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Can We Find More Like Him? 

Wednesday, Mar 9 2011
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Many artists (maybe it’s just humans) face the same dilemma: How to do the soul-crushing work of paying the bills without giving in? How to preserve the fragile will to self-expression? Without “pure” creativity, what kind of hollow-eyed zombies would we be? For now, we can focus on people who’ve somehow managed to survive and create as well. At “Finding Jake Lee,” canvases of splendor show scenes of Chinese-American life during the previous century, some aspects of which had been nearly forgotten — including work done in the nascent wine industry. Lee did plenty of advertising and magazine illustrations, but he managed to also leave something of real value. Focus on him! And here’s the real story: Although the paintings on display at “Finding Jake Lee” originally hung in the swanky back room of Kan’s upscale nightclub (Chinatown, mid-1960s, awesome) they were all subsequently lost when the place was sold. With hard work and a lucky break or two, Chinese Historical Society of America executive director Sue Lee got ’em back for us, hence the exhibit’s name. Most of the large-scale paintings show life in California, but the society’s website also trumpets “the 1888 champion Chinese fire-hose team of Deadwood, South Dakota!”
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: March 3. Continues through Sept. 16, 2011

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Hiya Swanhuyser

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