I got to spend the afternoon at the 798 Arts District in Beijing China yesterday, and I have to admit it was a pretty awesome thing to go do. In the longer run, it is good to see modern and classical Chinese art in the same spot, and it is an excellent reuse of an old factory grounds. I got about 300 pictures from the place covering everything from street art and graffiti, though more classical art forms. I even found a small gallery called the SednAir art gallery that had the only Iced Coffee I have been able to find in China so far.
My search for ice is going badly, but I am learning that on a hot day that air conditioning when it is available is a blessing like you would not believe. Sometimes drinking an ice coffee in an air conditioned art gallery after dealing with the heat of a Beijing summer can be a blessing like you would not believe. I think sometimes I am slug soft hitting China in the summer when I am from Seattle.
798 is unique in the world, and I ended up really enjoying discussing art in broken Chinese and broken English for the day. Even though we did our best to communicate, we ended up having a good time. I also got to try for the first time an authentic Chinese Hot Pot, and that ended up being really cool. Although I am going to taste peanut sauce for a very long time I think. Food sometimes sticks with you when you are not used to the flavors or spiciness that goes along with it.
When you are going around the arts district it is a very good idea to go through the smaller back alleys rather than sticking to the main drag. Most stores and galleries are closed on Mondays, so if you go on a Monday you might not see as many galleries as you would have liked to. Some of the store are definitely tourist traps so you will want to pay attention to prices. Most everything is cheap, some fo the art is not. What was surprising though was to see some American photographers having their own galleries in the district. Surprising but it makes sense as well, any American landscape or people picture will be unique here, and while it would be somewhat valueless in the states, it is worth some 2500 dollars here for a picture that is nicely framed and put together.
798 continued to amaze throughout the day, between the industrial starkness of the factory setting, and how the artists have used the spaces it is well worth visiting. You have to take a taxi to get there, the subway drops you off almost a kilometer away, and learning the bus system on short order can be difficult for an American. It should be about 30 to 40 Yuan depending on where you are in the city to visit 798. If you decide to leave during rush hour, plan on spending a few more Yuan because of traffic. We got caught in a traditional Chinese traffic jam when we left because we left at rush hour, or about 6PM.
Art museum, Beijing, Beijing China, China, Monday, Seattle