In their 70s, siblings display art


April 30, 2003|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WILDE LAKE resident Youlong Yang sees beauty in Columbia that others take for granted. On a winter's day, the photographer sees beauty in ice formations on tree branches; on autumn days, he sees harmony in the colors of leaves on trees around Lake Elkhorn. When he takes a photograph, Yang freezes the moment in time for others to enjoy.

Now Columbia residents can enjoy his work, which is on display for the first time. He and his sister, Youhong Yang, a painter, are exhibiting together at Slayton House Gallery through May 17. The show opened last week.

Youlong Yang, 71, has been in the United States for 13 years and is originally from Beijing. Photography has been his hobby since he was in middle school. "I always carry a camera," he said. "On business trips and vacations, I always took pictures. I have accumulated many pictures in my lifetime."

His photographs, mostly landscapes, include scenes from France, Italy, China and his home in Columbia. "Columbia is a very beautiful place," he said.

Eight of the 31 photographs in the exhibit are Columbia scenes. "It is difficult to select the view to make a landscape photograph," he said. "The same scenery presents itself to everyone. I always think, `How can I select a view that can present the beauty of the surroundings?' "

His answer: Focus on movement, spatial relationships and unique views. "When looking for pictures to take, young people tend to look for attractive colors that catch their focus," he said. "For me, I spend more time looking at the composition of the picture. Some pictures you look at are very attractive. [But] some you look at and they get better every time. You see something different in it each time you look at it. That's why I focus more on the content."

A photograph of trees covered with ice, "Dancing In Sky," is a perfect example, he said. "At the first look, you may not see anything. But when you look at it again, you can see the tree dance. The color may not be very attractive, but you can see the tree acting just like people - joyful and happy."

Yang has not always had so much time for his craft. Now retired, he spent his working life as an engineer and professor in China. His specialty was machine design. In the early 1980s, he was a visiting scholar at Tufts University in Boston, where he conducted research in computer-aided design.

His proficiency in computers has helped him in his art. He uses computer programs such as Paint Shop to manipulate and enhance his photographs.

"In landscape photography, there are so many extra things on the scenery," he said. "I can use the computer to eliminate some things and enhance others, such as color. It is a very powerful tool."

Yang's photographs are for sale, but at low prices, he said. "The point of this show is not to make money," Yang said. "The point is to contribute our ability to the community."

Youhong Yang, 74, also is retired, and she lives in Beijing. The siblings see each other every two or three years. But in planning this show, they have kept in close contact via e-mail and telephone calls.

"It has brought us closer together," Youhong Yang said, adding that exhibiting with her brother was something she never imagined.

"He was an engineer, and I studied music," she said.

In the late 1940s, before becoming a painter, Youhong Yang studied vocal music at the Boston Conservatory of Music. When she completed her studies, she returned to Beijing and did research on Chinese folk music for more than 30 years. She started studying Chinese brush-painting after she retired.

"I wanted to learn something creative," she said. "I learned piano, but my hands became too stiff to play. Painting was something very interesting."

Her paintings focus on flowers and birds. "I think flowers are the most beautiful thing on Earth," she said. "They come out so naturally. The human being can't create it."

The show already is a success, said Bernice Kish, gallery director and village manager. "People bought pieces on the first day, before the show was even officially open," she said.

A reception, with refreshments and classical guitar music, is planned from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Everyone is welcome. Information: 410- 730-3987 or 301-596-4883.

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