Silicon Valley honors Chinese painter

A 103-year-old Chinese painter’s life story has been preserved and presented to the public thanks to the efforts of a museum in Silicon Valley.

Los Altos History Museum recently interviewed Hou Beiren, a renowned contemporary Chinese painter in California, for an oral-history program that aspires to preserve the artist’s history and raise awareness of cultural diversity in the United States.

“The United States needs people who can help bring the best of their culture to the country,” the museum’s executive director Elizabeth Ward says.

“And he is an example of someone who has brought a wonderful piece of Chinese culture to more public awareness in the United States. It’s a very important contribution to our cultural life here.”

Hou was born in Liaoning province in 1917. He moved to the US from Hong Kong in 1956 and has since lived in Los Altos in northern Silicon Valley.

For more than 60 years, he has received worldwide acclaim for his signature “splash-ink-and-color” style that fuses Eastern brush painting with Western impressionism.

Hou’s works have been exhibited and collected in the US and China, including by the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the San Jose Museum of Art and the National Art Museum of China. Hou, who’s still in good health, opened a new exhibition earlier this month in Santa Clara County, California.

“We were very honored that he decided to share his story with us, so that anyone can come to the museum and read his story,” Ward says.

The master artist talks about the teachers who influenced him as a youth and why he decided to become an artist.

The museum plans to add Hou to its permanent exhibit and to put some pieces from the oral-history project online.

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