Monday, March 11, 2013

About the Artist: Wylog Fong

1900 United States Federal Census
Name: Lock Fong
Home in 1900: San Francisco, San Francisco, California [22 Waverly Street]
Age: 6
Birth Date: Jan 1894
Birthplace: California
Race: Chinese
Gender: Male
Relationship to Head of House: Son
Father’s Name: Jung
Father’s Birthplace: China
Mother’s Name: Chu See
Mother’s Birthplace: China
Marital Status: Single
Residence: San Francisco City, San Francisco, California
Household Members:
Name / Age
Jung Fong 46 [Tailor]
Chu See Fong 34
Pa Lee Fong 15
Tai Fong 12
On Fong 9
Lock Fong 6
How Fong 5
Hing Fong 3
May Fong 1

1910 United States Federal Census
Name: Way Lock Fong
Age in 1910: 17
Birth Year: abt 1894
Birthplace: California
Home in 1910: Sacramento Ward 1, Sacramento, California
Race: Chinese
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Son
Marital Status: Single
Father’s Name: Goe Fong
Father’s Birthplace: China
Mother’s Birthplace: California
Household Members:
Name / Age
Joe Fong 56
Young On Fong 19
Way Lock Fong 17
Way How Fong 11
Haning Fong 10

World War I Draft Registration Card
Name: Wylog Fong
Address: 287 Davis Street
City: Portland
County: Multnomah
State: Oregon
Birthplace: California
Birth Date: 22 Feb 1897
Draft Board: 1
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Nearest Relative: Joe Fong
Height/Build: Short/Slender
Color of Eyes/Hair: Dark Brown/Black
Signature: June 6, 1918

1920 United States Federal Census
Name: Wy Lok Fong
Home in 1920: Portland, Multnomah, Oregon [67 1/2 North Fourth Street]
Age: 23 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1897
Birthplace: California
Relation to Head of House: Son
Father’s Name: Jong
Father’s Birth Place: China
Mother’s Birth Place: China
Marital Status: Single
Race: Chinese
Sex: Male
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Household Members:
Name / Age
Jong Fong 65
Wy Lok Fong 23 [Artist; Landscapes]
Wy Heo Fong 21
Wy See Lock 55
Emilis Lock 31
Susie Lock 13
Frank Lock 12
Jean Lock 10
Edwin Lock 7
Calvin Lock 5
Sarah Lock 3
Chester Lock 7/12

1940 United States Federal Census
Name: Fong W Log
Age: 46
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1894
Gender: Male
Race: Chinese
Birthplace: California
Marital Status: Single
Relation to Head of House: Lodger
Home in 1940: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Street: Wall Street
House Number: 1115
Inferred Residence in 1935: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Residence in 1935: Los Angeles
Father's Birthplace: China
Mother's Birthplace: China
Occupation: Sketch Artist
Attended School or College: No
Highest Grade Completed: Elementary school, 3rd grade
Hours Worked Week Prior to Census: 16
Class of Worker: Working on own account
Weeks Worked in 1939: 30
Income: 0
Income Other Sources: Yes
Native Language: Chinese
Veteran: Yes
Military service: World War
Social Security Number: Yes
Usual Occupation: Artist
Usual Industry: Art
Usual Class of Worker: Working on own account
Household Members
Name / Age
Walter Hansew 38
Lulu Hansew 50
Juan Louie 21
Edward J Fink 64
SE Ehun Wong 19
Royse R Shinyff 43
James Brunett 37
Edward J McKinney 46
Harvey Reared 46
Fong W Log 46

California Death Index

Name: Wy L Fong
Sex: Male
Birth Date: 22 Feb 1894
Birthplace: California
Death Date: 5 Sep 1974
Death Place: Los Angeles

American Art Annual
Volume XX, 1923-1924
Who’s Who in Art
page 519, column two:
Fong, Wylog, 287 Davis St., Portland, Ore. (P.) [Painter]

Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970
Gordon Chang, Mark Johnson, Paul Karlstrom
Stanford General Books, 2008
page 311: Fong, Wy Log
Born: February 22, 1894, San Francisco, CA
Died: September 5, 1974, Los Angeles, CA
Residences: 1894-ca. 1914, San Francisco, CA
ca. 1914 - ca. 1930, Portland, OR
ca. 1930 - ca. 1954, San Francisco and Los Angeles
ca. 1954 - 1974, Los Angeles, CA

Wy Log Fong was a successful painter and illustrator in the 1920s and 1930s. Many of his works survive today, including original paintings, plus prints produced by the West Coast Engraving Company of Portland, Oregon, to which he was under contract in the 1920s. After moving from San Francisco, Fong attended high school in Portland, where he studied art at the Museum Art School. Fong is listed in the 1928 Portland city directory; however, it is unclear how long he remained in the Portland area. He later moved back to San Francisco and then to Los Angeles, where he attended the Art Students League. He was described as a sidewalk pastel portrait artist in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.

Fong created genre portraits of Chinese men, women, and children, similar in style to the work of early-twentieth-century painter Esther Hunt. Fong’s paintings contained stereotypes of his subjects, perhaps to appeal to non-Chinese audiences. one interesting aspect of his career are the works he painted on velvet from the teens to the 1930s. While velvet paintings date back to the eighteenth century, the origination of the modern kitsch form in the United States has been attributed to Edgar Leeteg, who was active in the 1930s and 1940s. The earlier dates of Fong’s work may mean that he was the first artist in the United States to work on velvet.

A Heaven in the Eye
Clyde Rice
Breitenbush Books, 1984
page 24: A month went by, and I had improved enough to enter the life classes. The girl—her name was Evelyn Nordstrom—was there, along with Mr. Wentz, the teacher. The rest seemed to be strangers to me and all older, until I saw a Chinese fellow whom I had known in high school—Wy Long Fong—who greeted me. There were two Japanese men and a woman, Catherine McKenzie, to whom Evelyn introduced me, and who was to become a friend of long standing.

page 25: Very quickly my circle of acquaintances grew. I met Kinzu Furiya, Mizino, Charles Heaney and other students who were in the advanced day-class under Harry Wentz, the teacher. Kinzu Furiya was a red-cheeked Japanese of about forty—a well-read Oriental philosopher whose paintings were tied much more to Oriental concepts than our own. Mizino, also Japanese, was a tiny, mouse-like man who painted landscapes in the western tradition. Charles Heaney, a slender fellow of about twenty-four, was very eager to push on with his studies. And then there was Wy Long Fong, my high school acquaintance, who was already a superb draftsman and a fine painter.

page 27: Then one evening, as we were engrossed as usual in our drawing, there was a knock at the door and the white-haired art critic entered. He told us to go on with our work, but soon was helping Heaney with his drawing. He looked at mine as well, after which he gave me that incisive, knowledgeable wisp of a smile and turned to Fong. At length the model left, and we gathered around to talk. He talked marvelously well about artists, about materials. He dripped names. He was a friend of Trotsky’s, knew this and that about prominent radicals, and gave fleeting glimpses of himself as an intelligence officer in the French military. It was a splendid performance. We asked him to come often, telling him that we needed a critic. Smiling with suave irony, he said he’d help for the price of a Chinese dinner after the meetings. We were happy with the terms.

Oregon, End of the Trail
Workers of the Writers' Program of the Works Projects Administration in the State of Oregon
page 130: Wylong Fong, a young Chinese artist living in Portland some fifteen years ago, created vividly in oils but is best remembered for Oriental figure studies done with pastels on velvet. Phyllis Muirden, teaching art in Portland high schools, has executed some much-admired water colors

They Painted from Their Hearts: Pioneer Asian American Artists
Mayumi Tsutakawa (Editor), Alan Chong Lau (Editor), Kazuko Nakane (Editor)
University of Washington Press, 1995
page 82: Wylog Fong (1896?-1971?); Oil painter and illustrator
Born in San Francisco; ca. 1913 moved to Portland with his family; before 1920 moved to San Francisco and Los Angeles; was a sidewalk pastel portrait painter in Chinatown, Los Angeles.
Exhibited: Portland Art Association Museum of Art, 1922

Oregon Painters: The First Hundred Years (1859-1959): Index and Biographical Dictionary
Ginny Allen, Jody Klevit
Oregon Historical Society Press, 1999
page 158: Fong, Wylog
b. ca. 1900 San Francisco
Education: Museum Art School
Exhibits: Portland Art Museum
References: DAV (Davenport, R.J. 1996-97. Davenport’s Art Reference and Price Guide); HUG (Hughes, Edan M. second edition, 1989. Artist in California 1786-1940); OET (Corning, Howard McKinley, 1951. Oregon, End of the Trail); WWW (Falk, Peter, ed. 1985. Who Was Who in American Art); A2 (Portland Art Museum, Non-juried Exhibits, 1920, 22); A4 (Portland Art Museum, Group Exhibits, 59); CD (Portland City Directories. Artist Listing, 1918)
Media: Oil, Pastel
Specialty: Chinese Figure

Wylog Fong was born about 1900. He attended high school in Portland and later studied at the Museum Art School. There he met Clyde Rice, who mentions their association in his book, A Heaven in the Eye. Fong exhibited his oils and pastels at the Portland Art Museum. He listed a Los Angeles address in 1959.

A Seed of Modernism: The Art Students League of Los Angeles
Marian Yoshiki-Kovinic, Dr. Will South, Julia Armstrong-Totten
Pasadena Museum of California Art/Het Day Books, 2008
page 72: Plate 26, watercolor
page 73: Plate 27, watercolor
page 103: Wylog Fong (1894-1974), painter, illustrator, model
(excerpt)...He later returned to San Francisco and then to Los Angeles, where he attended the League during the period when Macdonald-Wright was director. Macdonald-Wright used him as a model for many of his paintings and drawings. At the League Fong was an integral part of the group of students and a regular attendee of the Saturday night “stag parties,” where a variety of ethnic cuisine was prepared and served. In 1937 Fong illustrated an article, “Fong Sad as New Year Customs Wane,” for the Hollywood Citizen-News, explaining how disappointing it was to see that the Lion Dance had replaced the traditional Dragon Dance at Chinatown’s celebration of the Chinese New Year..... —Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick

(Next post March 15: Chinese Art at the Whitney Gallery)


  1. Thank you for this post. There are several of his works for sale today at the International Auction Gallery in Anaheim.
    Corinne West

  2. I greatly appreciate all your research - it really helped with my blog post on Wylog Fong:

  3. You're welcome and thanks for mentioning my blog.