NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: May 26 – June 1, 2017

Lin Fengmian – Sound of Reading Aloud

Things are a little quiet because of the Memorial Day holiday, but it’s fitting, in light of Taiwan becoming the first Asian country to allow same-sex marriages, that many of the events are this week celebrate Taiwan: the annual Passport to Taiwan festival; classical and contemporary ensemble music from Taiwan; an afternoon of Taiwanese bands with two Golden Melody Award winners and singers from two of Taiwan’s aboriginal groups.  Also, there’s a walking tour that explores faith and religion in Chinatown; a one-woman show by an HK theater actress and writer turned into a feature film; and four new exhibition listings, including China Institute’s latest.

There is an exhibition and an event that precede the listings below:

Five Chinese artists, Lu Xi, Jiang Zhao Kun, Wang Lin, Yao Hao, and Zhang Xin, are part of a short exhibition at 33 Orchard (33B Orchard Street) that closes on May 25.  Many of the works are inspired by daily life and explore unconventional drawing techniques that show the precise motion, change, spirit, and resonance of the flow of energy between artist, brush and paper.

On May 24, Chinatown institutions Wing On Wo & Co. and Chatham Square Library host Let’s Talk Chinatown: Oral Histories of a Changing Neighborhood, a workshop that engages audience members in a conversation about changes happening in NYC’s Chinatown through an interactive panel discussion with residents, business owners, designers, artists, and activitist.

Coming up:

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.

June 30 – July 15 – New York Asian Film Festival.

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) Poetry, Sizhu, and Taiwanese Opera – Sizhu (絲竹), a type of ensemble arrangement that includes traditional Chinese string and woodwind instruments, has been the most fundamental musical style of the Chai Found Music Workshop (CFMW). CFMW’s music performances blends multi-directional components, such as including Taiwanese folksongs, traditional Taiwanese Opera, old Mandarin ballads, modern music, popular music, children’s musicals, oriental musical theater, and orchestration, with ethnic musical instruments.

In this performance, CMFW will bring to the stage various interpretations of sizhu music and showcase the infinite possibilities of this hundreds-year-old genre. In “Classic Sizhu” CMFW will present a classical repertoire with fresh, novel arrangements; in “Modern Sizhu” CMFW will perform specially commissioned works from Taiwanese composers; while in “Poetry and Taiwanese Opera” the group will integrate lines of classic Tang poetry into the diverse musical modes of Taiwanese operatic style.

Friday, May 26, 2 PM
Mid-Manhattan Library, 455 5th Ave

Saturday, May 27, 3:30 PM
Queens Botanical Garden, 3-50 Main St, Flushing

CMFW will also perform at the Passport to Taiwan festival on Sunday, May 28.


2) Walking Tour: Religion & Faith in Chinatown – How does Chinatown’s religious landscape reflect the diversity of the people who have lived in this historically multicultural neighborhood? Through this walking tour of sites of worship that include temples, churches, and synagogues, you will examine the roles that religious and faith communities have played in the evolving immigrant communities of Chinatown.

Saturday, May 27, 1 PM
Museum of Chinese in America


3) Hello Taiwan featuring Sean Huang, Gina Can, Biung & Treya – This annual event brings leading artists from Taiwan to the US to reach American audiences. This year features Golden Melody Award winners Sean Huang and Bunun singer Biung; Hakka singer Gina Can; and Taiwanese American. The four artists in this show have unique musical styles, and this performance marks the debut performance in New York for three out of them.

Saturday, May 27, 1 PM
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street


4) Taiwanese Hand Puppet Making Workshop – Puppteer Wang Da Chung (王大中) will lead a children’s workshop where participants can decorate their own hand puppet based on traditional Taiwan had puppetry designs or create their own. Participants get to keep their puppet. Wang will also instruct participants on how to manipulate Taiwanese hand puppets.

Saturday, May 27, 2 PM
Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing


5) Passport to Taiwan – The 16th annual Passport to Taiwan Festival is an outdoor celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Taiwanese heritage with food, drink, performances, and more.

Sunday, May 28, 12 – 5 PM
Union Square North


6) Illustration Workshop – Nina Edwards, Illustrator, Adjunct Professor of Pratt Institute leads this introductory illustration workshop will touch on current illustration trends and styles, as well as on some popular apps and computer programs among professional and amateur illustrators

Thursday, May 1, 3:30 PM
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, East 42nd Street


1) 29 + 1 – Opening a new page in her career, Hong Kong theater actress and writer Kearen Pang turns her 2005 one-woman show 29 + 1 into her first feature film about two women at life’s crossroads as they approach the big 3-0. Faced with work stress, aging parents and a stagnant romance, 29-year-old Christy, like many others her age, is gripped with insecurity about her present and future. Single and unaccomplished but nonetheless optimistic, Joyce makes a different choice at age 29: She packs her bags and pursues her childhood dream. These two strangers who share the same birthdate form a deep invisible connection when Christy moves into Joyce’s apartment and begins to read her journal.

The Hollywood Reporter quite likes the film, calling it a “charming Bechdel-approved adult coming-of-age drama”

Opens at AMC Empire 25 May 25


2) 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 26 and 27 will feature Q&As with members of the Sung family.

Opens at IFC Center May 19


3) 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


4) 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.

1) Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou (China Institute, 5/25 – 11/12) – In 201 BCE, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty knighted his younger brother as the first king of the Chu Kingdom, which was centered in Peng Cheng, today’s Xuzhou, in northern Jiangsu Province. Ruling under the emperor’s protection, and given special exemption from imperial taxes, elites in this Kingdom enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. Twelve generations of kings lived, died, and were buried in sumptuous tombs carved into the nearby rocky hills. Since the mid 20th Century, nearly hundred tombs were excavated, revealing contents that testify to the Chu kings’ affluence, as well as their beliefs in immortality and the afterlife. One of the most stunning finds was an elaborate jade sarcophagi burial suit, assembled from thousands of pieces of jade, the precious stone adored by Chinese people since the Neolithic period as an auspicious material that could ensure immortality. This exhibition will feature the jade suit, and other tomb contents that highlight how these powerful and wealthy kings prepared for death and envisioned their afterlife to come.

Jade burial suit with gold thread. 4,248 jade pieces, 55.6 oz. (1.576 g) of gold thread; 69 5/16 x 26 13/16 in. (176 cm x 68 cm)


Zheng Liu: Undercurrent (Sundaram Tagore Gallery Chelsea, 5/5 – 6/3) – For his first New York solo exhibition, Beijing-based artist Zheng Lu presents dynamic new sculptural installations at Sundaram Tagore Chelsea. Expanding on his noted Water in Dripping series, Zheng’s restless stainless-steel forms transform the gallery space, leaping across the room, evoking splashes of water suspended in mid-air.

Zheng Lu began his Water in Dripping series in 2008. At first glance, his gravity-defying sculptural works appear wholly modern in their stainless-steel fabrication and ambitious technical execution, but a closer inspection reveals thousands of Chinese characters inscribed onto the surface of the metal. It is a nod to antiquity, inspired by the artist’s longtime study of traditional Chinese calligraphy.

Zheng, a native of Inner Mongolia, grew up practicing calligraphy with his grandfather and transcribing poetry for his father, a man of letters. For the works in this series, Zheng culled text from Appreciation of Still Water by Tang dynasty poet Bai Juyi. In doing so, he not only celebrates the power of water, an element essential to existence, but also revels in Bai’s unfettered imagination, evoking Chinese literati concepts of a contemplative journey within nature. By using characters from texts of historical significance, Zheng draws on the custom of apprentices copying masters’ works yet pushes this idea further by introducing new interpretations and possibilities.

Continued on gallery’s exhibition page.

Zheng Lu – ‘Water in Dripping – Xi’, 2017. Stainless steel, 53.1 x 59.1 x 43.3 in.


2) Saved by the Web? (Postamsters Gallery 4/29 – 6/10) – An exhibition of Hasan Elahi, Lin Ke, and Eva and Franco Mattes, all artists whose work is a result of an engagement with the internet.

Description of Lin Ke’s works:

Beijing-based artist Lin Ke, whose work was recently exhibited at K11 Art Foundation in Shanghai and Hong Kong, mines the mundane actions of software operations and web surfing as the fodder and form of his art. His work spans installation, image, sound, text, video, and computer painting.

Lin Ke’s laptop is his studio. It is reflective and reflexive in his practice; he often turns the camera onto himself or translates his personal desktop experience into a form of self-portraiture. In the video installation Like Me, the artist raps dialogue appropriated from a 1960s Star Trek episode that alludes to humans (of the high-tech future) in a state of dire complacency, caught in a trap of their own making, merely “…zoo samples, like me.” In ScreenShot, a screenshot of Lin Ke’s desktop, which pictures a studio-come-living room, is brought back into physical space as a larger-than-life photo object, leaning against a wall. Commander is a recording of an improvised performance, in which Lin Ke provokes the computer by gesticulating in front of it. Here, the computer becomes an instrument as well as recorder, as the movements are caught on the built-in microphone and speaker system. Once records a summer day. With his webcam turned on, Lin Ke sat in front of his laptop listening to lounge music, resulting in a vague reflection emerging from and disappearing into an “oriental” landscape. Lin Ke’s work is presented in collaboration with BANK Shanghai.

Lin Ke – ‘ScreenShot 2016 April 17’, 2016. Archival inkjet print, 74 x 118 in.


3) Ian Cheng (MoMA PS1, 4/9 – 9/25) – This first U.S. museum solo presentation, features the artist’s complete Emissary trilogy (2015-2017), a series of three live simulations dedicated to the history of cognitive evolution. Using an engine for developing video games, Emissary is made up of open-ended animations with no fixed outcome or narrative—a format Cheng calls live simulation. These works ask us to imagine technology not as a subordinate reflection of our own minds, but as a tool to model a non-anthropomorphic vision of history and consciousness. The trilogy was recently acquired by The Museum of Modern Art.

Ian Cheng – ‘Emissary Forks At Perfection’, 2015-2016. Live simulation and story, infinite duration.


Closing soon:

Soft Skills (Group show with Jen Liu, The James Gallery, 4/14 – 6/3)

Zheng Liu: Undercurrent (Sundaram Tagore Gallery Chelsea, 5/5 – 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)

Saved by the Web? (Postamsters Gallery 4/29 – 6/10)


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.

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

Zheng Liu: Undercurrent (Sundaram Tagore Gallery Chelsea, 5/5 – 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)

Saved by the Web? (Postamsters Gallery 4/29 – 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 (group show with Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, 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) 

Ian Cheng (MoMA PS1, 4/9 – 9/25)

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: Lin Fengmian – Sound of Reading Aloud

Updated to include Hello Taiwan on Saturday, May 27 and to highlight recent news from Taiwan.