Just Between Us Art Exhibition Catalog


Just Between Us: From the Archives of Arlan Huang is the fully illustrated exhibition catalog for the group exhibition at Pearl River Mart's art gallery in SoHo on view May 4 to August 27, 2023. 

The exhibition revels in the community-building power of artwork trades. For over five decades, artist and activist Arlan Huang has amassed a significant collection of paintings, photographs, drawings, and more from "art swaps," or friendly exchanges between fellow artists that operated outside traditional transactions.

Published by Pearl River Mart and Think!Chinatown, the book begins with an introductory essay by Danielle Wu, followed by an interview between Howie Chen and Arlan Huang. Huang's collection traces his time in the Asian American arts network, Godzilla, and the Chinatown-based collective Basement Workshop. Featured artists include Tomie Arai, Ken Chu, Corky Lee, Alex Paik, Hoyt Soohoo, Bob Hsiang, and Martin Wong. As the owner of the frame shop Squid Frames, Huang kept longtime correspondence with conceptual artist Sol Lewitt.

Like a confidence between friends, intel given off the record, or a shared history or experience, the exhibition is “just between us.” The phrase evokes the major principles that form the bedrock of Huang’s collecting ethics: that art should circulate outside the logic of the market; that it should not seek approval from heteropatriarchal white institutions; and that shared gossip and complaint forges the most precious friendships.

An abundance of Asian Americans in the collection often prompts Huang to consider it an “Asian American art collection.” Presented for the first time in this scale, the collection asks what Asian American art is and could be, and why Asian American identity and life continues to matter.

This book is made possible thanks to support of the State of New York and New York State Council on the Arts. It is also supported, in part, by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The book design is by Gabrielle Chang.

“Just Between Us” is on view in the Pearl River Mart Gallery from May 4 through August 27, 2023. Free and open to the public during business hours. An opening reception will be held on May 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Attendance is free but registration is required.

View the full press release for the exhibition.

About Arlan Huang

Arlan Huang is an artist based in New York. His work is characterized by its play with translucency and opacity, darting between a wide variety of mediums including acrylic paint, glass, and multimedia installations. His abstractions are informed by the conflation of recent and collective memory, as well as everyday life; for example, his freehanded paintings reference his mother’s cheongsams and grapes harvested at only certain times a year in Japan. Taken together, his work probes the possibility of Asian Americanness, or the feeling of belonging amidst feelings of placelessness. As an active member in Godzilla: Asian American Arts Network, Huang has been a key player in broadening opportunities for Asian Americans in the Arts and Asian American activism more broadly. His murals have dotted various public spaces in New York, and he has placed permanent installations in New York and San Francisco.

About Howie Chen

Howie Chen is the Curator of 80 Washington Square East Gallery at NYU. A founding director of Chen’s, a townhouse gallery in Brooklyn, and Dispatch, he has held curatorial roles at the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA PS1. His writings have been published by Primary Information and Badlands Unlimited and have appeared in magazines such as Artforum, Frieze, and Art in America. Chen is the editor of the anthology Godzilla: Asian American Arts Network 1990-2001 (Primary Information, 2021), a comprehensive collection of writings, art projects, publications, correspondence, organizational documents, and other archival ephemera from the trailblazing Asian American artist collective that sought to stimulate social change through art and advocacy.

About Danielle Wu

Danielle Wu is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently Communications & Database Manager at Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) and was previously a Digital Fellow at Democracy Now! Her reviews have been published in Art in America, Artforum, Frieze Magazine, and The Offing. Notable curatorial projects include Ghost in the Ghost at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, New York, with scholar Anne Anlin Cheng (2019) and Water Works at International Studio & Curatorial Program, New York (2022).

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