By Florida Weekly | on November 07, 2018

Naples artist Tiffany Chang captures the characteristics of each animal in the Chinese zodiac.  Miromar Design Center and Aldo Castillo Gallery celebrate China with artwork and events exploring the country’s zodiac and the opening of a major exhibition of historical Chinese antiquities never before seen by the public.

“Ancient Chinese Secrets” begins Friday evening, Nov. 9, with a reception, a zodiac presentation and the unveiling of the private collection (which is for sale through the Castillo gallery).
Winslow Bud Johnson, author of “Chinese Zodiac Art,” will discuss the mysteries and origins of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals as seen in illustrations by Naples artist Tiffany Chang. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Ms. Chang has translated the 12 Chinese zodiac images to her own line of clothing, pillows and kimonos. Aldo Cas- tillo Gallery will offer Chang originals for sale. The gallery has also commissioned paintings by South African artist Lorna Marsh and Scott Ashley for the exhibit. Their work will delve into the five zodiac accompanying elements of fire, water, wood, earth and metal.

Tiffany Chang has translated the images to her own line of clothing, pillows and kimonos. The exhibit will be on display through Feb. 5, which is the beginning of the Chinese New Year and the year of the pig. Mr. Johnson, a resident of Naples who has traveled extensively throughout China over the past 30 years, often leading group tours, says many people identify more with the lunar-based Chinese zodiac than they do the Western astrological signs. The zodiac is represented by 12 animals, each believed to have its own characteristics influencing fortune, health, love and success. “It’s so amazing how it works,” Mr. Johnson says. “It blows me away when people tell me they’re just like the animal or know someone else who is.”

For many Chinese, the zodiac is so powerful that they plan pregnancies to coincide with favorable signs. The most revered is the dragon. “2012 was the last year of the dragon and the birth rate was up 5 percent,” Mr. Johnson says, noting 25 percent of the world’s population is influenced by the Chinese zodiac. To the Chinese, the most revered sign of the zodiac is the dragon.

The museum-quality antiquities collection, many from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), was recently acquired by Aldo Castillo Gallery for representation. The most significant pieces are large Imperial cloisonné censers inlaid with jade. The collection also includes funerary urns, Buddhas and some furniture pieces. “This is the most important exhibit I’ve had at Miromar Design Center,” says Mr. Castillo, who is internationally known as a pioneer for established contemporary artists.

‘Ancient Chinese Secrets’
>> What: An exhibit of artwork representing the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, in conjunction with the exhibition and sale of a private collection of Chinese antiquities
>> When: Opening reception from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9; exhibit remains through Feb. 5, the beginning of the Chinese New Year
>> Lectures: Winslow Bud Johnson will speak at the opening reception and also at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, and Friday, Feb. 1.
>> Where: Miromar Design Center, Estero
>> Info:
>> RSVP: To register for the Nov. 9 reception and/or for Mr. Johnson’s lectures, call 390- 5111 or visit the website.