Here are two food labels, one for abalone and one for Sanja Cake. The Sanja Cake label served as a source photo for artist Martin Wong’s painting Sanja Cake, created in 1991. In his work, he has replaced the central Chinese couple with two Latino firemen kissing over a background of his well-known painted renderings of bricks referencing the tenement buildings in New York’s Lower East Side. The artist’s infatuation with firemen often shows up in his artwork and writings. Wong was known to wear his own fireman outfit—complete with boots, jacket, and firemen’s helmet—including at one of his own openings.
Martin Wong was born in 1946 and passed away from AIDS related illness in 1999. During the 1980s and 1990s he lived and worked in New York’s Lower East Side, often portraying the Puerto Rican community as well as exploring queer and imagined narratives in his work.
– Alexandra Chang, New York University - Asian/Pacific/American Institute