Monday, December 8, 2008

"Momentum" gets press coverage

Here's the article from the Sunday Morning Call about the upcoming show. The reporter did a very nice job. Hopefully lots of people noticed it and will come to the "gallery" starting Friday!


Arts group offers buffet of visual tidbits

By Geoff Gehman

Of The Morning Call

December 7, 2008


The Lehigh Valley's newest artist collective is named after its main
meeting place, a Chinese restaurant. The members are as diverse as a
Chinese menu: sophisticates and primitives, landscapists and
abstractionists, a puppeteer and a bottlecap sculptor. Their goal is
to make downtown Allentown as welcoming to area creators as, yes, an
oriental eatery.

The House of Chen Arts Group continues its democratic mission on
Friday, when it opens its second exhibition at the Butz Corporate
Center in Allentown. The show is a Chinese buffet of everything from
Rafael Canizares' architectural ceramics to Mr. Imagination's
mixed-media recyclables. It's curated by Kiki Nienaber, a German-born
art consultant who for 10 years ran a gallery for art, music and
poetry on Manhattan's Lower East Side before it was closed by
gentrification.

''We want to build a momentum with people who see and do things
differently,'' says Nienaber, who owns an Allentown home with her
husband, artist Gregory Coates, another Chen member. ''There's a
general need for inclusion and an outlet. Not just to show
necessarily, but to go to. Not a club but a big old tent.''

The tent poles were staked on the Internet, that virtual-reality
circus. Blogs were run by Angie Villa, a power-pop artist who performs
in the power-pop band the Villas, and Joseph Skrapits, an
impressionist painter who heads the Allentown Arts Commission. They
wrote about filling a void left by the deaths over six years of two
Allentown cultural centers -- Open Space Gallery and Theatre Outlet --
and reaching artists not reached by two active Allentown cultural
centers: the Allentown Art Museum and the Baum School of Art.

Skrapits and Villa began meeting kindred spirits in April at the House
of Chen, a popular restaurant for more than 30 years at Seventh and
Linden streets in Allentown. According to Villa, the Chinese-Malaysian
eatery was chosen because it's accessible, serves good food at
reasonable prices and needed help. As she points out, it started
losing business in 2007 after LANTA replaced bus stops along Hamilton
Street, a city artery, with a new terminal at Sixth and Linden
streets.

Pleased by the dialogue, the Chen members extended it to each other's
studios. The group allowed Villa to bond with old friends like
Rosemary Geseck, her senior art adviser at Moravian College, and new
allies like Coates, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation fellow who paints and
sculpts bicycle inner tubes. The group allowed Skrapits to promote the
commission's strategic plan, also launched in April, to devote more
energy to supporting artists as well as arts organizations.

With no budget to speak of, the Chen members made their first splash
the old-fashioned way: through synergy. They held their first show
over two days in October at the Seventh Street home of Peter Lewnes, a
glass blower who manages the City of Allentown's campaign to give the
garish Seventh Street strip a bit of Main Street's homey charm.
Lewnes' home became a gallery because it's roomy, attractive and, as
part of the Old Allentown House Tour, guaranteed a healthy audience.

Encouraged by the turnout, the Chen members made their second show
more ambitious. They doubled the number of participating artists to
more than 30 and quadrupled the number of days to eight. While not as
cozy as Lewnes' house, the long-vacant space in the Butz Corporate
Center is larger, more centrally located at Ninth and Hamilton streets
and more symbiotic. Next door to the Chen Group's temporary gallery is
the home of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, which opened last year in
the Lehigh Valley Visitors Center.

Exhibit No. 2 is more historic and symbolic, too. It has works by
Antonio Salemme, the late Williams Township resident best known for a
bronze bust from life of Paul Robeson, and works by Greg Weaver, the
late Allentown resident best known for paintings of melted, lopsided
cows. In the '70s and '80s, a few blocks from the Butz building,
Weaver ran a pair of lively arts lofts, the Valley's hippest
counter-culture communes.

''Momentum,'' Chen Arts Group exhibition, 5-9 p.m. Friday, noon-5 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 15-19, 5-9 p.m. Dec. 20, Butz
Corporate Center, 840 W. Hamilton St. (by Ninth Street), Allentown.
Receptions on opening and closing days.
http://www.chenarts.blogspot.com , chenarts@gmail.com.

1 comment:

Joshua T said...

Hey Chensters! There's also a coolio VIDEO at The Morning Call web site front page (scroll around, you'll find it), featuring Kiki, Chris Jones, Pete Lewnes, Yodi, check it out!