Dean Wong: Full Circle – a photography exhibition June 25-July 24, 2016


Full Circle.  Back to my childhood.  Higo Variety Store holds a special place in my heart. I used to come here with a few dimes and quarters to buy candy from the Aya and Masa Murakami.  Sometimes I’d buy toys made in Japan. Or balsa wood airplanes. Chinatown kids would fly those in the Chong Wa play field.

The Murakami sisters witnessed my growth. Chinatown kid. Long haired college student with the badass green leather jacket. IDEC volunteer.
“My, how you’ve grown up,” Masa said to me once. I was on patrol with Donnie Chin when she said that. They appreciated the service these two long hairs provided.

The International Examiner rented an office above the store. IE staff used typewriters back in the day. The sisters put up with our stacks and stacks of newspapers in the lobby of 318 6th Avenue.

Standing inside Kobo, I feel that history. Those innocent years when I was just a Chinatown kid with a runny nose, visiting Higo in my cowboy shirt. Young IE volunteer delivering newspapers…and I remember they had a dog. There was a brother…

I’m back again. This time I plan to stay for a month. My photographs, spanning four decades of dedication are here. The sisters are here too. We’re all together like the old days.

As a set, the images in this exhibit span a 40 year period. It begins with “Herman.” A young Chinese boy peering through an old Chinatown window in 1976. I knew this was a pretty cool picture. I didn’t know it would become the cover a my book “Seeing the Light: Four Decades in Chinatown.”

Not bad for a Chinatown kid.

(Special thanks. Chin Music Press. For believing. Kobo Store. For saving history. Giving an artist a chance to share. Janice Ito and Donnie Chin. Rest in peace. I miss you both. I still cry.)

Dean Wong
June 2016

Aya and Masa Murakami, Seattle, Higo Variety Store, 1993.

Dean Wong’s photo exhibition: Full Circle
On view from June 25 – July 24, 2016.

Opening reception and Book Signing event:  June 25, 2015 from 3-6pm.
KOBO Gallery, 604 South Jackson Street, Seattle, WA  98104, (206) 381-3000,

 KOBO Shop & Gallery occupies the previous home of the beloved Higo Variety Store, a Japanese Five and Dime that first opened its doors in 1909 on Weller Street and later moved to it’s final location at the Sixth and Jackson building where it operated for 75 years. 

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