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Image: Richard Aswad, Untitled, 2012, Oil on Canvas, 20"x24". Courtesy of the artist.

Image: Richard Aswad, Untitled, 2012, Oil on Canvas, 20″x24″. Courtesy of the artist.

OAKLAND, CA – Kearny Street Workshop, the country’s oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization, in partnership with East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), proudly presents Artists in Residence: Creative Works from the Residents of EBALDC, a group exhibition that celebrates art created by the people living and working within EBALDC’s affordable housing communities.

Emphasizing its historic commitment to Asian and Pacific Islander communities, EBALDC works with and for all the diverse populations of Oakland and the East Bay to build healthy, vibrant and safe neighborhoods. In recognition that culture is the pulse of any vibrant community, this exhibition showcases a range of works contributed by artists of varying degrees of age, experience, and intention.

“The eight individuals represented in this show responded to an open call for artwork,” states Alex Wang, the exhibition’s lead coordinator. “As our programming typically involves bringing high-profile artists’ work into the Asian Resource Center, this show is testimony to the idea that artistic integrity is not dependent on graduate diplomas, gallery representation, or other external markers of the “professional.”

One of these individuals is Shelley Smith, 24, a high school teacher in the Oakland Unified School District. Smith has been honing her love of painting from an early age. She explains: “Making art, for me, is about the process. It’s about going in with an idea or no idea at all and watching it come together. It may happen in a couple days or in weeks or months, but it is healing and cathartic to put it all out there on the canvas.”

Another is Richard Aswad, 62, who is originally from Endicott, NY, but raised in Southern California. He began painting in the mid-‘70s, and continues to produce work in the Surrealist tradition. He describes the motivation behind his practice: “…there’s a girl downstairs… that asked me to paint her an image of an island scene with a house and trees, but I just couldn’t do it! It wasn’t compelling enough for me to want to do. So, this is an example of one person’s idea of beauty that is very different from mine. There’s no standard, so I guess in a way I’m chasing and trying to discover my personal definition of beauty.”

From painting to comics to photography, each participating artist has contributed creative works that address notions of shifting social behavior, complex familial relationships, and the concept of home. “While by no means a comprehensive survey of the talent residing within EBALDC’s walls, it is our sincere hope that audiences will enjoy what these artists have offered to share with us,” says Wang.

Artists in Residence: Creative Works from the Residents of EBALDC, presented by Kearny Street Workshop, is currently on view at the Asian Resource Center located at 310 8th Street, Oakland, CA 94607 through December 13, 2013. Gallery hours are Mondays-Fridays between 9:00AM-5:00PM. Featured artists include: Richard Aswad, Christine A. Chen, Tiffany R. Chen, Liang Ming Ming, Shelley Smith, Anna Wong, Anne Wong, and Pan Yuchuan.


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