‘Do You Know Bruce?’
Another trailblazer for Chinese Americans was the remarkable Bruce Lee. The Wing has curated a tremendous exhibit, entitled simply ‘Do You Know Bruce?’ which chronicles Lee’s career and personal growth from newcomer to International superstar. It opened on Oct 4, 2014 and will run into 2017.
In 1999, Time Magazine named Bruce Lee one of the most influential people of the century. He inspired – and continues to inspire – millions of people, 40 years after his death, through his trailblazing work in martial arts, film and fitness. He was an international superstar but for Asian Pacific Americans, he was much more. While his one-inch punch raised the bar for martial artists, his skill, hard work, and determination to break media stereotypes of Asian Pacific Americans was game-changing in advancing racial equality.
In his film roles, Bruce Lee fought to be portrayed as a person, not a subservient or menacing Chinese male stereotype. Off the screen, he openly embraced his mixed race background, defied martial arts tradition with his willingness to instruct people of any race, and broke barriers with his interracial marriage. Rooted in his philosophy of personal development, Bruce Lee also spent as much time cultivating his inner character with ideas of intellect, socio-cultural awareness and education as he did on his physical conditioning.
A significant part of who Bruce Lee became was due to his life in Seattle.
In Seattle, Bruce Lee worked at the legendary Ruby Chow’s Restaurant, launched his first martial arts studio, formed his philosophical roots, and met and fell in love with Linda Lee, a Garfield High School graduate. For him, Seattle was a time of obstacles and sacrifices as well as growth and development… and would become his final home.
This special exhibition will feature interactive multi-media displays, never-before-seen personal belongings and collector memorabilia related to Bruce Lee’s time in Seattle and the Chinatown-International District, his relationship with Linda and family, his global influence and legacy, and his martial arts.
Items featured in exhibition include:
– Handwritten poems reflecting Bruce’s experience in Seattle
– Birth announcement for Brandon and snapshots of him as a baby
– Boxing glove and head-gear used by Bruce for training
– Original press kit materials from Fists of Fury, The Chinese Connection, Return of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon, and Game of Death.
The exhibit was deeply personal and had echoes of so much promise at the hands of Lee. Even though I have not seen a Lee film to date I do remember catching flashes of his work on television in years past. Even then having limited knowledge of him I was able to piece together that he was a man of determination, strength and immense bravado that to watch him was to marvel at his presence.
The exhibit, ‘Do You Know Bruce?’ is perfect for a fan or a newbie like me. Being from a family of immigrants myself – I know about the struggle. The struggle makes up my own personal fabric. My core beliefs is to work hard, keep focused, keep aiming higher and don’t let anyone say ‘no’ or stand in my way. Truths that have been passed down by own traditional parents.
Bruce’s journey from his early days in Seattle were dynamic but ached of the same duty to succeed. I wondered if he was ever lonely. What it must have felt like starting out in a different country as a minority? What hurdles did he face on a daily basis and what was he able to overcome? Was there racism? What kept him going? What kept him focused?
The exhibit may not reveal those questions for you but it will certainly wet you’re appetite to do some more exploring. Which it did for me! I joined the Bruce Lee’s Chinatown Tour to learn more through The Wing.
Bruce Lee’s Chinatown Tour
Get to know Bruce better. Retrace his footsteps through the Chinatown-International District, his old stomping ground. His first practice space, his first martial arts studio, and his hangouts – see how he became a part of the local community.
Tour includes guided access of the Bruce Lee exhibit, a meal of Bruce Lee’s favorite dishes at a neighborhood restaurant*, and entry into all galleries at The Wing.
Talk about giving you another dimension in your discovery about Bruce Lee and his process. The Bruce Lee’s Chinatown Tour will immerse you in all things Bruce Lee in real-time while also letting you touch, feel and smell the historical streets and locales he once frequented.
There were moments where I felt the group and I were walking along with Bruce’s ghost as we walked around Seattle’s Chinatown neighbourhood in the November chill. Our Tour Facilitator was eager to show us where he socialized with friends in the Chinese community, his career changing points and most importantly where he became a worldwide phenomenon.
I felt the grit when we walked into the Northwest Wushu studio. The incredible Sifu Tianyuan Li taught some Kung Fu few skills which clearly demonstrated to my tour mates and I that Lee’s craft was not an easy task to master. Our time under Li’s tutelage brought our tour group together where we were able to share some laughs and feel Lee’s legacy under some beautifully hung Chinese Dragons.
The food we shared at his fav resto was also delightful. Images of his liking stared back at us with kind eyes as we dug into noodles, chicken wings and stir fried treats.
For a different flavour of learning about who Bruce Lee really was behind the posturing and tough exterior – the Bruce Lee’s Chinatown Tour at The Wing will satiate your sight, limbs and taste buds. Be sure to walk around The Wing at the end of your tour to see the fruits and success of Lee’s labour. Lee was truly a talented man with stories and life lessons that will inspire you to strive even harder in your gifted talents.
719 South King Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue South)
Seattle, WA 98104