In October of 2006 nine artists met in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, easels, cameras and notebooks under their arms. Each knows the trip to China is an opportunity of a lifetime. Zhiwei Tu, Past President of Oil Painters of America, is the trip’s organizer. He is on his way home to Guangdong Province for a four month stay. He’s welcomed along six other OPA members and associates: Neil Patterson, Ken Cadwallader, Scott Tallman Powers, Wesley Drake, Clayton Beck, and Diane Hynes. In what we will soon discover as Zhiwei’s unique style and charisma of inclusion, he’s also invited Dudley Dana, photographer and owner of Dana Gallery, and me to document the trip.
After three weeks of plein air painting in remote villages and bustling markets and temples, as well as visits to art schools and museums, we return home, saturated with sights and sounds. In China there’s a tradition of making tea from a single flower blossom. The first cup is made quickly and carries the scent of the first day of spring. The sixth cup steeps and develops a complexity. The plein air work was like that first cup of tea. Home in their studios the artists created the “sixth-cup” paintings for this special international show at Dana Gallery. The work of Tu Gang from Guangdong Province, China, who painted with us on location for several days, is also included.