Shanghai, China

Mark Mehaffey was honored to be an award winner in the Shanghai Zhujiajiao Watercolor Biennial 2010. This year is the first time this Watercolor Biennial has been opened to entries from OUTSIDE China. This exhibition is billed as the largest Watercolor exhibit of its kind in the world and was curated to coincide with the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

Artists are held in very high esteem in China. This show was government supported and the Governor of the region gave the welcoming speech at the Banquet. Approximately 2.8 million Dollars were spent to put this exhibit together.

There were over 230 total paintings included in the Biennial from all over the world, 24 of the Artists represented the United States. Fifteen equal awards were given by the awards jury. Those awards included a monetary prize plus the organizers covered all hotel, food and travel costs to China for the opening festivities. Of the 24 American Artists represented, Mark Mehaffey and John Salminen received awards and traveled to China to receive their awards in person. Local travel and Chinese travel companions/interpreters were provided to the artists, resulting in a local flavor and unique opportunity to experience Chinese culture.

Notes on Shanghai

  • Shanghai is the financial capitol of China with a population of over 30 million people.
  • It is so crowded with people and cars/buses/bicycles/scooters that is costs 6,000 dollars to register for a license to drive a car and it's done by lottery. Driving in Shanghai by foreigners is "not permitted" and well so, as it is borderline traffic anarchy.
  • Shanghai is coming to grips with saving the best of their ancient culture while promoting change for their common good. Everyone was working and working very hard. Most kids go to school 6 or 7 days a week and Sunday is not a day off. The entire city was working 24/7 to make sure they are ready for the opening of the World Expo, May 1st, 2010.
  • When I asked about the lack of graffiti, I was told it is allowed in the Art Gallery district only. I asked what would happen if someone spray-painted somewhere else, the reply was, "no one would." And they didn't.
  • Everyone we met, the artists, the government officials, the organizers, and the workers on the street, the folks that live in the neighborhoods at all socio-economic levels were very kind and helpful, always.
  • In one solid week of travel and exploration we never had a bad meal. We ate some things that were not identifiable but everything was fresh and tasty.
  • Almost everyone under the age of 25 speaks some English. They learn it starting in elementary school.
  • They were proud of their city and their country and loved Americans.