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My Search for Art in Taipei

A few months ago, I spent two weeks in Taipei, and amongst many adventures like bathing in natural hot springs, indulging in MSG goodness at the infamous night markets, and viewing the city from the top of Taipei 101, I was on the hunt for art and fabric.  One of my favorite stops: the Yingge ceramics district.  There, I walked a cobblestone street lined with small potter's shops, and perhaps my biggest regret of the whole trip was not bringing home a gigantic hand-painted bowl that I knew could live on my dining room table all by itself.  Sigh.  But I did manage to cram silks, art, and jade into my suitcase. 

The silks were incredible.  I couldn't get enough. After many self-control pep-talks, I limited myself to 7 prints.  I found the silks above on the shop-lined streets near the university in Taipei's fabric district.  I had a seamstress create a scarf out of the pink and gold geometric pattern on the bottom.  The rest are for future design projects.

My girlfriends and I found the fabric district by accident.  First, we took a wild cab ride to a giant fabric warehouse (above) where locals came to buy their notions and all things textile.  The place was a maze of individual vendors selling everything from silks to interior chenilles.  I scored some supple leathers in orange, turquoise and mushroom tones.  Since I am not a fan of fabric pillows on leather sofas, I'm working on some geometric pillow designs from the leathers.  Lucky for us, this warehouse was at the edge of an entire neighborhood of silk and fabric storefronts.

On one of my solo travel days, I found a local art market that supports disabled artists.  The city of Taipei sets up a street market near the flower and jade markets on weekends where physically challenged artists can sell their wares.  The experience was life-changing for me, and I found many treasures.  I purchased a few originals from two hearing impaired painters who thanked me profusely for my purchases, while I tried to complement them on their work. When a vendor sees a transaction about to occur, he summons one of the attendants at the market who assists with translation and signing. Since I don't speak Mandarin, a different artist who spoke English was also summoned.  So my purchases drew quite a crowd, and the energy of gratitude and perseverance literally filled my soul as I browsed through the works.  Above are two watercolors I purchased.  I had my print shop reprint them onto acid-free paper since they were beginning to yellow, so unfortunately, I won't be framing the originals.

I'm standing with the artist who painted an oil (below) I scored.  Admittedly, much of the art that lines the market is not to my taste, but is instead a more traditional Chinese styling of landscapes.  However, I relied on my keen eye and allowed myself to get fixated on what I did love.  During my near four hours there, I didn't see any tourists, and I wished there were more buyers. 

My big score--an oil painting of a Taipei night market.  I still haven't pulled the canvas off of the board it is glued to (haven't gotten the nerve).  As a side note, I think I'm going with the frame on the left.