John Kwok was born in Shanghai, China in 1920. His family immigrated to the United States before Kwok was two, and they settled in Northern California. Kwok studied at Sacramento Junior College and won a full scholarship to study at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. While at Chouinard, Kwok served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
After the war, he did not return to art school; instead he chose to take a full-time job as a designer at I. Magnin department store on Wilshire Boulevard. He married Kathryn, and they held their wedding reception in this very space when it was the Hong Kong Café in 1947.
More than a decade later, Kwok went on to freelance as a designer for Bullocks Wilshire. He took additional jobs, working for clients such as Max Factor and Santa Fe Railroad, and painting privately commissioned portraits. Kwok actively participated in local and national watercolor societies throughout his life, namely the California Water Color Society (now the National Watercolor Society). He worked in a figurative abstract mode in his fine art practice, using gouache on illustrator board as his primary medium. Kwok continued to work, exhibit, and travel up until his death in 1983.
About the photo: John Kwok (left), participated on the Jury of Selection and Awards for the
California Water Color Society, 1962. Copyright National Watercolor Society.