Marilyn Kiang: Starting fresh 

Gallery owner starts up in new digs

That crazy, modernizing manufacturing giant, China, has spurred discussion about the economy, population growth, human rights and the environment, but it has also offered the world some of the most engaging contemporary art of the past 20 years. Often outrageous and enraged, Chinese avant-garde artists have reflected the country's political and social flux and a culture where communist ideology has been replaced by consumer values.

Since its 1992 debut at the Tula Art Center, Atlanta's Kiang Gallery has been an important local venue for contemporary Chinese art. In recent years, Kiang has featured work about the contemporary Chinese landscape by Sze Tsung Leong and Danwen Xing. Upcoming shows will focus on Chinese coal mines and the social engineering One Child Policy charted in He Chongyue's work.

Gallery owner Marilyn Kiang has now relocated to the booming Westside retail and gallery corridor, where her new space, designed by local architect Amy Landesberg, will be unveiled with a group show highlighting some of Kiang's local and Chinese artists.

With 15 years on the Atlanta scene, Kiang has seen vast changes in the quality of local art and the number of galleries showing it. "The elevation of the discourse on contemporary art has been enhanced by new curators and new galleries and new collectors," she says.

Nothing on the Atlanta scene, however, compares to what Kiang has witnessed happening in Beijing where she and her husband, C.S., keep an apartment.

"The growth of the art scene and the art market in Beijing is unrivaled," she says. "Every time you turn around, there are several new galleries – some very good and some not so good. But it's dynamic. You can't help bumping into curators, collectors, critics and artists from all over the world. ...

"When I was growing up, mothers hoped their daughters would marry doctors. Today, mothers wish their daughters would marry a Chinese artist."

Grand Opening. New Gallery Space. Through Oct. 13. Tues.-Fri., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., noon-5 p.m., and by appointment. Kiang Gallery, 1011-A Marietta St. 404-892-5477. www.kiang-gallery.com.

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