Fun, art, and festivities abound this weekend at myplasticheart (40 Greenpoint Ave) for The Red Envelope Art Show. Opening this Saturday, January 28 and remaining on view through February 26, the show is organized by curator Grumpy Bert (Albert Chau.) The art exhibit’s opening reception takes place from 6-9 PM with a Lion Dance at 7 PM and light refreshments served throughout the evening.
Artworks are painted onto the ubiquitous red envelopes associated with the venerated Lunar (Chinese) New Year festival. Said to bring luck and fortune, red envelopes in the exhibit feature artworks from over a hundred artists from near and far, with local painters and artisans’ work in the show alongside works shipped from Vancouver, Canada and Hong Kong.
Works on view at myplasticheart are available for guests to purchase onsite, cash and carry: good luck, and art, at guests’ fingertips. Artists with works in the exhibit are listed below.
The exhibit might sound intriguing, but just as fascinating is the genesis of this art exhibit. For context, visitors and residents of New York City alike wandering around the city in late January and early February every year are likely to come across red tassel decorations and red and gold window decals visible along city streets. For some Americans, these are readily identifiable symbols of the Lunar (Chinese) New Year: a holiday celebrated across East Asia from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City, from Seoul to Singapore, and by families of Asian heritage the world over. Special events such as Lion Dances, lighting firecrackers and exchanging red envelopes containing money portend an auspicious year of good luck, driving away bad luck and evil spirits.
One Brooklynite who grew up celebrating Lunar New Year, Albert Chau (AKA Grumpy Bert), kept considering the tradition of red envelopes as an artistic medium. Chau previously owned Boerum Hill-based gallery and art shop, Grumpy Bert, where he originally began exhibiting The Red Envelope Show.
“I was staring at a traditional red envelope one day and just thought it would be a cool canvas for an artist to make something,” reflects Chau. “It’s (now) our eighth year doing this show.” The exhibit is now featured at myplasticheart here in Greenpoint, where visitors to the exhibit can peruse pint-size designer toys and artists’ unique creations in a single visit to the shop.
As over a hundred artists are participating in the exhibition, the range of artistic styles on view in The Red Envelope Show are practically limitless. There are patterned prints featuring rabbits, elegantly drawn rabbit compositions spanning the width of the envelope, and graphic art-style elements populating the artwork’s surface all displayed side by side in this compelling show. The array of envelopes on view is astounding — how can one curator bring together such a disparate yet talented set of artists in a single show? Perhaps a passion for bringing artworks together that share a common message is a key ingredient to a powerful art project.
“I guess it’s a way for me to keep the tradition going on for myself,” remarks Chau on the continued efforts to bring The Red Envelope Show to life. “But (I want to) also celebrate with my friends and share this part of my culture with people who are not familiar with it.” Perhaps Grumpy Bert is, secretly, a gracious Bert after all.
The Red Envelope Show is located at myplasticheart, 40 Greenpoint Ave in Greenpoint and remains on view during the store’s hours from Saturday, January 28 through Sunday, February 26