CHINESE ARTIST METAMORPHOSIZES GARAGE IN MASPETH INTO DIALECTIC ON THINKING

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I was asked to go out to Maspeth to meet an artist. I wasn’t even sure where Maspeth was. Queens itself intimidates me, since it’s a maze of unlikely numbers in opposition with themselves all intersecting in nonsensical disunity. The only thing I knew about Shui Shi Liu is that he is a painter visiting from China who has his studio in Maspeth where he created an installation. And so I and my Uber driver ventured forth into the great unknown, mindlessly following the GPS to this strange world in the obscurest section of Queens, New York. When we arrived at the address, I was looking for buildings that would signify that artists were there, most likely it was some industrial hub or battered old school I thought. What I didn’t anticipate was an opaque city neighborhood, bland and remote, to be where the studio held a large-scale installation. I rang the bell, no answer, so I texted the curator Dr. Kalia Brooks and a moment or two later the door buzzed me in. I expected to see her but instead at the top of the steps, a smiling round-faced Asian man greeted me. Dr. Brooks had not arrived yet so it was just me and Liu. Since Liu doesn’t speak English I sat and responded to emails on my phone while he brewed me a glass of woody fragrant tea. The apartment was smoky with cigarettes and a little chilly. I was, I suppose, immersed in the triviality of things that had to get done. Until the translator, Xingze Li (which means “Star and the light”) arrived, my mind was caught up in my own existential crisis, and the artist in front of me had not been illuminated yet. But Liu would awaken me from perfunctory details holding me in a mundane place within the hour and I would become bewitched.