Today’s art-savvy social media power users may have a lot of (huh, snobbish) qualities. They love fashion (vain), read *literature* (not just books), appreciate old & exotic movies (that I might sleep through it), appreciate art (that I love), enjoy coffee culture, and post moody & Photoshop photos in social media… and so much more. While we are now all totally immersed in using social media, everyone is constantly in search of Instagramic moments – whether it’s food, street arts, or fashion…
The development of classical arts is actually very much established in Europe while world-class art museums are basically everywhere (I did pick out My Top 10 Classical Art Galleries (1) and (2) in my previous posts, but there’s so much more). Now, I am talking about the contemporary art scene in Asia, which is getting more and more vibrant these years. New art markets, creative parks, contemporary art museums, and art galleries are popping up like mushrooms in many major cities of Asia (a.k.a Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing & even Bangkok.). The purpose of these projects was to establish a public platform for the cultural and creative industry. Taipei, for example, has rejuvenated several heritage sites and converted them into art villages and multi-purpose venues for art events and performances. With the support of local government and big conglomerates, local artists could have a place to showcase their work and products to a bigger crowd of audience. Better yet, these places usually create a LOT of Instagram-worthy moments that of course would attract many “trendy” travelers to visit. 🙂
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei Story house, and Maji Maji Taipei, together with a bundle of historical sites and park are located nearby the Yuanshan station area. Together they form a greenbelt along the Dajia River with lots of food, cultural and recreation. Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) is at the Taipei Expo Park and it was the first museum in Taiwan built for Contemporary Art Exhibitions. Until today the site is still hosting a number of important temporary art exhibitions; When I visited there, there was a temporary exhibition themed “A Space Andante”, while selected works from its collection were on display, exploring the concept of space in abstract art. The story began with the founder of Spatialism, Italian artist Lucio Fontana, who initiated a new type of art by slashing the canvas. While a canvas could have been a single-colored surface, it then became multi-dimensional with raw holes. Other artists like Arman, Hans (Jean) Arp, Gunther Uecker, Suda Yoshihiro, and Taiwanese artists like Lee Tsai-Chien, Dawn Chen-Ping, Chen Hui-Chiao were featured in the exhibition.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum: http://www.tfam.museum/?ddlLang=en-us
Maji-Maji, close by to the museum, is a trendy market with food and entertainment; it was great to grab a drink and snack after visiting the site!
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park was opened in 2005 and it is a charming reconstruction of the Taihoku Winery during Japanese rule. The main factory buildings and warehouses were kept but they are converted into boutique shops, restaurants, cultural movie theaters, and exhibition spaces. Many mini-concerts and shows are held in the front yard of this multi-purpose park as well. Conveniently located in the city center, the park is within walking distance from Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station of the Taipei Metro. I visit there every time I am in town and there’s always something new and exciting going on. For example, I visited the Yayoi Kusama’s Pop-up Café 2 years ago, and when I was there a few months ago, the same space has turned into an interesting gift shop.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park: https://www.huashan1914.com/w/huashan1914/index
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei
I wasn’t aware of the MOCATaipei (Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei) until I was nearby the Taipei Main Station in the Datong District the other day. Honestly, it is not a prestigious art museum compared with many others, but the museum was an elementary school, a historic landmark during Japanese rule in 1921. The museum showcased several contemporary art exhibitions when I was there, including Filipino artist Ronald Ventura, and Taiwan-born American artist Leigh Wen. I was impressed by Leigh’s works and narratives, especially paintings of flowers, waves, and landscape, as they had shown femininity through delicate lines and soft colors.
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei: http://www.mocataipei.org.tw/
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is a new addition opened in 2011. It is a conversion from an old tobacco plant, constructed in 1937, during the Japanese rule. The purpose of the park is to establish a public platform for the cultural and creative industry. Co-opting with a local bookstore giant, Eslite, the site consists of a department store building (the design of the building is an opened book), Taiwan Design Museum, Taiwan Design Center (TDC), restaurant and boutique stores.
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park: http://www.songshanculturalpark.org/en/
Shintomicho Cultural Market
The Manhua district is an old district that is off the tourist track; however, it showcases the other side of Taipei with old times architecture and street food. It is a good way to get in touch with the lives and history of the locals. Shintomicho Cultural Market is smaller than the famous Huashan 1914 Cultural Park, yet it worths a visit. The market is funded by JUT foundation and it’s officially opened since 2016. The site was an old market during the Japanese colonial period, and it’s a charming conversion into a new landmark with cafe, shared offices, exhibition hall, and photo-taking spots. It is a good way to experience an old architecture in Taipei.
The market has a simplistic design and kept the flavor of old architecture. Exit the Longshan Temple MRT Station, and sign up for a guided tour at the entrance office, and then enjoy a cup of Qingcao herbal Tea at the MOT coffee.
Shintomicho Cultural Market: http://umkt.jutfoundation.org.tw/
Dadaocheng / Dihua Street
Maybe Dadaocheng is less popular and well-known than the Huashan and Songshan creative parks – but the Dihua street has a 1920s old Shanghai vibe. It is a historic market street that was filled with old tea house, traditional gift shops, and historic buildings. Today, the area is rejuvenated by adding in design stores, coffee shops, mini-theatres, and studios. The neighborhood is turned into an art and culture district. Drop by at the visitor center in front of the Yongle Market Building, and get a map and leaflet for more information of the latest shows, arts and crafts workshop, or tea tasting and demonstration programs. Then walk along Dihua street, explore the pottery shops, mail a postbox at the old post office, and sip a cup of tea in one of the tea houses before joining these activities or catching a show. I recommend Art yard Cafe – a nostalgic tea house with some good tea choices, and lovely products of teapot and tea leaves.
Dadaocheng Wharf: https://www.travel.taipei/en/attraction/details/426
For more Instagram-worthy moments, visit:
“Spot” Taipei – a cultural and movie center converted from former American Consulate in Taipei
Banqiao 435 Art zone – beautiful mosaic artwork on the wall of an underground walking tunnel
Nangang Metro Station – colorful wall paintings by local illustration artist Jimmy Liao
MAJI MAJI – a restaurant and a design store cluster near Taipei Art Museum~
Many might not like going through a walking tunnel because it seems dark and dangerous. Here in Banqiao, the district council had decided to beautify the neighborhood by inviting artists to create colorful mosaic art on the walls of the east gate walking tunnel and then it became a great photo-taking spot. The walking tunnel is outside Fuzhong MRT station (Exit 3) and the mosaic’s theme is based on the nearby attraction: The Lin Family Mansion and Garden. Therefore, it features exotic plants, trees, yellow houses, bats, and butterflies. It’s an interesting mix of Chinese garden and Western art, and not many would know about this place had they not walk through the tunnel when they are in Banqiao, New Taipei City.