An Art Gallery in Zhouzhang, China’s Venice

In 2008, while visiting Zhouzhang, China’s #1 Water Town for Tourists, we stopped at Xu Xiao-dong’s gallery and art studio.


The artist trained under a master and keeps a newspaper clipping that mentions it.

We bought several watercolors from Xu Xiao-dong, and he gave me written permission to use his art for the cover of My Splendid Concubine’s 2nd edition. The 3rd edition has a dancer on the cover (you can see it below this post).

 Xu Xiao-dong’s gallery

There’s a narrow, steep stairway in the back (left) that goes to another floor and more art. The artist also paints his art on the second floor.

Zhouzhang, near Shanghai, is almost a thousand years old—built in 1086. Unlike most tourist attractions in America, this town is still occupied with 138,000 people, and they make their living from the tourists who cannot enter unless they pay a fee.

A boat ride through the town costs about RMB 100 (US$16). Traditional Chinese folk songs sung by gondoliers are free.
At least they were when we visited.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards


Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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7 Responses to An Art Gallery in Zhouzhang, China’s Venice

  1. I have bought some wonderful art is some very strange places, including a public bazaar in Haiti and a back alley in a basement in Jerusalem’s religious quarter. Artists don’t seem to have garrets anymore. Now they have basements. I hope they have studios with some light, at least.

    • Some of the best art work I’ve bought was in small shops that were almsot holes in the wall.

      • Me too. Many things change, but artists are still poor.

      • And that is why I always suggest to the young artist who dreams of becoming famous and rich that they should seriously consider a back-up plan career that pays better than poverty wages. My son, who is almost 40, didn’t pay any attention to me—he listened to his “if you dream it, it will come true” mother—and he was convinced that he would be rich and famous—today, he tends bar for probably annual earnings that fall near the poverty point.

      • And then there’s my son who pumps gas. They don’t listen because that’s not what they want to hear. The whole “If you dream it, it will happen” thing is the worst lie we tell our kids. It simply isn’t true and never was.

      • That “follow your dream” promise ignored reality and was part of the very damaging self-esteem parenting movement that is still around today but not as popular as it was back in the 20th century. As a teacher, I suffered from this in the classroom as parents who told their children to “follow dreams” (and ignore anything that was boring like school work and studying) over reality, made my life difficult as a teacher if I wasn’t giving their precious child high grades even if the child did no work because it was boring and not leading to that promised dream that probably never came true.

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