A Vision of Justice: Tyrus Wong & The Cultural Continuum of New Chinatown

Tyrus Wong, Confucius as a Justice, 1938, watercolor on board, 41.25 x 27 inches

In Los Angeles’s New Chinatown, in a lovingly restored blue building that flanks Central Plaza, a watercolor painting by Tyrus Wong, entitled Confucius as a Justice, hangs majestically in a beautiful office away from public view. The Chinese Historical Society of Southern California invited curator Sonia Mak of Art Salon Chinatown to organize an online virtual exhibition about this important artwork that has never been exhibited.

This exquisite piece calls out Confucius (551–479 BCE), a seminal figure from Chinese antiquity, whose philosophy was the progenitor of China’s most enduring humanistic ideals and cultural values. More than just a depiction of the ancient sage, this artwork also signifies a friendship between two twentieth-century pioneers in the Asian American community who called Los Angeles home: famed immigration lawyer You Chung Hong (1898-1977) who fought racist legislation against Chinese and played a central role in the establishment and creation of New Chinatown, and Tyrus Wong (1910-2016), one of the most prominent Chinese American artists in the US. The exhibition centers this numinous painting as a richly layered nexus that draws together the life and work of these icons, situated within the genesis of New Chinatown and the racial and political landscape of the late 1930s.

A Virtual 3D Exhibition

Take an interactive virtual tour of the law office of You Chung Hong to see Tyrus Wong’s watercolor Confucius as a Justice. To begin, click anywhere on the virtual tour window below to enter. For help with navigation, click “Help” in the bottom right corner of the virtual tour window, or scroll down to the bottom of this page for a quick guide.   

To read the full exhibition text, please click here! 

Programs

A Conversation about Art & Equality

Wednesday, May, 5, 2021, 7:00 PM PST

Join us for a conversation with the curator of A Vision of Justice: Tyrus Wong & The Cultural Continuum of New Chinatown, Sonia Mak, as we learn about her discoveries in researching the relationship between Tyrus Wong and the painting’s patron, immigration lawyer Y. C. Hong. Special guests, performance artist Kristina Wong and attorney George Yin, will join the curator in considering the legacy of these pioneers against the ongoing struggle for equality.

For more information and to RSVP, please click here.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of the Louie Family Foundation.

Sonia Mak and Shervin Shahbazi of Art Salon Chinatown would like to extend special thanks to the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, Richard Liu, Kim Wong, Nowland Hong, Carol Courtenay, Leslee Leong, Lisa See, Dr. John C. Arroyo, Pamela Tom, the Walt Disney Family Museum, and the Japanese American National Museum.

Resources 

To learn more, please visit:

‘Round the Clock: Chinese American Artists Working in Los Angeles exhibition, part of the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980.

Walt Disney Family Museum, Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong

Official homepage for TYRUS, a multi-award winning documentary film by Pamela Tom

Karen Fang’s How Tyrus Wong’s Christmas Cards Captivated the American Public in the Smithsonian Magazine

Lisa See’s On Gold Mountain Timeline

Chinatown LA

The Huntington Digital Library, Hong Family Papers and Roger Hong Collection

Stories and Voices from L.A. Chinatown exhibit, LA Public Library & The Huntington Library

Virtual window navigation guide

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