His 57th: Say Happy Birthday to Michael Wong!

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[Image above: Michael Wong with the Beatles at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art MOMA.)

Deb Wong explains:

Thinking about how much fun we had on our day off Monday at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with friends. I am a 5th generation native San Franciscan, but behave like a hick-from-the-sticks tourist whenever I visit my birth city. Shows we saw were Ansel Adams (Michael’s inspiration to become a photographer), Georgia O’Keefe and Richard Avedon–for starters. it was great to see my artist heroes’ works (Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollack, Marcel DuChamp, Matisse, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Diego Rivera and many others (!)–in addition to the multitude of famous faces in portraits that Avedon so meticulously shot. I read the bios of these artists, so told Michael about some of them, as we went through the collections. Michael didn’t know what the photo of the scarred Andy Warhol’s body was, and I told him the story about the shooting, and how Avedon convinced Andy to pose for him. In the above photo, Michael is posing with the Beatles.

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On Deb Wong’s work to be exhibited at the “25th Avenue Gallery” in San Mateo.

O.k., to cheer you up – I probably mentioned the art show I will be in next year at the 25th Avenue Gallery in San Mateo. It will be the first time that my stuff will be featured in a show (along with one other artist, Kendra Davis).  We are calling it “Characters and Caricatures”, and it will all be fun, upbeat, and whimsical – nothing too deep here. We want to put smiles on viewer’s faces.  Kendra’s photos mostly feature animals, and a lot of mine do, too.  Hers are photographs, mine are my digital creations. Kendra has a great sense of humor, I love her photos.  We have framed all of the ones that will be in the show.   I have attached a couple samples of mine to this mail. One is called: “Playing the Garden”, the other is “The Day the Cow Jumped Over the Moon, and Hit a Snag.”  Just for fun.  I have 15 others, and am working on more. Since the show isn’t until May 2010, I have plenty of time to create more.
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Deb Wong: Today’s 4th of July Parade in Town

All images by Michael Wong, Spring Mountain Gallery, Main Street, Half Moon Bay

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Story from Deb Wong

Email Deb (debwongdebwong@gmail.com)

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 Michael went to the gallery, thinking that he would be
open for business today, but it was not possible, with all of the
parade activity at that location.  Instead, he shot a few pics

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of the
parade from our gallery building’s balcony (some pics attached: a kids
parade, Sam’s Chowdermobile, Terry Reece waving, for the Coastside
Land Trust, Farmer John driving his tractor, with the Alifanos in tow,
and the HMB Library dance).

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The Wongs Superfine Road Trip…By Deb Wong

Story by Deb Wong
Hi June,
We wish we could have spent another week, but had a lot of pressing appointments & obligations to get back to (you know how it is).  Here is a link to some of our photos:
First stop we made was to visit our friends, the Johnsons, in Truckee.  Lloyd & Lissa Johnson used to climb mountains & go rock climbing with Michael, back in the day.  Now, Lissa is a teacher and Lloyd is a carpenter who is also an artist. He uses anything he can find to create sculptures, custom bicycles, wagons, and….helmets:
Car-camped two of the nights – the first night in the midst of the Nevada desert, and on the 3rd night, in Grand Tetons National Park. Here is Michael using the Coleman stove that he has had since the 1970s:
Other than that, and the cabin we stayed in while in Yellowstone, we stayed in hotels/motels…I discovered that I simply MUST have proper bathroom facilities nearby.  Bu that’s just me.
We traveled through California, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Washington & Oregon.  Some of the best things were unexpected.
We went to Rock Springs to check out Michael’s maternal grandparent’s old restaurant, the building of which is still there. We were able to find out some history about Michael’s grandmother that his mom didn’t know, with the help of some researchers at the museum there. Here is Michael in front of the building where his grandparent’s restaurant/market was:

When we entered Wyoming, we were startled to see large billboards advertising the sale of fireworks.  Wyoming sells fireworks all year ’round! Not only that, but Michael’s grandmother sold fireworks back in the late 1920s-early 1930s, and shot some off of the roof of their restaurant every “International Day”, which is still celebrated in Wyoming.

History:  Michael’s grandmother was a Chinese movie actress, who then married Michael’s grandfather, who came from China through Angel Island (he was kept for 6 months at Angel Island, part of their “quarrantine” of Chinese at the time). After he was released from Angel Island, he wanted to get away from San Francisco, and went as far as his money would take him – which was to Rock Springs.  They had 5 children(one of whom was Michael’s mom), and moved back to San Francisco in the ’40s.

More stuff we learned….

In Oregon, you can’t pump your own gas.  That is the law.  Oregon & New Jersey are the only states in the union where customers are not allowed to pump their own gas.  Maybe you already knew this, but we didn’t, when we rolled into our first Oregon gas station. Three young attendants rushed out to the van, to pump the gas and wash the windows, etc.  Michael tipped them! We thought that it was some special full-service feature of that particular station.

Washington has huge highway on-ramps, and the best rest areas. Montana is just a huge state, quite beautiful, but goes on forever. At a Chinese restaurant near Butte, we met the owner, originally from San Francisco, who says that it is “very lonely” out there in the vastness of Montana.  The people were all very nice.  Yes, it truly is “big sky” country.  There is a lot of fishing in their many lakes & streams.  In fact, during a thunderstorm, Montana fishermen were wading in the water with fishing rods held high.  Nothing would keep them from hooking their trout.

Idaho has the most beautiful trees, and the absolute WORST Chinese food ever, if the restaurant we went to is any indication.  As far as Utah goes, we have been there before, but the southern end of Utah, which is more stunning, I think, than its north end, which we visited this time.  We drove past Salt Lake City, which was the most conjested road of our trip, until we came back to the Bay Area, which was hellish – backed up on the freeway for miles & miles.

In Montana, we visited the Lewis & Clark Caverns. Awesome! We had to walk half a mile up a steep, narrow trail just to get to the entrance of the caverns, then walked up & down (& slid down through a narrow chute at one point) to get through the passsageways.
When we got back home and Michael was looking at what he had shot, he was surprised to see this apparition in one of his cave photos:
We have no explanation for it, but it makes a great Halloween story. We certainly didn’t see it there when we were in the caverns.

Back home, to the “real world”, we had bad news that Michael’s Uncle Calvin died. He was the oldest of the family members who were left who could have remembered many of the things that we learned in Rock Springs, and perhaps filled in some blanks about it all.  We had been looking forward to sharing it with him. Just goes to show that we can’t take anything (or anyone) for granted.  Uncle Calvin had the full Chinese funeral, along with a parade & band, all over Chinatown, out to Colma & back.  That was an experience in itself.  I had to bow three times at the grave site after throwing in the flower & dirt.

In any event, that trip is just what we needed!  Oh…and one more thing – we did not see one bear or wolf.  Not one.   Yogi and Boo-Boo were in hiding.  I don’t blame them, though. We tourists could be somewhat obnoxious!
Anyway, I have to get back to work now! Take care, & our best to you & Burt,
Deb

The “Scoop” From Deb Wong at Spring Mountain Gallery in HMB

Hi June,


I added what you sent me, but haven’t found much more to add to http://www.ShorelineStation.com, except some photos, and a little extra history. Linda Goetz said that she would get back to me if she remembers anything.

Yes, that is Father Miles Riley*** of the S.F. Archdiocese, now retired, The photo below was taken 2 years ago at a party – he was a very good singer! ”

(Photo: Miles Riley and Deb Wong singing Christmas carols.)

Our friend Bud Andre knew him, when Bud was a practicing priest. I did the website for Bud’s “Sandpiper Ceremonies,” though he is now on hiatus.

Meanwhile, Michael & I are working on a project for Franco, of a 1991 map of “Half Moon Bay Businesses” [created by Arlon Gilliland, owner of the Bird Nest Gallery in Oregon] that is now hanging in Cunhas (you see it by the stairwell). Michael photographed it, and I added a few things to it, including drawings of Franco’s 3 businesses: Riaces, Cunhas Market, and San Benito House.

I also added Spring Mountain Gallery, for good measure.

We are ordering 1,000 to start. It will be “Courtesy of Cunhas, Riace, and San Benito House”, though I believe that Franco wants to sell them, not give them away. I phoned the artist of the map, who now lives in Oregon, and who apparently used to draw those maps regularly for Half Moon Bay, and I got his permission to change/duplicate them. Shoreline Station is in there, with a few of the businesses that paid to be included. Michael joked to Bev Cunha that they were both too cheap to be included back then, and she said: “Yep, you’re right!”

I guess the Shoreline Station site is not that interesting to most….its history isn’t even that old. Many folks STILL complain that they didn’t know where Spring Mountain Gallery was located!

Most of our business is by word of mouth, or repeat customers, which isn’t bad. Our buddy Lionel Emde (of Periwinkle Framing in Pacifica – I did his website, too) says that we should have our customers write good reviews in “City Search”, which has quadrupled his business. But Michael doesn’t feel comfortable asking people to do that. I got one lady to write one, so at least there’s one!

We had felt as though we were in a black hole, or had a cloaking device installed over our building for many years. We were hoping that Franco’s business, Riace, might help bring some in, and it has, to a slight degree. Or that big bear out front. I wanted to put a huge hat on him/her, but it would involve a lot of manuvering,a tall ladder, and the hat would have to be glued on, with the winds we get.

There is even that interactive sculpure (that I have been putting t-shirts on, which say: “Half Moon Bay, CA.” on them). To little avail. Perhaps it’s the economy, which has affected many businesses, local & otherwise. Maybe the poster we are working on might clue some in…or not…oh well.

At least everyone knows where Lemos Farm and Pony Ranch is!!!!

In any event, I hope that you are doing well, and enjoying the warm weather!

Take care,
Deb

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***Miles Riley: When I worked at Time in San Francisco in the early 1980s, I once called Father Riley at the Archidiocese for a comment on a story. I don’t remember the topic but I remember him as a gracious man. Isn’t it funny–these people who come into our lives peripherally, and then, again, years later -or people you didn’t know your friends knew…this is getting too complicated but it makes me believe we are moving around in a smaller space than we think.

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Do you love cats? Click on Deb Wong’s link here