Born in Southern China, Mian Situ received his formal art training in his native homeland of Guangdong, formerly Canton. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the prestigious Guangzhou Institute of Fine Art. After instructing for six years, he earned a Masters in Fine Art. Immigrating to Canada, then later moving to the United States, Mian’s paintings clearly reflect his upbringing in the rural countryside of his native China. His artistic diversification of subject matter, from the people of the small villages and farming communities going about their daily lives to the exquisite portraitures as well as his most recent works inspired by western historical themes and American landscapes, all reflect the sensitive dedication of this Master Artist. Mian has been recognized with many national art awards. During the 2002 Masters of the American West exhibition and sale at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles California, Mian Situ received the Masters of the American West Museum Purchase Award, the Thomas Moran Memorial Award for Artistic Merit and the Patron’s Choice Award. In 2003, Mian was honored with the Thomas Moran Memorial Award, Artist’s Choice Award and Patron’s Choice Award. Most recently, in 2005, Mian was presented with the Artist’s Choice Award for his painting, The Word of God. Mian Situ is represented by Trailside Galleries in Scottsdale, Arizona and Jackson, Wyoming. He lives with his wife, Helen and daughter, Lisa in Southern California.
The location of this new release by Mian Situ is Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona. Today it is a Navajo Tribal Trust land and home to the preserved ruins of the early Anasazi and Navajo tribes.
“When I was in Canyon de Chelly in May last year,” says Situ, “I saw a beautiful rainbow after a storm. The Navajo people believe that the gods travel on the rainbow because it moves so rapidly. They also portray the rainbow as the bridge between the human world and the other side. Navajo people have lived in Canyon de Chelly for generations and are still living there today, herding sheep and cattle and farming the land.”
“This is a typical Chinese market in old Chinatown, right here in America. In a market like this, one could find the ingredients for the same food they ate in China and prepare it in exactly the same way,” says artist Mian Situ.“The market looked very similar to those in my childhood hometown in Southern China, where I was often sent on errands, so this painting was inspired by both personal childhood memories and late-19th century photographs of San Francisco.
There’s no better time than right now to begin collecting Mian Situ’s Fine Art Limited Editions. Art of theWest magazine recently designated Situ one of the “8 True Masters” of today’sWestern art world.The original painting of Chinatown Market, San Francisco, 1878 sold for $179,200 at the 2007 Jackson Hole Art Auction, nearly $90,000 above the highest estimated price.This exquisite Fine Art Limited Edition, signed by Mian Situ, and in an edition of only 50, is sure to quickly disappear.
The titles of several of Situ’s San Francisco Chinatown paintings include the dates 1904, 1905 and 1906. The early 20th century was a pivotal time for this community.
Chinatown was a vibrant commercial center where goods and services between the two cultures were exchanged and the success of the Chinese drew some negative attention as well. Anti-Chinese immigration laws had been passed and renewed and in 1904, a publicly traded company was incorporated with the goal of acquiring most of the land in Chinatown and dislocating the residents to an outlying area. This goal seemed easily achievable after the earthquake and fire of 1906. Chinatown was one of the worst hit areas and the Chinese-American businessmen and landlords organized to rebuild quickly. That effort, combined with the recognition of the economic value of Chinatown and international pressure, served to ensure that San Francisco’s Chinese community would stay in the neighborhood they had started back in the Gold Rush days of the mid-19th century.
“In this painting I focused on the two Chinese children´s expressions as they encountered an American girl” said the artist. “In my Chinatown scenes, I always try to incorporate an element of cultural crossroads.”
Nearly 100,000 people swarmed to the California gold fields in 1849. Approximately 25% were foreign emigrants and within a few years the Chinese population—who referred to the new country as Gum Shan (Gold Mountain)—had grown to over 20,000. In 1850, the infant California legislature introduced laws and taxes discriminating against the Chinese people, who were restricted in the gold mines to working abandoned claims for specks of gold.
Willing to work long hours for little pay, many hired out as laborers; others were entrepreneurial and started small businesses. The family laundry was an outstanding opportunity as the entire family worked in the laundry to provide excellent service at a reasonable cost. The more affluent families supported these establishments, which allowed the business owners to grow, prosper and become part of the citizenry.
San Francisco’s Chinatown was a vibrant commercial center where goods and services between the city’s two cultures dominant were exchanged. Situ’s turn-of-the-century historical paintings capture the vivid energy of this period and its people with beauty and grace. For the collector of important American historical art, they also offer a rare glimpse and insight into this thriving cultural crossroad.
Situ received the Gene Autry Memorial Award given in recognition of the most outstanding presentation of three or more works at the 2013 Masters of the American West Exhibition and Sale. Chinese Laundry was the featured work of this award-winning presentation.
There is no more unique an American icon than the cowboy. What child at one point or another has not dreamed of the opportunity to live the life of daring and freedom that the cowboy epitomizes? With the subtlety, elegance and grace of a fine art master, Mian Situ makes an epic statement on the emigrant experience, peeling back the curtain on the process through which cultures blend. The importance of this work was not lost on those that attended the 2004 Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale where it was honored with the Patrons’ Choice Award. Situ is renowned for majestic works of art conveying the Asian-American experience of emigrating and opening a new world. Here we witness the other side of that experience, the assimilation of the American dream.