TYRUS WONG: BRUSHSTROKES IN HOLLYWOOD is a documentary film currently in post production in Los Angeles, CA.
In 1919, a young boy from Canton, China arrived at San Francisco’s Angel Island accompanied only by his father and a passion for drawing. This passion would lead him on an artistic journey that would span over 85 years and introduce him to worlds far beyond his rural homeland.
How this young boy from Southern China overcame a life of poverty and racial discrimination to become a celebrated painter, lithographer, kite maker, Hollywood sketch artist, and Disney Legend is the subject of Tyrus Wong: Brushstrokes in Hollywood: , a feature-length documentary film that examines the life and work of pioneering Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong.
Brushstrokes in Hollywood celebrates not only the beauty of his art, but reveals to a larger audience a lesser known part of the Chinese-American experience – that of its artists and creators.
Brushstrokes in Hollywood will unveil the unique blend of influences that shaped Tyrus Wong and his art – from his passion for the bold art of the Sung dynasty to his work as a depression-era muralist, California watercolor painter, and Hollywood set illustrator. According to author Lisa See, Tyrus Wong is one of the few Chinese-American artists able to “build a bridge between his Chinese past and his American present.”
Brushstrokes in Hollywood also explores - for the first time on film - the circle of Chinese and Japanese American bohemian artists whose creative verve helped shape the cultural and artistic life of Los Angeles during the 1930’s and 40’s. With their Western art school training and Asian sensibilities, these “Orientalists” would leave an indelible mark on the Southern California artistic landscape.
Brushstrokes in Hollywood will show how the quiet beauty of Tyrus’s Eastern influenced paintings caught the eye of Walt Disney and became the inspiration for the classic animated feature Bambi, and how the exquisite beauty and unique styling with which Tyrus infused his work remains an influence on the leading animators of today.
For nearly three decades, Tyrus brought his artistry and draftsmanship to Warner Bros. where he sketched and painted thousands of striking storyboards and set illustrations that set the tone and drama for hundreds of live action films, including such classics as Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, The Sands of Iwo Jima, and Rebel Without a Cause.
At 101, Tyrus continues to live the life of an artist. On the fourth Saturday of each month, he gathers his menagerie of hand painted kites and travels to the beaches of Santa Monica. Here he sails his magnificent creations high above the Pacific Ocean – the same waters he crossed as a young boy over 90 years ago.
Tyrus Wong’s life has spanned over a century of struggle and change for the Chinese in California. While the film tells the story of a remarkable artist and rare individual, it also sheds light on the dramatic and untold story of Chinese-Americans in the 20th century. According to art curator Irene Poon Anderson, Tyrus Wong's life is a story “waiting to be told.”