New Exhibition at the En Gallery Features Chinese Brush Paintings

Published : Friday, January 11, 2019 | 3:25 PM

Koi and Pink Water. Photo courtesy Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

For the first exhibition of 2019, En Gallery at the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden will feature the Chinese brush paintings of Santa Barbara-based artist Suemae Lin Willhite. Suemae was born into a family of artists and scholars in Taiwan, where she was surrounded by beautiful tropical birds and flowers, all inspirations for her later work as an artist.

Suemae immigrated to United States in 1975 and received a BA from a California State University for Business Administration with a minor in Marketing. She went on to work in marketing and publishing firms from 1986 to 2001, when she felt a spirit calling her to reclaim her cultural identity and pursue her artistic creativity. She embarked on a career practicing and teaching traditional Chinese painting, sometimes adding her own contemporary touches to this ancient art form.

Since 2002, Suemae has taught over 2000 students at Santa Barbara City College, School of Extended Learning, Carpinteria Art Center, and many other workshops in California. She has won several awards for her paintings of Chinese landscapes and her more intimate views of nature’s details, like flowers, fish, birds and butterflies.

For this exhibition the gallery is presenting Suemae’s paintings of koi fish and bamboo – both inhabitants of Chinese and Japanese gardens and both auspicious symbols in these cultures. She recently visited Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden and found more koi and bamboo for inspiration. Symbols of good fortune throughout East Asia, these carp were brought to China around the 5th century BC as food fish, and eventually became fixtures in Chinese and Japanese garden ponds, admired for their bright colors. Bamboo is a grass that is fast growing, strong and highly flexible in the strongest wind, qualities that have made it symbolic of integrity and flexibility of spirit.

The exhibition will be on view through Friday, March 15. An opening reception will be on Friday, January 18 from 5:30 to 7:30. Suemae will also demonstrate her painting technique and style at the garden’s Lunar New Year Festival on the last Sunday of January from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

En Gallery Exhibition Opening Swimming and Swaying: Koi and Bamboo Paintings by Suemae Lin Willhite, opening reception will be on Friday, January 18, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Wine and Cheese. Free with reservation / $10 at the gate.

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, 270 Arlington Dr., Pasadena, (626) 399-1721 or visit







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