Mrs. Tang’s Beautiful Art

At the Rhode Island Avenue NE Fall Fest last Saturday, Oct 4, 2014, Xiufang Tang (right) was selling her art, and I was a happy customer. Her daughter Karen deGategno (left) helps her mom organizing the fair stand. Photo: Sabine Muscat

Yesterday, at the Rhode Island Avenue Fall Fest, I saw Xiufang Tang’s art for the first time – and immediately was fascinated by the delicacy and beauty of her work. Mrs. Tang, as everyone calls her, used to be an art teacher. After retiring, she started painting. She has been living in DC for a couple of years, taking care of her granddaughter, but still found time to paint. The paper and materials are from China, but most of her motifs are very Washingtonian: cherry blossoms, for example.

The painting I picked, however, shows a twig of a Persimmon tree.

Here is what I found out about the Persimmon tree, on the website of the Californian Rare Fruit Growers: “The oriental persimmon is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries and more than two thousand different cultivars exist. It spread to Korea and Japan many years ago where additional cultivars were developed. The plant was introduced to California in the mid 1800’s.”

But I especially like what Wikipedia’s eternal wisdom has to say about the Persimmon:

“In philosophy, the painting of persimmons by Mu Qi (13th Century) exemplifies the progression from youth to age as a symbol of the progression from bitterness to sweetness. The persimmon when young is bitter and inedible, but as it ages it becomes sweet and beneficial to humankind. Thus, as we age, we overcome rigidity and prejudice and attain compassion and sweetness.”

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