Mark founded Contempor’ati to build a bridge between Chinese art, culture, history and philosophy and a non-Chinese speaking audience. Mark’s artistic expression started early with a talent in singing. His musical and character recognition abilities were useful as a student of Chinese language at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was introduced to China’s rich culture. While teaching at Chengdu University of Science and Technology, now Sichuan University, Mark learned the art of Chinese calligraphy and became fascinated with Chinese literati and contemporary art, ancient rubbings, objects of the scholar’s studio and even Chinese stamps. Now, as an executive in Silicon Valley, Mark brings a unique perspective to communicating China’s ancient traditions, practices and art forms. He enjoys directly engaging with artists, scholars and experts around the world focused on communicating and preserving our natural world as well as the world’s abundant cultures and traditions.
Ross joined Contempor’ati out of a four decade fascination with traditional Chinese culture and its modern incarnations. Raised in the foggy foothills of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains, Ross began to study Chinese history and literature at Princeton University and quickly looked for opportunities to experience the “real thing”. During his first long stay in China in the early 1980’s, he got the theatre bug from a long evening of the Monkey King followed by a weekend at the Shanghai Circus. He quickly re-focused his studies on traditional Chinese theatre and spent years wrestling with the nuances of playbooks while also practicing liangxiang (亮相), yunshou (云手), and titui (踢腿), traditional movements from the Beijing Opera. As a professor at The University of Hong Kong, Ross has a unique perch to observe and learn from Chinese culture both old and new. Today his personal interests focus on the classical and folk cultures from the foggy valleys and hollows of China’s deep south and southwest. So, expect spicy interactions and strange accents from his Contempor’ati contributions.
As an elementary school student, Jean was selected to study ballet professionally but was encouraged instead to pursue a business career by her family. Business became an outlet for her continued interest in the arts where she developed an expertise in high-end painting and calligraphy brushes. Through that experience, Jean eventually began working directly with Chinese contemporary and traditional literati artists. With ancestral roots in Shaoxing and deep ties to Tianjin, Jean was heavily influenced by ancient art and poetry and their modern manifestations. Through her close working relationships with art professors in Tianjin, Jean continued to branch out and build relationships with art institutions in the city of Shanghai, Jiangsu, Liaoning and Sichuan Provinces. Jean’s engaging and at-ease personality allows her to build trust with artists of all kinds. Most importantly, as a founder of Contempor’ati, Jean brings a current perspective on ever-changing contemporary life and art in China. Jean attributes much of her deep knowledge of traditional Chinese culture to the summers she spent with her grandmother in Beijing. There she was exposed to the arts of Chinese tea, the healing practices of foods (preferably organic), and even cross-talk (相声).