By Merle Exit
A wide array of Taiwanese art and culture was recently on display at the Taiwanese American Arts Council’s third annual gala. Held at the Taiwan Center, just across the street from Flushing Town Hall, the gala featured music, dance, food, art and prominent cultural and political figures. The gala was coordinated by Luchia Meihua Lee, TAAC’s executive director.
TAAC has the mission of promoting and publicizing Taiwanese-American art, as well as encouraging dialogue on artistic issues. Established in 2014, the organization supports the Queens Museum Taiwanese Endowment Fund, brings Taiwanese artists to the U.S. to exhibit and perform, and works cooperatively with colleagues around the country to broaden the audience for Taiwanese art and culture.
As guests entered the lobby, they were able to look over the work of 15 artists whose works were up for auction and listen to banjo music performed by Lorin Roser. Attendees were then invited from the lobby to the main room, where the gala’s co-chairs, Dr. Lung Fong Chen, Thomas Chen and community leader Patrick Huang, delivered the opening speeches.
“So much has happened in the last three years,” said Chen. “with everybody’s friendship, communication and asking what TAAC is for.” He thanked Commissioner of New York Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl, who was the event’s keynote speaker.
After the speeches, an assortment of Taiwanese dishes were offered to attendees, and entertainment was provided by several performance artists. Music and dance from Joy Chi Wang, Chia Chun Jessica Hu and Claire Chien-Lun Lee focused on Asian women immigrating to the United States. Chi Wang performed modern piano works and played music on several traditional musical instruments.
Former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and curent Borough President Melinda Katz were two of many local representatives present at the gala. “We are a borough of great culture, of great art,” said Katz. “The council does such a wonderful job in making sure that the artists, who just want to do the artwork of their home country, have a place to go, a place to advocate for them, and a place to learn.”
Featured artists included ChinChin Yang, who displayed a piece called “Pollution Solution,” which was made up of strips of aluminum cans to create a net and backed by LED lights. He writes, “Unfortunately, pollution has become an integral part of our lives. We ourselves are the only ones who may be able to come up with a collective solution to this dilemma.”
Artist Rosalie Yu, whose work seeks to identify and recreate the human connections that are often overlooked in our daily lives, displayed a piece called “Embrace in Progress, #4, Father,” composed of powder and sandstone. Other artists on display included Hung Yi, Eric C. Chiang, Tzu Huan, Tang Wei Hsu and Ming-Jer Kuo.
Among the attendees were Yeou-Cheng Ma, her husband Michael Dadap and artist Zhang Hongtu. Ma, the sister of YoYo Ma, is an accomplished Queens-based violinist. She and her husband run the Children’s Orchestra Society. Hongtu, a pioneer in Contemporary Chinese art, was recently featured at the Queens Museum with his ping- pong table cut out with the head of Chairman Mao Zedong.
TAAC’s Lee shared her reactions to the evening. “I was touched to see many friends from New York art circles that were able to attend. The presence of long-term friend of TAAC Tom Finkelpearl was particularly meaningful to me speaking about one of his favorite themes, diversity in the arts.
“It was delightful to view how the gala’s art work brought a welcome change in the lobby of Taiwan Center, thanks to the dedicated efforts of many people, most of them volunteers,” she said. “The evening was highly successful. I hope TAAC will grow year after year and contribute to our New York art world.”
The artworks which were displayed in the gala lobby are also pictured in a digital booklet that is available at taac-