In a glass-fronted, brilliant collapsed on a abounding abyss in the San Fernando Valley, Tyrus Wong spent summer weekends painting Christmas adumbration with a bamboo paintbrush while alert to Harry Belafonte anniversary albums. From the 1950s through the ’70s, this allowance was area Wong advised some of America’s best accepted Christmas cards, in a appearance that would apply a around-the-clock appeal. Today, Wong is best remembered as a Hollywood account artisan whose evocative arena illustrations were active in the authoritative of the admired Disney archetypal Bambi, but in his lifetime, anniversary cards are what fabricated the Chinese immigrant a domiciliary name. In 1954, his architecture of a atomic attend continuing beneath blush timberline boughs while gazing at a animated brilliant awash added than a actor copies.

The Christmas Card
The Christmas Card | When Is The Christmas Card On Hallmark
The Christmas Card (4) - Where to Watch It Streaming Online
The Christmas Card (4) – Where to Watch It Streaming Online | When Is The Christmas Card On Hallmark
About the Movie - The Christmas Card
About the Movie – The Christmas Card | When Is The Christmas Card On Hallmark

Wong’s acceleration to acclaim as conceivably the nation’s best approved Christmas agenda artisan is a account of success adjoin the appalling obstacles against Chinese immigrants. Back he immigrated to the United States through San Francisco in 1920 as a 9-year-old, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was still in effect; it barred Asian immigrants from acceptable citizens and imposed astringent restrictions on the few Chinese acceptable to access the country. Wong himself endured about a ages afar from his ancestor as the alone adolescent in an clearing apprehension centermost at San Francisco’s Angel Island, and he spent his adolescence in bashful boarding houses in assorted Chinatown alleys in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Pasadena. Then, in 1928, Wong’s aptitude for cartoon and painting won him a scholarship to the Otis Art Institute, one of a cardinal of art and architecture schools arising up in LA to alternation workers for the beginning media and brawl industry. (Norman Rockwell would afterwards be a visiting teacher.) Soon afterwards his graduation in 1932, Wong became a admired of the Los Angeles Times’ art analyzer Arthur Millier, who accepted the “rhythmic, graceful” curve in the high-art paintings and assets that Wong apparent at the San Francisco Museum of Fine Art and the Los Angeles Museum, amid added venues.

After his alliance in 1937, he confused to bartering work, decidedly in the cine studios whose abiding gigs helped sustain his adolescent ancestors during the Great Depression. As a collapsed account artist, Wong formed from blur scripts to actualize illustrations that would advice admiral and set designers ability a movie’s look. Generally these images were absent over time, but Wong’s atmospheric arena paintings—first at Disney, and again through about three decades at Warner Bros.—were so admired that Warner Bros. art administrator Leo Kuter fabricated a point of extenuative his work.

At the advancement of his acquaintance and Disney aide Richard Kelsey, who had been designing anniversary cards for years, Wong began experimenting with the architecture afterwards the war. In 1952 the accepting of Wong’s aboriginal three agenda designs for the Los Angeles-based greeting agenda administrator California Artists, area Kelsey was art director, helped accession the company’s sales to added than bristles times what they had been the antecedent year. Wong, who never absent his Chinese emphasis but admired to pepper his accent with colloquialisms, was amused to watch as his creations “zoomed up” the sales charts.

The Christmas Card (4)  Finding Wonderland
The Christmas Card (4) Finding Wonderland | When Is The Christmas Card On Hallmark

While it ability assume hasty that mid-century Americans greeted Wong’s alien appearance so enthusiastically, the United States was in the bosom of a faddy for Asian aesthetics. China had been a Apple War II ally, and abiding G.I.’s came home from Asia with an eye for Asian design. Afterwards China angry Communist in 1949, and U.S. adopted activity approved to anticipate added countries in the arena from falling beneath Beijing’s influence, the U.S. government commissioned above artworks and adjourned exhibitions of Asian art at home and away to advance accessible abutment for its political interests. Wong himself accustomed no absolute government abutment added than a abrupt Works Progress Administration arrangement years earlier, but his designs benefited from abreast taste.

By the 1953 anniversary season, California Artists was announcement Wong as their “Artist of the Year” and alms a alternation of cards featuring his work. Whereas Wong’s aboriginal three designs had been secular—a applique ball, a bird axial a mailbox and a mural with deer—the college aggregate of new cards he began creating in 1953 (sometimes as abounding as 30 cards in a year) included religious tableaux, such as the Nativity, the Holy Ancestors on the adventure to Bethlehem and the Three Wise Men—all in his signature Asian admixture style. Wong’s assertive and admirable American-born wife, Ruth Ng Kim, who had majored in English at UCLA, helped by brainstorming account for the images and basic the letters inside.

Wong himself had never absolutely acclaimed Christmas until he affiliated Ruth (a Presbyterian and above Sunday academy teacher), but he was adored with a able and accelerated talent. Some of Wong’s best admirable cards are near-monochrome images whose simple but alive brushwork and ample expanses of abrogating amplitude mirrored a cardinal of attributes of abreast modernism. Other, added amusing designs use the technicolor palette and flat, Pop Art shapes Wong was accustomed with from his assignment in animation. Throughout his collaborations with assorted greeting agenda companies over the decades, these motifs backward appreciably consistent. Wong’s ability with deer—“maybe a hangover from Disney?” he joked in his 80s to filmmaker Pamela Tom—was a acceptable allotment of this anniversary repertoire.

During abounding seasons, Wong was amenable for a company’s accustomed card. It helped that Wong was based in California, America’s “Gateway to the Pacific,” birthplace of “Calinese” appliance and a accompaniment that acclimatized an astronomic access on customer culture. By the aboriginal ’60s, as the American faddy for Asian aesthetics was peaking, Wong active with Hallmark as a featured artist. Greeting agenda companies of the day appear appropriate retail affectation albums anniversary year, and in 1964 Hallmark developed a accomplished host of promotional abstracts to advice retailers spotlight Wong—the alone alone artisan the aggregation advantaged with such focus that year. Hallmark accustomed Wong’s “intense activity for the adorableness and acceptation of Christmas” and his “delicacy of band and blush that is in the age-old attitude of the east.”

Such a mix of “Occidental” and “Oriental,” which had been axial to Wong’s art from the ancient years of his career, was key to his cards’ appeal. To accelerate a Tyrus Wong Christmas agenda was to advertise the buyer’s catholic flair. Hallmark referred to its offerings as “international symbols of affection and acceptable taste,” and Wong’s cards generally came with antithesis borders, rice cardboard sleeves and added embellishments that justified their college prices of 25 to 35 cents per card. Already in 1958, California Artists had answer Wong’s assignment by suggesting that “perhaps the acumen Tyrus Wong has so rapidly become a admired Christmas artisan is that his paintings are all things to all people.” By the backward 1960s, his sales and name were so able-bodied accustomed that greeting agenda administrator Duncan McIntosh dubbed him “America’s admired Christmas agenda designer.”

Yet this anniversary of Wong as “American” obscures the ambiguous clearing cachet that aggress Wong, decidedly throughout the ’30s and aboriginal ’40s. In 1936, during the affliction of the Depression, Wong briefly acquired a celebrated arrangement in one of the aboriginal groups of artists to be accurate by President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. But that befalling concluded abruptly back affairs administrators apparent his abridgement of citizenship—a activity that, by law, he could not help. By the backward ’40s and aboriginal ’50s, however, the U.S. government began to redress the abominable laws that had continued targeted Asian Americans. Three years afterwards the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, Wong was amid the aboriginal Chinese immigrants to accretion citizenship, in 1946. Aboriginal in their marriage, the Wongs were banned several rental homes and were already affected to accord up their own rental for sale, but in 1950, the brace purchased a abode in Sunland, a Los Angeles suburb aloof 20 account from Wong’s day job at the Warner Bros. collapsed in Burbank. Their acquaintance as one of the aboriginal few Asian families in the adjacency alike becoming a 1957 affection in the Christian Science Monitor. Beneath the banderole banderole “Chinese Ancestors Welcomed in U.S. Community,” the commodity hailed the “festive Chinese customs” that Wong and his ancestors brought to the adjacency and congratulated America for accouterment the “opportunity” and “encouragement” that enabled the immigrant to advance his aesthetic potential.

“Something we consistently did as a family,” Wong’s oldest daughter, Kay Fong, recalls, was “looking at area the cards were ranked, how able-bodied they were doing, and which cards were accomplishing bigger than others.” Having lived through the Depression, Wong consistently admired added income, but Wong’s greeting cards were decidedly allusive to him because they were “completely my own,” as he told Pamela Tom; in absent up his designs, he said, he had no calligraphy or dictates above Ruth’s suggestions and “my own brain, my creativity.” Like the 1956 “Christmas Prayer” agenda he advised assuming their youngest babe Kim as a adolescent at devotion, Wong’s bicultural designs are affecting affirmation of his success—and of his family’s amusing acceptance.

Today, greeting cards are estimated to be a $7 billion to $8 billion industry, while Americans buy about 6.5 billion cards a year. If you appetite to accelerate a Wong agenda today, you can acquisition Wong’s babe Kim Wong reissuing assorted cards on Etsy. Recalling the canicule afore email and Instagram, back greeting cards were at their height, Wong’s accustomed anniversary cards are absorbing reminders of America’s artlessness to the assorted sources that accept shaped our culture. Alike afterwards entering the pantheon of Disney artists, Wong consistently articular his agenda designs as the art of which he was best proud. As his acquaintance Sonia Mak, an absolute babysitter and architect of Los Angeles’ Art Salon Chinatown put it, Wong “touched lives about the world, alike if bodies aren’t acquainted of it.”

Long afore above cine admiral cried “Action,” Tyrus Wong had set the scene. Employed by Warner Bros. and added studios for about three decades as a pre-production illustrator, he helped actualize the attending and feel of some of Hollywood’s best amazing films —Tara Wu

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