism in Mexico, 1880-1940 as he sheds light on antichinismo–the politics of racism against Chinese Mexicans and delves into the untold story of how antichinismo helped the revolutionary Mexican state, and the elite in control of it, build their nation.

Thursday, May 25, 6;30 PM
Museum of Chinese in America


7) Curator’s Lecture: Discovering Shizishan – Archaeology in the Chu King’s Mausoleum – The vast mausoleums of the king and consort of Chu in Shizishan (Lion Mountain) span the hills and valleys of Xuzhou and are among the largest mausoleums of feudal lords in the Han dynasty. They include the King of Chu mausoleum on Shizishan and the Consort mausoleum on Yangguishan (Yanggui Mountain), which have burial pits containing terra cotta soldiers and accompanying objects. Several thousand precious artifacts from the mausoleum and relics of temple, garden, and official residential buildings, as well as satellite tombs at Xiuqiushan (Xiuqiu Mountain) and Luotuoshan (Camel Mountain), have been excavated. Li Yinde will share untold behind-the-scenes stories of his personal experiences of the excavation.

Li Yinde is a senior researcher who long served as director of the Xuzhou Museum, of which he is now director emeritus. Mr. Li is also vice director of the National Qin-Han Specialty Committee of the Chinese Archaeological Society. His scholarly focus is the archaeology of mausoleums of Han dynasty feudal lords, as well as museum studies. He has organized several internationally significant Han dynasty archaeological and art exhibitions. His publications include Mausoleum of the King of Chu of Western Han in Mount Beidong, Xuzhou and General History of Jade Tools in China: Qin-Han Volume.

Thursday, May 25, 6:30 PM
China Institute


1) Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – From acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), Abacus: Small Enough to Jail  tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.

Select screenings on May 19, 20, and 21 will feature Q&As with the director, other filmmakers, and the Sung family

Opens at IFC Center May 19


2) Love Off the Cuff  《春嬌救志明》 – Shawn Yue and Miriam Yeung reprise their popular roles as Jimmy and Cherie in this third installment of the romantic comedy Love in a Puff. Back together since Love in the Buff, Jimmy and Cherie strive to stay together happily ever after. But the shocking news of Cherie as a philandering father marrying a girl younger than herself does not make things any easier for Cherie.

South China Morning Post gave the film 3 out 5 stars.  Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter thinks it could lead to people binging on the entire trilogy.

At AMC Empire 25


3) What a Wonderful Family 《麻烦家族》 – A Chinese remake of the Japanese hit comedy written by Yoji Yamada. The film follows a long-married couple who sends their supposedly happy family into turmoil when the wife asks for a divorce for her upcoming birthday.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 May 18


4) This is Not What I Expected 《喜欢你》 – Lu Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a handsome, wealthy hotel executive whose drive for perfection is matched only by his taste for fine cuisine. When he checks into the Rosebud, he’s dissatisfied with everything he sees and is ready to take action… until flamboyant female sous chef Gu Shengnan (Zhou Dongyu) creates the perfectionist what may be a perfect meal. Now, these bitter rivals find themselves brought together in the kitchen in this light-hearted romantic comedy, infused with fun and flavors to create a delicious dish that foodies around the world wouldn’t dare to miss.

At AMC Empire 25


5) Battle of Memories 《记忆大师》– What will happen if your brain locates a memory that doesn’t belong to you? In 2025, the memory-manipulation operation has been popularized across the world. Feng, a prestigious novelist (Huang Bo), deletes the memory of his failed marriage. But when he tries to recover the lost memories, he finds himself in the mind of a serial killer. He reaches out to police officer Shen (Duan Yihong) and when they begin to solve the case together, a conspiracy surfaces.

At AMC Empire 25


6) Born in China – Disneynature, in its ongoing quest to bring the natural world to the big screen as never before, presents its most ambitious project to date, taking moviegoers on a grand journey into the wilds of China. Born In China follows the adventures of three animal families — the majestic panda, the savvy golden monkey and the elusive snow leopard. Featuring stunning imagery, the film navigates the vast terrain—from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest—on the wings of a red-crowned crane, showcasing remarkably intimate family moments captured on film for the first time ever.

At AMC Empire 25


The new listings this week are group shows.

Soft Skills (The James Gallery, 4/14 – 6/3) – The exhibition pairs artworks from the 1970s with recent art to critically examine interpersonal capacities like communication, cooperation, empathy, and flexibility, framing them as modes of feminized performance—and moreover, as work.  Artist Jen Liu is among the dozen artists on view.

Informality (NYFA Gallery, 5/4 – 9/1) – This exhibition featuring select NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship Finalists includes Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, Finalist in Architecture/Environmental Design.


Closing soon:

Inter/Exist: Two Years in Jackson Heights (Flux Factory, 5/18 – 5/21)

Zeyang Wang: Tomorrow’s Mythologies (Cloud Gallery, 5/12 – 5/23)

Soft Skills (The James Gallery, 4/14 – 6/3)

You Know My Name You Don’t Know My Story (Fou Gallery, 4/1 – 6/4)


Current shows:

Visit the exhibition calendar for details for the current shows listed below. Check the museum or gallery’s website for hours of operation.

Inter/Exist: Two Years in Jackson Heights (Flux Factory, 5/18 – 5/21)

Zeyang Wang: Tomorrow’s Mythologies (Cloud Gallery, 5/12 – 5/23)

Soft Skills (The James Gallery, 4/14 – 6/3)

You Know My Name You Don’t Know My Story (Fou Gallery, 4/1 – 6/4)

Lin Sha (Gallery 456, 5/12 – 6/9)

Liu Xiaofei: Assembly Line (ART100 New York, 4/20 – 6/10)

Endurance: New Works by Xie Xiaoze (Chambers Fine Art, 4/6 – 6/17)

Geng Xue – Mount Sumeru (Klein Sun Gallery, 5/4 – 6/17)

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art (QCC Art Gallery CUNY, 3/16 – 6/20) 

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art – Part II (Goodwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College, 4/6 – 5/26)

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art – Part III (El Museo de Los Sures, 4/18 – 6/30)

Celebrating the Year of the Rooster (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1/25 – 7/4)

Infinite Compassion: Avalokiteshvara in Asian Art (Staten Island Museum, 10/22/16 – 9/25/17)

Age of Empires: Chinese Art of Qin and Han Dynasties (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 4/3 – 7/16)

Jennifer Wen Ma: Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted (Sandra Gering Inc, 5/11 – 7/28)

Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/29/16 – 8/6/17)

Body, Self, Society – Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s (The Walther Collection, 4/14 – 8/19)

Informality (NYFA Gallery, 5/4 – 9/1)

Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant (Museum of Food and Drink Lab, 11/11/16 – 9/3/17)

Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America (Museum of Chinese in America, 10/6/2016 – 9/10/17) 

Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer, 14th – 19th Century (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

From the Imperial Theater: Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

Colors of the Universe: Chinese Hardstone Carvings (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

Lead image: An 1893 painting by Ren Yi (任頤, 1840 – 1896)