May 20, 2014
June Wayne: The Printmaker Who Started a Renaissance
Glendale News - Press, 05/20/2014
Kirk Silsbee

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June Wayne: The Printmaker Who Started a Renaissance
Glendale News - Press, 05/20/2014
Kirk Silsbee

The great 2011 historical survey of printmaking in Los Angeles art at the Norton Simon had the germs of several deeper exhibitions; they seemed to hang over the installation like unspoken promises. One of those directives has been partially fulfilled in the Pasadena Museum of California Art's new June Wayne retrospective. A restless maverick in her own work, she was an important enabler whose value to Los Angeles art can scarcely be overestimated. Though not as comprehensive as it might be, this lengthy suite is a good representation of an artist with a far-ranging vision.

Wayne (1918-2011) founded the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in 1960, which resulted in a SoCal print renaissance. Its operation ultimately revived the art of lithography in America. Though Tamarind only lasted a decade as a local studio (it later transmogrified into the Tamarind Institute of the University of New Mexico), it ultimately drew artists from all over the country to Los Angeles to try their hands at printmaking. The Gemini G.E.L. studio succeeded Tamarind in this continuum. Together they helped to move L.A. art onto the international stage.

A self-starter and a do-it-yourselfer, Wayne was first and foremost an explorer. The Chicago native didn't finish high school but she first exhibited her work at 17. The early paintings at the PMCA show a young artist working her way through various 'isms' on the way to an identity. A rough-hewn1936 street scene is charged with Ben Shahn-like social realism, while "The Cavern" (1948) is awash in surrealism and symbolic figure abstractions. The 1947 oil self-portrait shows two faces joined by a melded middle area, rendered fine by her pointillist brushwork.

Those symbolized figures are important early footprints for Wayne, and they denote a strong connection with the surrealists. Her long, horizontal oil "The Chase" ('49) deftly short hands many of life's challenges through dancing, pulled, vaulting, colliding, and even dismembered abstracted figures. "Cryptic Creatures" ('49), from the larger "Kafka Series," is a psychoanalyst's buffet, with suspended, stretched and clutching figures and symbols. Central to the canvas is a spotlighted female symbol with a male arrow pointing downward. Hmm…

She'd made prints as early as 1949 and Wayne the printmaker was, like Wayne the painter, largely self-taught. (Lynton Kistler, the L.A. master printer had executed her early efforts.) Frustrated at a general American ignorance of printmaking techniques, she had to use a Parisian lithographer for Wayne's "Valediction of Weeping" ('58) portfolio. Appealing to the Ford Foundation with a print wish list, they underwrote the Tamarind opening with a grant. By the mid-1950s, Wayne left painting behind.

Figures — symbolic, lyrical, and expressive — were a recurring theme from the '40s through the '50s. Two figures ingeniously intertwine on a long, painted panel made of small triangle modules in "The Witnesses" ('52). Carnal litho pas de deux like "The Anniversarie" ('58), "She Is All States, and All Princess" ('57), and "Love Bed" ('58) sweetly celebrate love, though "Two Graves" ('57) and "We…Must Leave at Last in Death" ('57) grapple with mortality. She appears to have been happy in marriage yet, like most artists, concerned with the big questions of life.

Taken with social activism early on, Wayne created a series of print homages to her mother that made reference to a pacifist woman's organization. In the early '70s, Wayne opened her home to women artists for a series of strategy sessions to address the state of women in the art world.

Sometime in the '60s Wayne discovered the potential for abstract imagery in celestial and microbiological forms. She closely monitored advancements in space technology and genetic research, which would inform her work. Wayne juxtaposed textural and color-laden areas that didn't quite make a clean break with the representational. Giant thumbprints hover over celestial seascapes or dominate a color field in the '70s work.

In the '80s and '90s, Wayne pushed ahead, moving her imagery onto tapestries and using materials like acrylic and styrene on panels. Actual objects were part of the picture plane, as well as organic textures. A large silver-colored panel with a rippling surface changes light and perspective with every move by the viewer. In that, Wayne checkmated every artist who ever tried to depict an aquatic surface. She had quite a lot of ideas up her sleeve and this show gives a good accounting of that multiplicity.

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March 16, 2019
January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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