LA Fridays with Bob and Tom: Chen Art Gallery

LA Fridays with Bob and Tom

 Week 6: Chen Art Gallery

Taking a leisurely drive to Torrance we check out the hidden gem, Chen Art Gallery, nestled within the Sunrider International corporate building located at l625 Abalone Avenue. The museum is operated by the T.F. Chen Family Foundation and houses the collection of Dr. Tei Fu Chen and his family.  Offering a vast variety of period pieces from the ancient Chinese dynasties, the gallery has several rooms containing furniture, exquisitely carved jade, bronze, Buddhist sculptures, snuff bottles, paintings and calligraphy.  Themes are arranged within categories such as furniture of the Ming Dynasty, pottery, royal apparel, and religious artifacts.

The museum is free but reservations are required.  Knowledgeable, friendly, and informative tour guides accompany you while exploring the pieces on display in the gallery.  Bob and I learned some of the historical pieces date back as far as 3000 years with many pieces  dating over 500-700 BC.  In an adjacent building there is a beautiful botanical garden with herbs, gazebo, and a koi pond where you can explore and enjoy the serene atmosphere.  To cover all the interesting displays you need two hours.  Plenty of free parking is available at the location.




Robert (Bob) is a PhD physicist whose career has spanned academia, government and private industry. As a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Tennessee, a Branch Chief at the United States Department of Energy and Vice President of an American International Group Company, his scientific endeavors include radiation physics, environmental research, environmental insurance and nanotechnology.

Originally from the East Coast, Bob was seduced by his sons and their families (and the California weather) to leave Washington, DC after retiring in 2010. While recovering from culture shock, Bob found many outlets to reconcile his eclectic interests. As a member of Senior Scholars for over six years he continues to take courses in a myriad of subjects ranging from film to art history to brain science and finds great intellectual and social rewards in Senior Scholars and the Plato Society.

As a latent artist, he sketches scenes about town once a week with an artist friend from his college days and is attempting to learn to play the electric guitar.

On moving to Los Angeles, he found Tom Jacobson, another recent transplant. They became great friends and decided to explore their new town together leading to over 113 sites in our city. Dubbed “LA Fridays with Bob and Tom” they are happy to share their experiences with others.

Bob lives in Brentwood with Phyllis, his wife of 56 years, an education policy executive. They have two sons and four grandchildren, one of whom plays a guitar a lot better than Bob.




Thomas (Tom) is an attorney who practiced trial and constitutional law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1938 in Bamberg Germany, he was one of the youngest passengers on the ill-fated voyage of the Damned, the SS St. Louis, turned away from Cuba in 1939.

Tom represented local civil rights activists and Dick Gregory and twice argued cases successfully in the United States Supreme Court. In 1970 he was the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.

Retiring in 2008, he and wife, Peggy, moved to California to join their two sons and four grandchildren, and enjoy the warm weather.

Tom has kept busy as a member of Senior Scholars and Plato for the last six years keeping his brain stimulated and active. Yoga and swimming have kept his body in shape.