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Subway art exhibition a movable feast (2)

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

10:22, June 27, 2013

"City residents barely grasp the concept of going to an art gallery for recreation in their spare time, even in first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai that have many art galleries and museums," he says.

Second-tier cities, with fewer museums and even less education about art, are worse.

People abroad often go to museums and galleries, but not in China, he says.

According to a survey on children's art literacy education released this month and conducted by the youth education research center under the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, only 4.23 percent of parents frequently take their children to art exhibitions and cultural shows.

Many parents cite the shows' high fees and their own schedules as reasons they do not visit.

The influence of the art museum is not as great as it was in the past, with the works of art poorly connected to the public, says Hou.

Dong Jiaqi, a 27-year-old student at Beijing Foreign Languages School, says the mobile art gallery is a fun endeavor.

"The ticket to some art museums is not cheap for me, and the ride takes too long," she says. "What's cool about the mobile art gallery is you see what's on in the CAFA Art Museum while riding the subway."

The workshop Hou works with organizes an art appreciation class every weekend in which children can learn about art in museums or bookstores, with plain-speaking explanations that are easy to understand.

"It is not expected the kids will become art masters through the activities. We simply hope they are exposed to a world rich with possibilities and diversity," he says.

Hou says the subway exhibitions are a good way for residents to get to know great artists from China and abroad.

"We have great works. What we lack is the channel to show them, and the subway is absolutely a great way to get the work out there," he says.

For people who spend several hours in the subway every day hurrying between the office and home, the traveling gallery allows them to ponder, meditate and communicate with great minds, says Hou.

"Of the 1,000 people who see a painting, 100 might take a picture, 50 might search online for the story behind the colors, 20 might remember the artist of the work, and two might be introduced to a brand new world, brimming with colors, inspiration and enlightenment," he says.

He suggested the subway present a greater range of art - not only paintings but sculptures.

"If only the capital's subway was not so crowded," he says.

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