Tag Archives: Eric Chiang

From Wall Street To Westport: Eric Chiang’s Arts Journey

When Eric Chiang moved to Westport in 1993, he lived across the street from the legendary illustrator Howard Munce.

Growing up in Taiwan, Chiang had loved art. But he didn’t know anyone who made a career of it. So he went to New York University, majored in computer science and math, earned a master’s, and got a “normal job” as a programmer and financial modeler at Goldman Sachs.

Watching Munce — then in his 80s — create sculptures outside, even in winter, intrigued Chiang. He watched with added interest as Leonard Everett Fisher — another iconic artist — came to visit Munce.

Chiang realized that Westport’s arts legacy lived on, in the spirit of real, working artists.

Around 1997, he carved out half an hour or so every night to create art. He had no formal training. He did not have an actual studio either — just a small easel in a corner of his living room.

But after nearly a decade, he’d accumulated plenty of works. He had ideas for many more.

Chiang wanted no regrets. He decided to leave Wall Street. His wife gave her blessing.

In 2007, Chiang became a full-time artist. His painted realistic objects, arranged surrealistically.

“The Year 2020, No. 2” — oil on canvas.

In the past few years he’s moved into less precise landscapes. His works are big, and tied to his love of nature.

For example, he says, he always wondered what would happen if the earth wrote a story about itself.

To keep his hands off the work — he wanted the art to be as primordial as possible — Chiang sprayed paint to represent rain, storms and the erosive process at work. To mimic gravity, he tilted the canvas.

The resulting “Land Scripts” series of more than a dozen paintings is 50 feet wide.

Eric Chiang with his “Land Scripts XIII.”

Chiang applied the same technique to “Water Scripts,” a series of 12-foot high waves and waterfalls.

“Water Scripts I” — oil on canvas.

Another work fills a large space at Coleytown Middle School. When Westport Permanent Arts Collections officials realized they had nothing suitable to hang near a staircase and skylight in the newly renovated school, they asked Chiang to help.

He presented 5 options. Students chose an intriguing work called “Are We Born Connected?,” which included guitars.

“Are We Born Connected?” (Eric Chiang, acrylic on canvas)

When that was selected for an exhibit at the Housatonic Museum of Art, the second choice — a 16-foot, 4-panel “History of Civilization” — took its place.

“A History of Civilizations,” at Coleytown Middle School.

Not all of the artist’s creations are enormous. His most recent work — “Westport: A Perspective From Early Days” — is one of 5 murals unveiled this month at the Main Street entrance to Bedford Square. His depicts the earliest days of our town.

Chiang explains:

This mural brings us into an imaginary world back in the early days of Westport, when the Paugussett Indians occupied the area with a farming and fishing culture. Then the European traders came to transact with the indigenous tribes, just to be followed by the English colonists, who built towns, church, and farms.

From there, someone in the painting invited us to peek into the future – Let’s go over the bridge and see a bigger town and a much greater nation in the making.

“Westport: A Perspective From Early Days”

Inspired by Howard Munce and Leonard Everett Fisher — and his own career change — Chiang is a firm believer in the importance of arts to Westport.

“It’s less about the exhibits and displays, than the spirit of the people,” he says. “And it’s not just visual artists. It’s musicians, dancers and writers. Their activities make the whole town artistic.”

In Taiwan, Chiang had no role models. In his first years as an artist here, he worked alone. But when the Westport Artists Collective began in 2014, he was an avid founding member.

He is eager to keep passing Westport arts’ “spirit and culture” on to future generations.

Meanwhile, visitors to Bedford Square — and hundreds of students at Coleytown — are enjoying Eric Chiang’s work.

A long way from Taiwan — and Goldman Sachs — he enjoys creating it too.

(To see more art at Eric Chiang’s website, click here. Hat tip: Kris Szabo.)

New Artwork Hangs At CMS

It snowed this past week. Westport schools were on winter break.

But Coleytown Middle School was filled. Busily and happily, volunteers hung art.

After renovation was completed in January, the Westport Public Art Collections committee got ready to reinstall over 70 works that were removed last year.

Town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz noticed a beautifully refurbished, vast empty wall in the main staircase. It screamed for a giant piece to fill it

WestPAC  had none. But Bennewitz and Westport Arts Advisory Committee chair Nancy Diamond had a plan.

Eric Chiang

WAAC member artist Eric Chiang — who lives near CMS — creates large, multi-canvas acrylic paintings depicting themes like love, connection and hope. Many are colorful and fantastical — perfect for middle schoolers and a big, blank wall.

Could Chiang loan the school one of his pieces?

Of course!

Chiang measured the wall, photoshopped a few images onto it, then suggested possibilities for consideration.

CMS Principal Kris Szebo created a survey to engage students and teachers in the decision-making process. A vote was taken.

The winner: Are We Born Connected? The triptych acrylic on canvas measures 4 feet by 15 feet.

Eric Chiang (center) with his triptych. CMS building chair Don O’Day looks on.

Chiang notes, “The sound of the cello is in the same range of that of human beings. I used cellos to represent humans, emphasizing their voices. The big cello in the foreground faces two choices: Sing a solo dirge like those floating cellos on the left, or band together for Ode to Joy and celebrate the existences together like those cellos on the right. We are wounded, we are in despair, but we have each other. We are born connected, and can sing together.”

Are We Born Connected? is on loan to CMS until the end of the school year. The fanciful work will greet the students when they come back from vacation tomorrow.

The artwork is hung. From left: team member Scott Bennewitz, Westport arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz, artist Eric Chiang, CMS building chair Don O’Day.

The public may not visit, due to security protocols and COVID. But the piece can be viewed on the WAAC website — along with more than 1,500 other works from Westport’s extensive public collection.

(Click here for more of Eric Chiang’s work. Hat tip: Nancy Diamond.)