Charles Hecht

China Diary #9

Day 1 - June 26 and June 27

The flight over was fairly routine. I had a middle seat, so I did not get much sleep. When we reserved my seat, my office was told that all of the window and aisle seats had been taken. Beijing was dark and gray. As usual, the taxi driver was unhappy going to Hegezhuang because the fare is much less than downtown. I made my traditional stop at Jenny Lou’s to get juice, cereal, eggs, soy milk and bananas. The studio looked good. After setting up, I took the bicycle to get the tires inflated. Lau Shan stopped me to talk and said that I could borrow his pump. I was too tired to go to dinner and passed on going to a party thrown by Brian at the Imagine Gallery. I set up the lights for the large bronze Long and Slender in the front yard.

I called Leslie and Dan in New York before going to sleep.

Day 2 - June 28

The morning was a series of errands; first, to the police station to register; second, to the hardware store for a wire cup brush to clean the rust off my work table in the shop; third, to the frame store in the flower market; fourth, to see who was in at the BIAC . When I got to the police station, I was told that the registration desk was closed. The local hardware store I normally use did not have a good quality wire cup brush for my grinder, as I wanted to clean the rust off my work table. I went into the building supply area and found a better quality wire cup brush for 2 RMB. The frame store in the flower market used by Li Gang and Lennart did not have any picture frames that I liked, but, I found another frame store that had good frames and seemed knowledgeable. I will find out how good they are when I pick up the five framed woodcuts tomorrow. Because of the glass in the finished frames, I’ll have to make arrangements, other than my bicycle, to pick up the framed woodcuts.

I saw Li Gang at BIAC and he asked me to join him and some friends for tea. Heying had lost her baby and was quite sad. He also said that the welding mask that I had given him was not working and asked me to fix it. After taking it apart, I saw that the batteries had been taken out. We found two AAA batteries, inserted them and then the welding mask worked fine. We ate a simple lunch of rice noodles with tomato sauce and tofu. It was then time for Li Gang to nap.

On the way home I stopped off again at the hardware store to get cement nails to hang the woodcuts and more of the glass sculptures. When I got back to the studio Lau Shan and I decided to install the clothing hooks in the two main bedrooms. My jet lag was not over, but I could not get to sleep when I tried to nap in the afternoon. Peter Lewis asked me to come to 2 Lines Gallery to see the Fred Liang show, which was closing that day. I agreed to meet him at six. I also decided to invite Abraham’s former assistant, Helen, who was looking to work in an art gallery to join us. Because of the unique setup of a new 2 Lines Gallery I knew that they were looking for a new person to run the gallery, so I thought it would be a good idea to put the two together. I thought the 944 bus went to the 798 Art District a/k/a Dashanzi, but I was wrong, so I changed to a taxi when I knew we had passed 798. The taxi driver had difficulty locating 798, even with Helen’s guidance from her cell phone. Peter showed me the problems caused by the UCCA construction, which made entry to the gallery very difficult and covered up all of the signage.

Fred Liang’s show was quite interesting. Fred Liang was in another province visiting his family. We spoke on the phone. He was very happy with the show, which had already sold five of his works. Brian McFarland was also at the gallery and after drinking straight gin with Peter it was decided that we would go to a continental restaurant, S.A.L.T, that Peter recommended. It was like eating in New York City with a decidedly American crowd. We had to wait 30 minutes to be seated since we did not have reservations. The food and wine were excellent and after a lively dinner, discussing a multitude of subjects, we decided to return to 318 Art Park. Brian and I were still jetlagged so we decided to pass on an after dinner drink with Peter at the Green T Room.

Day 3 - June 29

Peter was supposed to come over for breakfast at 8 a.m. He arrived at 9. He looked at the large flags and decided that he would use “A Journey ...” in the upcoming show at 2 Lines Gallery. The show was to open on July 5th and he wanted to move the sculpture in on July 3rd, after the wall on the stairway had been refinished. Originally, we were going to put the sculpture on the outside in front of the building, but in view of the construction at UCCA, we were concerned that the sculpture would be damaged. There is quite a mess in front of the building housing the 2 Lines Gallery, so it was to be installed on the wall on the stairwell between the third and fourth floor.

Peter also wanted a sign setting forth the name of the sculpture, medium, artist, date created and a brief description of what I intended to accomplish with this piece. I had two choices, either to make a normal painted sign or to do an etched sign in stainless steel. I opted for the latter, although it was more expensive.

I then worked on creating more of the woodcut of an unusual creature of the deep. It ended up looking somewhat like a spider. The vortex contains seductive, sensual material to lure the victim into the web.

I met Brian McFarland for lunch at the local restaurant in Hegezhuang, since it was in walking distance of his studio. Brian does not have a bicycle, and it was very hot. Brian normally operates on Jamaican time, so I brought a book to read until he appeared. I thought I knew the kind of food he likes, so when I ordered I made sure there was something he would be happy with. I then went with Huang to the frame store to pick up the framed woodcuts. They looked pretty good. On the way back he wanted to stop to replace a sink component. After two unsuccessful visits at the local building supply mall, I suggested that we take the component apart to see what was broken and see if we could replace the broken part. We then showed the broken part to one of the stores in the mall and Huang was able to replace it. The cost was miniscule. Huang was happy and we went back to the studio. I was still dog tired from the trip over from New York and decided to take a nap without setting the alarm. I slept for three hours. I then hung the Darfur Protest framed woodcut and the black glass spermoid sculpture.

There was a torrential rainstorm, so I decided this was the perfect opportunity to work some more on the woodcut and eat in. When it rains hard in Beijing, the downpour is so hard it almost feels like hail. I was able to speak to my son Eric, and my grandson Caleb, on Skype. That was cool. They could see me because I have a video camera on my computer, but I was unable to see them. It was terrific talking with them. Then I cooked pasta with Paul Newman’s sausage/tomato sauce and had that with red wine for dinner. It was not very good. It was still raining heavily and I had trouble sleeping. The rain continued all night.

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Copyright 2015
Charles Hecht