This is my friend, Leland Wong. He's an artist and a photographer, with a body of knowledge of San Francisco Chinatown's culture and history, a sort of know-it-all in the most humble guy you'll ever meet. You know how some people ooze talent and creativity? And you wonder why you didn't get a bit of more of that since you grew up in the same neighborhood and ate at the same places in Chinatown? And you hate them because you could never be that good if you tried? That about sums it up for me where Leland is concerned.
I look at Leland's work and I go, "Damn... that's awfully clever," such as when saw the above self-portrait. Take this painting on glass at the Chinese Historical Society of America in SF. How did he come up with that?! It's so smart to make a whole painting out of two parts: the glass wall behind him and the glass bannister with the fish. And it's brilliant and beautiful.
The other thing about Leland's creative output is the way he mixes modern, funky, manga with traditional Chinese. And that is precisely why his artwork appeals to me. It speaks to my similar sense of creativity: then and now.
For what seems like ages, I have been trying to get my hands on Leland's original artwork. Today was my lucky day because I got two pieces. One will come by Pony Express and the other is the digital portrait below. He took my slightly-cartoonized image (see sidebar) and comic-booked me further, with one of his fabulous paintings in the background (Leland, can I buy that one too? Please?). Leland will make a comic book character out of you for $25. You'll get the high-res version as well. Contact Leland directly via his website. Much of his artwork and posters are also for sale -- just ask! (Two versions, below.)