Yang San Lang (楊三郎)
Shufang, Ahleena and I decided to check out the Yang San Lang Art Museum (楊三郎美書館) today: https://www.facebook.com/yangsanlangartmuseum. Nestled in the shadow of Zhongzheng (中正) Bridge, down European Lane in Yonghe (永和), it was a short trip from our restaurant. When we arrived, we were greeted by Christopher Young, the grandson of this great Taiwanese figure in Taiwanese painting, namely Yang San Lang.
The museum has five floors, all of which Christopher patiently walked us through. The first two hold some of the grandest paintings. As Christopher explained, it has to do with the dynamics of the museum. The upper floors have shallow ceilings; in other words, they're too small to hold larger works. Having said that, the paintings that made the deepest impression were on the third floor. They are of Tamsui boats. To tell the truth, I probably wouldn't have given them a second thought, especially after seeing the masterful stuff below. Chris filled me in on his grandpa's obsession with boats however and I came away with different point of view.
In 1947, Yang San Lang was already an important figure on the Taiwan art front. So important, it seems, it landed him on the KMT 228 kill lists. Luckily, a benevolent police officer tipped him off. This individual also pointed out if Yang showed up at an exit point from Taiwan, family in tow, the invaders wouldn't give a second thought on erasing the whole clan. Thus, it was decided that Yang's family would leave first. Yang himself was expected to make a rendezvous with a helpful party out in Tamsui, and from there board a ship and continue on to Japan. It was up to him to get there though. Being an imaginative and industrious fellow, Yang procured a small boat near his native Yonghe and proceeded to row himself down the the Hsin Tien (新店) River. This was no easy feat, as the soldiers from China were patrolling her shores. At the time of 228, the Hsin Tien was awash with debris, floating corpses, etc. and this certainly helped the cause because Yang's boat was able to blend. Whenever he saw movement on land, he ceased with his paddling and dropped to the bottom of the boat. Three days later, Yang managed to make his way to Tamsui and get on out. He then spent the next six years in Japan before landing in the West. Needless to say, there wouldn't be a museum today, stocked full of wonderful paintings of Taiwan, America and Europe, if Yang hadn't, with the help of a boat and nice cop, been so resourceful.
The museum is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in Taiwan's history and great art. And when you're finished, there's a cafe downstairs, run by Yang's grandson, that serves up strong coffee and tasty desserts.
Christopher Young, grandson of Yang San Lang (楊三郎)