Eureka Years: 1964-1978," showing through Sept. 25, depicts
local scenes and familiar faces from a place and time
before Wong received international acclaim. The New York
Times, in its obituary, said Wong "carved out a territory
all his own"...with his "culturally complex" art. The
gallery will hold its customary "reception for the artist" Saturday
night; now, however, Wong's originally anticipated presence
will be represented by his art and by his friends. He
died of AIDS-related causes at his parents' home. He
Wong's most remembered pieces from his years in Eureka
are some of the hundreds of "Human Instamatic" portraits
he drew to help support himself while he lived above
the Driftwood bar in Old Town. According to Curator Mimi
La Plant, an art instructor at Humboldt, "These portraits
demonstrate the fluid muscularity of his drawn work."
shows Dr. Robert Berg performing dentistry on a patient.
Another, of artist Peggy Dickinson, has three heads "because
Martin said she was moving so fast throwing pots on her
ceramics wheel," said La Plant.
has left an artistic legacy in Humboldt County and many
people remember him well and with enormous fondness," she
said. "He haunted Old Town.... He is certainly a part
of the wild spirit of the Eureka that existed during
the ‘60s and ‘70s. He served as a courtroom artist for
a sensational trial. After the trial, the judge wanted
to buy Martin's drawings."
came to Humboldt County in 1964, after he finished high
school, to attend Humboldt as an art student because
he'd heard the school was "groovy," La Plant said. He
graduated in 1968 with his dog, "Opie,"in attendance.
Professor Emeritus Reese Bullen introduced him to calligraphy,
she said, and "Martin's beautiful hand is demonstrated
in the poetic scrolls exhibited in the ‘Eureka Years'
exhibit. The calligraphy combined with his poetry and
prose creates an engaging and sensuous interaction between
the viewer and Martin.
titles of Wong's work give insight to what La Plant calls "his
wonderfully tragic/comic personality," such as "Tibetan
Porky the Pig with Paper Mâché Genitals" and "Blind
Donald Duckies." A photograph shows Wong with his extensive
lunch box collection.
exhibition represents a homecoming of sorts, of a man
returning to the scene of his first flowering," said
La Plant. "And to Eureka, a place that can say it did
well by one of its most brilliant residents. Martin finally
left here in 1978 and headed for New York."