Huang Yung-Fu had retired to a small Taiwanese village and spent over 37 years living there. He assumed that this was where he would take his last breath, but the government had other ideas. His entire life changed when he learned they planned to storm into his village and tear it down. He knew he had to act fast. There was no time to waste. If he just stood by and did nothing, then the life he and his neighbors had created in this quaint little village would get lost forever. So he did something extraordinary!
Most of the people who lived here were former soldiers, whom the government gave temporary housing to. But eventually, the word temporary became permanent for one particular soldier.
Developers began buying the land, but some of the residents in this village opted to stay right where they were so they could enjoy their lives in the Nantun District. For a time, nothing seemed to threaten their peaceful lives.
Fewer people in the village meant fewer people Huang Yung-Fu had to talk to. The 96-year-old retired soldier was bored out of his gourd, so he came up with an ingenious way to pass the time.
Then he decided to start working on the outside of his home and the homes of others by painting the walls with tons of interesting figures and creatures that were out of this world. Even the ground was filled with his masterpieces.
In less than no time, Huang’s village became a tourist attraction in Taichung and everyone from all over the globe stopped by to take a look at the retired soldier’s vibrant artwork. But he had no idea how useful his artwork would be for his village.
But when the government realized the value that his artwork had brought to the area, they changed their minds and opted not to tear down the village, which was undoubtedly a huge relief for Huang and the remaining villagers.
The elements have a way of ruining the outdoor painting, so Huang spends a lot of his time and energy keeping the painted village in tip-top shape. But he’s not letting age slow him down. Huang intends to continue painting even when he turns 100.
There are all sorts of ethereal creatures, symbols and writing on the walls and Huang wakes up about 3 am to paint and maintain every last one of them. The artwork’s so colorful that tourists dubbed Huang “Rainbow Grandpa.”
His dad had taught him the basics on how to draw when he was 3 but that’s about it. But somehow, he was able to tap into his soul and release this amazing hidden talent to turn a dull gray village into something beautiful.
He turned walls, pathways, and rooflines into massive canvases full of colorful figurines. It was such an ingenious, positive and unique art project. If only there were other people who could react artistically like Huang has.
There are all sorts of cartoon-type figures like dancing samurais, kissing sweethearts, celebrity singers, sports athletes, animals and a couple of birds too. You could literally spend hours looking at the walls and still find something new to look at.
Naturally, the Taiwanese government, who had once considered demolishing the village has now promised to keep the village in one piece. Huang couldn’t have imagined that the kaleidoscopic colors of the playful murals he created would save his village but they did.
From his perspective, this was the only home he had known since he relocated to Taiwan, so there was no way he was going to just give up without a fight. Fortunately, he used a brush and some paint to win this war.
There’s a tiny museum shop that allows them to buy artwork signed by Huang himself. They can also buy some coffee served in a painted paper cup from the hole-in-the-wall café. The village also has a tiny classroom full of photo exhibitions of tourists who visited the village.
Just looking at the art on the walls, you can tell that you’re looking at the work of a true artist. What was once a nearly deserted village has received a welcomed and vibrant makeover that has tourists flocking to see this fairy-tale village surrounded by modern buildings like a hidden gem.