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New Artist Member: Al Wong

Posted February 11th, 2022 in Announcements, New Acquisitions, New Digital Files, News / Events

Canyon Cinema is delighted to welcome Al Wong back to the collection!

Al Wong is a native San Franciscan artist and has spent the past 50+ years making art in a variety of mediums. His career has developed from his early years as a student at the San Francisco Art Institute where he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree, to serving as an Art Professor for over 30 years at several universities and colleges including the San Francisco Art Institute, the California State University system, and Mills College. He has shown at exhibition venues such as the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the UC Berkeley Museum & Pacific Film Archive. His work has toured nationally and internationally including Europe, South America, and Japan. In addition, he has received several awards and honors including an NEA Grant in 1983, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1986, and a Flintridge Foundation Visual Artist Award in 1997.

New digitizations of six of Al’s films, made between 1970 and 1981, are now available from Canyon Cinema. Until February 16, you can view Working Class as part of the Canyon Cinema: Recent Acquisitions online program (free for Friends of Canyon Cinema members).

Philip Whalen (1981, 8 minutes, b&w, sound, digital file)

This film portrays my friend Philip Whalen, a Zen Buddhist monk and poet, reading from his book The Art of Literature. There is a play of spotlight and shadow in this work which emphasizes the elusiveness of truth in poetry.

Twin Peaks (Al Wong, 1977, 50 minutes, color, sound, digital file)

Twin Peaks was preserved by UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

“San Francisco native Al Wong recorded this meditative film over the course of a year. Taking the idea of the journey as its form, Wong’s camera is set inside the car as he slowly drives the infinity loop road that winds around Twin Peaks in San Francisco at different times of the day. In one part the film image splits in half and becomes out of sync synthesizing Wong’s interests in perception and the illusory nature of reality. A masterpiece of subtle shifts in light and tone…” (Tanya Zimbardo, Assistant Curator, Media Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)

Same Difference (1975, 17 minutes, color, sound, digital file)

The central image in the film is of two windows. It was filmed over the course of one year and reflects the changes of the seasons and the color and light in the sky. The natural changes of time are caught in the frame and within the frame of the window, we are shown to be both different and the same. Soundtrack by Terry Fox.

Working Class (1975, 13 minutes, b&w, sound, digital file)

This film depicts the cycle of the City of San Francisco, as one proceeds through a day of work.

Moving Still (1974, 14 minutes, b&w, sound, digital file)

This film is still a close part of me. I don’t think I could make another one like this again. It deals with space on many levels within a single movement, a movement which has a circular form which involves each viewer within the film itself.

Tea for Two (1970, 5 minutes, b&w, sound, digital file)

This film shows a person visiting the internal nature of negative thoughts in the self to release a positive state of mind.