Fans of artist Arlan Huang came out in full force for his talk at the Joan Mitchell Foundation Education & Research Center in New York at the end of October. The painter and glass sculptor recently returned from his month long Artist-in-Residence in the grounds of Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, Japan.
Huang sat down with artist & Legacy Specialist Beth Krebs and Robin Clark, VoCA Board member & Director of the Artist Initiative at SFMOMA to talk about his practice and the experience of documenting his life’s work.
The evening was the first in a series of four that VoCA is hosting this fall in partnership with the Joan Mitchell Foundation‘s Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) Program highlighting the innovative CALL initiative while also underscoring the crucial need for dialogue with artists around the production, presentation, and preservation of their work.
Huang’s exhibition of his newest paintings, “Swimming Awkward Moment,” were recently on view at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn in the Spring. The gallery is located in the same building as his 4000 sq. ft space in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. For the past eight years, Huang has balanced his business, Squid Frame, with his passion for painting in Brooklyn, after 30 years in his Manhattan space on the Bowery. His painting studio occupies 900 sq. ft.
Huang describes his current practice as “looking at myself from the outside.” In 2014, Huang reacquainted himself with his entire body of work through a cataloging process facilitated by a Creating a Living Legacy award from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. This act of retracing allowed Huang to review his painting career through an experienced lens. Click here to learn more about his experience with the Joan Mitchell Foundation.
With Huang’s newest body of work he chooses to embrace awkwardness and paint with a layered perspective about his artistic decisions and the aspirations he held as a younger painter.
From this intensive look into his own history, Huang found that he has been “doing the same things over and over again,” with subtle shifts in color and line from one painting to the next. His search for a meditative “hum” while he paints is ever present as he experiments with the surface, color, and fluid movement of his abstract imagery. The results are layered and stacked linear marks, neat rows, or floating daubs of paint.
Arlan Huang (1948) was born in Bangor, Maine and was raised in San Francisco. Huang studied at San Francisco Art Institute (1964-65), City College of San Francisco (1966-69) and received his BFA from Pratt Institute (1972). Huang has permanent installations throughout New York, including the Museum of Chinese in Americas, Jacobi Medical Center, and Baron Capital, and has received awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Board of Education, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Recent solo exhibitions include Red for Yellow (2013), Flatfile Gallery, Japan; and Most Violet Paintings 2003-2008 (2008), Walter Randel Gallery, NYC. Huang has exhibited extensively in group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. He currently lives in Manhattan and works in Brooklyn, NY.
I first discovered Arlan Huang in 1994 at the Museum of the Chinese in the Americas in New York Chinatown. Entitled, “Dim Sum-Hearts Desire,” Huang’s mixed media installation was an approximation of his grandparents’ New York Chinatown tenement, with 100 numbered glass stones among the glass inventions representing a family history passed down from generation to generation.
“100 stones for Grandfather,” shared Huang, “tells how my grandfather immigrated from Seattle to Vancouver to Alaska to Bangor and how he went back to China to get his wife and bring her back to Bangor. It is also the story of how migration happens and how they ended up on Mulberry St. There’s sort of a microcosm in Asian American history because of the immigration laws passed in the 1950’s where more immigrants could come to the U.S. My grandmother’s relatives immigrated to New York in the 1950’s and my grandparents came to help them get settled.”
In 1996, Huang created a glass wall installation entitled, “American Origins” at P.S. 152 in Brooklyn for the New York City Board of Education, in the hope of contributing to the ideas of American public education. The focal point for this installation is the immigrant experience and the collective hope of coming to America to educate children in the best education system possible.
Fabricated of glass stones encased in glass blocks, there are 247 transparent, translucent and opaque colored stones numbered from 152-399. The block between 282 and 283 in the red wall is the only block not numbered. It contains the shards of a word sculpture by the artist John Brekke.
Huang has designed public works of art for the National Endowment for the Arts and has created permanent glass sculptures for the New York City Percent for the Arts Program and the New York Dormitory Authority. For Urban Glass, he created “Aquellos Ojos Verdes for Olga,” a steel and wood framed blown glass in glass block partition. For Baron Capital, a New York brokerage firm, he worked with Genseler and Associates on an undulating glass block wall.
His commissions include a glass and steel commission for Laguna Honda Hospital for the San Francisco Arts Commission; an installation for the Borough of Manhattan Community College; and the river stone shaped glass pieces for his sculptural installation for the lobby of the new $173 million, 400,000 square foot Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, commissioned by the Percentage for Art in NYC Program. The design is Huang’s homage to a Zen rock garden and reflecting pool which hangs 20 feet above the main staircase and escalators of the building, residing within the interior skylight space. The 50 blown glass pieces seem connected by umbilical cords of fiber optic cable.
Huang has returned to his first love painting and has been enjoying the luxury of moving oil paint and being “in” the painting in solitude. He considers this medium to be a counter point to his glass blowing activities which are a social, team-oriented process.
To contact Arlan Huang regarding his glass vessels and paintings, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Creating A Living Legacy (CALL)/VoCA Talks series with Artist Arlan Huang on Oct. 30
Photos: “Swimming Awkward Moment,” the newest works by painter Arlan Huang at Trestle Gallery through March 27
Feb. 20-Mar. 27: Trestle Gallery Presents “Swimming Awkward Moment,” the newest works by painter Arlan Huang
Photos and Video: Blowing Glass with Arlan Huang
Oct 18-19: Meet Artist Arlan Huang during Gowanus Open Studios 2014
Photos: Artist Arlan Huang, One Brush Stroke at a Time
medium.com: Arlan Huang: Art and Artists
Arlan Huang Celebrates Most Violet
MOST VIOLET:PAINTINGS 2003- 2008 by Arlan Huang
Inside the fiery furnace of glass sculptor and painter Arlan Huang
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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