CAAM Collaborates with SFMOMA on “Representing Chinatown” Exhibit and Film Screenings

Representing Chinatown Macro Waves
Part of the Macro Waves mural at "Representing Chinatown" at the Koret Education Center at SFMOMA
Local artists and CAAMFest film screenings bring the Asian American experience to San Francisco’s premiere modern art museum

CAAM is proud to partner with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) to unveil Representing Chinatown, an exhibition on view at SFMOMA through June 30, 2022, that pays tribute to the rich history and relevance of the United States’ oldest Chinatown and its artists, at a time when the neighborhood’s future is at a crossroads. 

Curated by CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong with SFMOMA’s Barbara and Stephan Vermut Director of Public Engagement Tomoko Kanimitsu, the exhibition features new commissions including Macro Waves’ interactive audio-visual mural inspired by independent films on Chinatown and a coloring book zine by Chelsea Ryoko Wong.  A display of archival photographs and video curated by Reagan Louie features never before seen archival family photos of CAAM founder Loni Ding, and clips from her 1970s children’s TV series Bean Sprouts produced at KQED. Representing Chinatown explores how generations of Asian American residents, artists, and filmmakers captured the people, places, and events of Chinatown. It also examines xenophobia’s and racism’s past and present effects on the neighborhood, its place in artistic and popular imagination, and ways to support its ongoing recovery. The exhibition is part of CAAM’s Community Residency at SFMOMA during spring 2022, the first onsite residency of this series.The residency project also features a selection of films from CAAMFest40, the annual showcase of compelling films from Asian and Asian American filmmakers.

Chinatown Rising - Representing Chinatown
Still from “Chinatown Rising”, Image Courtesy: Harry and Josh Chuck

A bridge to community awareness, connections and empowerment

The exhibition’s grand opening comes after nearly three years of anticipation and planning. SFMOMA originally approached CAAM in 2019 to be their inaugural partner in the community residency program, which awards paid residencies with the museum’s Public Engagement department to community centers, nonprofits, publishers, collectives, and individuals to create an exhibition for SFMOMA’s Koret Education Center–before the pandemic put everything on hold. It also comes during a period where hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have been on the rise, and Asian-owned businesses in Chinatown and across the nation have suffered losses. By building this exhibition, SFMOMA, CAAM and featured artists create a captivating storytelling experience that also serves as a public education resource and space for visitors to expand their knowledge, awareness and support for  San Francisco’s Chinese American community. 

“We are thrilled to partner with SFMOMA to give the visitors to this world-class museum a glimpse of the ethos that has guided CAAM’s forty years of bringing Asian American stories to the world,” says CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong. “The exhibit houses some of the most powerful and canonical images and stories of this neighborhood that are shown through the eyes of artists from within the community. ”

“Opening the Koret Education Center to community partners such as CAAM is a way that SFMOMA reflects and serves the diverse population of San Francisco,” says Tomoko Kanamitsu, Barbara and Stephan Vermut Director of Public Engagement at SFMOMA. “We were inspired by the activism of the 1970s and CAAM, with its long history of creating art and film in San Francisco, was a natural partner.”


Ben Fong-Torres CAAMFest40
Still from “Like a Rolling Stone”, Image Credit: Fred Morales Jr.

CAAMFest40 Film Screenings at SFMOMA Phyllis Wattis Theater

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May and in conjunction with the CAAMFest40, SFMOMA will host a series of screenings and live conversations:

Anita, directed by Longman Leung
Thursday, May 19, 2022
6:00 p.m. PT
Anita Mui lost her father when she was young and grew up in a single parent household where she fell into show business for survival. Anita and her sister sang to provide for their family. It skyrocketed Anita to stardom, but it was also her eventual downfall. This is the story of Anita Mui, the “daughter of Hong Kong” and a beloved Cantopop icon. 

Silent River, directed by Chris Chan Lee
Friday, May 20, 2022
6:00 p.m. PT
Elliot checks into a motel, estranged from but hoping to reunite with his wife. Broke, broken, and in the middle of nowhere, he meets Greta, a woman who is the uncanny semblance of his wife. Who is she? Why is he pulled in? What is she hiding? 

Like a Rolling Stone, directed by Suzanne Joe Kai
Saturday, May 21, 2022
12 noon PT
Rolling Stone magazine started in San Francisco but made waves across American pop culture. It was shaped and catapulted into success partly by Ben Fong-Torres, who was the magazine’s first music editor. His landmark interviews, a list that consists of hall-of-famers—like Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Grateful Dead, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, and Stevie Wonder—shaped the way America consumed the counterculture movement of the time.

Conversations on Chinatown
Saturday, May 21, 2022
3:00 p.m. PT
Join us for a wide-ranging conversation on the ways in which generations of Asian American residents, artists, and filmmakers have recorded very different qualities of San Francisco’s iconic Chinatown neighborhood. Lenore Chinn, artist and niece of photographer Benjamen Chinn, will be joined by James Q. Chan, producer and director of films such as Forever, Chinatown, to discuss a selection of photographs and moving images capturing people, places, and community events in Chinatown through the years. Moderated by Stephen Gong. 

Leonor Will Never Die, directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar 
Saturday, May 21, 2022
5:30 p.m. PT
What if you could change what was happening before your very eyes? Genres collide in this wild tale of an aging filmmaker who becomes the hero of her own unfinished script, after she’s knocked into a coma by a television. 

Check soon for more updates and ticket sales.


Visit the Exhibit 

The Representing Chinatown exhibit is now open at SFMOMA’s Koret Education Center to all members of the public through June 30, 2022. No ticket is required for entry. 

About San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the United States and a thriving cultural center for the Bay Area. Our remarkable collection of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design and media arts is housed in a LEED Gold-certified building designed by the global architects Snøhetta and Mario Botta. In addition to our seven gallery floors, SFMOMA offers 45,000 square feet of free, art-filled public space open to all. Visit or call 415.357.4000 for more information.