Ain’t Misbehavin’

On my first full day in Shanghai, I went on a mission to find the soul of this allegedly glitzy and vacant capital of commercialism.

Shanghai had the weather on its side.  It was a sunny autumn day, 60 degrees, with yellow maple leaves wafting down from trees everywhere I turned.  Shanghaiites in the French Concession, Putuo, and Jing’an neighborhoods were having a leisurely Saturday: playing cards and Chinese chess and hanging up their laundry on the streets, shopping and snacking with cosmopolitan ease, and sitting and strolling in parks with their loved ones.

After a quick turn around the lovely French Concession neighborhood, my search for Shanghai’s softer side brought me to Moganshan Road, Shanghai’s art gallery strip.  A short road that starts and ends at the river, Moganshan is covered with colorful graffiti.

I particularly enjoyed 2 shows at Moganshan’s galleries, Nadav Kander’s photographs of life, nature, and industry along the Yangtze River at m97 Gallery, “Yangtze: The Long River” and M Art Center’s collection of paintings, “Free Toys,” by China-born, Germany-raised artist Yu Xingze.

I walked back east on the road along the river, which was not really riverside: the only sidewalk was across the street, and high banks filled with trees and landscaping obscured street-level river views.  I walked to People’s Square Park, which was crowded with Shanghaiites enjoying the nice weather.  A full and fulfilling day, and, aside from breakfast and lunch, I didn’t buy a thing.

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