▲ Chung Goong and his partner Sun, Ja Yeon stand in the gallery. Photo by Brian Miller
Gallery Challa in Seogwipo provides food for body and soul.
The art gallery/café was opened in 2007 by Korean artist and poet Chung Goong and his partner Sun Ja-Yeon. They called it “Challa,” a Korean word meaning a moment of time that lives on forever, in the hopes that in this quaint, stucco building overlooking Cheonjeyeon valley, people would discover peace of mind and happiness to effect real change in their lives. It houses a gallery which features the works of a rotating series of artists from around Korea, an Italian style coffee shop and a vegetarian restaurant.
Since opening, Challa has built a solid reputation and artists from around Korea have been lining up to display their work there. The gallery is free and currently hosting an installation by Lee, Sang Phil, who works in textiles such as silks and cottons, which are dyed, cut and reassembled in the traditional Korean style.
They have also hosted works by abstract artist Kim, Man Su and by painter Lee Kang Bu, who created traditional-style paintings of the Buddha as everyday working folk.
Gallery co-founder Chung Goong specializes in “meditation art,” a style of art that is meant to encourage a contemplative or meditative mindset and imbue a sense of “ultimate fact” or goong guk shil jae.
Although much of the work displayed in Challa may be described as this type of art, the gallery welcomes artists of all types to display their work there and has boasted an eclectic array of art from all over Korea.
But Challa aspires to be much more than just an art gallery. Sun says she and Chung Goong envisioned Challa as a place to show people how to live happier, more natural lives.
“We need spiritual food” explains Sun, “Meditation and art are spiritual food.”
She says the meaning behind art can help people to reach a better understanding of the world and other people. But, she adds, “Food culture is very important.”
She sees food as an important element of a truly healthy, happy life. For that reason, Challa also contains a small vegetarian café. The menu is comprised mostly of organically produced foods made without milk (the exception being pat-ping-su, a Korean ice cream dish which is served in summer and contains milk). Their veggie-chicken and veggie-ham baguettes are made of homemade bread and sauces. The bill of fare also includes Korean dishes, like veggie mandu, and although it all tends to be a bit pricey, it’s earned Challa a reputation for having one of the better vegetarian menus on Jeju.
The food and art is also sometimes accompanied by music. The next concert is 5 p.m. Aug. 22, with string quartet “Jeju Soloists.” The concert will coincide with an exhibit by Masan ceramic artist Kim, Eun Jin. Guests will also be invited to take part in a special presentation of a traditional Korean tea ceremony.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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