Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Video: Conversation with Zhang Hongtu and Robert Lee at Queens Museum

This video is a documentation of the Conversation with Zhang Hongtu and Robert Lee at Queens Museum. As the closing event of Hongtu's solo show at Queens Museum, this panel talk covers several major topics in Hongtu's unique life experience and legendary art career. See highlights below to forward to specific questions.



Hongtu discussing censorship in China and freedom in the US 00:25

Hongtu on his personal experience during Cultural Revolution & the worship of Chairman Mao 05:17

Hongtu reflecting on the use of Mao image in his early works 08:24

Robert Lee talking about Hongtu's work in the context of modern history and art history 13:27

Cheryl McGinnis pointing out the key differences between Hongtu's Mao image and Andy Warhol's use of Mao 19:37

Mark on the rarely known history of Hongtu and the Chinese artist group in 90's New York 22:40

Robert Lee on Hongtu's legacy and influence on Asian American Arts 36:30

Zhang Hongtu, Artist; Robert Lee, Director of Asian American Arts Centre; Luchia Meihua Lee, Guest Curator

Videographer/ Editor: Weigang Song
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Activist Liu ShaoMing Tried for Essays on Tiananmen Square

Untitled, Sharon Garbe, mixed media on door, created for AAAC Tiananmen Exhibition 

Tiananmen Square is an issue that has affected everyone. AAAC mounted an exhibition in response to the confrontation that happened in 1989, and to this day the story continues, its effects reverberating through the trial of labor activist Liu Shaoming. Liu was recently tried in GuangZhou for "inciting subversion of state power". He was detained in May 2015 after publishing his essay ""My Experience Supporting and Joining the 1989 Democracy Movement", which recounts his experience on Tiananmen Square from May 26 to the morning of June 4th, 1989.




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Wednesday, April 6, 2016
EXHIBITION: Rachid Koraïchi- Love Side by Side with the Soul
 At Aicon Gallery, extended to April 15, 2016

Press Release 

"Koraïchi’s work is influenced by a heritage in intellectual Sufism and an early schooling as Quraishite- transcriber of Quranic texts- in the Aurés region in Algeria. Drawing on Arabic semiotics and dwelling on calligraphy as a means of interpretive transcendence, Koraïchi’s work utilizes letters and signage to evoke figurative imagery and enumerate universal messages to a global audience."

Related articles: 
"What Does Islam Look Like?" 
"Without Boundary- 17 Ways of Looking" 
This article and exhibition helps to place Koraïchi’s work in the context of today's political connotation of Islam. On the one hand the MOMA exhibition premise is not only addressing a non-essentialist perspective on Islamic artists, it also suggests reasons not to hold exhibitions based on ethnicity or race (we are all individuals and artists and are expected to have unique creative voices). This tends to support a mainstream Western stance and obscures the impact of the West in terms of political and military policies on particularly non-Western societies.

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Sunday, April 3, 2016
Taichi Chuan classes at the Clemente: co-sponsored by Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and the Clemente

Taichi Chuan classes at the Clemente
co-sponsored by Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and the Clemente

Taichi Chuan, a martial art form of ancient China, promotes health and wellness. A series of slow continuous movements with low impact on the body, Taichi increases energy and vitality, relieves pain and fatigue, improves balance and coordination, as well as many other health benefits. Coordinated with breathing, Taichi Chuan is known as moving meditation, a practice done regularly builds to enhance mental acuity and wellness. 

Testimonial from a tai chi student.
I am 71.  I started studying Tai chi with Eleanor Yung in the 90's.  I was younger then and did not take my taichi seriously; it was something I did for fun. I stopped for a long while. Maybe six or seven years.  After I stopped I began to notice how my body aged I began to develop arthritis, I gained weight. One day I remembered my tai chi and started doing chapter one it was all I could remember so I did this occasionally and noticed how great I felt after doing it. I started taking tai chi again last year. I was desperate to learn all of the form. So I practiced everyday for one or two hours sometimes more. I also did my chi gung exercises before I did my tai chi as a warm up. This is the way Eleanor taught us long ago. I became more supple and tai chi strengthened both my legs and neck and improved my balance.  In the allergy season the taichi with the chi gung exercises lowers my immune response to pollen. I don't ever want to stop doing my tai chi again.    

Classes start on April 9th, and will continue for 8 classes until June 11thexcept for May 14 and May 28. Classes will take place every Saturday from 10:30 to 11:30 AM at Studio 202 at the Clemente, located at 107 Suffolk Street(between Rivington and Delancey) on the LES in New York City. (F,M,J,Z to Delancey/Essex train stop) Call (212) 260-4080 for directions.  

The cost for the series is $220, cash or check at beginning of first class. Clemente residents, Clemente and AAAC staff, and senior citizens enjoy a 10% discount at $198.
Individual classes are $35. 

For those interested, please register with Eleanor Yung L.Ac. at eleayung@gmail.com

Some articles of interest:

Eleanor Yung, L.Ac. has been teaching Taichi Chuan and Qigong for more than 20 years, and is teaching at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and private classes. She is a NYS licensed acupuncturist and practices in Chinatown. 
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Brooklyn Museum Panthers Panel March 19, 2016

"The Role of Culture in Social Change" an inter-generational  conversation” was held at the Brooklyn Museum on Sunday March 20th. Presented were Kathleen Cleaver,  law professor and former Communications Secretary for the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense; Monica Dennis, NY organizer for Black Lives Matter; Professor Jamal Joseph, filmmaker, author and professor at Columbia University, and  the youngest member of the Panther 21; Carmen Perez, Executive Director of the Justice League; and Laura Whitehorn,  an organizer for the Release Aging People in Prison Project (RAPP) and former member of the Weather Underground. Moderator: Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of the Correctional Association.

At the conclusion questions were taken. As AAAC director I took the opportunity to ask a question given the Peter Liang/Akai Gurley issue. To paraphrase what I said or should have said if time allowed:

My question is on culture, cultural activism.
I was with IWK, I Wor Kuen*, sister organization to The Young Lords in 1969. To the former Black Panthers here, and White Allies in support, I express my gratitude for your devotion to your community, and the courage of your actions. To many in the Asian American Movement it is recognized the debt we owe you for inspiring us, and demonstrating how we could help our community. It is conceivable the Asian American Movement would not be what it is today were it not for your actions. I thank you.

I was also with Basement Workshop, the seminal arts organization at the beginnings of the Asian American Movement. For decades now my wife and I continue with  community cultural work. So many friends have developed their activism in social services, education, health, electorial  politics. The Movement has evolved. Yet few grasp why I work with artists.

I’ve heard Black Lives Matter, when asked where is their policy stance, or a draft of the bills they might propose, in response they have said such proposals and laws wont change hearts, where real change matters.

One of the exhibitions we did was called Ancestors**: a collaboration with Kenkeleba House in 1995. Its theme was the historical ties between African and Asian Americans. Acknowledging the rites and beliefs of diverse people permeate society, we wrote  “…we recognize the wealth of our heritage as Americans and encourage the act of paying homage to all the Ancestors of this Land” Twenty four artists were presented, many of them biracial. Howardena Pindell, Simone Leigh, Lily Yeh and Faith Ringgold were among them. One goal was to collect and document those historical ties, stories of the relationships between Asian and African Americans, stories like that of Lotus Do and Aukram Burton in Boston with artist Allan Crite. We did this and are still open to gather more. Prof. Burton in Louisville was ready to help gather these materials. However funding was not forthcoming to continue the project.

Given the current issue of Peter Liang and Akai Gurley, my question has to do with culture and the relations between African and Asian Americans – can you please speak to this. 
In reply several past approaches and projects were mentioned including the leadership of Yuri Kochiyama.

Note: One of the artists exhibited maternal grandfather was Howard Thurman, a theologian who founded the Fellowship Church of All Nations in the 1940s, a predecessor to Glide Memorial Church where poet Janice Mirikitani with her husband, Reverend Cecil Williams enabled, I understand, the congregation – composed of Blacks and Japanese Americans, to save their property and belongings after Pearl Harbor before leaving to the Internment Camps by transferring these to fellow parishioners.  Dr. Thurman himself went to India where he met Mahatma Gandhi.  He taught the young Martin Luther King, Jr. at Moorehouse University and influenced him with his introduction to the teachings of Non-Violence.  
* Righteous Harmonious Fist

** http://artasiamerica.org/documents/1710
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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Saturday March 12th 1pm-3pm
 "Blue Voices", Martin Wong

Join us for an exhibition tour of Bronx Museum's extensive solo exhibition of Martin Wong’s art titled, “Human Instamatic”! 

Lead by Robert Lee, this will be the last week you can see it! 

$10, (free for high school and college students with ID). 

Special intro for those unfamiliar with fine art/Asian American art.

See for directions: http://www.bronxmuseum.org/visit

If coming from Chinatown take the D train to 167 St, walk two blocks south to 1040 Grand Concourse/ the Bronx Museum. (45min ride)

JOIN THE TOUR! RSVP – aaacinfo@artspiral.org.

From an Asian American perspective, it is important to appreciate and recognize the qualities Martin Wong enables Americans and Asian Americans themselves to see and recognize Asian values interfacing into our American culture. 

In his own way, Martin’s ethos is similar to Teh Ching Hsieh's profound expansive humanity. Teh Ching, whose several one year performances immediately made him an internationally important artist. The whole top floor of the Guggenheim Museum in 2009 The Third Mind exhibition was filled with just one of his one year performances - a worker punching time clock cards, every hour every day for one year. Martin's sense of compassion is related to this work.    

As Chinese Martial Arts teachings council, be mindful of the heavens in your posture (Martin's paintings often show the pattern of the stars) with feet squarely on the earth (earthen pottery initiates his career & continues with earthen pigments throughout his career) in this way connecting heaven and earth – a scholarly virtue. 

His paintings are covered with his own varied scripts, claiming his relation, in this way, to China's painting traditions. His paintings are rooted in his poetic spirit revealed in his early calligraphic poetry scrolls (See PPOW's website http://www.ppowgallery.com/exhibition/4097/work#&panel1-6). An Asian sensibility unleashed in the heart of the inner city, his visual poetry critiques US jails, ghettos, shuttered lives, that turn Sky into bricks, so lovingly painted. With his feet squarely on the earth (earthen pottery initiates his career; continues with earthen pigments) and his written scripts and star patterns in the sky, his connection to heaven and earth he is always mindful. Bricks are clearly his own Zen practice. Even his painting in bricks of a monumental penis is an Asian tradition - you can find circular stone trays of water fountains throughout China with a large stone erect motif as a central structure.  

Sad that his Asian faces are only mass media tropes, with none of the tenderness he renders in brown faces. Except of course, for his own and his parents, whose faces can be seen in a painting of a laundry storefront.  Some of his own portraits take part in Asian grotesqueries, however Pop.

Martin studied pottery in college, so his painting skill may be self taught. In that sense he could be termed possibly an outsider artist. In 1998, a year before his death at 53, in San Francisco Martin Wong was elected grand marshal of the city’s Chinese New Year Parade. Like his firemen so well equipped rendered as heroes, Martin Wong is himself a hero in painting the inner world of our inner cities in praise of what he saw there – its deep humanity.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Thursday, November 5, 2015
TALK: Presenting / Representing the Chinese Image

“Presenting/Representing the Chinese Image”

A Klein Sun Gallery panel talk
525 West 22nd Street

Tuesday November 10, 6-8pm
RSVP required: info@kleinsungallery.com

AAAC Director Bob Lee will be amongst the panelists.
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3-5pm, Sunday 8 November
Suggested donation $10

T'ai chi ch'uan is a gentle and contemplative form of martial art which can be practiced for self-defense or for the improvement of health and stress reduction. Combining deep breathing with slow, flowing movement, the meditative practice of Tai Chi rebalances our qi, or vital life force, turning nervous tension into vibrant positive energy and increasing our capacity to cope with stress.

Dino Blanche teaches Tai Chi as a form of martial art, emphasizing its abilities to fight stress and the associated ill health and bad temperament it causes each of us. Stress is what stimulates the fight or flight reflex, but the martial stances, gestures and controlled breathing pattern of Tai Chi communicates to one's subconscious that you are protecting yourself, which produces a calm mind and balances your central nervous system. Dino says, "Through taking on a Tai Chi attitude you fight back those hurtful thoughts and worries that vex and trouble your gentle heart. With Tai Chi, we learn how to relax, face the world with openness, fearlessness, and find the sacred warrior's path in everyday life."

For this beginner's workshop at Inner Fields, Dino will instruct you in three basic breathing (Qi Gong) exercises and teach you ten movements of the Laughing River Tai Chi Form.

Dino Blanche is the founder of The Laughing River, a martial arts training and consulting agency in Queens, NY, which specializes in Jujitsu, Tai Chi, meditation and 'Reverse Gravity Training'. He has been teaching martial arts for forty years and his programs are award winning and internationally recognized. For more information, visit www.thelaughingriver.com

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Dino's work is in the permanent collection at the Asian American Arts Centre

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