This weekend was packed pretty full, and I was ready for it.  The first few weeks here were pretty relaxed, and mostly consisted of multiple days of shopping and laying about the house.

Saturday we headed to the 798 (seven, nine, eight) District.  This little area is packed full of galleries both big and small.  The galleries reside in the old factory warehouses, the buildings are sturdy and meant to outlast the elements.  The area is named for the biggest of the warehouses which was coded 798.  ‘7’ the code for electronics and ’89’ the specific building number.  The whole area retained this description and is now known as the 7-9-8 Disctrict.

We went there with the intention of seeing artist Zhan Wang’s My Personal Universe, at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, it was the last day to see the exhibition.  We arrived at the UCCA building only to find that the entire center was open to members only for a special exhibition opening… in the middle of the afternoon.  It was a strange situation to find myself in, firstly to find a small museum size space hosting an opening in the afternoon, and to find the space closed to the public on a saturday.  I watched as a few members slipped through the small partition into the main galleries.  Curious about whether this was a common practice I asked a very nice young docent what exactly was going on, and why they had chosen to close the entire center, rather than just partition off the one gallery whose installation, I quickly discovered, was not quite finished.  He did his best to explain the situation and I surmised that it was a tactic to field crowds from entering the gallery where the install was still going on.  But my question was, why not just close off the one gallery, and maybe only allow members into that one… you maintain the excitement for members by allowing them a little behind-the-scenes peak at the upcoming exhibition, without alienating the general public by turning them away.  An underlying motive may have been the assumption that a members only entrance would increase the new memberships numbers for that weekend, I fear that the opposite may have been the reality.  I will be returning to the UCCA so that I can get a better feel for the organization and the types of exhibitions that they host, but, unfortunately I don’t think I can say the same for the people I was with that day, and sadly I think they may have lost some potential members in the process.  I’m hoping to pick someone’s brain about this decision in the future.  I was really looking forward to the Zhan Wang exhibition.

But the UCCA is far from the only gallery in the area, and so we spent the remainder of the day wandering around walking into smaller spaces, and seeing some pretty incredible work, and some not so incredible work.  A nice balanced mix of talents. One space that I really enjoyed was JOYART, they had a really good show featured there, including a collection of blue hued paintings that were thick thick thick with paint (my favorite, Megan you know why).

We also saw these awesome red men scattered throughout the area, I still don’t know what they are, who did them, or what they mean but I sort of love them.


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