Monday, September 29, 2008
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Asian American Arts Centre
Metro Poles in Chinatown
"藝 匯 唐 人 街"

participating artists:
Katarina Wong, Wennie Huang, Tamiko Kawata
Olivia Beens, Wan Ling Li, Angela Valeria
Tamara Gubernat, Laura Chipley, Francisca Caporali
Nathalie Pham, Avani Patel

This Fall the Asian American Arts Centre joins in a cross-borough collaboration called Metro Poles occurring simultaneously in Jamaica, the Bronx & Lower Manhattan. Metro Poles in Chinatown marks the first time AAAC will partner with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center & Chinatown Manpower Project & the Chatham Green Cooperative as installation sites for artists art works. This will open community institutions to the innovations and ideas of new art inviting a New York audience from Manhattan & other boroughs together with local people & residents.

Receptions, Talks & Walking Tours
On December 5th Friday, 530-715pm audiences will be able to meet and hear the
artists from all three sites speak. This will be held at AAAC, 26 Bowery. Afterwards, immediately following this talk, a Reception will be held for all three sites from 715pm – 900pm. Recommended is for audiences to visit installation sites and see the special feature of Metro Poles - continuous changes by succeeding artists - see this before the final reception.

For those interested in a guided tour of the three sites, three dates have been reserved for this, after each site incorporates changes made by the next succeeding artist. On Oct 27, Nov 12 & Dec 5 participants can gather at AAAC. Each tour will begin at 530pm - 830pm.
Special receptions will be held – see dates under each site.

Chinatown Manpower Project from Oct 14 till Dec 5 M-F, Sat 9-4pm.
Charles B. Wang Community Health Center from Oct 22 till Jan 10, 2009; public viewing dates/hrs - 630pm - 830pm on Oct 27, Nov 12 & Dec 5.
Chatham Green Cooperative Nov 1 to Dec 13, 24/7 - Open Public Painting Sessions with the artists each Saturday from 11AM-4PM.

Walking Tours on Oct 27, Nov 12 & Dec 5, starting at AAAC at 530pm.
Artist Talk at AAAC on December 5th Friday, 530-715pm
Special CMP reception Sat Nov 22 3pm – 5pm
Reception for three sites at AAAC on December 5th 715pm – 900pm
Special Auction for children’s artwork from America’s Chinatown Date TBA
Updates for January 2009 still to come!

"Interplay: Three Artists, Three Elements, Three Sites"
Location: Charles B. Wang Community Health Center
Dates: Oct 22 – Jan 10, 2009
Special public reception Fri Dec 5th 6pm – 830pm
Artists: Tamiko Kawata /
Wennie Huang / Katarina Wong

Clients & patients of the Health Center can view the art work of three artists, Katarina Wong, Wennie Huang, & Tamiko Kawata during their visit there. The general public is welcome during special limited hours to view the installations 630pm - 830pm on three dates - Oct 27, Nov 12 & Dec 5. (Generally, certain installations are easily seen – at the street level entrance, others, on the 2ed & 4th floors, require a certain discretion on the part of walk in viewers.) Three Walking Tours will coincide with these dates starting at AAAC at 530pm. CBWCHC address is 268 Canal St & 125 Walker St.

The artists will create three simultaneous installations in two buildings of the Center in Chinatown. Drawing on both the Chinese “Wu Xing” and the Japanese “Godai” systems of the five elements, their work aims to enhance the healing process with soothing, whimsical and humorous elements.

The Walker St reception area will be devoted to exploring the wood element, whose attributes are strength, flexibility & generosity. The ground floor of the Canal St building would be devoted to water as intelligence, wisdom, flowing, the formless things in the world. The fourth floor Canal St space would be devoted to air or qi. In the “godai” system, air or wind is an element associated with things that expand and enjoy freedom of movement and qi is associated with the “flow” of energy that sustains all life.

Tying each of these sites together, a small picture book will be available free to patients to read and take. The installations will change as each artist will start and then rotate over the course of the exhibition through the other sites.

* * * * *
" ‘Water’ is the theme for the ground floor of the Canal St building. It is associated with
flexibility, softness, wisdom, and pliancy in Chinese Taoism and Japanese Godai system with fluid, flowing, formless in the world. I grew up in Japan, an island surrounded by water and many rivers run through closely almost wherever you live. Very often
rivers and waterfalls take important part in daily language, in literature and in many visual arts.
I decided to soften the clear and sharp looking window in the lobby by painting it with a translucent and ephemeral material, I chose toothpaste. The small round openings are connecting to the other side of the window. Toothpaste is easy to apply and can wash away easily just like running water, that never stays in one place very long.” - Tamiko Kawata

“The theme for the 4th floor Canal St space is ‘Air’, so I wanted to create something that played with the view from the windows. I chose to make three different types of indoor clouds, which refers to the Buddhist description of how thoughts and emotions drift in our minds. I used a lot of "interfacing," which is a kind of material used to strengthen other materials in the garment industry. Again, it's a nod to what was a large industry in chinatown but for me, it is also a nice metaphor for the immigrant experience: often times people don't understand that it's immigrant communities that strengthen the fabric of the existing communities as they join into them.” – Katarina Wong

The Journey: At the Crossroads
Location: Chinatown Manpower Project. 70 Mulberry St at Bayard St
Dates: Oct 14 till Nov 29 9 am-5pm, M-F, Sat 9-4pm
Artists: Angela Valeria / Olivia Beens / Wan Ling Li

Artist Olivia Beens transforms a classroom in the Chinatown Manpower office into a unique shrine-like meditative environment. Torso forms will line the walls creating a story board for the viewer, much like tablets portraying the “life of Buddha” in a temple. Viewers will be invited to draw on the torso forms marking the artwork with their own images using pencil and oil pastels. Texts, sign and invitations to viewers will be written in English, and Chinese.

This installation piece uses objects found in the streets and parks of New York City. She transforms non-traditional materials into ritualistic, experiential elements inspired by Eastern Art, her own experience as an immigrant and travels abroad. Along life’s journey one must make choices; we stop at the crossroads to ponder. The piece invites the viewer to participate and poses the questions;
“Where are you going?”
“Where do you come from?”
“What do you want?”

One never really knows what is at the end of the road. The outcome of ones choices and decisions can only be imagined. The only thing we can count on in life is that there will be change.

The Journey is influenced by Chinatown, the community that I call home and the layers time, of cultures and civilizations I witness on a daily basis. New York City for me is like the cathedral of Hagia Sophia with visible exposed calligraphies, architectural details, and mosaics. Many people in Lower Manhattan are originally from another country with different cultures and experience we share in our daily lives through interactions with others, mostly without realizing it. I want to create a work that reflects this.

Artist Wan Ling Li will add her East/West experience two weeks later by altering the installation. Wan Ling’s pieces change over time; they are subtle and experiential, her materials are non- traditional, her point of view conceptual in nature. Her work addresses the dichotomies of the domestic vs. commercial, East vs. West, as well as the hand-made vs. machine-made. Wan Ling’s sculptural thread drawings are inspired by watching her grandmother sew as a child and address the notions of what one can control and what is uncontrollable.

Internationally exhibited artist Angela Valeria adds the final touch to the installation in mid-November. Angela’s art rises from the sub-conscious in dramatic mythical images seen only in dreams. Her biomorphic figures are painted dyes on cloth hung in unlikely spaces, or videos of repetitive acts that become a meditation on the ephemeral. These images are inspired by the ancient female deities and began as bird-women. We can only imagine how Angela will respond to the art produced by two other artists.

The Manpower site is a good example of giving the general public as well as the local Chinatown audience a opportunity to witness the process of artistic evolution. Initial installation by the first artist will happen the third week of October 2008. The work is on view & receptive for public participation for about 10 - 14 days. Then the next artist will arrive and continue the process of creation and revision, expanding upon the first artists through addition subtraction, reposition, etc. After a similar interim period of public viewing, the baton is passed to the third artist and the process continues.

9 to 5 at Chinatown Manpower Project
70 Mulberry St at Bayard St.
Dates: Oct 14 till Dec 5 9 am-5pm, M-F, Sat 9-4pm
Artists: Francisca Porali / Laura Chipley / Tamara Gubernat

9 to 5 is a constantly evolving art installation created within the offices of the Chinatown Manpower Project Inc., a non-profit organization that offers assistance to recent immigrants in Chinatown in all aspects of successfully entering the work force. The three artists intervene in the cubicle office environment to create a site specific artwork that continually changes and grows each week, interacting with the physical space of Manpower and the people who occupy it, to address universal issues of the corporate environment.

This is an unusual exhibition situation in that the artwork co-inhabits Chinatown Manpower Project's very large and busy office space. In creating this site-specific installation, the three artists consider various points of view including the client visitors as well as the "at the desk" perspective of the Manpower staff.

Corporate cubicle environments are inherently minimal; with basic, repetitive, modular forms, generally in a grey, beige, and white color palate. Despite these uniform surroundings, individuals adapt to this space and make it their own by adding personal items, pictures, and knick-knacks and even the way in which each person organizes their papers, notes and documents is unique.

9 to 5 changes weekly through additions and subtractions by the three collaborating artists. In the first week, colorful pennant banners bring some of the excitement of life on the street into the interior of the office space. Hanging elements made from New York City subway maps outline the perimeters of the existing cubicle layout, highlighting the various separate islands of workspaces. The two brightly colored paintings above the filing cabinets reference physical and conceptual borders, and actively breaks the boundary of the painting surface with a portion of the painting cut out and reinserted in the companion painting. There are also a number of miniature buildings constructed from cardboard that are inserted in various places throughout the office. Three of the buildings sit on top of a group of filing cabinets, where one of the Manpower staff or clients placed a turquoise basket that echoes the tiny buildings cut out windows.

As the artists intervene in the existing structure and flow of the office, it is the Manpower staff that then inhabits the space during their workdays and are confronted by this change in their working environment. Just as people personalize their cubicles, it can be expected and is welcomed that they may also personalize the installation (as in adding the basket.)

America‘s Chinatown "藝匯唐人街"
The Chatham Green Cooperative, adjacent Park Row barricade
Nov 1 to Dec 13, 2008
Artists: Avani Patel and Nathalie Pham

In “America’s Chinatown” Avani Patel and Nathalie Pham will create an outdoor installation in the Chatham Green Cooperative, inviting not only local residents but local school children to think about what Chinatown means to them. What do they love or dislike about their neighborhood? How do they envision their Chinatown? What grievances need to be aired? This is an opportunity for community people to join in creating a reflection in written words and visual form of what is in the minds and hearts of those who live or work in Chinatown.

After September 11, 2001, Chinatown’s economy was devastated. Park Row closing to public traffic cut off Chinatown businesses from NY’s financial district. Local restaurants suffered and continue to do so as business today is still far below pre 9.11 levels.
Yet Chinatown is a special place, an essential Manhattan neighborhood affecting all New Yorkers. Its loss due to gentrification, developers and other such pressures would mean a loss of an essential part of what makes Manhattan great.

To fuel the imagination and revivify the community the youth of Chinatown will create with guidance from their school teachers to illustrate their ideas on paper. Even a Chinese superman flying and protecting the underprivileged will not be turned down! The artists will email stories to schoolteachers about the history of Chinatown. The student drawings will be collected, selected, enlarged and painted on out door panels constructed on the front fence of the Chatham Green Cooperative, right across from the Police barricade blocking Park Row. The wall of panels is at #165 Park Row. – for updates see Parents and children are also invited to join both artists each Saturday from 11am to 4 pm starting November 1 to paint.

To rouse community support and participation the slogan "藝匯唐人街" has been created, which means “A Gathering of the Arts in Chinatown”, or “yi wei tang ren jie”.

Other artists from other boroughs are also invited to participate and join at any time. How the rest of the NYC feels about Chinatown is important. This will contribute to integrating Chinatown as a participating neighbor in the Lower East Side & its growing art scene. Any input as long as it pertains to the theme “America’s Chinatown” is welcome. See the website - - for images of all artwork even those that have been rotated off the wall/site.

At the end of the installation will be a reception/auction at AAAC where all children’s work will be sold. The location and time will be announced - TBA. The profit will be donated to the Asian American Arts Centre in Chinatown.

This art project is meant to be a reflection on the current situation of Chinatown and be the voice from the community first. The artists take the liberty to over paint any inappropriate art work within 48 hrs.

America's Chinatown
an outdoor interactive art installation
November 01 to December 13, 2008

at the fences of Chatham Green
165 Park Row # 7, New York
Facing Chatham Square

Open for Public Painting Sessions with the artists
each Saturday from 11AM-4PM.
Come out and Paint with Us!

Auction children’s art & reception for the artists: date TBA
at the Asian American Art Centre 26 Bowery 3fl
Please, check out the installations on
Site will be launched by 11-01-08

America‘s Chinatown: a Coffee Shop
Dates/Locations: TBA
Artist: Yo Park

In January 2009 the artist Yo Park in collaboration with the NYC Police Dept. will have a concluding series of events aimed to create greater harmony in the community. A site will be named shortly Stay tuned. (for updates see

Business owners and residents of Chinatown have been complaining that the Police Dept. blocking of Park Row, a major traffic artery, have caused problems in the flow of customers resulting in considerable loss to business and harm to the local community. The awkward friction and conflicts between the Chinatown community and the Police have been building up since 9.11, 2001. Becoming aware of this site-specific situation, the following interactive project idea involving the collaboration of artists, police and community members has been conceived. The experimental and mind-expanding character of the Metro Poles Project can make a tremendous contribution to ease the tension between the law enforcement professionals, local business owners and the residents of Chinatown. By creating an impromptu “coffee shop”, members of the Police Dept and the Community, who have been invited to contribute to the event as managers and servers of the café, will add different elements to the situation. Police volunteers will run a one-day per week free coffee shop, serving soft drinks, tea, coffee and simple snacks to the community and the general public.

The purpose of this collective event is to soften the tense relationship between the police and the Chinatown community. Under these unusual circumstances, the usual confrontational stances may dissolve into harmonious relationships and open dialogues. The community will come to understand the protective side of the law enforcement. And the police will be able to share casual and warm moments with the community members, instead of enforcing the law with tickets, clubs and guns. The social and political elements of art have been ignored by the white-cube gallery paradigm. The aim of this socio-political interactive project is to demonstrate the regenerative power of art on human life.

The Asian American Arts Centre is located in Lower Manhattan at 26 Bowery (just below Canal Street, 3rd floor above McDonalds. Press bell #3.). It is a short walk from the N, Q, J, M, Z, and 6 trains at Canal Street or the B and D at Grand Street or the M103, M15, or M9 buses to Chatham Square.

Metro Poles: Art in Action
is a cross-borough collaboration with Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL), Bronx River Arts Center (BRAC) & Maiden Lane Exhibition Space. In October & November 2008 over 50 artists, will debut new work almost simultaneously in the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. Artists will work in rotating shifts, engaging in a collaborative process of creating art work. The curatorial premise of Metro Poles is to resist commodification of the art object, nurture the creative collaboration between artists and curators, and develop a new curatorial model for the contemporary art market. Curators are: Heng-Gil Han of JCAL, Jose Ruiz of BRAC & Bob Lee of AAAC. Thus over the course of the exhibition artists will revise, add and deconstruct the initial installation. Thus it is recommended for audiences to visit installation sites before the final reception and see the changes by succeeding artists. Creative collaboration will be put forth as an alternative to glamorizing the uniqueness of art. See the following to learn more about Metro Poles at JACL (718) 658-7400, and at BRAC 718-589-5819

Towards the conclusion of the three sited installations in Chinatown, a panel talk will convene to assess the questions brought forth by this innovative community/creative process. In mid-January 2009 a concluding talk and reception will take place at Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning encompassing all artists and sites.

The Chinatown Manpower Project (CMP) is located at 70 Mulberry St corner of Bayard St. CMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the refugee and immigrant population in NYC through training and education programs. For more info see

At the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center from Oct 22 till Jan 10. Clients & patients of the Health Center can view the art work of three artists, Katarina Wong, Wennie Huang, & Tamiko Kawata during their visit there. The general public is welcome to this open press conference on the 24th, and during special limited hours to view the installations 630pm - 830pm on three dates - Oct 27, Nov 12 & Dec 5. Three Walking Tours will coincide with these dates starting at AAAC at 530pm. CBWCHC address is 268 Canal St & 125 Walker St. For more info see

Asian American Arts Centre, Inc. is supported, in part with public funds from The New York State Council on the Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. With additional funding and support from Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, 9.11 Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Manhattan Mini Storage/Edison Properties Inc, Materials for the Arts, Pearl River Mart, United Orient Bank, New York Cosmopolitan Lions Club, Con Edison, Dedalus Foundation, Expedi Printing, Inc., Charles Yuen, Jody and John Arnhold, Danny C.K. Li, Jeanne Lee Jackson, Linda Peng, Wing Lee Yee, Mikyung Kim, Richard Kenny Esq, John Yu, and the many generous friends of the Asian American Arts Centre.
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