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Compass Magazine, January 2003

Stock 20 is an active artists’ village created from abandoned railway warehouse
By Cheryl Robbins

       In 1997, the Central Taiwan Division of the Council for Cultural Affairs (文建會中部辦公室) (CCA) commissioned the Department of Architecture of Tunghai University to conduct a study of unused or deserted buildings around central Taiwan that could be transformed into art studios and art exhibition centers. The researchers found that a section of seven abandoned railway warehouses behind the Taichung train station were very suitable spaces for artists to work and to display their works.

       These warehouses, also called stocks, were all originally numbered. In this section, the first warehouse, now an exhibition hall featuring a variety of art exhibits and a cafe, was number 20. Thus, this artists’ village came to be called Stock 20 (20號倉庫). The remaining stocks, numbered 21 to 26, are for artists to work.

       Stock 21 has been set aside for performing arts groups, mostly experimental theater companies. These performing arts groups, as well as outside experimental theater and dance groups, make use of Stock 20’s outdoor theater to put on performances.

       Stocks 22 to 26 are artists’ studios, with each stock divided into two to hold a total of 10 artists.
Each of the resident artists undergoes an application and review process organized by the CCA before being granted the use of a studio rent-free for one year. The CCA accepts applications from both local and foreign artists, and in addition to a mix of cultural backgrounds looks for a mix of artistic specialties such as painting and sculpture.

       Stock 20 is currently in its third year of operation, with some of the artists having renewed their application for studio use. One such artist is Huang Chyi-wen (黃圻文), currently in his second year at Stock 20. Huang produces abstract calligraphy works and modern paintings.

       Huang is a native of the Taichung County township of Wufeng (霧峰鄉 ). Although a rural town, Wufeng is rich in history and traditional arts. As a child he was exposed to traditional sculpture, calligraphy, Taiwanese opera and traditional puppet theater.

       His father was an excellent calligrapher, and Huang learned this art form from him. By the time he was in second or third grade, he was writing calligraphy couplets to hang next to the main entrance of his home to welcome the Lunar New Year.

       But, although he was surrounded by traditional art during his younger years, his current art works are far from conventional. Huang explains, “Artists have to make their own road.” He adds, “From my art, people can understand my existence, my feelings and my style.”

       Since he started out as a calligrapher much of his work uses elements of calligraphy. For example, in many of his paintings there are lines, mixed with bright colors, to combine traditional Chinese culture with the vitality of aboriginal culture. He notes that Taiwan is a “juice mix” of cultures, including Chinese, aboriginal, Japanese and Western. “These are the characteristics that artists should consider to help Taiwan create its own unique art style,” he says.

      He also integrates modern media such as pages from newspapers and magazines into his paintings. For example, a magazine page serves as the background while black ink is applied with a large calligraphy brush. Huang says that perhaps in the future, there will be no print media, thus his works will become of historical value because they reveal the lifestyles and trends of today.

       When asked about his feelings about Stock 20, he notes that artists need a good working space, which Stock 20 provides, and is hopeful that the CCA, encouraged by Stock 20’s success, will develop other abandoned railway warehouses into artists’ villages all over the island.
       The public is welcome to the free exhibitions and performances at Stock 20. In addition, it is usually possible to find artists working in their studios during Stock 20’s opening hours. The public is welcome to enter the studios, talk to the artists and view their works.
       Huang notes that Taiwan’s environment is very chaotic, and thus it is not easy to find art, which is why places like Stock 20 are so important for helping people to reduce the distance between life and art.

Stock 20
6-6, Lane 37, FuShing Rd., sec. 4, Taichung City (台中市復興路四段37巷6-6號)
Tel: (04) 2220-9972
Hours: 11 am to 10 pm Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays)



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