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Compass Magazine, November 2002

616 Art Collective brings art, culture and color to life
By Cheryl Robbins Translated by Sam Chien

       Tucked away in a small lane off of FuShing Road, just across from Taichung Central Mall, is the latest addition to Taichung¡¦s artistic and cultural landscape.

       The 616 Art Collective takes its name from its opening date of June 16, 2002. From the outside, it is easy to see that this is a unique place. The walls are covered in murals and there is a small garden at the entrance with two large plastic spiders, decorated in fluorescent paint, as well as a large table and chairs. In good weather, this outside space is the social focus of the collective, a place for friends and artists to get together and exchange ideas.

       The building that houses the collective was once a factory. The factory¡¦s owner closed the business and had no real use for the building, which had fallen into some disrepair. He therefore donated it to the collective. Without much money for renovation, 616's key person, Rebeca Yu («\·ç¬Â), relied on her own two hands and the help of friends. Even the neighbors pitched in to help out with what they saw as a neighborhood beautification project.

       Rebeca has loved the arts since she was a child. Although she is not a professional artist, she likes to take part in art-related activities and has helped several artists with exhibition preparation--including one that featured 50,000 egg shells--and served as a volunteer at the 20th Warehouse gallery. She sees art in everything.

       ¡§Even cooking is an art,¡¨ she says, adding that she especially loves Spanish cuisine because of the mix of colors of the ingredients, and once opened a Spanish restaurant in Taipei.

       Rebeca¡¦s personal motto, now the motto of the 616 Art Collective, is ¡§live a colorful life.¡¨ Rebeca spent time abroad and noticed that in Western countries art is everywhere. But, the same is not true for Taiwan where people are generally surrounded by visually-dull buildings. She adds, ¡§Taiwan needs more art spaces and Taiwanese need opportunities to add more art to their lives.¡¨ This is her purpose for opening this art collective.

       Inside the collective is a coffee shop. The coffee beans are imported from Brazil and Ethiopia and roasted by members of the collective for a very rich taste. However, coffee is not sold as in conventional cafes. The collective¡¦s members exchange coupons, obtained with their membership, for coffee. Membership fees are NT$200, NT$500 or NT$1,000 per month, for two, five and 10 drink coupons, respectively. All members receive a 20-percent discount off of the collective¡¦s events, which include classes and lectures offered by a range of artists, exhibitions, drama performances, music performances, children¡¦s art fairs and flea markets.

       Taiwan¡¦s domestic and foreign artists are very supportive of the collective and have offered many works for display. They also help out with projects such as ¡§recycled art¡¨, where the collective takes things that people consider junk, such as used plastic spoons from a nearby fruit slush shop, and turns them into works of art. This project is meant to show local people that art is very accessible and that producing art does not require costly materials but, rather, can be made using everyday items.

       Rebeca and friends are currently working on developing a new space, a farm of about 200 to 300 pings, located an eight-minute drive from 616. This farm grows lemon and other fruit. The orchards will be used as a natural science and art classroom for children and a 100-ping farmhouse will enable more cooperative projects to take place, as well as provide more workshop space for local and foreign artists.

       The 616 Art Collective is open daily, usually from 10 a.m. to midnight. If you should stop by and find no one there during these hours, call the number posted next to 616¡¦s gate.

616 Art Collective
2, Lane 215, FuShing (FuHsing) Rd., sec. 4
Tel: (0953) 355-549 or (0927) 218-477

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