Happy Pride Month! I thought it was a good day for some rainbow-hued art. This is the amazing story of a temporary village in Taiwan which became an art installation, all thanks to the efforts of one very determined man. Ten years ago, when he was 86 years old, Huang Yung-Fu very nearly found himself homeless. The Taiwanese government had decided to knock down the village in which he had lived for decades. It was never meant to be a permanent settlement in the first place. The village was created to house some of the 2 million Chinese refugees who fled China after Mao Zedong and the Communists beat the Nationalist Party in the late sixties.
The place had emptied out in dribs and drabs, first one family, then another, until 40 years later, Yung-Fu was the last man standing.
“When I came here, the village had 1,200 households and we’d all sit and talk like one big family. But then everyone moved away or passed away and I became lonely.”-Huang Yung-Fu in interview with the BBC
To ease his loneliness and pass the time, Yung-Fu began painting. First, it was a little bird on the side of his house. Then he just kept going. He started painting animals and people and characters and decorations over all the abandoned buildings in the village. About a year after he began his art project, a local college student happened upon the site. Once he learned Yung-Fu’s story, the young man wanted to help. So he took some photos of the wall-to-wall art and started an online fundraising campaign. Not surprisingly, the story and campaign quickly went viral, and Yung-Fu’s home was saved.
The village now gets hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, and the Taiwanese government, well pleased with the results, has vowed not to destroy the village. Yung-Fu, now 96 and affectionately known the world over as Rainbow Grandpa, is still going strong. If you find yourself in Nantun District, Taichung, Taiwan, go say hi!