If you are lucky enough to have an artist invite you to her home, it’s likely to be an amazing abode, rich in history, personal collections and paintings. A recent morning rendezvous with the multi-talented Peng-Peng Wang consummated my luck; she is both an artist and a paper conservator. Peng-Peng and her husband, Shao-Po Wu, live with their two Australian shepherds, Ole and Tara, in a mid-century, Joseph Stein designed house in the sloping hillside community of Ladera, California.
Photo courtesy of Peng-Peng Wang
I first met Peng-Peng 10 years ago when she cleaned and restored my disintegrating out-of-print 1950s fairy tale book using a cocktail of Japanese paper and wheat paste to fully recreate the book’s lost spine. As a paper conservator at the Oakland Museum of California, she is responsible for the conservation planning, surveys, and treatments of works on paper and the photographic collection which contains more than a million items. The goal is to ensure the longevity of these inherently unstable and fragile art treasures.
I’ve since come to learn more about Peng-Peng’s own artistic endeavors. She splits her creative energy across so many projects, it makes your head spin. Peng-Peng and French artist, Florence Robichon of Bille et Plume, painted this large-scale “Stanford Terrace Inn mural” in 2009, working every day for three weeks in the late summer heat. Where once stood an eyesore of a cinder block wall along a well-trafficked roadway, now stands a landmark treasure of the Palo Alto community.
BEFORE . . .
AFTER . . .
The daily climb to work . . .
Photos courtesy of Bille et Plume
Peng-Peng’s affinity with France recently brought her to Grenoble where she taught a bookmaking workshop: students learned to bind the pages of their own art work with covers using neither thread nor adhesive, creating a final structure of interlocking woven paper strips that are part of the integral design.
Photo by Peng-Peng Wang
My favorite art works in her personal collection are those in her home. A charcoal drawing of a pair of worn shoes modestly hangs in her dining room. She drew this at an artist’s workshop called “The Drawing Circus” which she has attended for nearly a decade at a local community art center. Peng-Peng painted two plain sliding doors with colorful floral patterns of her own design, and her playful hand-painted goldfish in the entry bathroom mimic those swimming in the backyard pond designed by her husband.
Photos by Shao-Po Wu
Photos by Peng-Peng Wang
Peng-Peng lives a thoughtful and artistic life: gently working in respectful tandem with the natural environment where she lives, and passionately creating and conserving art to be enjoyed for years to come.