OV Gallery: How To Survive In The Shanghai Art Scene

As winter approaches and darkness descends just after 4 p.m. and temperatures plummet into single digits, some people’s spirits can spiral into that proverbial black hole of winter doldrums.  Not so for Shanghai art curator, Rebecca Catching, Director, OV Gallery.  She sees winter as a plethora of possibilities.  “If we didn’t have winter, how could we appreciate the beautiful summer?” she said.

Catching, a Canadian citizen with a degree from McGill University in Montreal, has been living in China for just about a decade. We caught up with her on our trip to Shanghai earlier this year.  She and her gallery were gracious enough to let us tape their opening night celebration of their winter show, Cold Comfort at OV Gallery, in the Putuo District in Shanghai.

Rebecca Catching, Director, OV Gallery

Catching, and one of her artists, Monika Lin, a San Francisco native, now living with her husband and daughter in Shanghai, sat down to talk with us about the successes and challenges on a myriad of topics from running an art gallery in China, to negotiating with the censors, to the excitement of being part of the really big story: an art pioneer in the Wild Wild East.

After a brief stint as an exchange student studying Chinese, Catching moved to China and became a journalist for art magazines.  After seven years covering the local art scene she built up enough contacts to land the director position at OV Gallery where she has curated numerous exhibitions.  Lin, a graduate of Mills College in Oakland, CA, taught at the Kansas City Art Institute.  Her work has been exhibited in major cities throughout the US, Europe and Asia.  She is the founder of Color Box Creative Arts Center.  Although we talked with Catching about the Shanghai art “vibe,” Lin’s interview is about her personal journey that deals more with race, identity, gender, ethnicity; all issues that fuel her work as an artist and activist.

We often hear about people who take a big risk and move to a foreign country, struggle with the language, culture and yet for all the daily obstacles, they develop a resilience that leads them to thrive and succeed in their new home.  There is no magic elixir, and as you can see from these interviews, it is not for the faint of heart.  But if a person has the patience, passion and perseverance they can have an incredible ride.

Monika Lin: Artist, Teacher, Activist, Writer, On growing up mixed race in a white U.S. suburb and why she lives in China.

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