RED BANK – Graphic artist Mike Quon has been creating visual communications and whimsical illustrations for years. In addition to his marketing and advertising work, the Fair Haven artist, known for his colorful bold brushstroke style, has created a bevy of everyday scenes and Two River area landmarks.
Artistic talent, it seems, is in Quon’s blood. And this week he will share the spotlight with his celebrated, creative father Milton, an artist who has spent nearly 70 years putting dreams and ideas onto sketchpads.
Now, for the very first time, 103-year-old Milton Quon, and Mike Quon, 69, will have a father-and-son art exhibit. “Quon + Quon/2 Generations of Art” will be shown at the Oyster Point Hotel, with an opening night reception taking place from 7 to 9 p.m. on March 24.
“I’ve always dreamed of sharing an art show with my father,” said Mike Quon. “It will contrast our styles; my dad’s traditional, old-school approach vs. my contemporary, splashy and colorful approach. And now it’s finally here.”
In 1939, Walt Disney Studios hired Milton Quon as an animator, where he worked on the films “Fantasia” and “Dumbo.” Milton Quon, who lives in Los Angeles, always loved painting nature and flowers, and country and seaside scenes. Mike Quon paints the urban landscape, with stylized architecture and buildings.
While preparing for the art show, the Quons have enjoyed becoming reacquainted with each other’s artistic creations.
“I have always admired my dad’s work,” said Mike Quon. “He is controlled, yet loose and free. I think we’re quite different as artists. We each have different approaches, different mediums and different compositions, yet there is a spontaneous thread through it all.”
Michael surprised me with his versatility,” said Milton Quon. “He can do very many styles I never dreamed I could do.”
Visitors to the exhibition will see the ethereal watercolor style of Milton and the more experimental, pop art style of Mike. Each will display about 10 paintings, which will be on display throughout the hotel for several weeks.
“At 103 years old, my dad remains a force of nature with brush still in hand,” Mike Quon said. “During the times we went out sketching together, I was always amazed at the masterpieces he created. Even his quick sketches seemed magical.”
The son of Chinese immigrants, Milton Quon grew up in Los Angeles, the oldest of eight children. His talent for art was obvious from a young age. Although his mother wanted him to pursue something more lucrative, a relative convinced her to let him chase his dream. In 1936, Milton received a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute, now the California Institute of the Arts.
After graduation, Milton was hired by Walt Disney Productions, where he painted cels for the animated films “Fantasia” and “Dumbo.” He later headed the company’s publicity and promotions department.
“Looking back, it makes me very proud that I was part of the process,” said Milton Quon.
After leaving Disney, he worked as art director at the worldwide agency BBDO and then was hired as senior design artist at Sealright Company, a frozen dessert manufacturer, where he worked until his retirement in 1980. Milton was also a drawing and painting instructor at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.
“I find painting very relaxing,” said Milton Quon. “If it pleases somebody, it pleases me too.”
Milton Quon’s work has been displayed at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, and he was one of five Chinese artists featured in a group exhibition at the Vincent Price Art Museum. But his art wasn’t limited to the canvas. He worked as an extra in several movies, most notably as Bus Passenger No. 2 in the 1994 film, “Speed” with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves.
He and his wife, Peggy, had four children – Michael, Jeffrey, Timothy and Sherrill. Of the four, Mike was the only one with an interest in art.
“I started drawing as a young child and always loved making sketches of animals, football players and soldiers,” said Mike.
“Even though my father worked at Disney, I learned a lot by sketching and drawing on my own. I asked him once why he did not tutor or mentor me more. I think his plan may have been for me to find my own way and style.”
Mike Quon studied art at UCLA, moved to the East Coast in the 1970s and established a successful graphic design business. His work has been seen in advertising and promotional campaigns around the world, from Times Square to World Cup Soccer in Paris, to the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He is an active member of the Monmouth County Arts Corridor, the Art Alliance, The Guild of Creative Arts and the Monmouth Museum. His artwork can be found in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, The New York Times, The U.S. Air Force Art Collection and the New York Historical Society. His work can be seen locally at the Beauregard Gallery in Rumson, Red Bank FrameWorks and Tumblety Howell Art Gallery in Ocean Grove.
“Dad would be thrilled if he could view the art show in person,” said Mike Quon. “However, he is unable to come out from Los Angeles and will have to see it via video.”
The reception is free and open to the public. The paintings will be on view all hours that the hotel is open. The Oyster Point Hotel is located at 146 Bodman Place, Red Bank.
Arts and Entertainment writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the March 23-30, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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