'Trade, Treasure': the Aesthetics of China

Paintings depicting colorfully clad Mandarins and clipper ships loaded with opium, antique silver teapots, telescopes, compasses and sundials are among more than 300 items included in an exhibition opening Wednesday at the Pacific Asia Museum illustrating 150 years of trade between the Western world and China.

"Trade and Treasure and the Race for Riches--China Trade" explores the historical development of trade with China from 1750 to 1900, emphasizing the aesthetic impact on the West of Chinese art forms and trade objects, and the era's major political, economic and scientific developments.

Documentary photographs as well as paintings by both Western and Chinese artists and maritime and daily-use objects are expected to be on view through June 5.

An 1847 portrait of the Chinese merchant Houqua by the Chinese artist Pinqua is central to the exhibition's theme, says Richard Kelton, president of the Kelton Foundation, who loaned the works to the museum.

"The portrait of Houqua is important because it represents the high quality of the artistic technique of the Chinese artists and at the same time it reflects the culture of the Chinese community," said Kelton in a telephone interview.

"Also, Houqua was a key figure in the relationship between the Chinese trading community and the American trading community. . . . He was the principal Chinese merchant through whom the Americans traded."

David Kamansky, the museum's director, said the exhibit's opening culminates a six-year effort during which he and Kelton worked to organize it with curators at London's Victoria and Albert and Maritime museums, among others worldwide.

"The exhibition represents the finest collection of these China trade articles on the West Coast," Kamansky said.

NATIONAL KUDOS: Twenty-six Southern California-based artists are among 251 artists nationwide recently awarded $2.3 million in fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The endowment gave out $260,000 in local, unrestricted grants in amounts of $5,000 and $15,000 to artists working in new genre (predominantly performance art or video work), painting, printmaking and drawing, and those that make artists books.

The fellowships "provide support to some of this country's best artists, encouraging their creative efforts by financial assistance to take the time to pursue their art," said endowment chairman Frank Hodsoll in a prepared statement.

The local $15,000 winners are: Carole Caroompas, Steven Cortright, John deHeras, Steve Galloway, Harry Gamboa, John Knight, William Lane, John Malpede, John Miller, Robin Mitchell, Margaret Nielsen, Astrid Preston and Alexis Smith.

Local $5,000 recipients are: Brad Dunning, David Gordon, Lin Hixson, Jim Isermann, Charlene Knowlton, Kosaka Hirokazu, Linda Nishio, Pierre Picot, Lari Pittman, Jim Shaw, Deborah Small, Mitchell Syrop and Peter Zokosky.

All but two of these 26 artists live in Los Angeles County. Cortright and Small are Santa Barbara and La Jolla residents, respectively.

ROSTER READY: ARTS INC., an arts service organization, has completed a mailing list of all nonprofit arts organizations headquartered in Los Angeles County.

The Arts Registry, a computerized list available on a rental basis, contains the names and addresses of nearly 800 organizations, and may facilitate communication within the arts community as well as with policy-makers, elected officials, funders, researchers, audience members and the community at large. Information: (213) 627-9276.

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