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Jade Fon

 (1911 - 1983)
Jade (Woo) Fon was active/lived in California.  Jade Fon is known for town-harborscape, animal and genre painting, teaching.

Jade Fon

Biography from the Archives of askART

Founder of a well-known watercolor workshop in Asilomar, California, Jade Fon  became a California plein-air* painter whose work combined Oriental influences and regionalism called "California Style*."  His subjects range from cityscapes to wildlife in natural surroundings.  In the art world, he was called "Jade Fon", although his full name was Jade Fon Woo.

He was born in San Jose, California and was raised in Winslow, Arizona and attended the University of Arizona at Flagstaff before continuing his higher education at the University of New Mexico.  In the 1930s, he moved back to California where he attended the Art Students League in Los Angeles and exhibited with the California Water Color Society*.  He was a movie studio scenic artist and worked on Gone With the Wind.

From the mid-1940s, Jade Fon lived in San Francisco from where he taught at Diablo Valley College, worked as a night club entertainer and commercial illustrator, and founded the watercolor workshop school in Asilomar.

He died in Bakersfield on November 14, 1983.  He was a member of several watercolor societies including the California Watercolor Society and was also a member of the Society of Western Artists*.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Gordon McClelland and Jay Last, The California Style

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Biography from the Archives of askART
Noted as both a skilled watercolorist and teacher, Jade Fon (Woo) was born in San Jose, California, but moved to the Southwest with his family when he was a child. One of his first art lessons was from a cowboy, who pointed to the surface of an outhouse as an example, to show him how light and shade were necessary to create form.

Fon's first job was as a waiter in his uncle's restaurant, but by the 1930s he had moved to Los Angeles, where he worked in Hollywood film studios as a scenic artist. In the 1940s, an extended strike in Hollywood precipitated his move to San Francisco. There he was employed for a few years as a singer and emcee at the well-known Forbidden City nightclub on Sutter Street, sometimes creating watercolors of patrons and performers.

The smoky club atmosphere aggravated his asthma, prompting Fon to shift to teaching, which he did for thirty years at Diablo Valley College, and ultimately he moved to Pacheco, near the town of Martinez. He also taught highly successful workshops at Asilomar, near Carmel, for over twenty years.

Credit for the above information is given to:
Asian American Art, 1850-1970, edited by Gordon H. Chang, Mark Dean Johnson, and Paul Karlstrom (By Stanford University Press, 2008 - 547 pages).

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Jade Fon

Born:  1911 - San Jose, California
Died:   1983 - Bakersfield, California
Known for:  town-harborscape, animal and genre painting, teaching