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Dan Chen: Work In Progress... his artistic journey
How do you describe a Dan Chen? A Renaissance Man? The dictionary defines this as "A person of broad intellectual and cultural interests, encompassing the full spectrum of available knowledge, an ideal man posessing universal knowledge." Actually there were few men even during the Renaissance, who could be classified such, and usually they were carefully shielded from the realities of life. No, for Dan Chen we would have to invent a new word.
Here is a man who at one time created twelve full sized pastels of all the animals in the Chinese calendar over the period of just one weekend! This is a man who travels 6000 miles a year to show his work and then, at each show, gives demonstrations of his techniques, whether in pastels, pottery or raku. Or he may allow you to watch the sculpting of one of his many animal creations. Fluent in both Chinese and English, he teaches a night course of the local University and introduces art to a group of youngsters at his daughter´s school. He researches the development of babies to illustrate a book on neurology and supervises the reproductions of his bronze sculptures. In between he finds time to help his children with their first attempts at making clay figures, installs a waterfall in the front of his house and, in the backyard, puts a hothouse for his Bonsai collection and a playground complete with slides and sandbox for his and the neighbors´ children. Then, to top it all off, with the help of his friends - of whom he has many - builds a 500 square foot studio - one wall all glassed in for daylight and with huge light fixtures in the ceiling so that he can work through the night!
Because Dan is a modest man, it has taken several years to persuade him to create this book. Chen has not even yet lived out half his life span and, never fully satisfied, he insists on calling it - Work in Progress. When asked if he wanted to be known as painter, ceramicist or sculptor, he simply said - artist.
No - we would have to invent a new phrase to describe him. Phenomenon of the 21st Century? Perhaps in the future if another such man could be found, someone might simply say: "Oh, he's a real Dan Chen!"
BOOK / 2003 / color / ISBN 0-961532-9-7
Hardbound, illus. 10x11. 100p.
Published by Fern Ridge Press