Chop Suey Men / The Brothers Chen: Chen Yuke Thew, Suey, Foon and Fong by Phillip Chen

Open from May 14th – June 25, 2023

About the Artwork:

Within the history of anti-Chinese legislation is the lesser-known story of the Chop Suey “joint” as a prime target of discriminatory practices in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In recent decades, benign sentiments concerning Chinese restaurants have glossed the jagged and hateful terrain that my father and his brothers, all restauranteurs, landed upon. Archival research cannot disclose the nuanced emotional life; this exhibition focuses attention on the lives of four sojourners lost to historical haze, through artworks that call for prolonged perception, imagination, and judgment.

Each of the Chen brothers partnered with one another and worked interchangeably amongst three Chop Suey establishments:

Jade Cafe, 4027 W. Irving Park Blvd., Chicago, IL (1922-1976)

Orange Garden, 1942 W. Irving Park Blvd., Chicago, IL (1927-present)

Oriental Garden, 120 W. Washington Blvd., Ft. Wayne, IN (1939-1956)

About the Artist:

Phillip Chen received his undergraduate degree in Studio Art from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a graduate degree in Print Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His prints have been exhibited extensively throughout the United States and abroad and are held by public collections that include the Brooklyn Museum, New York Public Library, Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts. He has served as an evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts, College Art Association, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. His creative activities have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Louis B. Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and others. In 2018 he was named a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Phillip Chen is the Ellis and Nelle Levitt Distinguished Professor of Art at Drake University, where he teaches drawing and printmaking.