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 Hsiao-Hsia Tsai Hobbs  (1927 - 2007)

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Lived/Active: Texas/Oklahoma / China      Known for: abstract and impressionist painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is submitted by Randy Neumann of Corpus Christi, Texas:

Hsiao-Hsia Tsai (pronounced “Shah-Shah Tie”), was born in China, December 15, 1927.  By the age of 14, she was under invasion in her province, and her family made the decision to send her on an arduous journey, alone, to the United States to insure her safety and to further her education.  She traveled through India where she was way-laid but managed through hardship and great perseverance to continue on to the US.  After arriving in the United States, she matriculated at the University of Oklahoma at age 14 completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at age 16. Subsequently she finished her Masters of Fine Arts at the same institution by the age of 18. While attending the University of Oklahoma she met the love of her life, an engineering student named Charles C. Hobbs. They were soon married and enjoyed a relationship that lasted over 50 years.

Keenly intelligent, Tsai was fluent in many languages and was a student of many philosophies and interests in addition to her artistic endeavors.  She was a prolific painter who made her home base in Corpus Christi where she raised her family as she painted.  Though heavily Asian influenced she focused primarily on abstract non-representational and impressionist styles.

She was an icon in her hometown where she was often seen in her characteristic hand-painted clothing, black boots and colorful hats, especially along Ocean Drive in high-heeled boots, an elaborate hat and a dress she had painted. Well-known in her local art community where she had many galleries and participated in many organizations, most locals were unaware of her fame outside her local community.  But she was well known in New York and other world art centers where her serious work was juried and shown. Her work is collected across the globe. She was a member of many art-related organizations throughout her lifetime including Who’s Who in American Art and Women Artists International.

At age 79, Tsai died in Austin, Texas September 20, 2007 following a multi-year illness of Alzheimers that brought her 60+ year painting career to a close.  Following her death, her life and cultural contributions to Corpus Christi was celebrated at the Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures. 

"The best part of her life was dedicated to the community with her art," said Yalee Shih, executive vice president at the Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures. "She brought Asian culture in her painting and mixed it with Western oil painting."


Hsiao-Hsia Tsai Hobbs
BORN: December 15, 1927
DIED: September 20, 2007

We wish to inform of the unfortunate passing of our beloved mother, Hsiao-Hsia “Tsai” Hobbs, on September 20, 2007. Her passing was mercifully peaceful. Although preceded by a long and difficult illness, she is now untethered and absent prosaic limits and pains. A remarkably talented woman, who achieved a Masters degree at age 18, she, has been the enduring wife of our father and a transformational inspiration to her three children through her promotion of philosophical values applied toward living a noble life.

Hsiao- Hsia was born in China, regrettably under the hardship of invasion, but ultimately was blessed by escape (although arduous) to the USA, which she so loved (especially Elvis). A grand artist of many mediums (particularly non-conforming abstraction) and of international recognition, she served as an inspiration to many, not only for her deep love and knowledge of art, but for the hardships she endured, resulting philosophies offered, her remarkable determination, and the rewards that her persistence earned. She blessed all who knew her with her unique and unconventional approach to living a full, artistic, and creative life. With her trademark boots, hat, bag, and brightly colored and painted attire, she was a well-loved sight in her adopted home of Corpus Christi.

Ultimately successful in love, life, and accomplishment, she reached her highest dreams. We wish her now a sailor’s journey into the abstraction and freedom of the eternity of the seas. As Elvis so gently spoke, “Like a river flows, surely to the sea …”. Tsai is survived by her husband CC; her three children John, Jennifer, and Jeff and their spouses Nancy, Stephen, and Sharon; and their children Ashley, Jared, Jaime,

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