Prints, Ching Ho Cheng, 1970s

I met the artist Ching Ho Cheng through my friend Patricia Kelly when we moved to New York City in 1979. Patti and Ching had met in Paris years before when they both lived at La Ruche, the artist residence in Montparnasse. He was always a gentle task-master who’d want to know what I was writing. “You poets are saints,” he used to tell me. When Gregory Corso was coming over to my place for a visit, Ching warned: “He thinks he’s François Villon. Hide the silverware.” If he gently prodded, he was also full of praise when I succeeded at something with an invite for dinner or coming to see a performance I was in.

Ching practiced what he preached, each day a ritual of exercise, meditation, and work. We both liked to swim at the great McBurney Y when it was at 7th Avenue and 23rd Street, the best swimming pool in NYC, Olympic size and you got your own lane for half an hour, not like nowadays where everyone has to share. He would come over for a swim, and then go back across the street to the Chelsea Hotel where he had his studio and lived.

No matter what period of Ching’s work you look at there is always the light, the aura, the spirit within; Ching illuminated things. The prints I am posting here are what he was doing when I met him. His earlier work, the psychedelic paintings, are at the Whitney Museum of American Art. His later work with torn paper and the decaying qualities of iron would affect his lungs and complicate the pneumonia he died from in 1989. He was concerned at the time that minority artists like himself, Chinese Americans, African Americans, and women had a harder time being represented in an art world dominated by white men who were repressive, sexist, and yes, even racist. The multi-cultural openness one sees today is the direct result of artists like Ching who paved the way.

There are limited editions of Ching’s prints for sale. For further information please contact the website below:

“Street Lights,” 1978. Limited Edition. 26 1:2 x 31 1:2″

“Peach,” 1978. Limited Edition. 25 1:4 x 23 1:4”

“The Teacup,” 1978. Limited Edition. 21 x 30”

“The Flame,” 1978. Limited Edition. 22 1/4 x 24 1/2”

“Strike,” 1978. Limited Edition. 24 x 36”

“Motherlode,” 1979. Limited Edition. 38 1/2 x 43”

“The Match,” 1978. Limited Edition. 36 x 24”

“Peach” 1978. Limited Edition. 21 3/4 x 19”

© 2017 CHING HO CHENG ESTATE – Artist Rights Society (ARS) New York

Ching Ho Cheng at the Chelsea Hotel, 1979. Photo: Barry Schapiro

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