City Paper is not for tourists
With the Olympic athletes gone, China is back to what it was when local artists Matt Sesow and Dana Ellyn visited for three weeks in July to create the works in “Made in China.” And because the pair took a state-sponsored tour with other Westerners, their view of the country often evokes the sterilized images we saw while watching the Olympics—happy acrobats, pandas, posters of a waving Chairman Mao, smiling schoolchildren. A few of the paintings hint at darker themes, though, such as Ellyn’s China Trendy, which shows four girls wearing fashionable air-quality masks, or her self-explanatory Puppies in the Pantry. The show, which includes paintings and collage works, also captures the artists’ reactions to their trip with humor and a critical eye. Sesow’s illustrated journal has snippets from the plane ride: “The pilot said we would be traveling over the North Pole. Santa?” while Ellyn’s reaction to their less-than-enthusiastic tour group is No Place Like Home, a tall portrait of a pained-looking American in a Dorothy costume, clutching a McDonald’s cup and a Chinese fan, surrounded by fascinated Chinese schoolchildren. The two artists’ styles contrast especially in how they, as Westerners, portray the eyes of their Chinese subjects—Sesow’s are cartoonishly round, anxious, and expressionistic, while Ellyn’s are sunken and dark. Their China, while polite and stereotypical, doesn’t lack for color or intrigue. “MADE IN CHINA” IS ON VIEW FROM 11 A.M. TO 7 P.M. WEDNESDAY TO SUNDAY, TO Saturday, SEPT. 20, AT LONG VIEW GALLERY, 1302 9TH ST. NW. FREE. (202) 232-4788.