人物專訪:謝孟章 (A Versatile Leader of the Food Industry )

(English Article Follows)

文/張家嫻  攝影/酒文集

 

駿瀚生化股份有限公司 董事長

台東興業股份有限公司 副董事長

食品工業發展研究所 董事長

全國工業總會 理事

臺灣罐頭食品工業同業公會 榮譽理事長

CoCo台灣壹番屋 董事

印尼Great Giant Food Commissioner

味全公司 董事

台光電子材料 董事

在看到這樣一連串的頭銜介紹後,會覺得一共有幾個人,答案是同一個人「謝孟璋」

訪談前心中充滿著疑問,一個人有辦法做這麼工作嗎? 難道他的時間跟我們不一樣,他一天的時間是48小時? 還是有瞬間移動的超能力,只要手指一彈馬上就到下一個場景? 終於來到了訪問當天,見到了謝孟璋先生後,讓所有的疑問有了答案。

會議室的門輕輕地被打開,傳來了一句親切的「您好 」,站在面前的就是謝孟璋先生本人

如同在接下來訪談中謝孟璋先生所聊到的,一直以來他給兒子們的兩句話

「樸實自我,樂觀進取」

這八個字就是介紹謝孟璋先生最好的描述,親切的笑容,說話溫文儒雅,一直以謙虛態度和我們聊著所有關於這些企業和他自己的故事。

謝孟璋畢業於美國哥倫比亞大學國際事務研究所碩士,身為長子的謝孟璋從小在父母的安排下,從小隻身美國求學,從小學開始到中學、高中都在美國東北部紐英倫念書,之後到了紐約哥倫比亞大學取得碩士學位。在唸碩士的最後一年,暑假期間進入了所羅門兄弟公司實習,在實習的最後一天,老闆會把實習生叫進辦公室並關起門來,告知實習表現結果,並是否有機會轉正職。當下每位實習生都想轉正職,這樣畢業後馬上有工作。「Would you like me to make you an offer for the Asia Pacific?」這是進辦公室時,老闆對他說的第一句話,謝孟璋回憶著說,這份工作也是他人生中最刺激的時期,於是畢業後就在華爾街工作約3~4年的時間,因此也累積了許多的財務經歷。

 ※所羅門兄弟(Salomon Brothers),華爾街的著名投資銀行,1910年成立,1990年代末被旅行者集團併購(現屬花旗集團)。

 

為何進入食品產業並投資相關餐飲事業,而不是繼續在國外從事金融業

財務金融背景的謝孟璋,祖父謝成源是台鳳創辦人,也是開創台灣罐頭外銷產業的功臣,為促進食品產業的永續發展,於1965年與台灣罐頭食品工業同業公會,前行政院國際經濟合作發展委員會暨前中國農村復興聯合委院會共同捐資設立,創辦食品工業發展研究所,建立食品與生技產業之關鍵技術,同時也是台灣食品領域最具規模之研究發展與專業訓練機構,奠定台灣食品科技研發基礎。

父親謝忠弼也是食品界的名人,持續經營食品相關事業時,也跨入電子、生技、化學等領域,眼光獨到的多元化的投資經營,和產業興起的接軌。

謝孟璋聊到1990年正值中國崛起,當時在美國證卷同時會說中文和英文的人並不多,所以在任職的證卷公司派到香港。1995年遇到中國金融風暴,國際金融市場對中國的案子幾乎停擺,雖然薪水照領也不需要再加班出差,但總覺得這樣太浪費人生,所以選擇辭職,那年的謝孟璋才27歲。辭職後謝孟璋為了完成一直以來想學的語文,所以在日本慶應大學習日文一年。因當時家裡公司與日本UCC咖啡有個合作案,加上謝孟璋具備了中、英、日三種語言能力,當時UCC的部長就和謝孟璋的父親商討讓自己去UCC上班,所以在日本工作了一年,一年後由於謝孟璋的父親輕微中風,孝順的謝孟璋聞訊後,立即趕回台灣,並且開始陸續接手家裡的事業。回台灣後由於父親都在休養狀態,所以必須要在很短的時間內立即了解公司運作及管理,無法慢慢從基礎開始學起,這對個性有條有理,不疾不徐的謝孟璋是個很大的挑戰,謙虛的謝孟璋微笑著說,他現在所經營的企業或轉投資都是祖父和父親辛苦所建立的,所以要更加的努力地把公司經營好。

我喜歡科學,喜歡挑戰,我喜歡從困難中獲得成就感

「駿瀚生化股份有限公司是我的心血」,謝孟璋緩緩的道出這段艱辛的過程,駿瀚生化是父親事業其中一個轉投資的項目,主要生產抗生素,一直以來經營的還算不錯,但由於瀚駿生化僅有單一產品,而中國大陸掌握了製造抗生素最大的原料盤尼西林 (青黴素》,逐漸成為世界最大的抗生素生產地,以及原物料進口關稅成本,敵不過這樣的市場競爭,當時台灣許多生產抗生素的公司也陸續關閉,在我回台灣後三年後大約2000年,駿瀚生化也面臨了這樣的倒閉危機,由於老一輩的觀念認為公司不能輕易關掉,當時才33歲的自己,自告奮勇的說我來接!

謝孟璋說,由於曾經有學習過醫療相關學科,加上自己也對科學很有興趣,接手駿瀚生化第一步政策就是停止抗生素生產,第二步則是著手進行開發新產品。那時與台灣生技中心DCB合作共同開發關鍵心血管用藥中間體,這是當時台灣市場較少的技術,同時台灣LCD產業開始起飛,在一次的機會中與日本最大之特用化學品—長瀨株式會社談LCD相關等方面之精密特用化學品合作,當時駿瀚生化設立了新的電子化學部門,並與長瀨株式會社成為長期的合作夥伴。幾乎是打掉重練的過程,是要有多大的勇氣和決心,過程並不是如此的順利,但每遇到難關員工都會和自己一起撐過,經過轉型改革後的第四年,迎來了轉虧為盈的小小成果,在當下所有一切辛苦的過程都值得了。訪談當下看到謝孟璋對於對員工的支持與相挺,表情盡是充滿著感動。

 

我喜歡看書,特別喜歡關於科學&化學發展相關書籍,從書中能得到很多意想不到的啟發

我最喜歡一本書是 拿破崙的鈕釦(Napoleon’s Buttons),這本書非常精采的描述如何化學與材料學改變了歷史謝孟璋說著並向我們介紹了這本書而書名則是引用書裡其中一個故事將拿破崙會在俄羅斯大潰敗的原因之一歸罪於軍服的釦子! 由於以前的釦子是錫製的,錫在低溫時會崩解成粉末狀,軍衣扣子扣不起來使的士兵在酷寒中生病喪命,導致西元一八一二年拿破崙對俄軍戰役的大潰敗,若當初這些軍衣上的錫製鈕釦能不在低溫時裂解,是否法軍能繼續東征,並將歐洲的演進歷史推往一個完全不同的方向?從一個小小的釦子就有許多科學&化學的知識,甚至影響到整個戰爭的局面,此時謝孟璋繼續和我們分享其他的關於科學&化學相關的小故事,像男孩般開心的和朋友分享著自己喜歡的遊戲。

「樸實自我,樂觀進取」

這是我的人生價值觀,也經常和很多人分享,包含我兒子們,謝孟璋說著。這八個字很簡單,但卻是我一直以來在人事物上的依循,公司經營不只是營利,而是在於是否能給員工安居樂業的環境並與公司一起成長,一家企業也是要社會有價值的。同時在面臨挑戰時,想想能有這樣的挑戰是件好事,樂觀去面對並且認真踏實的作好每個細節在過程中看到問題、面對問題、解決問題,悲觀對於事情不會有任何的幫助,問題還是在那。所以這八個字也給所有的年輕人或在生活中遇到各種困難的人們的分享。

 

A Versatile Leader of the Food Industry

Synmax Biochemical Co., Ltd Chairman

Taitung Enterprise Co., Ltd. Vice-Chairman

Food Industry Research and Development Institute. – Chairman

Chinese National Federation Of Industries. – Director

Taiwan Canners Association. – Honorary Director

CURRY HOUSE CoCo ICHIBANYA (TAIWAN) – Board Member

Great Giant Food. – Commissioner

Wei Chuan Foods Corp. – Board Member

Elite Material Co.,Ltd.- Board Member

Upon seeing the list of titles above, one would think that there are a number of people being described.  However, these various leadership positions are held by only one person – Mr. Mark Hsieh.  Prior to our interview with Mr. Hsieh, it was nature to question, “How does Mr. Hsieh hold so many positions at one time?  Does he have 48 hours in each of his days?  Does he have “super powers”, where he can morph quickly from one project to the next?”  On the day of the interview, we received answers to all of our questions.

As the door to the meeting room opens, we receive a friendly greeting from Mark, “Hello, how are you?”  We immediately start into our interview.  He begins to tell us about his life and businesses.

Mark is the oldest child in his family.  From the time he was a boy, his parents arranged for Mark to be educated in the USA.  From grade school through high school, he was educated in New England.  Mark is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City, and received a Masters degree in International Affairs.  During the summer of his last year in graduate school, he went to work for Salomon Brothers as an intern. On the final day of his internship, all of the interns were to meet with the supervisor, with hopes that they would have an opportunity to become full-time employees, upon graduation.  Since Mark was an outstanding intern, his supervisor, asked directly, “Would you like me to make you an offer for the Asia Pacific?

Mark recalls that this was the most exciting work of his life, since he had just graduated and was working in a permanent position on Wall Street.  In 4 years at Salomon Brothers, Mark gained extensive experience in the field of corporate finance.  (Salomon Brothers was established in 1910 on Wall Street and was quite famous.  In 1990, Salomon Brothers merged with Travelers Corp., and then was acquired by Citibank in 1998.)

 

Why did you come back to Taiwan to develop in the Food Industry, instead of remaining in the USA in the financial industry?

Mark returned to Taiwan in 1997.  The reasons for his decision were twofold; first, his family was involved in many food-related companies in Taiwan and second, his father had a stroke, the family needed Mark to come home to take over the corporation.

Mark’s grandfather was one of the founders of Taiwan Pineapple in the 1950’s, and was successful in exporting canned pineapple to overseas markets.  His grandfather also started the Taiwan Food Industry Research Center, in an effort to improve Taiwan’s food quality.  It is also a formal training center for those involved with food research in Taiwan.   Mark’s father was also heavily involved with the food industry, but also expanded into other areas such as electronics, biotechnology, and chemicals.

In early 1990’s, when China began to open to the “outside”, Mark remarks that there were not many professionals in the securities industry who had adequate English-Chinese language capabilities, so Mark was assigned by his company to work in Hong Kong.  However, in 1995, China experienced an economic downturn, and financial transactions dwindled.  While Salomon Brothers continued to pay a lucrative salary, Mark resigned as he had stopped learning . Mark then resigned and went to Japan to attend Keio University to learn Japanese, one of his many interests.

One of the joint ventures between Mark’s family company was with UCC Coffee of Japan. Since Mark had language skills in English, Chinese, and Japanese, the Head of UCC suggested to Mark’s father that that Mark work directly in his Japan office.  Mark worked at UCC for 1 year.  However, after a year at UCC, Mark’s father became ill, so Mark came back to Taiwan to take care of his father and assume the management of the family’s many businesses.

Considering that Mark is generally a very well-organized person, to accept control of his family’s businesses under these conditions was quite a challenge.  However, this was Mark’s duty, and he accepted his responsibilities as a dutiful son, and overseas educated businessman.

 

“I enjoy science, and challenges.  I get a sense of accomplishment when I can overcome adversity.”

Mark, states, “What I achieved with Synmax Chemicals has given me the greatest satisfaction in my professional life.  Synmax was established by his father, along with other institutional investors and its primary business was the production of B-lactam antibiotics.  However, Mainland China became the leading producer of antibiotics, since there was an abundance of basic materials for their production there.  Coupled with the export subsidies placed on these materials being exported globally , in 2000 most of the chemical companies producing antibiotics went out-of-business.  However, investors were reluctant to close the company , so at 33, Mark accepted the challenge of taking over this faltering company, which could easily have been closed.

Since Mark has an interest in science and medical chemical products, Mark’s first action was to cease the production of antibiotics and then initiate the development of new products.  One of his new products was a Key intermediate for hypertension . Also, stepping “out of the box”, Mark developed a relationship with a large Japanese LCD chemical manufacturer, which required the use of chemicals in the production of LCD. Thereby, the LCD Chemical Division of Synmax was created.

To undertake a “Change Management” exercise, where complete departments and products are abandoned, and new products and departments are created, is not an easy task.  It wasn’t until the 4th year of this new operation that Synmax began to generate a profit and its new operation stabilized.  Mark recounts that if it wasn’t for the support and willingness of his employees to share the risk with Mark, this effort would surely have failed.

“Although this was a difficult goal to achieve, and not all “smooth sailing”, the end results justify our effort”.  Mark face is smiling, reflecting his accomplishment and gratitude towards his dedicated staff.

 

“I enjoy reading, especially books about science and particularly science history, because these books inspire creative thinking.”

Mark recalls, “One of my favorite books is called Napoleon’s Buttons, which weaves history with development of chemistry and material science. The title of the book entices readers with one of  several anecdotal explanations of how chemistry changed the course of history. In Napoleon’s case, the book attributes the poor quality of the soldier’s’ uniform buttons as one of the contributing factors to Napoleon’s failure to conquer Russia. Their buttons cracked in the frigid Russian winter, causing soldiers’ uniform to fall apart, exposing Napoleon’s army to the deadly Russian winter.  As a result, the French army could not properly wage war, and was defeated.  The author speculates that if the buttons had been made of a different material, which did not fail in cold weather, perhaps Napoleon would have won this war and expanded France’s geographical “Sphere of Influence”.  In this case, Europe’s history could possibly have been changed.  The importance of science in even the smallest detail cannot be overlooked.”’ Mark is like a little child, excited and happy to re-tell one of his favorite stories to anyone who is interested.

 

Postscript

Mark relates, “I often remind my two sons and others around me about my personal Values and Principles in 8 Chinese characters, “Pu Shr, Zhi Wo, Leh Guan, Jing Chur”.  The meanings of each of these four ideas are:

“Pu Shr” – “Simplicity” – In Life and in undertaking tasks, try to keep things simple.,

“Zhi Wo” – “Individuality” – Do not follow the crowd but try to accomplish things that you are interested in and can be creative doing.

“Leh Guan” – “Be Positive” – Being positive allows goals to be achieved in a good frame of mind and affects those around you.

“Jing Chur” – “Diligence” – To achieve anything worthwhile, one must be diligent. Each step should be carefully considered, and action taken in proper sequence.

“While these eight characters are quite simple, to live by and take action in accord with these principles is not an easy to do. The purpose of a Company is not only to generate a profit, but to create a secure and harmonious environment for its staff, and to contribute to society.  In any business, there will be challenges.  However, challenges should not be considered to be a bad thing – rather as an opportunity to learn and grow.  Each challenge should be optimistically and carefully assessed, then a strategy developed to overcome the challenge with an action plan, with proper execution of that strategy.  Finally, to be pessimistic on any level, does not help to overcome a challenge, or benefit anyone.  These are the guiding principles of my Life, which are particularly applicable to young people, and people who may be facing particular difficulties.”

 

人物專訪:莊盛全 (From Physician to Entrepreneur)

(English Article Follows)

文/張家嫻  攝影/酒文集  圖片/璽悅產後護理之家

莊盛全醫師,璽悅產後護理之家創辦人,曾任職於馬偕、新光醫院擔任婦產科醫師。

百忙中抽空坐下來和我們聊聊,莊醫師創業想法以及屬於他的個人故事。

才剛踏進訪談地點,迎面而來的是莊醫師爽朗的笑聲,在這炎熱的午後,令人精神一振!

「 其實我一直以來想做的是室內設計師不是醫生 !」 莊醫師直接切入話題。

我覺得我是個non-mainstream的人,從小因父母工作關係,必需跟著到處跑,我住過巴拉圭、巴西、日本、菲律賓並考上美國醫師執照。最後我選擇回來台灣從事婦產科醫生,但其實當年是想從事室內設計師,由於家庭偏向東方傳統,加上親戚也都是從醫,父母不希望自己的未來像他們一樣各地奔波,所以媽媽希望自己從事醫師這條路,使生活家庭穩定。但我心中始終有個室內設計師念頭。

回台灣後擔任婦產科醫師,一晃眼從就是12年,由於自己個性較為活潑,加上從小學開始在國外生活,喜歡和人互動,沒有從醫就只能往學術發展的想法,所以當時被派去出席,當時新光醫院評估月子中心業務市場分析報告,雖然最後評估未開設,但聽過許多次報告後,覺得這些方案是可行且有商機,就這樣放棄太可惜了,加上看到醫院旁的房屋招租訊息,300坪一個月只要18萬租金,當下毅然決然辭去醫師工作,把房屋拿去貸款當起了創業家。

璽悅產後護理之家 – 天母館

創業就是不要想太多一股勁往前衝!

莊醫師說「12年前月子中心還不普遍,當時月子中心開始起步,算是搭上順風車,第一家月子中心剛開始成立半個月時間,20張房間全部滿床」

可能因為當時年輕,才30幾歲出頭,沒多想就衝了,辭去穩定醫生工作去開月子中心,現在回想起來,其實還滿危險的,莊醫師大笑著說。

璽悅產後護理之家房間20~30個左右,屬於小型量體,優質服務的型態,目前平均兩年設立一家月子中心,從2006年開始到現在目前經有7家的月子中心,後續也評估在台灣以外國家設立月子中心,近期也在跟法國的醫院接洽中,加上目前和新光集團一起共同合作,無論在資金或是地產方面的資源都更加有力,讓這條路能走的更穩更遠。

少子化的現今,是否會擔心對經營上有所衝擊

當談論到台灣目前生育率,一對夫妻平均生0.8個小孩,少子化是否會衝擊到月子中心經營

莊醫師專業的分析著,雖然台灣目前面臨少子化問題,但實際上月子中心使用率是上升的,以數據來看,12年前使用月子中心新手媽媽,比例約為13%~15%,100位新手媽媽僅有13~15位會使用月子中心。到18年統計結果,則是每10位新手媽媽就有6位媽媽選擇月子中心,加上目前市場上競爭較以往多,坐月子價格較以往更親民,增加新手媽媽使用月子中心意願。

璽悅產後護理之家- 大直館

 

從醫生轉到創業家,是一條專才到通才的路

一直面帶陽光笑容的莊醫師,收起燦笑認真的說,在轉換過程中最大的困難或阻力是來自於,經營企業有許多規範,和內部管理,和當醫生是完全不同的,當醫生要做的就是把病人醫治好,以及對抗疾病,但目前大多數疾病可被醫治,或透過檢查找到原因治療,但企業管理和經營,就不是這麼單純了,從法律規範到內部管理要層層考量,而且管理沒有標準答案,莊醫師調皮的說,舉個例子,每次開完會後,個個點頭如搗蒜,表現認同,但轉身後卻有各種意見或想法,莊醫師露出了無奈的表情。

12年過程中,最感謝的就是一起陪我努力的夥伴們

月子中心是讓媽媽和寶寶安心的修養的地方,我印象中最深刻是遇過一個剛出生的寶寶,有膽道閉鎖不全的症狀,我們護理人員都是非常用心照顧,一發現寶寶異狀,及時讓寶寶就醫緊急開刀,最後寶寶治療成功,那位媽媽的笑容至今仍浮現我腦海中。另外也發生過媽媽在產後第三週有大出血的狀況,當下也是協助送醫,發現是有一小塊胎盤未清理乾淨,導致發炎,最後順利手續取出,並在休養一星期後順利出院。這些的印象深刻的經歷,都是因為有這些護理人夥伴們的細心,給予媽媽和寶寶安心的力量。當然還有一件最開心的事情就是,終於有機會能實踐室內設計師夢想,每個分館的設計,我都會與室內設計師一同討論,莊醫師再度露出陽光男孩笑容說著,所以除了創業之外,每個分館都算是我實現夢想的一部分吧。

“Hey, look at me!” 我的機會也是我自己去創造出來的

我經常會跟年輕員工說,對於想追求的事情,不要害怕勇於嘗試。或許年輕人會說,因為你們那個年代機會比較多,所以比較容易成功。 但如果我沒有那些實戰醫師經驗、值班的夜晚,我就不會有月子中心創業想法。每一個年代有不同的機會,但要打開眼睛,看看身處環境趨勢,機會就在那兒了! 並堅持不輕言放棄,困難是正常的,創業就是這麼回事。

璽悅產後護理之家 – 士林館

 

後記:

訪談過程中莊醫師始終帶著陽光型男微笑,還有爽朗的笑聲,其實無論從小在國外求學階段,到卸下醫師光環創業,有很多旁人看不到的辛苦。或許有些人會羨慕從小可以在國外生活,但殊不知東方人的臉孔,經常引來當地人欺負與霸凌。” 被欺負是經常的事 ”,莊醫師輕鬆的說著。11歲時有一次要去朋友家練彈吉他,走在路上時突然有6個小孩往自己靠過來,那時還傻傻想反抗,結果被較高大的小孩往臉上踢了一腳,整個嚇傻了。到了朋友家後,拿出吉他琴譜時手一直在發抖著,可能被欺負經驗多了,最後發現一個方式就是,當發現可能會被打劫時,趕緊走到馬路中,讓車子大聲按喇叭,那些人就會被嚇跑。突然想到剛才莊醫師談到,創業要睜大眼睛,觀察周遭看到商機,或許因為從小在國外生活的經歷,讓莊醫師對於遭環境有高度觀察力及敏感度,找到解決方式或嗅到機會,並實際去嘗試以及堅持,或許是這位有著陽光笑容的莊醫師成功的原因吧。

 

 

From Physician to Entrepreneur

Dr. Jesse Chuang, the founder of Ma Cherie Post-Partum Center, is taking time from his hectic schedule to meet with us today for this interview, and relating to us about his Company, life and principles.  Previously, Jesse was an OBGYN doctor at the McKay and Shin Kong Hospitals in Taipei.  On a very hot, humid summer day, we hear first Jesse’s laughter, which seems to brighten our day and provide some needed energy.

Jesse begins, “I originally had great interest in interior design, so it’s quite different how my life evolved.  I feel that the development of my life can be described as “non-mainstream”.  Although I was born in Taiwan, my parents had business all over the world, so I accompanied them to many different countries.  My childhood was primarily spent in South America – I attended grade school in Paraguay and Brazil.  I am fluent in Spanish, but only speak a little Portuguese.  Then I traveled with my parents to Japan and the Philippines, where I received my medical doctor’s degree.  However, while I had an interest in interior design, most of my Taiwanese relatives were in medicine, and my parents felt that this was the most appropriate profession for me.”

Jesse continues, “I worked as a physician at Shin Kong Hospital for 12 years.  Then, because of my varied background and interests, and flexible approach to life, Shin Kong asked me to attend meetings on their behalf to understand how to operate a post-partum center.  It was the Hospital’s decision not to pursue this project further.  However, I saw the great potential that this opportunity presented, and I made the decision to develop in the field of business, rather than further my medical career.  I then resigned my position as a physician at the hospital and began my business career.  Coincidentally, a large, suitable space to develop my first post-partum center became available next to the Hospital.  Not thinking about it too much, I used my house as collateral to obtain a loan to invest in this property.

 

“When starting a business, don’t think too much, just get started!”

Jesse explains with a chuckle, “Twelve years ago, there weren’t many post-partum centers in Taiwan, so business was good.  When I first started, it only took 2 weeks to fill my 20-rooms post-partum center.  Because at the time I was only in my early 30s, I did not take into too much consideration the risks involved with changing careers, and then starting a relatively new business.”

“Most of our post-partum centers average between 20 to 30 rooms.  Since 2006, we have been expanding our operation by one center every 2 years; so now we have a total of 7 post-partum centers.  Shin Kong Hospital is also a key investor in our operation, which is a great advantage.  Presently, we are considering expanding overseas, and are even talking with some interested French investors.

 

“Does the decline of the birthrate in Taiwan negatively impact the post-partum business?”

Jesse replies, “While the reproductive rates in Taiwan have dropped to less than 1 child per couple, the post-partum business is still expanding.  Twelve years ago, out of 100 births, about 13% to 15% of the mothers would choose to use the services of a post-partum center.  However, now about 6 women in 10, or 60% of the new mothers chose to use the post-partum services.  In addition, with this business (as with other successful businesses) there is more competition, which drives the prices for these services down.  Therefore, at this time our business outlook is optimistic.”

 

 “There is a big difference between being a Professional Physician and a Corporate Head”

As a physician, your main responsibility is the health of the patient and using all methods and medicines available to allow your patient return to good health.  However, as the head of a corporation, you have many rules and regulations to abide by, personnel to lead and be responsible for, and many different responsibilities to cover.  As medicine has developed over the years, there are many diagnoses, test equipment, medicine and procedures to overcome illness and injury.  However, in corporate business, there are disparate responsibilities, including, finance, human resources, marketing, sales, plant, etc. which must be considered – – – and there are no “standard” or “correct” methodologies to address every situation in a corporate environment.

 

“In the last 12 years of the development of Ma Cherie, I am most grateful to my staff who has shared my challenges.”

Jesse relates to us two of his most memorable experiences,

“The purpose of a post-partum center is to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the newborn baby and mother to gain strength following childbirth, and to minimize any complications.  One of my deepest recollections was when one of our nurses noticed that one particular baby did not exhibit the proper coloration of a newborn baby.   Immediately, the doctors were advised and the baby was sent to a hospital, where it was discovered that it was suffering from BACH (an infant-related disease of the gall and liver).  Surgery was immediately conducted on the baby, and fortunately, the baby returned to normal.  The thankful, happy face of the mother when she saw her baby again is an indelible memory in my mind.

 

In another incident, there was a newborn mother who was bleeding profusely.  She was immediately sent to the hospital, where they discovered that the placenta was only partially removed, which caused the bleeding.  This condition was corrected, and the mother was able to return to our Center to properly recuperate.

The happy outcome of both of these incidents was due primarily to the attention of my diligent and caring staff, who really have the health and safety of the newborn babies and mothers in heart.”

Jesse also related that his dreams of being an interior designer have been somewhat fulfilled by his participation in the interior designs of his 7 post-partum centers.

 

“Hey, look at me – I took advantage of the opportunities presented to me”

Jesse states, “I often tell my younger staff that if you want to accomplish something, don’t be afraid of a challenge or difficulties, as this is normal for any new idea or business.  You just have to make the good effort.  However, sometimes young people remark that there were more opportunities in the era that I grew-up.  My response to that is that every era has great opportunities, if you just open your eyes and mind to the possibilities.  Never give up!

In my case, if I didn’t have 12 years of experience working as a doctor in a hospital, or working long hours in the Emergency Room, I may not have gotten the idea to start my own business.”

 

Postscript:

Throughout the interview, Jesse is smiling, cheerful, and upbeat.  However, Jesse’s happy personality masks the challenges and difficulties that he had to overcome in order to be successful in business.  Perhaps many people envy Jesse’s opportunities to grow-up and be educated in foreign countries, but they also may not have taken into consideration the difficulties of being a child in a totally different culture, and the innate prejudices that Jesse may have encountered.

Jesse remarks, “Of course, I encountered prejudice, but those things are in the past.  I remember when I was in grade school, I was on my way to a friend’s house to practice playing the guitar.  While I was walking, I was surrounded by a group of six boys.  My first reaction was to fight, but the biggest boy kicked me in the face, much to my surprise.  That was the end of my fighting career.  I was still shaking when I arrived at my friend’s home.  I later learned that the safest tactic, if I was accosted by unfriendly boys, was to run to the roadside, so that drivers would see me being bullied, and honk their horns to scare the attackers away.

This little story can be related to business opportunity and development.  It is important to be aware of your surroundings, the people that you are dealing with, and potential opportunities that may come your way.  The fact that Doctor Jesse Chuang was raised overseas, perhaps enhanced his abilities to analyze various situations, and was one of the reasons that he was able to successfully pursue two different careers, and making a successful transition from one profession to another.

人物專訪:黃愛倫 (At the Intersection of Music & Calligraphy)

(English Article Follows)

文/張家嫻    攝影/酒文集    圖/黃愛倫

初見到黃愛倫時,鵝黃色上衣,簡約大方藍色長褲,搭配素雅的圍巾,優雅大方的氣質,以及臉上的笑容令人感受到溫暖自在。黃愛倫自謙是「藝術世界的尋道者」,但她的鋼琴演出經歷包括:台北國家音樂廳、法國巴黎、沙木尼、 楓丹白露、庫胥薇爾、 紐約、德州、加州、洛杉磯、上海等地,並和知名鋼琴家夫婿諸大明錄製了「盧炎鋼琴四手聯彈作品第一號及第二號」、曾參與電影「玉卿嫂」、「望海的母親」配樂製作,並在中廣「音樂中的文學故事」節目主持。在書法上,也表現亮眼,獲得台北市總統府丁酉新春開筆大賽金獎,並曾在山東、江蘇、江西、廣東、台北等地舉行展覽。

以一個台大外文系畢業的高材生,為什麼會走上藝術之路?黃愛倫說,小時候父母忙於工作,成長過程較為孤獨,媽媽覺得藝術、電影與書本是一個人最好的朋友,而當時家就住在藤田梓老師與鄧昌國老師共同成立的「東方藝術學苑」對面,所以自然地開啟鋼琴學習之路,同時也與畫家張杰老師學習水彩、劉玉芝老師學習芭蕾以及民族舞蹈。這一切都處在一種「無所為而為」的狀況下自然學習,媽媽只單純覺得,小朋友不要一直看電視,有良好的成長環境就好。可能因為沒有壓力,反倒產生了濃厚的興趣,加上求學階段課業繁重,彈鋼琴成了一種紓壓出口,考試越多,越喜歡彈琴,不知不覺間,鋼琴成了生活重心、成了伴侶,更成了信仰。黃愛倫笑笑地說。

「凡事只要有熱情,再辛苦困難都能克服!」

黃愛倫畢業於外國語文學系,副修法文。由於外文系每學期都有戲劇公演,身為台大合唱團鋼琴伴奏的她往往被委託幕後配樂的重任,也開啟了她重新思索音樂表現的其他可能。畢業後,黃愛倫進入張弘毅老師的豐采音樂公司,擔任電影配樂助理,累積了一些實務經驗後,便負笈巴黎師範音樂院,主修鋼琴演奏,旁聽電影配樂,而後在美國紐約大學取得音樂教育碩士學位。

黃愛倫回憶起,剛到美國的時候,沒有床,沒有家具,住的地方什麼都沒有,空蕩蕩的房間裡只有一台鋼琴,晚上睡覺時躺在鋼琴下看著鋼琴,覺得快樂又幸福。年輕時總是滿腔熱血和衝勁,因喜愛音樂,熱衷看表演,尤其是大都會歌劇院、林肯中心,隨時都有不可抗拒的神級音樂會,但歌劇票一張要價100多美金,對學生來說負擔沉重。窮則變、變則通,情商同學幫忙買專給指揮系學生的四樓優惠票,只要六塊美金,座位上有一個附燈的小桌子,可以閱讀總譜,往下鳥瞰舞台只能看到小小的人,但音效以及演奏仍然很棒,聽到激動之處,甚至會落淚。就是因為太熱愛音樂了,最後乾脆直接應徵大都會歌劇院的帶位員,除了能賺取經濟所需,同時也能享受自己最愛的歌劇及演奏。黃愛倫回憶起過往眼睛一亮,臉上也露出不言而喻的滿足,曾經在異鄉的生活,再次回味依舊是無與倫比的精彩,由於對音樂的熱愛,一切甘之如飴。

六年前開始接觸書法,驚喜地發現中國最古老的書法藝術竟然與西方音樂有許多共通點。

「一直以來西方文化藝術佔據我生命中很重要的地位」,黃愛倫緩緩著說著,不諱言當今台灣的教育是相當西化的,加上鋼琴的學習及外文系的訓練,可以說幾十年來,對自己的文化反倒相形疏遠陌生,隨著年紀成熟後,隱隱有落葉歸根,尋找東方源頭的想法,而書法是純中國的,也是中國文化的核心。而這項藝術的基本功訓練著重於臨摹,屬於精英的小眾藝術。但國外所學所聞,以及文學、戲劇及美學上的專業系統訓練,讓黃愛倫想用其他的方式,讓書法與藝術結合,用另一種新面貌呈現,寫時代的語言。「摹寫是與古人的神交,能創作打破時間距離、空間藩籬、甚至跨領域的作品,才不辜負我們處在這個資訊唾手可得的美好年代。」黃愛倫說,往往在音樂、書法的學習中,因發現二者的共通性而喜不自勝。書法與音樂在線條質感、線條情感、韻律節奏等等有著太多可以分享之處了!

創意不受限在藝術的表現上,在生活的也處處展現出創意。

我的拿手菜,應該就是法式紅酒燉雞吧!黃愛倫面露可愛的表情說著,「旅居巴黎時住在修女經營的音樂宿舍裡,由於在歐洲,瓶裝水比紅酒還要昂貴,所以修女們給這群十幾二十歲的小女生餐餐的飲料是酒而不是水,也開發了我對酒及美食的興趣」。對黃愛倫來說,疲倦時小小療癒的方法,就是下廚做菜。喜歡嘗試新鮮事物的黃愛倫享受做菜的過程,用創意入菜每道菜都是實驗品,當然有時會有失敗的時候,而失敗的餐點就讓家人做試吃囉, 黃愛倫捂嘴笑著,但聊到了紅酒燉雞時,黃愛倫熟練分享製作方式,「Coq au Vin 這道菜是法國最經典的家常菜,材料很庶民,但是工序繁複,能以我喜愛的紅酒入菜是很大的享受,做它多遍還是次次有驚奇……….」藝術家求完美的精神,似乎在這道「法式紅酒燉雞」中徹底展現了。

黃愛倫提及自己的前半生一直奮力學習、嚴謹生活,歐、美的人生哲學讓她更加珍惜及享受當下精彩的每一刻,訪問中黃愛倫即興以「酒文集」三字,用紅酒和書法做藝術創作結合,她解釋:「酒」字是酒罈的意象、篆字「文」模擬一個微醺而手舞足蹈的人、篆字「集」則是三隻鳥棲息在樹上,意喻喝酒這美好的事是獨樂樂不如眾樂樂的。而後刷上2016年的紅酒Zinfandel ,頓時字體整個活了起來,現場大家都感受了紅酒帶來的歡樂與驚奇!

「酒」:酒罈意象

「文」:一個微醺而手舞足蹈的人

「集」:三隻鳥棲息在樹上,表示喝酒是獨樂樂不如眾樂樂的事

背景顏料:2016 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel

 

「跟隨大眾市場很重要,但也要保有自己的特色,不要隨波逐流。」

對於想從事藝術創作的青年們,黃愛倫認為現在的媒體傳播是一股很大的力量,因此適當的與媒體結合是很重要的一個環節, 但也因爲資訊傳播太過快捷,思想的同化也難以避免。在這同時,不要隨波逐流被大眾市場干擾而喪失自我,首先確認自己的定位及方向,建立風格與辨識度,勇於擁抱新的思潮, 不斷創新突破,並堅持自己方向前進。「凡事只要有熱情,再辛苦困難都能克服!」

 

At the Intersection of Music & Calligraphy

This is the first time I am meeting Ellen Huang.  She is wearing an attractive mustard-colored sweater, paired with a patterned scarf, and comfortable blue slacks.  Her appearance is stylish but understated and classic, and her smile is warm and inviting.  Modestly, she states that her goal is not only to develop her art, but also find the principles and deeper meaning of any art in which she is involved.

Ellen’s first artistic love is the piano and she was formally trained at New York University (NYU) in New York City.  She performed piano recitals at the National Concert Hall in Taipei; in France (Paris, Chamonix, Chateau de Fontainebleu); in the USA (New York, Dallas, Los Angeles), and Shanghai.  Ellen appeared with her well-known husband, Concert Pianist Daming Zhu, on a recording of 4-hand piano pieces by the Taiwan composer, Lu Yen.  Ellen participated in the musical scores of two Taiwan movies. She was also the host of a radio music program.

Her second artistic interest lies in Chinese Calligraphy, and her talent was confirmed, when she was awarded the Gold Medal in an ROC Presidential Calligraphy Competition in 2017.  Her calligraphy has been exhibited in Shandung, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Guangdung, and Taipei.

So the question is, “Why would Ellen Huang, a graduate of the Foreign Languages & Literature School at the National Taiwan University, devote herself to the field of the Arts?”

Ellen relates, “When I was growing-up, my parents were quite busy, so I was a bit lonely.  My mother suggested that learning the arts and reading are good ways for a child to spend her time.  In the neighborhood, there were two leading music teachers – pianist Madame Anna Fujita, and violinist conductor Chang-Guo Deng – whom started the Dung Fang Art School, where I studied piano.  I also studied watercolor painting from Chang Jie, and ballet from Liu Yur-Zhi.  Because I was never pressured to learn the arts, my enthusiasm was always high and I was a good student.  Also, as everyone knows, Chinese secondary school requires intensive studies and testing, so playing the piano was a good way for me to relax and ease the academic pressures of Chinese school.”

As long as you are enthusiastic, you can overcome difficulties

Ellen not only graduated from the Foreign Languages School at Taiwan University in English, but also she minored in French.  Periodically, there were performances of plays in her school. And she was usually the person who was in-charge of providing the musical scores for these plays.  After she graduated from Taiwan University, Ellen joined the music studio of Chang Hung-I, and was an assistant for music scoring for film.  After gaining adequate experience, she moved to Paris to further her piano studies at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris (Music Teachers’ School).  Again her primary focus was specifically on creating musical scores for film.  Following her studies in France, she was accepted to NYU in New York City, where she received her Master’s Degree in Music Education.

Ellen Huang remembers when she first arrived in the USA, she didn’t have a bed or any furniture – only a singular piano in her apartment.  When it was time for sleep, she reclined under the piano, but she was quite happy and thankful.  Ellen said, “When people are young, they have a lot of energy and passion!”  Ellen has a love for music and theater, therefore she felt that New York City was the ideal place her to be at that time, with opportunities to attend the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, and all of the theaters on Broadway, to mention a few.  Theater and concert tickets in New York City are generally quite expensive – usually not within the budget of university students.  However, there were “cheap” seats afforded to music students, located high-up in the loges of the theaters (far away from the stages), which Ellen took advantage of.  The positive aspect of these spaces was there were usually a small table and light, from which she could read the plays scripts.  Although the stage and actors were quite small from such a distance, the music was still excellent and moved Ellen.

Because Ellen’s love for music, she applied for a job at the Metropolitan Opera as an usher.  Not only did she earn a little money, but she could enjoy the daily performances.  When Ellen reminisces about her experiences of that time, she has a wistful smile on her face.

 

Upon being introduced to calligraphy in 2013, Ellen was surprised to discover that Chinese calligraphy has many things in common with Western Music

Ellen confirms that Western music and culture has had a great impact on her life.  However, she also states that the current Taiwan education also has many Western influences.  She also admits that her educational background in Western Music and foreign languages made her a “stranger” to Chinese culture and arts.  As she matured, Ellen desired to find her cultural “roots”.  She states, “Calligraphy is the most basic cultural aspect of Chinese culture.”  Training in calligraphy requires careful repetition, and an eye for what is considered to be the proper execution of a Chinese character.  However, Ellen also integrates her Western education into her interpretation of calligraphy, to create a new form of calligraphy for all to experience.

Ellen explains, “While ancient calligraphy is artistic on its own merits, art cannot be static.  I have employed my Western artistic influences in music and culture, to reinterpret Chinese calligraphy to make it more relevant and interesting to the present-day people.  Although music is an aural experience, while calligraphy is a visual experience, their commonality is in their required rhythm and tempo.”

 

Creativity is not limited to Art, but is also prevalent in Daily Life

Ellen states, “I enjoy cooking – my favorite dish to cook is the French chicken marinated in wine (Coq au Vin).

When I was living in Paris, I stayed in a dormitory which was run by Catholic nuns.  Meals were prepared for dorm residents.  Wine is more expensive than bottled water in France, so at meals, wine was served as our beverage.  From this experience, I began to enjoy tasting wine and different foods.  When I am tired or stressed, I enjoy cooking – particularly the process of cooking – and I like to be creative and experiment with the food ingredients and preparation.  Of course, there are times when my cooking experimentation is not that tasty or successful, however, members of my family are my “guinea pigs” and they are tasked with consuming my food creations.”

Upon discussing cooking, Ellen proceeds to enthusiastically explain the details of how to prepare Coq au Vin, which is a famous and popular dish in France.  While the ingredients are simple, the key is in the preparation.  Further, Ellen mentions that she enjoys cooking with wine.  She said, “Every time I prepare Coq au vin, the results are a bit different.  This is similar to Art in that it requires creativity each time.”

“The first part of my life in Taiwan was concerned mainly with diligently learning as much as I could – – a typical Taiwan student’s life.  However, it was only after living in the West (Paris and New York), that I realized that people need to relax at times, and Life is to be enjoyed and cherished.” Ellen remarks.

At that moment, Ellen decides to demonstrate her creativity in calligraphy using red ink, writing the words “Jiou Wen Ji” (da Vinci – alliterative in Chinese).  The “Jiou” is represented by a wine urn; “Wen” is represented by a slightly tipsy person, and “Ji” is represented by a gathering of birds nesting on a tree – the overall meaning is that wine is to be enjoyed with friends.  Then she decides to dip her brush into a small dish of 2016 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel, and then uses it to brush over the red characters, which causes the characters to “pop” out of their background, giving a please 3D effect – and integration of calligraphy and wine.

 

While, as an artist, it is important to be aware of current trends and interests, it is equally important to keep your identity and style, and not “sell out” to what is popular.

Ellen advises to young people who are interested in pursuing Art as a career, “Social media is a double-edged sword.  It is important to be able to use social media as a tool to quickly reach a large audience for commercial purposes, and to gain wide exposure.  However, artists need to be careful not to be influenced by the art of others, as you need to retain your own artistic identity and style.”

Finally, Ellen emphasizes, “If you are passionate about Art (or any other topic), it is alright to experience difficulties and hardships, as long as you keep yours Goals in mind.”

人物專訪:楊柏林 (Life, Nature and  Art)

(English Article Follows)

 文   /  張家嫻    攝影/ 楊柏林工作室   圖片/ 楊柏林工作室

採訪前看了許多楊柏林老師的作品、採訪,直到採訪的當天,見到楊柏林老師,以及「蕨知苑」,體會到藝術與自然共存,是如此的極致。

「蕨知苑」位於外雙溪的山麓,蜿蜒的山路岔路旁,隱約看到刻著棕色的小招牌,那就是進入「蕨知苑」前的告示。楊柏林,知名雕塑家、畫家、詩人,山石山象國際藝術負責人、同為亞細亞雕塑家協會理事長,參與公共藝術、景觀設計與建築規劃,以及各類藝術作品發表,殊榮無數。

正式採訪前,老師領我們先參觀了「蕨知苑」,這棟建築物已經不能用房子來形容,而是與大自然融為一體的棲身之地,從玄關開始就是一場藝術展,映入眼簾的是楊柏林老師的作品,陽光從一整片的玻璃落地窗折射進來,光線打在摩天大樓上,或許是因為溫暖的陽光,讓它舒服的扭轉脖子,形成了一件獨一無二的藝術品。

穿過玻璃落地窗,來到了庭院,粉紫色蘭花綻放,露出微笑迎接著我們到來,一旁的蕨類慵懶垂掛著,走過的層層空間都是驚奇,每一扇門、樓層都是一個舞台。最後來到了一扇木頭大門前,門閂開啟,進入到充滿禪意的場域,入門左側是一尊佛像靜靜佇立玻璃窗邊,楊老師領我們入座,開啟了我們的談話。

那時隱約感受到,將來要做的是藝術家,只是當下不知道,那叫做藝術家 。

從小我就喜歡畫畫,喜歡夢想,喜歡孤獨,在我的家鄉,那裏只有貧瘠的海,只能當漁夫養牡蠣。2017年知名作家蔡詩萍,專訪楊柏林老師聊到,國小三、四年級跟著母親去牡蠣田幫忙時,因沒有手套,被牡蠣殼給割傷手,在已是黃昏的時刻,看著流出的血,第一時間感受到的不是痛,而是血與黃昏融為一體,壯麗的感受,那種與大自然連結一體的畫面,讓我隱約感受到,將來要做的是藝術家,只是當那時的年紀,並下不知道,那叫做「藝術家」,能想到的就是,以後要當一個畫畫的人。

我是特殊、特別的存在,我建立我自己的傳奇,就因為我的經歷與別人不同。    

我所有的東西,都是自己創造的,用自我獨特方式存在形成風格。當藝術家若沒有自己的風格,那不是藝術,是捏造的。我喜歡所有藝術,也喜歡生活美學,空間設計,我的每處空間,如同舞台,從材料尋找開始,到累積裝置,都是親手去做,因為那才能形成獨特的美學次序。我空間的畫,都是專為我空間而畫的,意境是不同的,如同酒一般,釀造出的風味都是獨一無二的。我會參觀別人藝術品,但「不參考」。我有專屬自己的DNA。因為我的生命經歷特別,別人寫不出來也模仿不來。我是藝術家裡和藝術家是不聊藝術的,因為每個人喜歡的不同,像酒一樣,每個人喜歡的口感,風味皆不同。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

在藝術這條路上,遇到困難或瓶頸的時候,「不設限」是最好的解套方式  。

藝術對我而言,是開放式的,我從不侷限自己,也不設限自己只在一個領域。一般藝術家會只選擇自己所喜歡的藝術,甚至會排斥不喜歡的,但藝術之所以美好,就是因為藝術不受限任何形式。我的方式是在生活中每個平凡的小細節,用看的、用體會的做為藝術的創作來源。我喜歡抓住生活中,最重要核心人事物,並將其融入在創作中,藝術和生活是息息相關的,就連每天簡單用來掃地的掃把,只要用心的去體會,都是有含意的。

在2010年當代藝術館展出的Here I am 其中展出作品「你是誰」,就是以每天日常簡單掃地與掃把的關聯,引發創作靈感。同樣都是掃把,一個是竹子做的,另一個則是以紅、綠色塑製掃把,但兩者共同點為柄都是木頭,我將柄綁在一起,代表許多人事物是有共通連結的。我喜歡自我發掘,身歷其境的去看到那棵樹、這朵花的成長,這些無法從書上去體驗的,因為這是活生生的生命過程。所以在藝術這條路上,遇到困難或瓶頸的時候,「不設限」是最好的解套方式。

你會什麼,做那件事情就對了 !

你會什麼,做那件事情就對了! 重點是要自己喜歡的,若想從事藝術這條路,我給的不是建議,而是說明藝術這件事情,藝術是一種與生俱來的敏感度,當喜歡一件事情時,就會有所堅持。若抱著嘗試看看的心態,非強烈到著迷的程度,那這條路是行不通的。你要自己喜歡,才能說服別人喜歡,若自己都不喜歡,又怎會奢望別人喜歡你的創作呢?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

後記:

聊著聊著,飛來一隻嬌客,在老師面前揮動著小翅膀,老師眼神溫柔的和它對話,然後它像是聽懂了般,張大雙眼,乖乖地停在綠枝葉上,「它聞到了酒味,就飛進來了,因為這是他的地盤,它想一起加入我們」,楊老師笑笑地說。

如同楊老師在「坐看雲起」書中所述「周遭的植物、松鼠、落葉、昆蟲、甚至蛇都有了更親密的關係,連同他們都已經不是過境之客」。此刻夕陽西下,看著長髮披肩,原本面容冷酷的楊柏林老師,其實是把最柔軟的那一面獻給了大自然,因為大自然給予我們的,遠比我們想得更多。而「蕨知苑」就是給予天地萬物最好的回應。

 

Life,Nature and  Art

Prior to visiting Master Yang Buo-Lin’s studio, “Jue Zhi Yuan” (roughly “ Garden of Internal Awakening”), for this interview, I was able to view many of his artworks, and read interviews conducted by other professional writers.  However, it was only on the day of the interview, that I began to understand that art and nature could coexist in such perfect harmony.  “Jue Zhi Yuan” is located in the foothills of Wai Shuang Xi (in the same valley as the National Palace Museum).   Along the side of a narrow winding road, there is a small, understated brown sign, which is the only notice that one has arrived at “Jue Zhi Yuan”.  Master Yang Buo-Lin is a well-known sculptor, painter, and poet.  He is the Head of International Art Company of Shang-Shr Shangshan, and the Chairman of the Association of Asian Sculptors.  He has created many pieces public sculpture, and is active in landscape design and architectural planning, as well as the promotion and exhibition of various works of art.

Before our interview, Master Yang leads us on a tour of his home and studio.  This building can no longer be accurately described as merely a “house”, but has evolved into a residence which is in complete harmony with Nature.  At the entrance of “Jue Zhi Yuan” is an art exhibit – it beckons the visitor to see and enjoy more of his wonderful artworks.  The sunlight is directed into the generous exhibition space via large panes of floor-to-ceiling glass, picture windows. The sunlight strikes the metal skyscraper sculpture – the warm sunlight gives the layered sculpture a feeling of gentle movement, forming a unique piece of art.

From the initial exhibition space, I enter an interior courtyard, which is open to the sky.  An elegant, pink-purple orchid seems to welcome us.  The lazy ferns recline in the afternoon sunlight over the side retaining walls.  Each space that I walk through is unique and amazing.  Every door on each floor is an entrance to another stage.   Finally, we approach a grand wooden door, which opens into a very spiritual, meditative space.  On the left side of the entry is a statue of Buddha standing quietly next to a large glass window.  Master Yang directs me to take a seat and then we begin our conversation.

“When I was a young boy, I had the vague feeling that my life was to be involved with art”

Master Yang begins his remarks, “When I was a young boy, I had the vague feeling that my life was to be involved with art.  However, at the time I was so young, I really didn’t have any idea what exactly an “artist” was!  From that time, I always enjoyed painting, daydreaming, and my individuality – I didn’t have many friends since I lived near the ocean.  Where I grew up, there weren’t many people, only the open sea and a few fishermen who also cultivated oysters.”

In an interview conducted in 2017, with a well-known writer, Tsai Shr-Pin, Master Yang related, “When I was in elementary school, I went with my mother to the seaside to pick oysters – my mother’s livelihood.   However, it was a tough life as we were too poor to afford protective gloves, which caused our hands to bleed from the sharp oyster shells.“ However, Master Yang recalled, “The first time, at the end of a day’s collecting oysters, as my hands were bleeding into the saltwater, I was surprised that I did not feel pain.  Rather the mix of my red blood and the yellow-orange sunlight at sunset was quite artistic and strangely aesthetic – an integration of people with Nature.  This reinforced my feeling that my future was to be in art, and I thought that I would become a painter, as that was my limited understanding of art at the time.   This is an indelible memory of my youth.”

 “I am somewhat of a different type of artist.  I’ve built my own artistic style, from my own set of unique experiences”

All my creations are from my own mind and hands – I feel that if an artist does not have his own style, it is not really art, but just a fabrication.  I like all forms of art, life’s aesthetics and the creation process – including space design, searching for suitable aesthetic materials, assembling, and completing the work of art.  All of the paintings in my studio are designed specifically for each interior space. Every artist’s conception is different, and artistic styles are unique.  I enjoy other artists’ works, but will not integrate them into my psyche or creative thinking; I have my own “artistic” DNA.  Because my life experience is so different, it can’t be imitated.  I don’t discuss art with other artists, because while other artists may like to share their experience, like fine wine, I prefer to be unique and special.”

 “In the development of art, when difficulties or bottlenecks are encountered, the best solution is to have a “no limits” problem solving” methodology

“Art is an “open forum” for me.  I do not limit myself, nor do I restrict myself to one form of art.   Most artists will only be involved with the form of art that he likes best or has the greatest skill level – and may even reject other forms of art.  However, I feel that art is beautiful because it is not limited to any specific form.  I try to draw upon every little detail of my life – to use my experiences as a source of artistic creation.  Art and life are closely related.  There is even artistic merit in the broom that is used to sweep the floor daily, as long as one’s heart is into the experience.  For example, in 2010 at the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, I held an exhibition titled, “Who are You?”.  One of the pieces of art was inspired by the simple daily task of sweeping the floor with a broom.  I created a “two-headed” broom connected in the middle by a wooden handle.  One broom head is made of bamboo, the other broom head is made of red and green plastic.  The brooms are integrated by the wooden handle, which represents that all people have a common connection.  I like to evolve artistically from experiences in my life, for example, carefully noting the growth of trees and flowers.  This can’t be experienced from a book, but must be experienced first-hand, because this is a living, evolving process.”

“What You Know, it is Right Thing to Pursue”

“The key idea is to “pursue what you like”.  If you wish to become an artist, I really cannot give you any concrete advice.  I can only explain to you what I feel Art is.  While much of Art is borne from an innate sensitivity, there is a lot of effort and personal sacrifice involved.   Art requires perseverance – if you are really dedicated, you will stick to it.  If you are only “trying Art out” just to see if you can be “successful”, then Art will not work for you.  You have to enjoy the “process” of Art at all stages – from its conception to the final artwork – in order to convince others to like it, as well.  If you don’t like your Art, how can you expect others to like your creation?”

 Postscript:

Following our conversation, a small dragonfly is flying around Master Yang.  Master Yang begins to chat quietly with the dragonfly.  Then the dragonfly calms down and politely lands on a leaf of a plant in front of Master Yang – it seems to understand, Master Yang remarks with a smile, “The dragonfly said that when he smelled the open wine, he flew in to join us, because this is part of his home and he feels welcome, safe and comfortable.”  As Master Yang stated in his book Sitting in the Clouds, “The plants, squirrels, leaves, insects, and even the snakes have an intimate relationship with my home; they are no longer guests.”  At that moment, as the sun set, I see the gentleness of Master Yang’s face with his long ponytail in the waning light.  The “Jue Zhi Yuan” truly reflects Master Yang’s artistic nature and outlook on the world.