March to April 2000 Editorial

WHO IS THE happy and now very newsworthy gentleman I have chosen to accompany me in the photograph that heads this second Editorial of our 30th Anniversary Year¡­can you guess? He is Jerry Yang (age thirty-one, his pretty Japanese-American wife told me) at the Gala Preview Opening of the 4th Annual San Francisco Arts of Pacific Asia Show on the evening of Thursday, February 3rd. This benefitted the Education Programs of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Jerry Yang is Co-founder of Yahoo! the internet giant, one of the world’s most popular and largest online services who it has been said during the month of last December had 120 million visitors a day. I had chosen to be photographed with Mr Yang because he is the most famous Asian, born in Taipei, a graduate from Stanford University in San Francisco, who had made good in this type of technology.

By coincidence Yahoo! was the first of several prominent internet companies brought to a standstill on February 7th by hackers due to enormous volumes of concerted fake information clogging the system.I myself, on February 7th, was on a United Airlines plane flying back to Hong Kong, and at the time of writing this Editorial on February 9th, I am back at my desk in my Hong Kong office.

It is always a great pleasure to meet our many advertising friends who join in at such art shows, especially as in this case when we are taking part with a most attractive stand. Amongst the many friends I met included were Marsha L. Vargas (The Oriental Corner); Robyn Turner; Subhash Kapoor (Art of the Past); Thomas Murray; Mrs Fleishman (Imari Inc); Erik Thomsen (Hamlet Antiques); Mr and Mrs Perry Zentner; Mr and Mrs Marc Richards; Mr and Mrs Stuart Hilbert (The Jade Dragon); Robert Beck; Robyn Buntin; Tim Mertel and Alan Pate (L’Asie Exotique); Mary and Norman Tolman, and their daughter Allison; Vicki Shiba; Jon Eric Riis; Sandra Whitman; Tsajon Von Litfield (Jewel of the Lotus); Clare Chu (The Asian Art Studio, Inc.) and her husband Michael Chu; Robert Brundage; Douglas Frazer; John Fairman (Honeychurch Antiques), Philippe Bosio (Indochine) and Michael Morell (Evelyn’s Antique Chinese Furniture, Inc.).

On this latest occasion I also met several new exhibitors, including George McWilliams, a former collector, owner of a graphic design company and now a dealer, who told me this is the first time he has taken part in any art fair. I am happy to be able to report that he did very well at this show. Robyn Turner’s large and attractive stand, full of wonderful jade examples, was another that was nearly always crowded as I was able to witness as our own was directly across the aisle.

This show was highly successful and credit should go to the eight months hard work by Joan and Glenn Vinson, who returned to chairing it after missing the third year. The couple is shown with myself and Sanja Ostergaard at the centre of our stand. Sanja, a friend of my son Robin who took the photographs, is from Denmark and works in Hong Kong as a designer. She helped me to sell well over four hundred copies of our back issues to visitors who find ARTS OF ASIA “most enjoyable and informative”.

There was plenty of good champagne, caviar and delicious prawns, and numerous Asian dishes at the Gala Preview to please all tastes of the seven hundred and fifty who attended the opening night, many of them patrons and members of the Society for Asian Art and the Asian Art Museum. Nearly US$200,000 was raised. At 8:15 pm, Dr Emily Sano, Director of the Asian Art Museum, in welcoming remarks in the Garden Court, thanked all of those who made the evening a resounding success; in particular, Carl F. Pascarella, President and Chief Executive Officer, Visa USA Inc., who generously holds our January-February 2000 issue while he is photographed at our stand. One picture Robin did not take is of himself and Aaron Freedman of Art of the Past. “Are you smiling for the camera or is it your reaction to the voluptuous Indian apsara?” asked Sanja who took the photograph.

You should not be too slow in buying what you really like. I was to find this to my own loss. While participants were busy putting finishing touches to their stands on February 2nd, a 12th century Khmer bronze conch with original bronze stand, once used for religious lustrations, really took my fancy. The following morning I even visited the Asian Art Museum for comparison, but they did not have a similar one. The Khmer bronze was offered by John and Cari Markell, of Silk Roads Design Gallery, a new exhibitor. Before the closing of the Gala Preview, the piece was still without a red sold dot, so I thought I could buy it on the first public day. But within half an hour of the public opening John Markell came to tell me the piece was already sold. He is seen with the delighted mother and daughter new owners (Kathryn Campbell, and daughter Christina who holds the Khmer bronze).

It was also refreshing to see Mr Chong-Moon Lee, the Commissioner and Trustee of the Asian Art Museum, so enthusiastically visiting stands on the opening night. He alone made the show successful for a number of dealers. He was especially keen to buy beautiful Chinese furniture and helped our neighbour, Oiling Chiang, Director of Contes D’Orient Ltd, to practically clear her whole collection by the end of the first day. Mr Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMBEX technologies, has aleady donated US$20 million to the Asian Art Museum and has promised to donate a further US$5 million to the museum.

According to Elizabeth Lees (the wife element of Caskey-Lees, the organisers) about 7500 people attended the show, 1500 more than last year. “Posters were especially a help. Joan Vinson did an excellent job getting the word out, and I was able to work well with Jackie Romney, Joan’s assistant.” To my question that not all dealers had been happy with their sales her reply was, “No matter how good the show is, there will always be people who will be happy and unhappy. This is San Francisco, not New York. We cannot compare it to New York.”

The dates for the 5th Annual San Francisco Arts of Pacific Asia Show will be the first week of February 2001, with February 1st the opening night and it will run on to February 4th. I personally hope, without appearing too negative, that the organisers will improve the entrance with something refreshing and attractive. First impressions are always important in every endeavour. Never has there been a catalogue, and surely this would be welcomed by everyone, at the very least to mark the fifth year and the continuous support the organisers have received from many others. Finally I hope transportation from the show will improve. It was not uncommon for visitors to wait up to one hour for taxis and sometimes they never arrived even when ordered by telephone. Many complaints were voiced about, while I myself was waiting.

For me, March will again be a very busy month as I am hosting our stand at The International Asian Art Fair in New York, and I look forward to meeting all our friends there. The fair opens with a Charity Benefit for the Asia Society on Thursday, 23rd March, and is open to the public from Friday to the following Wednesday, from March 24th-29th, 2000.

Of course, not all of our dealer supporters take part in art shows and fairs. In fact several make a point of, rather than joint participation with others, launching their own sole shows at the same time in their own premises or in associated galleries. For instance, amongst the most prominent are J.J. Lally & Co. and Eskenazi. J.J. Lally’s special exhibition and sale, on March 20th-April 8th, in their 41 East 57th Street New York premises, concentrates on Neolithic pottery vessels dating from circa 6000-2000 BC, together with a select group of pottery tomb sculptures from the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). While Eskenazi features ten spectacular bronzes for sale, to celebrate the millennium, including an unusual fitting. Eskenazi’s exhibition will be located at Pacewildenstein, 32 East 57th Street, New York, and runs from March 20th-April 1st, 2000.

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