Su Shi
Su Shi is Chinese
Pat Hui
Local artist Pat Hui creates exhibit to commemorate Su Shi’s 980th birthday
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Dragon Festival
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Talk with a Chinese adoptee raised in suburban Minnesota
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In the Twin Cities, there are many Chinese Americans who have contributed to the fabric of American society.
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The subject of Pat Hui’s recent annual art exhibit held at the studio she shares with her partner Paul Kwok at the Traffic Zone Gallery in Minneapolis, was “Su Shi, (Dong Po) 1037-1101,”  Su was one of China’s most celebrated poet, essayist and calligrapher.  “For the past 60 years, I have collected copies of the calligraphy scripts and copied his style of writing,” stated Hui.  In the past 35 years, she has formed her own style of incorporating poetry, painting and calligraphy:  The Three Perfections.  All the works in Hui’s exhibition were organized to commemorate the 980th birth year of Su Shi, aka Su Dong Po.  It features works such as the immortal works of the “Red Cliff” poem I and II, the Cold Food Festival script and many others. 

According to multiple resources such as Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia, references used in this article, it has been documented that Su emerged as one of the most prominent poets in Chinese history amidst the political bickering of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).  Su, also known as Su Dong Po, has since become renowned for his warm, detail-oriented poetry that has inspired Chinese through the ages. 

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The Minneapolis Institute of Art held its annual “Art in Bloom” last month.  Next month, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum will present “Flower Power” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco.  The exhibit will feature pan-Asian artworks that reveal the “powerful language of flowers across times and cultures.”  The exhibit begins June 23 and runs through Oct. 1.

Any mention of the phenomenal Summer of Love of 1967 and what immediately pops into mind?  Images from the counter-culture San Francisco scene: hippies with long hair blowing in the wind, dancing in Golden Gate Park and/or tripping out on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury district.  Some might even have flowers in their hair!  So it is fitting that 50 years later, “Flower Power” is celebrated in the form of an art exhibition that “invites audiences to explore the lasting appeal and surprising stories of six flowers as distinctive as their blooms,” as stated in the Asian Art Museum’s press release.

scholars' rocksThree magnificent “scholars' rocks” from the historic Quinling Mountains in central China traveled across the world and arrived at the Arboretum in Chanhassen one snowy day last December

The scholars’ rocks at the Arboretum are a gift from the People's Republic of China, Shaanxi Province and University of Science & Technology and will be incorporated into  the Phase 2 construction of the new Chinese Garden.  The rocks weigh from 7,000 - 32,000 pounds and are a key element in the traditional design of a classic  Chinese gardens.  One of the rocks features calligraphy of a couplet carved into it.  The poetic inscription reads: 聚天地大美,蕴秦汉魂魄, which loosely translates into “Beauty of earth and sky united, Soul of Qinling Mountain forever dwelled.”

All who visit the Arboretum will be able to learn more about Chinese culture and traditions.  A plaque at the Chinese garden will be installed recognizing the story of these magnificent rocks from the Qinling mountains and the friendship with the Chinese people. 

Phase 2 construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2017.  Meanwhile, the scholars’ rocks are temporarily housed in a parking lot near Three Mile Drive.  When construction is completed, the rocks will be relocated to their permanent location, based on recommendations from a community advisory committee. 

Consul General HONG Lei, Chinese Consulate General in Chicago, sent a nice note to the Arboretum saying, “We very much appreciate your strong support for a good relations between Minnesota and China!  We will join hands with you!”

 

flower drumFor the first time ever, Park Square and Mu Performing Arts will join forces to co-produce the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Flower Drum Song.”  Based on the 2002 book adaptation by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly,” “Yellowface,” “Chinglish”), the production will be directed by Mu Artistic Director Randy Reyes.  Previously produced by Mu in 2009, this will be a fully reimagined production featuring new and familiar faces.  “Flower Drum Song” takes audiences to the vibrant world of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s to Club Chop Suey, a nightclub owned by a Chinese-American family.  Old World tradition clashes with New World trends as two generations, father and son, struggle to honor and protect their cultural traditions while adapting to the changing times. 

Phase I of the Hsiao-Ho Chinese Garden Path is now complete and has been open to the public as of Sept. 22.  The path, stairs, and viewing platform are accessible.  Three large scholar stones were donated to this project from a university in China.  

Phase II should be completed spring 2017.  This will include a moongate, a path from the platform to the northwest end of the pond where a pavilion will be constructed.  A garden with a Tree Peony display along with complimenting plants will be in the area.  Phase 2 design planning is beginning for moon gate and contemplative pavilion.  Many architectural firms attended the information session for submitting designs that was coordinated by University of Minnesota capital construction.

As part of the community advisors for the Chinese Garden, artist/University of Minnesota instructor Hong Zhang has agreed to help with the artistic naming of the places and calligraphy, an essential part of any important Chinese Garden and artist Yudong Shen has agreed to assist with placement of some critical elements coming to the Garden.  Dr. Carol Brash, director of Asian studies at St. John's University, has also been assisting in the development of our garden.  She is currently writing a book on Chinese Gardens of North America.  

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CHINAINSIGHT (CI) is published monthly ((except July/August and November/December are combined) by China Insight, Inc., an independent, privately owned company started in 2001 and headquartered in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

CHINAINSIGHT is the only English-language American newspaper to focus exclusively on connections between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Our goal is to develop a mutual understanding of each other’s cultures and business environments and to foster U.S.-China cultural and business harmony.