“Buy two.get free snakes”

imageLast week on one of my days off I took a taxi ride with Belle and one of her students, Steve, to the art district to see the Robert Rauschenberg show as well as a new Andy Warhol show. The area is comprised of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) along with a variety of small art galleries and other venues for art shows. The cab ride was about 45 minutes and I had thought for certain that it would cost several hundred RMB. I never take a cab because of the language barrier along with my lifelong aversion to taxis, so I have no reference for costs here in Beijing. So I was shocked when we got out and the fee was 44RMB (about $6.50).

Admission to the Rauschenberg exhibit was 50RMB ($7.50) and the Warhol show was 60RMB ($9).

The Rauschenberg show featured his magnum opus: The 2 Furlong Piece (1981–98), it’s 190 parts stretching 1/4 mile and exhibited for the first time since 2000 (see pictures). I only wished Ellen could have been with me. As I mentioned previously, she instilled in me an enjoyment of the Pop Art genre and she would have added lots of insight to what I was viewing. Also, it would be great to be with her again as I continue to miss her terribly! Alas…

The Warhol show was, along with the theme, very minimalist. It showcased his avant- garde experimentation with film and photos and his interest in minimalism to convey new ideas. I’ve included some of those below.

What follows are a sampling of the photos taken, with some comments as necessary. On a note of annoyance, I had all of the photos grouped logically in sequence. However, once I added text to the photos, after they were in place, the photos seem to have randomly shifted. I could have deleted all of the photos and written the text before inserting them into the post and kept the order, but I want to be done with this. So most of what you see has no text so as to minimize the random rearrangement. Next post I won’t make this mistake.

Oh yes, about the title of this posting: See the picture below to understand the full context. When we sat down in one of the many cafes that dot the art district, I immediately caught the laugh-out-loud error on the ads that were placed on the tables. Belle explained to the waitperson the error but he didn’t get it. Something definitely got lost in the translation. I see these types of errors all over the place. This is one of the funnier ones.



Some random street scenes in the art district.


Warhol had famous and not so famous people sitting and looking into his 16mm camera. For the most part, they simply stared, seeming not to blink. It was only Lou Reed who displayed any action, periodically pointing to a Coke bottle in his hand. Here he is, alongside Salvador Dali who only has to stare to make his visage seem bizarre. What a couple!


Warhol filmed over six hours of the Empire State Building (or, in keeping with the spirit of this post, the “Empire Snake Building”) non-stop. As one would expect, there was very minimal change other than the sun progressing across the sky. Minimalist style, indeed!

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Despite the many kids who were poking and prodding the Mylar “clouds” it was Belle who actually popped one of them. Here, she proudly displays her quarry.


Belle’s victim laying forlornly in a disregarded heap.

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We walked a long distance back to the subway (to work off dinner) when we left the art district, passing this group of buildings. They were visually arresting so I took this picture.



3 thoughts on ““Buy two.get free snakes”

  1. Ditto Joyce. Can’t wait to come back so you can show me all the amazing places you’ve discovered in Beijing (I’ll come when it’s a bit cooler – perhaps around my birthday next March. I love your comments about drivers in Beijing – now you know I took my life in my hands coming all the way from the Hilton to you apartment AND BACK!! Somehow, though, it seems like poetic justice give your driving habits on Marin freeways :). Take good care dear friend – keep- exploring and sharing – it’s nice to live vicariously through your adventures.

    • When I was deciding what to write about driving here, I was inclined to say something along the lines of, “anyone who observes the drivers or is driven around will never, ever say another bad word about me driving, again.” As opposed to saying, “Ha! what goes around comes around.” Still, thanks for your thoughts on the matter. You, who I drove from Las Vegas to San Francisco with nary a bad word about my driving!

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