"Muscatine's Golden Key" is the title of a new painting which is making its public debut in the exhibition, "The Other Side of the Earth" by Chun Arthur Wang. The painting depicts Xi Jinping, soon to be announced or newly announced (press note: this depends on the timing of the story) President of the People's Republic of China. In the foreground is a portrait of then Vice President Xi during his 2012 visit to Muscatine while the background features Xi receiving the key to the City of Muscatine during his 1985 visit. Xi Jinping is believed to be the only person to hold the honor of receiving two keys to the City of Muscatine - one in 1985 and the other in 2012.

Artist Chun Arthur Wang states, "Most Chinese had never heard of 'Muscatine' until the Chinese and global press reported on Xi Jinping's return visit to this Iowa town in 2012. People were touched by the story that Mr. Xi did not forget the local family that hosted him for three days during his visit in 1985. The profound friendship between Mr. Xi and ordinary American people impressed many Chinese people, including me."

Wang was preparing for his exhibition at the Muscatine Art Center when his family and friends encouraged him to create a painting about Xi Jinping's connection to Muscatine. Xi is depicted twice in the painting - once as a younger man and once as the new leader of China today. Wang describes his depiction of then Vice President Xi: "Mr. Xi looks high-spirited and vigorous as the dignified and confident new leader. He holds the second key to the City of Muscatine in his left hand while using his right hand to wave to his old friends in Muscatine. From his mild eyes we find his joyfulness in reuniting with his old friends. And from his smile we seem to hear an emotional voice from his heart, 'Muscatine, I am back after twenty-seven years'."

The Mississippi River and the Muscatine Bridge are also featured in the painting. The friendship between America and China is symbolized by the Mississippi River both of which "will never be interrupted", as described by Wang. Behind the clouds, Wang has painted two traditional Chinese vermillion red gates which are open in the middle. These gates are intended to symbolize the opening of friendship between the two countries and also the blending of two different cultures.

The painting, "Muscatine's Golden Key," along with 18 other works of art by Chun Arthur Wang will be on view at the Muscatine Art Center through April 21, 2013. Wang will be in Muscatine from March 17th through 19th. An Artist Reception will be held on Sunday, March 17th from 1 to 5 p.m. Wang will speak at 1:30 p.m. The reception is open to the public, and admission is free. On March 18th and 19th, Wang will visit local classrooms and meet with community leaders.

The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.

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