My name is Jennifer Wong and I am the granddaughter of Liu Jipiao (劉旣漂). My grandfather left our family in possession of all his artwork, furniture, photos and blueprints that he did since he came to America in 1947.
I think my mom has been telling me for about 20 some odd years that I was going to be the one in the family to “do something” with Gong’s art. We called my grandfather “Gong Gong” meaning maternal grandfather and my grandmother “Po Po” meaning maternal grandmother. Of course I fought this statement til about a year ago.
I have my own favorite paintings and there are a pair of Chinese Water Color Paintings (1968) that have been hanging up in every bedroom I’ve had since I moved to NYC in 1990. My grandfather mounted and built the frames for all his watercolors. Times were tough and money was tight so he used pretty much any materials he could get his hands on. These particular paintings were mounted directly on press board, no glass. Liu knotted a piece of string on both ends, drilled holes in the press board and threaded the string through back and mounted the painting on the other side.
A year ago that string broke and my favorite painting came crashing down! There was no way I could re-thread the string or attache a wire to the back without damaging the painting itself. So I thought, “ok, time to frame these properly!” But they were starting to yellow so maybe I should digitize it before I do this. And maybe I should look into digitizing ALL of the paintings…
One thing led to another and I find myself at a cafe with a couple of friends talking about this project I’m thinking of taking on and my friend says “maybe you can find a grad student interested in helping you research or maybe someone at USC would be interested in his work…” She wrote to some professors and the USC East Asian Library wrote back that they were interested.
Since then we have met some wonderful people and made some great friends along the way!
Dr. Jeff Cody, Senior Project Specialist at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles (co-editor of Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts) is presenting my grandfather’s story at an INHA conference in Paris this February, “Architectural Exchange -Asia and Europe- 1550-1950” We are attending and doing research in Paris and Lyon.