Wing Kwong Tse's skylighted studio atop City Lights Bookstore

Despite a lack of formal training and not beginning his career as an artist until his thirties, Wing Kwong Tse became a successful SF painting known for his photorealistic portraits and still-life watercolors. After the Chinese Revolution in 1911, the family fled Guangzhou for Hawaii, before enrolled at USC in 1922. During his third year at USC, Tse dropped out to pursue a career in acting, but was discouraged to discover that he was only offered roles as stereotypical Chinese.

In the early 1930s, Tse moved to San Francisco, with a studio in North Beach above City Lights Books. He became a well-known, respected fixture of the artistic community and knew writers such as William Saroyan and Allen Ginsberg, living and working in the Bay Area for nearly fifty years. When he died in 1993, famed columnist Herb Caen described him as "one of the last of the real old north beach crowd. When Wing had a skylighted studio, right out of "La Boheme,' atop poet Ferlinghetti's bookstore on Columbus—yes, that was San Francisco."

from Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 by Chang, Johnson and Karlstrom.