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This article by Jack Florek was prepared for the July 9, 2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Peaceful Poetry of Asian Art
For I-Hsiung Ju of Kingston, art is more than just
a pretty picture, but something that encompasses every aspect of life.
"A Chinese artist is not only a painter," says Ju, "but
also a poet and a philosopher."
Considered one of the rare artists able to fuse his Asian style and
technique with a Western sensibility, Ju has had one-man shows in
Australia, Canada, China, England, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines,
and the United States. His work hangs in private collections around
I-Hsiung Ju will exhibit some of his recent works that include Chinese
brush paintings, oil, and acrylic paintings at his studio, 35 Sycamore
Place in Kingston, from Saturday, July 12, through Saturday, July
26, with an opening reception on Saturday, July 12, from 2 to 5 p.m.
Ju’s paintings — displayed in his modern, spacious studio that
is rich in natural light — often portray images from nature. They
are rendered with delicate Asian brush techniques of subtle washes
of color as well as boldly defined line that evocatively depict dreamlike
images of waterfalls, rivers rushing over stone, snow-clouded mountain
peaks, or gnarled tree roots pushing up from the ground like old bone.
But while their Asian influence is undeniable, the subject matter
remains thoroughly American. A painting entitled "Huge Rocks"
shows a scene of Mount Lemmon near Tucson, Arizona. "Winter in
the Mountains" reveals a horizon line that is dominated by the
Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where Ju once made his home.
Yet while his paintings represent the outward product of a lifetime
in art, Ju’s most enduring impact may be in the many lives he has
touched in a teaching career that has stretched over seven decades.
This includes 21 years in the Philippines before coming to the United
States in 1968, and another 20 years nurturing young art students
at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Today, in
his 80th year, Ju continues to teach privately from his home studio
and gallery in Kingston.
Ju’s philosophical approach to painting extends into
teachings. While he stresses the need for an artist to have command
of technique, there is more to becoming an artist. "Art is not
limited to technique," says Ju. "You have to be peaceful inside
in order to paint a peaceful painting."
And rather than see himself teaching an exclusive fellowship of future
artists, Ju believes art can enhance every facet of life. "Some
of my students have gone on to become artists, but many more have
become bankers, business-persons, lawyers," says Ju. "But
I believe art should be part of everybody’s education. You will be
a better banker if you know art."
Ju was born in 1923, in Jiangsu, China, the son of a Chinese brush
painter. He graduated from the National University of Amoy in 1947
with an A.B. degree in Chinese Art and Literature. After serving for
two-and-a-half years in the army, he left China for the Philippines,
where he began his teaching career while he continuing his studies.
He graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, receiving
his BFA in 1951 and MA in history in 1968.
He spent the next 21 years in Manila, primarily teaching the children
of U.S. army and navy servicemen, embassy workers, and American businessmen
from Richmond, Virginia, working at the aluminum foil company. "Not
many people come to study art in the Philippines," he says. "But
it was important because these parents later worked hard on my behalf
to get me into the United States."
Already known as an exceptionally talented artist, Ju came to the
United States in 1968 shortly after Congress passed a law that allowed
him, and others like him, the opportunity to live here as a preferred
immigrant. In his case this was because of his artistic abilities.
"I came to this country with a pre-arranged employment at the
University of Connecticut," he says. "It was a wonderful opportunity."
The following year, Marion Junkin, chairman of the department of fine
arts at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, learned
of Ju through a publication of the university center in Richmond.
She invited him to join her faculty. There Ju became a cornerstone
of the art department.
"I was their one-man show," he says. "Aside from watercolor,
oil painting, graphics, and Chinese brush painting, I also taught
ceramics, weaving, ran the printing machine, and the photography darkroom,
Ju made an impact on his students almost immediately. Shortly after
arriving at Washington and Lee, he encountered a student painting
the word "revolution" on a wall. Asking the student what he
was doing, the student replied, "I am a revolutionist." Ju
said, "You are a revolutionist on a wall only." Since art
represents action, Ju and the student repainted the entire wall.
As a part of the university community, Ju and his wife went on to
create Art Farm, near Lexington, in 1975. Art Farm’s concept was based
on the ancient Shu Yuan in China, a place where students came to study,
work, and live with their masters. "I initially couldn’t afford
the mortgage to purchase the property," says Ju. "So the university
promoted me to a full salary position."
Located in a 200-year-old house nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains,
on eight acres of rural property enriched with a variety of thriving
trees, Art Farm offered students an all-encompassing learning environment.
Students who came to study art also repaired windows and doors, rewired
the house, replaced water pipes, and jacked up floors to build a new
As it continued to develop, Art Farm became a haven
for budding artists who would come not just for classes, but to stay.
"Students would live with us bringing their dogs and guitars,"
says Ju. "We would eat home-grown vegetables and offer them real
life lessons to go along with their art."
Ju also taught practical lessons in the educational benefits of studying
abroad. Every other year during his tenure at Washington and Lee he
took approximately 10 students to Taiwan for one semester. There he
would serve as both guide and mentor, and routinely lost 10 pounds
in the process. Students would study Chinese art, religion, philosophy,
and history, but for many students the experience would prove to be
enlightening in unforeseen ways. "Most of my students came from
rich families from the deep south," he says. "These trips
to Taiwan gave them the opportunity to mingle with poor, hardworking
By immersing themselves in a different culture, students were often
able to experience subtle but powerful ways of seeing the world.
"My students were surprised when the Taiwanese students would
use the word `we’ in place of the word `I’ when speaking," says
Ju. "I told them, `when you speak, you are only representing yourself.
But when they speak, they are representing the whole nation’."
He says his American students, pampered by the American educational
system, often found themselves embarrassed in their interactions with
the Taiwanese people. "They were surprised at how much the Taiwanese
knew about the U.S., while they didn’t know anything about Taiwan
or China," explains Ju. "Their limited knowledge frightened
While his students enjoyed viable educational rewards from the trip,
their parents received an unexpected benefits as well. "In those
days, many students would wear their hair long," says Ju. "We
would bring them to the other side of the world and when they came
back they would cut their hair, stop using drugs, and make their beds
every morning. The parents liked that a great deal."
After retiring from Washington and Lee in 1989, Ju stayed on in Virginia,
teaching and painting. In the 1990s he was diagnosed with cancer and
neighbors and friends volunteered to drive him to the hospital for
radiation therapy — a four-hour round trip. "I would have
liked to have lived and died in Virginia," says Ju. But when the
burden of transportation became too great in 1999, Ju and his wife,
Chow-Soon Chuang Ju, married since 1947, moved to Kingston to be with
Now he and his wife are happy sharing a household with two of their
four daughters. Doris Ju, works for Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Helen
is an office worker at Princeton University. Ju completed his chemotherapy
in Princeton in 2000 and has since been declared cancer-free. He continues
to teach art through correspondence courses and workshops.
Ju still abides by lessons he learned from his artist father. "My
father taught me three essential steps to becoming an artist:
and do exercises every day.
then go outside to see real bamboo. Then remember the lesson.
want and paint the way you want. But now your technique will be there
"Everything should be beautiful," he says. "We have lost
the garden and it is an artist’s job to rebuild paradise. Then it
is our job to help others to see the beauty that remains."
— Jack Florek
35 Sycamore Place, Kingston, 609-430-1887. Opening reception for an
exhibition of Chinese brush painting, oil and acrylic paintings, and
calligraphy. On view to July 26. Saturday, July 12, 2 to 5 p.m.
Studio open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 5
p.m., and by appointment. Www.ihsiungju.addr.com.
"New Worlds," a solo exhibition of oil paintings and watercolors
by Valeriy Skrypka. A newly-published book features full-color reproductions
of Skrypka paintings from recent years and analytical text by Sam
Hunter of Princeton University. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
to 5:30 p.m. To July 12.
Watercolors by Pennington artist Pamela Warner Miller. Part of the
proceeds benefit the medical center. To July 16.
"Natural Visions," a shared show of landscapes and seascapes
by Michael Filipiak and Cheryl Raywood. Open Thursday to Sunday, noon
to 5 p.m. To August 11.
908-996-1470. Fifth annual juried show of works by artists from New
Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m.
to 5 p.m. To July 15.
Bridge Street, New Hope, 215-862-3396. Sculpture exhibition features
the outdoor installation of seven large-scale works at sites around
town. Host sites include Union Square, New Hope Solebury Library,
the Wedgwood Inn, New Hope Historical Society, Golden Door Gallery,
and New Hope Mule Barge. On view to Spring 2004.
Street, 609-397-0275. "The Indecisive Moment," a show by veteran
photojournalist Bryan Grigsby. With influences as diverse as the graceful
compositions of Henri Cartier-Bresson to the absurdities and wit of
Elliott Erwitt, Grigsby’s philosophy toward his craft has evolved
into a singular and personal style of seeing. Monday to Thursday,
1 to 9 p.m.; Friday 1 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To
New Vulgarians: New York Pop," an exhibition of 18 works that
seeks to reposition pop in such away that its challenging and discomforting
aspects can be perceived again; to July 13. Open Tuesday through Saturday,
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Highlights tours every Saturday
at 2 p.m.
Also "In Pursuit of the Past: Provenance Research at the Princeton
University Art Museum," a behind-the-scenes look at the research
methods used to trace the history of works of art focusing on issues
related to ownership and collecting; to August 10.
"Brave New World: 20th-Century Books from the Cotsen Children’s
Library," an exhibition that fills the library’s main gallery
and the Milberg Gallery upstairs.
609-895-5589. Art exhibition by 60 students from a variety of majors.
Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays from noon to
4 p.m. To September 12.
TAWA Open 2003, a group show of members’ work selected by E. Carmen
Ramos, assistant fine arts curator at the Newark Museum. Eric Kunsman’s
work "Light Source," an iris giclee print of an original photograph,
wins Best in Show. Juror’s Choice Awards go to works by Connie Gray,
Bill Hogan, Don Jordan, Michelle Soslau, and Maggie Zullinger. Open
Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To September
609-586-0616. Spring Exhibition features a new outdoor addition by
Rhea Zinman. In the Domestic Arts Building, Zigi Ben-Haim "Journey
With Me," plus sculptures and paintings by Illya Kagan. Also extended
through spring, the museum exhibit of glass art by Dale Chihuly. Show
continues to July 13. Park admission $4 to $10.
Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round. Admission is
$4 Tuesday to Thursday; $7 Friday & Saturday; $10 Sunday. Annual memberships
609-292-6464. "The Needle’s Eye," quilts, samplers, and needlework
made in New Jersey from the 18th to the early 20th century; to September
14. "Taking It Personally: Selected Paintings 1962 to 2003" by
Paul Matthews continues in the museum’s Cityside Gallery, to July
Also "The Ones That Didn’t Get Away! Fossil Fish from the New
Jersey State Museum," featuring the skull of a massive ancient
predatory fish, Dunkleosteus, known as the "Bulldog Fish"
of the Chalk Seas. Show is organized by David Parris, curator of Natural
History. On extended view. "Cultures in Competition: Indians and
Europeans in Colonial New Jersey," a show that traces the impact
of European settlement on the native Indians’ way of life after 1600.
Also "Art by African-Americans: A Selection from the Collection;"
"New Jersey’s Native Americans: The Archaeological Record;"
"Delaware Indians of New Jersey;" "The Sisler Collection
of North American Mammals;" "Of Rock and Fire;" "Neptune’s
Architects;" "The Modernists;" "New Jersey Ceramics,
Silver, Glass and Iron;" "Historical Archaeology of Colonial
New Jersey;" "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
Artwork by 80-year-old Virginia Brazil, a graduate of the University
of Miami with a degree in journalism. Brazel’s family had an art gallery
in Cedar Grove. When she discovered the Jamesburg studio, owned by
two retired New Jersey school teachers, she began studying art there
every week. On view to July 31.
609-252-0020. "Perceptions," a group show by members of the
Creative Artists Guild. Artists include Jane Adriance, Colin Throm,
Mary Kramarenko, Patrice Sprovieri, Darlene Prestbo, Lorraine Williams,
and Connie Gray. Open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday,
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To July 12.
Branch Station, 908-725-2110. "Backroads & Boulevards," an
international juried show that looks at contrasts and conflicts between
rural and urban environments. Open Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m.
to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. To July 19.
Chinese ink painting exhibition by West Windsor artist Maolin Zhang.
A portion of the sale of paintings will be donated to the West Windsor
Arts Council. Reception on Saturday, July 12, features music by Yi
Yang on the zheng. On view during library hours through July 31.
New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "Stephen Spinder: Through My Lens,
Budapest and Transylvania," a collection of photographs of the
Gothic spires and neo-classical facades of Budapest. Sprinder’s images
of Translvania reveal powerful vestiges of an ancient culture and
the preservation of Hungarian traditions, particularly its music and
dance, that have changed little over time. Open Tuesday to Saturday,
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. $5 donation. To November
Glasstown Road, Millville, 856-825-6800. "The Fellows," an
exhibition celebrating CGCA’s 20th anniversary. The rotating anniversary
exhibit showcases contemporary glass works by past and current CGCA
fellowship recipients. On view to December 31. The show begins with
a spotlight on work by 2001 and 2002 fellows who come from as close
as West Orange as far as Hiroshima, Japan, and Adelaide, Australia,
to study at the center. Summer hours Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to
5 p.m. Wheaton Village admission $8 adult; $5 student.
215-340-9800. "Japanese Prints from the Michener Collection,"
a selection of more than 40 ukiyo-e prints by some of the leading
artists of the highly influential school. The show featuring prints
from the Michener Collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and
organized by the Honolulu Academy, is on view to August 31. Summer
hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday 10 a.m.
to 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Museum
admission $6 adults; $3 students and children.
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