It’s springtime in the Capital Region—and while Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms get the lion’s share of attention, a celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in Gaithersburg focuses on the art of China.
At the bustling Activity Center at Bohrer Park, where the City of Gaithersburg’s spring exhibit features the calligraphy and brush paintings of the Harmonious Art Group, more than 1,000 visitors a month are expected to check out the brushstroke beauty and evocative execution of glowing pieces like Carolyn Yee’s “Journey Through the Yellow Mountain” and Bing Huang’s “Hundred Yellow Monkeys.”
“It’s our biggest gallery, and the one most frequented by the most diverse population,” said gallery coordinator Jaree Donnelly, an artist, teacher and curator who has worked for the City of Gaithersburg for 15 years. “The objective is to feature art groups that are focused on a particular culture, and to exhibit the work during its corresponding heritage month.” That means showing the work of Latino artists in September and October; featuring African American artists in February, and shining the April-May-and-early-June spotlight on the 15 members of The Harmonious Art Group and their students.
“These artists bring a beautiful new show every year,” said Donnelly of the contemporary-traditional collective founded in 1995 by Bertrand Mao, master of Chinese Shan-Shui (Mountain-Water), and John Wang, master of Chinese calligraphy and seal cutting. All the art on display is for sale, so the exhibit doubles as a show and a shop, should visitors want to bring home a painting.
Donnelly pointed out that—just as the artists of the Harmonious Art Group are actually a racially mixed group whose desire to share the beauty of China’s ancient art forms with the community and showcase their artistic techniques transcends ethnicity—the exhibit’s viewers come from around the corner and all over the world. “It’s a really diverse population coming every day to work out and take classes,” she observed. “Students, coaches, business people; families attending parties and social events—folks of all ages and stages of life.
“Sometimes people come in without knowing we even have a gallery here,” Donnelly added. “Then they come in, they see the art, and they love it!”
The 21st Annual Exhibition of Chinese Calligraphy and Brush Painting by the Harmonious Art Group runs through June 5 at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park, 506 South Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg. Viewing hours are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.