By Lillian Bit and Nancy Hung, AsAmNews Staff Writers
One cannot possibly capture the awesome whimsical and colorful depiction of Peach Tao’s work with words alone. You just stop dead in your track and say WOW!. The two eye-popping colorful vibrant murals from Tao stand out against the contrasting gritty gray urban life of New York City during Covid-19.
AsAmNews spoke with Tao about her mural work.
Peach’s eyes always sparkle as she speaks.
“My primary motivation for my murals is simply to make you smile!” And Tao adds “I hope people see the sense of humor in my work and hope my murals want you to interact with them”.
Her first mural located on Mosco St is titled Noodle Shop. It’s a depiction of a rabbit and tiger preparing Chinese noodles. The rabbit and tiger are two of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac.
The other much larger mural is located about a 15 minute walk away on Canal and Orchard St. This jaw-dropping mural is named Mahjong Social. Four New York City pigeons play mahjong surrounded by the apartment buildings of Chinatown. Each pigeon is dressed up in the character of everyday Chinese people – one Pigeon is a grandma who just finished shopping with her rolling suitcase beside her. Another Pigeon is a Yankees fan. A third pigeon is a 90’s movie style Hong Kong gangster and the fourth is a guy with the white tank t-shirt. Guess who has the winning hand? No other than the grandma! The colors of the mahjong tiles and the colorful garbs on the pigeons against a pink background are masterful strokes.
If you look closely, her mural also depicts life during Covid19 – signs showing Black lives matter hanging out of windows. Another sign showing “New York tough.” A third sign is the rainbow color reference to the LGBTQ community. Tao says “my art work is mainly from my Asian culture but this is my first time I have experienced and learned about the protest and activism in NYC during Covid19.”
Her apartment buildings show rooftop gatherings of people during Covid19 because she notes that’s all people can do at this time. Her own zodiac rabbit sign is shown through a window and peach logo is a reference to her name. By the way the origin of her name Peach is the same as her last name-Tao which also means Peach. Her favorite color is blue and that’s also her handle @peacheeblue.
Tao grew up an only child in Beijing to parents who worked in academia and her mom was a great lover of art. She credits her mom, teachers and other artists for her interest in art.
“When I was a young child my mom would bring me to art classes.”
She attended an Art college in Savannah, Georgia and recently lived in Bedford Stuyvesant for five years and now is living in Brooklyn. She is known for her street murals around the world and has travelled extensively. She credits the Caribbean for the choice of colors she uses.
The other medium she uses is printmaking which she finds very therapeutic. She started painting murals when she worked with a nonprofit organization for public schools in the Bronx, Flatbush, and Bronxville. Tao worked with the kids there to complete murals together. Through her work she met and spoke with many people, learning about them, their culture and their history. She finds this deeply rewarding all the while brightening up and bringing smiles into any community she lives in.
Tao collaborates with Karlin Chan, a community activist. Chan is the founder of The Block Watch and the Big Sweep in Chinatown. As the name implies, the Big Sweep is made up of volunteers who clean Chinatown streets. The Block Watch provides citizen safety patrols in the city.
Chan approached Tao with his vision for the murals. The murals provide a unique depiction of Chinese life with the goal to beautify Chinatown and to use art as a way to increase visitors to the community. This is aptly named The Chinatown Mural Project.
Tao says the rabbit on her mural happens to be her zodiac sign and the tiger is Chan’s. The “SAM” on the Tiger is a reference to Karlin’s nickname “Secret Asian Man” Also on her mural are hidden peaches somewhere. See if you can find them. Tao hopes to attract people to come and enjoy these murals which are interactive.
“You can be sitting on the chair, petting the cat or grabbing the bowl of noodles. The murals reflect the culture and daily lives of residents of Chinatown and always with a bit of humor.” Yes, people in Chinatown surely can attest that the center of our lives revolve around food all day long.
Tao is already planning her third mural around the corner from the Mahjong Social.
“The mural will be even larger since it’s a wall of a 3 story building,” Chan said “It’ll be a Chinese New Year’s theme with you guessed it – the requisite Lion and Dragon,”
Tao and Chan have started a Go Fund Me account to defray the costs of beautifying Chinatown and also to bring recovery efforts to businesses hard hit during Covid19.
Donations are tax deductible. Individuals who are donating should also ask the company who they work for if they have or will make a company match. That means your $ donation is doubled.
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Get a better audio recording other than just the cellphone. The background noise is distracting & disturbing.