Saturday, April 22, 2017
Danny Yung's "Tian Tian" Exhibition, and Community Event, in Vancouver


Danny Yung, an experimental artist, hosted an event at The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreational Centre, located in Vancouver, British Columbia. There, he introduced his renowned figure "Tian Tian,"and allowed children and adults to paint on their very own Blank Boy Canvas.
An Example of a Design that Can be Painted on The Blank Boy Canvas Can
Photo by Bob Lee

Participants
Photo by Bob Lee
Photo by Bob Lee
Photo by Bob Lee
Danny Yung's "Tian Tian" is featured in an exhibition, starting April 21st, at 808 Nelson Street, Vancouver, British Columbia. There, more of his canvas', which have all been painted on, will be placed on display for the public.

Audience Who Attended the Opening 
Danny Yung (Right) with Tian Tian

"Blank Boy Canvas is a collaboration that unifies modern art culture and North American talent with Hong Kong’s creative godfather; Danny Yung and his character ‘Tian Tian’. Yung derived his name from the Chinese proverb Tian Tian Xiang Shang translating to Everyday Looking Up. The 50 cm three-dimensional canvas has been given to selected artists to freely express, create or alter the subject while exploring the theme of infinite possibilities while capturing the inquisitive and innocent nature of youth."


Photograph of Exhibition

More Examples of Tian Tian
Tian Tian with Glasses and Cape

Ghost Tian Tian

Old Tian Tian: He's Aged but Determined

Heart and Thread Tian Tian

For more information about Danny Young, and his exhibition: https://curiousandcreative.com
For a recap about the opening of his exhibition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XduM5gdKlEk
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Thursday, April 13, 2017
Remembering Peter Kwong

Photo by Bob Lee

On April 9th, the Downtown Community Television Centre organized a community event to commemorate Peter Kwong, who had passed away on March 17. He was widely recognized for his passionate commitment to human rights and social justice. All photographs were taken by Bob Lee, who attended the event.


Audience

Peter Kwong (1941-2017) was Distinguished Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College, as well as Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Mr. Kwong not only was a pioneer in Asian American studies, but also a leading scholar of immigration. Mr. Kwong published many books that explored Chinatown, Chinese immigration and labor, and Chinese politics. He has written numerous books, including Chinese America: The Untold Story of America’s Older New Community, Forbidden Workers: Chinese Illegal Immigrants and American Labor, Chinese Americans: An Immigrant Experience, The New Chinatown, and Chinatown, New York: Labor and Politics 1930-1950

He also contributed to several English language publications, such as The National, the International Herald Tribune, the Globe and Mail, and Village Voice. He wrote several articles that touched upon controversial topics that not only effected the Asian American community, but also the entire world. On July 17, 1990, Mr. Kwong wrote an article entitled “The Year of the Horse,” which investigated the growing control of the heroin trade by Chinese organized crime. He also wrote an outstanding, eye-opening piece (that was published on June 9, 1992,) about the 1992 Los Angeles Riots: in his article “The First Multiracial Riots,” he argues that contemporary media reports fundamentally misunderstood the L.A Riots of 1992 as simply a “Black vs. White” phenomenon, when it was actually “the first multiracial class riot in American history.” Both of his articles were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
In an email, Joseph P. Viteritti, the Chairman of Hunter’s Urban Policy and Planning Department, wrote that Professor Kwong “challenges the notion that Asians are a model minority, revealing in his research widespread class divisions, poverty, exploitation, drug abuse and organized crime — all of which were exacerbated by decades of discrimination by a majority white society."

In addition to writing, Mr. Kwong also chronicled the Asian American experience through documentary films. He covered similar issues, ranging from a market in Chinatown to Chinese organized crime in New York, discussed in his articles and books, through his films.

Chinatown Food Co-Op
Price List
A Consumer 
Snakeheads: The Chinese Mafia and the New Slave Trade
240 Chinese Remain in Jail
Mr. Kwong produced the 2010 Oscar-nominated short documentary film China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province, which depicted the Chinese government’s inept response to a catastrophic earthquake in 2008 that killed tens of thousands of people. The film was broadcast on HBO in 2009.


127 Children Were Killed

She Was in the 5th Grade
Numerous colleagues, friends, artists, and enthusiasts, as well as family members, attended the event, some reminiscing about their experiences with Mr. Kwong and the impact he had left on them, and the lives of others.

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Peter Kwong was a man who highlighted the raw and complex history of the Asian American experience --  he went beyond stereotypes, beyond the media, and beyond established assumptions. He created rich and detailed pieces of literature and artwork that highlighted the specific and complex narratives within Chinatown, that can simultaneously be gain empathy and support by other communities. His work reminds us of many things: that the beautiful can be flawed; that the vulnerable holds strength; that the divided can find unity; and that the powerless can become the powerful.

Rest in Peace, Peter Kwong
Original Photo by Zheng Lianjie

For more information about Mr. Kwong's Pulitzer Prize-nominated articles: http://www.villagevoice.com/news/rip-peter-kwong-who-chronicled-chinatown-drugs-and-race-for-the-voice-9811745
To watch the full version of China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Provincehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfcHJAnrMoQ
*Please disregard the first few seconds of the video

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Monday, April 10, 2017
Chinatown and the Department of Cultural Affairs Collaborate at the Florentine Music School

On April 1st, The Florentine Music School and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DLA) facilitated an event that allowed Chinatown and the DCLA to collaborate together, in order to evaluate the Cultural Plan, and hopefully inspire local community members to create a cultural plan of their own.

Aside from bridging the gap between locals and officials, the event also provided the Asian American Arts Centre to promote the People's Cultural Plan. Bob Lee, who attended the event, explained that  it is important for officials and locals to be given a proper amount of time to communicate, and to form a cultural plan that satisfies both parties.

We thank DCLA and The Florentine Music School for facilitating the event, and for providing a space where two seemingly different communities are able to communicate and collaborate.


Participants
An Attendee Begins to Recite Poetry and Songs, Both in English and Chinese, for Five Minutes Straight

Olympia Moy (Right) and City Council Woman Margaret Chin (Left)
Ms. Chin Not Only Participated, but Also Stayed Throughout the Entire Event

*All photographs were taken by Bob Lee
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Thursday, April 6, 2017
Rally for the Arts!!


On April 3rd, an assortment of artists gathered at New York City Hall in order to protest against Donald Trump’s plan to exterminate all outlays for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the Institute of Museum of Library Services (IMLS).

A View From the Outside
Photo by Baie Rogers
Inside
Photo by Bob Lee
As explained in a previous post about the NEA, the Federal Budget in 2016 was approximately $3.871 trillion; both the NEA and the NEH spent around $148,000,000 within the budget, which is, according to Washington Post’s Philip Bump, is only 0.03% of the overall budget — The NEA gave $14.5 million to 419 groups in New York City last year. However, Trump’s administration still wants to relocate money away from domestic (art) programs, and towards security and defense  — the proposed budget increases the two departments by $54 billion overall. 

The Rally to Save the Arts united a wide spectrum of artists who represent both the visual and performing arts: independent artists, the Asian American Arts Centre, the Actor’s Equity Association, New York Musician’s Union, and The Poetry Society of New York are some examples. 


Chuck Yeun, Whose Work is Featured in the AAAC's Permanent Collection, Attended the Rally
Photo by Bob Lee
Dion Chen Supporting the Actor's Equity Association
Photo by Bob Lee
DANCE EDUCATION FOR EVERY CHILD!
Photo by Baie Rogers
There were also some highly prestigious guest speakers, such as Queens Councilman and chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Jimmy Van Bramer. “President Trump’s budget is an unprecedented and vicious assault on the arts, the humanities, libraries,” he said. “President Trump talks a lot about making America great again, but you can never make anything great again by crushing its soul.”
Sami Shumays (Left): Founder and Director of Zikrayat -- Peter Koo (Right): Councilman (D-Flushing)
Photo by Bob Lee
Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne also spoke at the Rally. He viewed Trump’s plan from a more economic lens. “You may hate the arts. You may hate the stuff that people paint and the theater that they do, but do you want to lose all those jobs? Do we want to kill this part of the economy? That’s just completely stupid.” He extends his argument in a self-written blog post, entitled What Good Are the Arts?:
“A recent study called Arts and Economic Prosperity found that nationally the non-profit arts (we're not talking about Broadway shows, pop concerts, video games, movies or the art world) generates $135.2 BILLION in economic activity in the US… In 2013, the production of arts and cultural goods added more than $704 billion to the U.S. economy. This amounts to 4.23% of GDP. The arts and cultural sector contribute more to the national economy than do the construction, agriculture, mining, utilities, and travel and tourism sectors.”


ALTERNATE FACTS
Photo by Bob Lee


City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito recalled the cultural impact the arts had left on her. “I came here at the age of 18, but my mother made it a point to take us to museums, to take us to the theater.” She later added, “Art and culture enhanced my life, gave me a perspective, an understanding of the world we live in, of our collective wellbeing, that we are not in this alone. That we can reach across the aisle and learn about other cultures, create a sense of understanding and camaraderie.”
SAVE THE ARTS Written in Five Languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Scottish Gaelic
Photo by Baie Rogers
The Protester Who Held the Sign SAVE THE ARTS in Five Languages
Photo by Baie Rogers
Actress Ciara Renée defended the arts by highlighting it’s more psychological impact. She said that the arts is a “collaboration of what is with what can be” and a “connection to something higher and more powerful than any stagnation or destruction and abundance, a surplus…Does that sound bad to you?” she said. “So it’s a wonder why the powers that be wanna take an ax to it, stop it in its tracks when it’s already placed at the bottom of the totem pole of existence?”

Jelani Remy, who portrays Simba in Broadway’s The Lion King, contributed his own personal stories relating to how important the arts were to him as a kid. He then lead the crowd, outside City Hall, in a rendition of “Over the Rainbow.” 

"Below is a picture of a high school senior who, when asked which of the arts she attributed to saving her life, she said, 'The visual arts.' I had a feeling that I had just taken a picture of the most profound sign at the Rally. So, let me thank Sara(h) for taking her picture." -Bob
ART SAVED MY LIFE
Photo by Bob Lee 
To quote Jimmy Van Bramer, "He [Trump] has come for artists and the cultural community today but first, the president came after Mexicans, then Muslims, then immigrants—including the undocumented—then it was the trans youth of our country, then the health of millions of Americans with Trumpcare and now he comes for us. But he was defeated on Trumpcare, wasn’t he? Because of rallies just like this. People taking to the streets saying that we will not accept this, this is not who we are. We are better than this.

National Priorities Statistics: https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/


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Friday, March 31, 2017
Louis Chan Exhibits Work at Pearl River Mart

Louis Chan, an Asian American photographer, exhibited his work at the Pearl River Mart. "The larger-than-life pictures from out latest artist-in-residence," Pearl River Mart's official blog states, "explore New York City immigrants' live in America through their possessions and how they display them."

Photo by Bob Lee

Photo by Bob Lee
"Founded in 1971, Pearl River Mart is an eclectic emporium where you can find one-of-a-kind Asian-inspired home furnishings, fashion and everything in between. A beloved destination for people from all over the globe, Pearl River has become symbolic of the uniqueness, authenticity and multi-culturalism of New York City." 

To read an official interview with Louis Chan, conducted by Pearl River Mart: https://www.pearlriver.com/blogs/blog/louis-chan-artist-in-residence-explores-homes-and-belonging

For more information about Pearl River: https://www.pearlriver.com
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The Asian American Arts Centre is proud to provide the final version of the People's Cultural Plan! It will be officially made for public view soon.

It is important to note that everything posted on our blog pre-dates this version.

The People's Cultural Plan for Working Artists and Communities in New York City

Inequity in arts and culture is a persistent problem in New York City. The worsening climate of fear, intolerance, and fascism, especially affecting immigrants and people of color, must be countered with more than lip service in support of “diversity”: Only by implementing true equity in all city policies will the most vulnerable be protected from the multiple crises facing our communities.
Displacement and dispossession (also known by the euphemism “gentrification”) are the greatest threats to culture in NYC, because culture is rooted in place, and skyrocketing rent threatens to displace working class black communities and communities of color, working artists, and underfunded arts organizations. The contracting of real estate development firms James Lima Planning + Development and BJH Advisors LLC as NYC Cultural Plan consultants indicates that yet again, arts and culture are being used as a Trojan Horse to usher in still more displacement and dispossession. We demand a plan that calls for the elimination of these pro-developer policies and rezonings, for an immediate rent freeze, and for the development of more just rent control policies at the State and City levels.

The exclusion of artists and workers of color and the exploitation of artists and low- wage workers has always been a threat to culture in NYC. But in combination with the housing crisis, that threat is compounded, pushing most artists, especially those who are working-class people of color, elders or disabled, close to their breaking point. From low-wage workers servicing museums, to underpaid administrators of nonprofit organizations, to the unpaid labor of artists—workers across the supply chain contribute to making the arts a multi-billion dollar industry. We demand a plan that insures truly equitable inclusion (not tokenization) of artists and cultural workers of color, equitable and adequate wages, employee benefits, job protection, and upward mobility for all artists and cultural workers.

Cultural funding is among the most inequitably distributed resources in NYC, and the policies of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) exacerbate that inequity by giving nearly 60% of its funding to Manhattan alone out of the five boroughs, and almost 80% of its funding to only 33 of the 1,000+ organizations funded. Inadequate funding to oppressed and exploited communities – and austerity in public services generally – operates in tandem with real estate development schemes to displace communities; inadequate funding to small and POC-run organizations makes it difficult to pay adequate wages and artist fees. We demand a plan with generous and equitable public cultural funding that directs all increases in DCLA funding to the neighborhoods, organizations, and artists who need it the most, rather than to institutions that are already receiving generous allocations, many of which are not adequately serving the communities they purport to.

We, the people, a multi-racial coalition of artists, culture workers and tenants from the many neighborhoods of NYC, demand a cultural plan with concrete policies to: 1. End displacement and dispossession in NYC; 2. Insure truly equitable inclusion of artists and cultural workers of color & equitable wages for all artists and cultural workers; 3. Distribute public funding equitably; and 4. Commit to rectifying the documented history of neglect, disinvestment and theft from communities, organizations, and artists of color in NYC, by investing new funds for these groups and supporting their self- determination. We further demand that changes in funding and housing policies be subject to community control – that the neighborhoods to be affected by policy changes determine the specifics. The most crucial component of equity is equity in power and in decision-making, and we will accept nothing less.

Because we recognize that indigenous communities, black communities and all communities of color have been disproportionately disenfranchised through historically unjust policy making at the municipal, state, and federal levels, as well as through the de facto funding priorities of private philanthropy, we call on the DCLA to endorse and support all of the following demands in its Cultural Plan for New York City, and we call on The State and City of New York to implement the necessary legislation that will lead to true equity for all New Yorkers.
As a sanctuary city, any cultural plan for New York must be supportive of the lives an contributions of tribally-enrolled indigenous people, black communities, communities of
color, and immigrants.
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Wing on Wo & Company Turns in Site for Asian American Activism

On March 26, 2017, the Museum of Chinese in America hosted an event for the Wing on Wo (W.O.W) & Company.

Audience Members

The W.O.W & Company Project's mission is to "engage the community to shape the future of Chinatown by bringing together youth, elders, business owners, and concerned residents in a conversation and innovate idea generation." This past week, W.O.W & Company organized "Residency: Artist Talk + Arts & Activism Roundtable," which was organized by artist Melissa Liu.

Mei Lum, a Sponsor at W.O.W & Company, introduces the guest speakers

The event kicked off with Mei Lum, a sponsor at W.O.W & Company, introducing guest speakers Ryan Wong and Jay Koo.
The Experience of Trauma, within the Chinese community, is rarely discuss. Jay Koo Brings this Topic Into Conversation, Which Will Hopefully Prompt More Recognition and Research Towards the Overlooked Issue.


Ryan Wong, a Curator at MoCA, Talks About the New Form of Activism Within Chinatown, Including the Barriers the Come With Them

Ryan Presented a Slide That Features Contributions,  Made by theAsian American Arts Centre, to the Community

Afterwards, Lum allowed Liu to lead the roundtable discussion. "The roundtable on art and activism in Asian American communities," W.O.W & Company's official statement explains, "will focus on the relationship between art and social change, gentrification, and bridging cultural and international gaps, as well as activism around Asian/Asian American representations in the arts." Activists from The Yellow Jackets and An/other NY were guest speakers at the panel.

The Yellow Jackets & An/other NY

The Yellow Jackets & An/other NY

The Yellow Jackets, as well as An/other NY, are a group of Asian American activists who helped protest an exhibition, featured in SPRING/BREAK, entitled "Show Mein." In the show, Asian American food and culture became (yet another) victim to stereotyping. Here is a statement from An/other NY: https://www.facebook.com/ANOTHERNY/posts/799595050179273

Melissa Liu (劉慧慈) also talked about her work, an oral history project entitled "Chinatown Diaspora: Red Envelop Oral Histories." Here is an official statement from W.O.W & Company:

"[At the Artist in Residency Event,] Participants will have the opportunity to design and make their own red envelopes, in which they will place a question to share with a family member or friend from an older generation and collect a written response from. Participants will also receive basic training on how to conduct an oral history interview within their community, and have a safe space to discuss issues that Asian communities face in today’s political moment.

Through her window display project, Melissa hopes that the exchange of questions through red envelopes between younger and older generations will spark deeper conversations and moments of empathy that can help bridge intergenerational understanding in Chinatowns and Asian American communities through shared Lunar New Year traditions, and also result in the sharing of stories, experiences, and memories from the Asian Diaspora with locals and street passersby."

Melissa Liu Talking About Her Work

Here is Melissa Liu's official statement on her work:

"I developed this oral history project from the realization that there is often an understanding and cultural gap between older generations who grew up in different circumstances and those of us who have been raised as 'Asian Americans.' ...Oral history is a practice rooted in listening and privileging a narrator in a conversation, and therefore a tool that lends itself naturally to this work... My longterm goal is for those who have been part of this project to continue creating safe spaces to discuss issues that Asian communities have confronted in the past and face in today’s political moment. The window display at Wing On Wo & Co. is a place to share what has come out of a series of oral history workshops I have held with participants who identify with the Asian Diaspora.

Though red envelopes containing money are passed from those of married age and older to younger generations, I have encouraged participants to reverse this exchange by giving their handmade red envelopes to someone from an older generation in their family or community. But rather than money, the red envelope will be exchanged with a question, opening up an opportunity for a conversation to happen."

For more information about Wing on Wo & Company: http://www.wingonwoand.co
For more information about An/other NY: https://www.facebook.com/ANOTHERNY/
For more information about Melissa Liu and her project: http://www.wingonwoand.co/artist-residency/

*All photographs were taken by Bob Lee
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