East Meets West: A Tale of Two Artists
By: Madeline Potts
As soon as you walk into the Art Source gallery on South Virginia Street you are overtaken with an immediate curiosity. Surrounding you are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pieces of art. From steel work to futurism there’s no shortage of artwork to take in. I was greeted with a smile and the offer of a cup of tea. As I wandered through the gallery the walls seemed endless. Each turn offered an entirely new type of art to contemplate. Each room was filled with paintings and sketches, the artist described on laminated pieces of paper. I knew I could spend hours in this place looking, reading, and trying to understand each and every piece. Just like hidden treasure, within this gallery in the farthest corner hides one of its greatest secrets, the work of Yuyu Yang and the legendary printmaker Gary Lichtenstein. The story of how this wonderful Asian art found its way into a gallery within the Nevada desert is almost as intriguing as the art itself.
Yuyu Yang (Yang Ying-feng) was born in Ilan County, Taiwan in 1926. Through an education at the National Tokyo University of Art, Fu Jen Catholic University, and the National Taiwan Normal University Fine Arts Department, Yang received his arts education. Over the course of his career Yang dabbled in many different forms of art including sculpture, painting, cartoon work, and even laser printing. Yang believed that “the environment creates man, and man shapes his environment.” Through his 1970 series “Lifescape Sculpture” Yang believed that sculpture must interact with the natural environment.
While Yang was training to become a master artist in Asia, across the ocean, Gary Lichtenstein was studying the art of printmaking from the legendary Bob Fried, who was known for his 1960’s poster art of popular rock bands such as The Grateful Dead, Santana, and Pink Floyd. Together the duo developed a craft that was at the time very unknown. After Fried’s death in 1975 Lichtenstein was inspired to create SOMA Fine Art, a contemporary art space dedicated to encouraging artistic collaboration. Through SOMA fine arts Lichtenstein was able to travel to Taiwan where he met such artists as Hwang Ming-Che, Tiang Shao Kuang, and Yuyu Yang.
Through this fated meeting these ethereal pieces came into being. The two artists found that while their art seemed very different artistically, spiritually they were very similar. In a collaboration of East meets West, renowned printmaker Gary Lichtenstein and Yuyu Yang came together in 1994 in San Francisco to create and encapsulate the lifelong work of Yang. Over two years and 2 million dollars later, the duo transformed the life’s work of Yang into serigraphs (silkscreen prints). Upon Yang’s death in 1997 the pieces were moved to a storage facility in the Bay Area. Until now, nearly 20 years later, the pieces have never been viewed and purchased by the public.
In a partnership with Sierra Arts Foundation, a special reception will be held at Art Source, 2195 S. Virginia St. Reno, on April 22 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.