細雨降落在來時的路上，黑傘為 Yvonne 撐起一塊優雅的天地，身上寶藍色的洋裝襯托著白皙肌膚，她仰頭以恬淡的神采向《enya FASHION QUEEN》採訪團隊打招呼。走進由Yvonne 一手創建的藝廊「Contemporary by U」，她熟稔穿過別樣的 U 型動線，站到吧檯前準備調製飲品，我們一臉驚詫，Yvonne 身為藝廊藏家，就連沖煮咖啡、拉花都親力親為，她的臉上盡是滿足的笑靨。
When we first arrived our photoshoot location, Contemporary by U, it was drizzling. I saw a lady afar walking gracefully under a black umbrella, who was wearing a royal blue dress that highlighted her look, and she is our interviewee, Yvonne Liao. Yvonne then turned on the lights and looked amazingly familiar with the gallery, she looked up at the interview team of enya FASHION QUEEN and asked, “How do you take your coffee?” We were stunned by the scene of how Yvonne swiftly went through the U-shaped movement path and was ready to make some drinks at the bar table, as the owner of the gallery, she was personally brewing coffee, creating latte art with a satisfied smile, and it almost felt like she has everything she ever wanted at this very moment.
唯美髮絲沿著 Yvonne 的鵝蛋臉流洩而下，配戴的 Tiffany T1 系列飾品從指尖至手腕流光溢彩，領口柔軟貼於胸前，披上白色夾克，站定於一手創建的藝廊「Contemporary by U」裡，Yvonne 頸項上 Tiffany Victoria 鑰匙鏈墜散發著如她自信、獨立的光芒。國二展開於美國 10 逾年的生活，16 歲成年禮就是到 Tiffany 店裡挑一件手鏈銀飾「在我心目中它有純潔、蛻變的意味。」私底下的 Yvonne 其實性格保守，反映於簡約穿搭，最多在單品挑選今年流行的酪梨綠或薰衣草紫點綴搭配「因為在藝廊希望上班也能穿。」
「藝術品要推廣很難，但是能永流傳，因此是種福分。」每到假日是「Contemporary by U」人潮最多的時候，Yvonne 幾乎將身心投入於此「希望透過這些時間，見越多人越好，也能把藝術帶給更多人。」藝廊最初就選址於台北松菸靜巷的轉角邊間，Yvonne 與室內設計師合作，保留屋內動線卻多了巧思「他很年輕因此想法也很新，我們一拍即合，都覺得藝廊就像白盒子，我希望我的藝廊跳脫這觀念，讓人走進來。」藝廊以 U 字動線劃分出明與暗的迥異氛圍「由暗到亮，符合你內心的暗，透過看畫被啟發、打開。」
Yvonne 心中對藝術孤高的印象並非空穴來風，11 歲第一次去到藝術品拍賣現場「我當時全身都在抖。」每每落槌幾乎破百萬的天價她心想「天啊，為什麼藝術都好貴，我雖然很喜歡，但都是無法接觸的東西。」想踏入藝術產業的夢就此發芽。第一份工作恰好就是當時初入拍場的公司，一路接觸油畫、珠寶和時尚領域長達三年半，培養了市場敏銳度「我確定自己喜歡藝術，有一天想有自己的藝廊，而且是大家可以買得起的藝術品。」放棄朝九晚五的上班族生活，28 歲創業，從籌備、動工到開店的層層挑戰差點澆熄熱情，好友一句「Fake it til you make it.」引領迷惘的她走回夢想的道路「不行也要假裝我可以。」
走進 Yvonne 的工作室，牆面擺著琳琅滿目的書籍，桌上還有藝術和室內設計的書本待讀，藝廊從去年 9 月營運至今就快滿一年，然而年輕人推廣藝術在他人眼中仍留有既定印象「我希望自己更專業，會成為當代一定是有一系列的復興者，我還是會不斷精進藝術史，也學習和參觀者溝通。」她讀了美國前總統夫人蜜雪兒・歐巴馬的自傳《成為這樣的我》更將其視為偶像「她是律師出身卻又願意放下專業，當歐巴馬的支持者、幕僚，要我放棄理想追隨老公，會是一個很大的障礙，因為我愛好自由、也想做出成績。」藝廊成為她的生活重心，全家 5 人相聚變得難能可貴「回家會跟爸媽聊天，一起吃家常飯。」短暫的日常陪伴 Yvonne 現在變得格外珍惜。
A Gallery that Live Outside of the White Box
During our photoshoot, Yvonne was wearing the accessories from Tiffany T1 collection, when posing with the rings and bracelets, her finger ran through her face along with her beautiful curvy hair and was wearing a cami top under her white jacket. Yvonne stood in her self-owned gallery Contemporary by U wearing The Tiffany Victoria key pendant glitters, which to me, symbolizes her confidence and independence. Flashing back to more than 10 years of living in the US, Yvonne had just turned 16, to celebrating this new beginning of her life, she walked into Tiffany & Co. store and search for a silver bracelet, “In my mind, it has a significance of purity and transformation, ” she said. Through Yvonne’s minimalism style of clothing and the way she speaks, it was obvious to me that she has a calming personality, yet due to the fashion trends she may add avocado green or lavender purple to her closet, but to be an alternative, “I usually dress business causal in the gallery.”
“It’s difficult to promote an artwork; however, when it can be passed down from generation to generation, it becomes a blessing.” During the Holidays season, “Contemporary by U” is usually packed with people. Yvonne spent most of her holidays in the gallery with joy, “I hope to greet as many people as possible, and through this gallery, I hope it can bring Contemporary Art closer to the neighborhood.” The corner house in the quiet lane near the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, it is exactly how Yvonne picture the gallery would be; Yvonne worked with the interior designer and kept its original layout, but added some playful senses to the space, “the interior designer is very youthful and his ideas are very innovative, ever since the first time we met, our imagery of the gallery quickly came into one; we both wanted the gallery to outlive the white box impression, and I hope to create a warm welcoming atmosphere from the outside.” Defined by the U-shaped flow, the space is divided by different lightings all over, “through different lighting of the space, I wish that the darkness inside you will be inspired and freed by these amazing and lively artworks, just as much as the atmosphere of the space to me.”
Recalling Yvonne’s first attend of art auction, it is when she was 11 years old. “I remember I was so touched and amazed by the artwork that my body began to shiver.” Each pricing was almost or even more than a million dollars, she was thinking, “My goodness, why is art so expensive; although I like them, they are not affordable to me.” The image of her entering the art industry came to her mind concurrently. The first job offer she accepted from an auction company was the host of the first auction she ever visited when she was little; she spent up to 3 and half years learning the knowledge in the field of oil painting, jewelry, and fashion to develop the commercial acumen, “I’m into the appreciation of art; one day, I will have my own gallery, a gallery exhibits affordable artworks for the public.” Giving up the nine- to-five routine office work, starting a business at the age of 28 from planning and setting up to the business operation, her enthusiasm to the gallery was weaken by the challenges and difficulties during the process. One of her friends then told her, “Fake it til you make it.” This specific quote has given her courage to go back to the way to fulfill her dream, and even till today Yvonne is deeply influenced by it, “even when I feel I was not capable, I would always fake it till I make it.” Being the second child in the family, Yvonne has an elder sister and a younger brother; she described herself as striving for life in between by attentively observing of others’ emotions, “differ from my brother and sister, I want to live a path of my own; therefore, my feelings seemed to be contradictory, as for being conservative but eager for a breakthrough.” At a bottleneck in business, she didn’t lose her temper and rarely called for help from her family, “Anger is useless; I think I need more professional knowledge to persuade myself and settle my frustration in a conscious approach.” She mentioned her gratitude to quite a few people who gave her support. At the grand opening, her friends and family came and gave her encouragement. When mentioning her first successful deal with a French lady, she still felt touched, “When someone really loves the artwork you selected, being so impressed by the work and she paid for the ownership, I am truly grateful for this.” Yvonne enjoys the busy life of Contemporary by U, and her gratefulness has become one of her motivations.
Reading and Promoting Art Gallery
Walking into Yvonne’s office, we saw the display of various kinds of books on the wall, and there were two books on her desk about art and interior design. The gallery opened since last September and it is about to celebrate its 1st anniversary. There’s a certain level of stereotype on how people seem younger people promoting art, “I want to be more professional, and the so-called contemporary must be achieved by a group of revolutionists. I will keep on advancing my art of history and learn how to communicate with observers.” After reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming Me, she has taken Michelle as an idol; “She has the background of a lawyer, but she gave up her profession and became Obama’s support and advisor staff; if I had to give up my goal in order to become my husband’s follower, that would be a great obstacle because I love freedom and achieving my accomplishment so much.” The gallery becomes the center of her life, the most precious moment to Yvonne is when all her family gather together, “Usually when I get home, I would chat with my parents and eat home-cooked meals.” The short daily routine has turned out to be something extraordinarily valuable to Yvonne.