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1930 era Shanghai Posters (reproductions)

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This site serves as a concentrated place for Chinese Political Propaganda art. We have much broader selection on other types of antique and vintage art, to be found on our other site, www.1930Shanghai.com. If you don't feel comfortable conducting credit card transaction via this site, please do feel free to locate the same item on the 1930Shanghai.com site using the search function and purchase it through its secure online order form.

 

Revolution relics reconnect East Bay woman with China


Article Last Updated: 6/19/2006 11:00 AM


Revolution relics reconnect East Bay woman with China

By Chad Jones, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area

VICTORIA EDISON, a native of China's Hunan Province, came to the United States at age 15 as part of a student exchange program.
While she was attending Los Gatos High School, the Tiananmen Square massacre happened, and Edison was interviewed on TV saying angry things about the Chinese government's actions.

That made her an enemy of the government.

She found herself facing the choice of staying in America, finishing high school and going on to college or returning home to her family and being put in jail.

The Chinese consul, who himself had been blacklisted, told Edison it was safer to stay where she was.

So Edison began to make a life for herself in her adopted country. She went to San Jose State University with the idea that she would eventually become a CPA.

Those plans changed when she made her first trip back to China in the early 1990s, and she discovered the fascinating world of Cultural Revolution memorabilia, including propaganda posters and Mao Zedong tchotchkes.

"Being in China and seeing these things at flea markets brought back so many memories," Edison says. "My parents and grandparents lived through the Cultural Revolution, and in fact, my grandparents were in a labor camp for intellectuals. I saw figures and posters representing China's enemies, and from what I heard from the people selling these things, I sensed that China was opening up a little bit."

Edison started collecting the memorabilia but didn't realize that within a few years, she'd be going into business selling the stuff.

Edison owns De Sino Gallery in Berkeley, which includes a sub-gallery called 1930 Shanghai specializing in Cultural Revolution collectibles.

There are other things in Edison's gallery — including a whole lot of Buddha statues, antiques and paintings both old and new — but what seems to get the most attention are the relics from China's Communist past.

"There are some people who find it scandalous that in my shop you find Buddha and Mao," Edison says. "It's an interesting contrast, but both are from the same culture and the same dynamic country. I find there are plenty of interested parties for both items."

When Edison first began selling Mao-related items five years ago, most of her customers were in Europe. But in recent years, and with the help of her gallery and Web site (www.1930shangahi.com), most of her customers are from this country.

"I find some customers who find the Cultural Revolution items ironic and comical," she says. "I've even had die-hard Communists. I don't really connect with these people, but appreciate that they are interested in a different culture. For the most part, our customers are intellectuals, people who are interested in the outside world. People who don't shop at Wal-Mart."

One little wrinkle in Edison's successful, if quirky, business, is that it's illegal to bring Cultural Revolution memorabilia out of China. About three years ago, a Chinese bill was introduced forbidding the shipment of statues and memorabilia from that era.

"They don't enforce it," Edison says. "You can still send them."

The fact that she's in the public business of selling these items scares Edison a little bit.

"I'm a little afraid of going back," she says. "I've e-mailed friends in China and included links to stories about my business, but nobody can read them. Maybe I'm blacklisted again."

Edison and her husband, James, her co-author on the book "Cultural Revolution Posters & Memorabilia" (Schiffer, $39.95), relocated their gallery to a bigger space last year.

Interest (and business) has increased since the move, but Edison, who still serves as a consultant in the corporate world and is mother to a 2-year-old, says she's not in this business to make money.

"With this type of business, you're never going to get rich," she says. "It's more about bringing like-minded people together and sharing our experiences. Mao would be very, very upset that I'm making money from his stuff."

Spoken like a true American capitalist.


- De Sino Gallery is at 2216 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. Call (510) 843-1449 or visit http://www.1930shanghai.com for information.


You can e-mail Chad Jones at cjones@angnewspapers.com or call (925) 416-4853.

 



 
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