Edward Fong sees changing dinner menus and fine art as one and the same.
“We alter our meals every day,” Fong said. “Why, then, should we not do the same with the way we view art?”
As the former creative director for an international marketing and advertising agency, Fong initially reserved his love of art for leisurely hours after work. When he traveled to China on a lengthy and life-changing business trip, his 25 years of working in the advertising field ended and his career began to shift to a different direction.
While working in China, Fong said he encountered different artists whom he found to have less privilege than the average American in the realm of artistic expression.
“The chance of their work ever being shown in a formal art gallery, or being recognized beyond the town or city they live in, is as remote as taking a flight to the moon,” Fong said.
He returned to America with the idea of creating a space that would showcase the work of contemporary Asian artists who otherwise may not come across the opportunity to display their work in a gallery.
The E-Moderne Gallerie remains one of the newest art galleries in Philadelphia, and Fong said he hopes to make its opening on Jan. 31 memorable. Fong said the relative affordability of creating an art gallery in Philadelphia, as well as the convenience of Philadelphia’s proximity to New York, were two factors that made him create the gallery on 2nd and Arch streets, in an apex of eclectic art galleries in the Old City neighborhood.
E-Moderne Gallerie came to fruition in June 2014, showing a niche style of artistry that Fong refers to as “the art of the future that is sweeping the art world by storm.” Fong said E-Moderne is the only gallery in the Philadelphia area with a primary focus on contemporary Asian art.
During its first six months after opening, the gallery also showcased artists from countries such as Germany, South Africa and Russia.
Phillip Hua, a San Francisco-based artist, became a featured member of the E-Moderne Gallerie after a friend informed him about the new space. In his brand of art, Hua combines Chinese brush painting with digital mixed media. Hua uses images of nature on top of newspaper clippings to show a stark juxtaposition between the two ideas.
“Using digital media to create the imagery, I want to expand what it is to paint in a digital era where we communicate with emails, texts, tweets and status updates,” Hua said.
The mixture of references to nature and innovative usage of mixed media is not an uncommon theme in the contemporary gallery.
Inna Race, another member of the E-Moderne Gallerie team, said she has been devoted to sketching ever since she was as a young girl in Belarus, a country located in Eastern Europe.
“I always thought that the best gifts to receive, as a child, were not dolls or candies, but colored chalk and pencils,” Race said.
Race brought her mixed media photography artwork to America when she emigrated from Belarus 18 years ago. Like Fong, she said she sees an advantage of displaying artwork in Philadelphia.
“[It] is big enough for an artist to be discovered and recognized, yet it’s small enough not to get lost.”
She said that the importance of Philadelphia’s First Friday tradition, where art galleries everywhere open their doors to enthusiasts, “really shows that art in Philadelphia is an important part of our lives”.
Although he remains eager, Fong said he recognizes the establishment of his gallery as an uphill battle, with much more work to be done.
“Philadelphia, as I came to find out, is still a long way from accepting this art form,” Fong said. “I will continue to present groundbreaking work in the city.”
Angela Gervasi can be reached at email@example.com