Painters On The Street In SOHO

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It’s the end of winter.  No, maybe the calendar is wrong.  It feels like the beginning of summer.  No, No, I was right the first time (at least for today).

Neil (my husband) and I drove to NYC to act as couriers for our kids.  My son wanted us to bring his dog, Stella, to his apartment in the Village, while he was in Washington, DC.  My daughter, who goes to boarding school in Connecticut, needed her guitar and 37 other essential items.

Off my husband and I drove to the Big Apple, stereo booming.  I thought this would be a fun way for the two of us to get away.  Maybe I could find some cool painters on the street of NYC in the process.

I began my search on West Broadway in SOHO.  I saw lots of arts and crafts on the street.  I love my new job!!

A few blocks later I found Yan Ling’s sidewalk gallery.  The paintings are unstretched and hung in groups with giant clips holding them all together.  There were no prints; only huge beautiful oil paintings.  I took these photos with my iPhone which doesn’t do them justice.

Yan Ling tried to talk to me and I really wanted to hear his story, but he was struggling with his English and I could only say xie xie (thank you) in Mandarin and nothing else.  After a few minutes I finally understood what he was trying to tell me.

He lived in China under Mao’s tyrannical reign.  His friends and relatives all said the same thing, “If you want to be free you must escape to Hong Kong.”  When Ling was 21 he dove into the South China Sea and swam to Hong Kong.  It was a good thing he was 21 at the time because only at that age would anyone think this was a good idea.  A February 27th, 2012 article in Tea Leaf Nation reports, “2.5 million Chinese refugees arrived in Hong Kong, many who had slipped out of Shenzhen, then just a series of villages, and tried to swim to freedom.  As one Chinese witness relates, ‘Many drowned’…one former PLA regiment commander describes the shore often seeing waves pushing their corpses.”

Ling has no formal art education and is self taught.

Ling’s self portrait

Ling’s Chihuahua – This is not a painting I would typically like, but in person it is captivating.

Shelli Alford is an artist and author, who enjoys learning from master oil painters from around the world and reviewing their classes, workshops and demonstrations.

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