A cluster of old brick factories near an out-of-use industrial canal in Shanghai—the once forgotten nook known as Suzhou Creek—has become the nerve center of the city's avant-garde scene. The area's top gallery, ShanghArt Warehouse (Bldgs. 16 and 18; 86-21/6359-3923), is spread over two hangar-like spaces, both filled with experimental pieces. • Catch curators off duty at Guolu Fang Kafei Guan (Bldg. 16; no phone), where they sip caffè lattes while discussing their latest installations. • The two directors who oversee Advance Design Gallery (1/F Bldg. 17; 86-21/6298-6483) specialize in graphic design, photography, and Chinese poster illustrations. • The owner of Art Scene Warehouse (2/F Bldg. 4; 86-21/6277-2499), Sami Wafa, stocks his enormous whitewashed room with contemporary Chinese works from Chengdu to Beijing. • Kunming-born ex-factory employee Pian Zi explores urban themes through video displays and clever takes on traditional wood-block techniques at Color Loft (2/F Bldg. 4; 86-138/1882-0356). • Former MOMA veteran Amy Wood (86-137/9532-1267) is highly attuned to China's art world. She arranges tours to ateliers in the district, and has even been known to get fans into the Creek's increasingly wild opening-night parties.
—Rob McKeown