Saturday, October 20

Versatile artist receives recognition for work


Monday, November 30, 1998

Versatile artist receives recognition for work

ART: Retrospective of Wayne’s thought-provoking creations
illustrates futuristic vision, effect on others

By Sandy Yang

Daily Bruin Contributor

For Los Angeles artist June Wayne, "The future is now."

A futurist artist and founder of the world-renowned Tamarind
Lithography Workshop, Wayne’s work now appears at the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art (LACMA).

In the 50-year retrospective, Wayne expresses ideas of science,
literature, social issues and personal experiences through many
media, including lithographs, paintings, collages and tapestries.
Yet only now is Wayne drawing the long overdue recognition for her
versatile and thought-provoking vision.

"I think the moral of the story as a futurist is to outlive
everybody," Wayne says.

Having recently celebrated her 80th birthday, Wayne has no
grievances about the belated recognition. Rather, the artwork
speaks for itself as a true attestation of Wayne’s ongoing
interests and views of varied subjects.

In her career, Wayne has dealt with the beauty of parallels and
contrasts found in nature and science. She has integrated the
elusive connection into the concrete form that is her art. Working
with ideas of astrophysics, quantum physics and quantum mechanics,
the artwork tries to capture relevant visual images linked to the
subjects.

"I think these things are relevant to a visual expression and
how well I accomplish that is a measure of my art," Wayne says.

"I’m interested in certain cutting-edge ideas in science. There
are certain ideas that are relevant to visual art and what I try to
do is in those situations is to give a visual metaphor that
expresses the idea."

Also included in her work are natural phenomena, including tidal
waves, earthquakes and tornados – the great forces that affect
living beings and the mechanisms that make them possible.

"I think my work is intimately connected to many things that are
going on in many disciplines, that are going on in music, in
literature, in technology and so on," Wayne says. "I find parallels
in what I’m doing across the cultural spectrum. I think for a long
time, I’ve been kind of far from the ’40s, which in the ’40s looked
very strange, (but now) they can accommodate (the audience)."

Even if her work was not noted at the time of their premiere,
Wayne has never succumbed to the pressure of "making it" if it
didn’t mean being true to her own expressions. Art was never a
means of fame or money, but a constant search for answers to
questions that haven’t yet materialized.

"She’s always had her eye on what was happening around her,"
says Barbara Isenberg, a feature writer and author of the upcoming
"Ahead of the Wave: An Oral History of California Creativity," a
book of interviews featuring about 50 prominent California artists,
including Wayne.

"I’ve always been outside the mainstream, and I don’t care about
that," Wayne says. "The mainstream would be a terrible bore for me
because the art that is acceptable at any given moment is art that
already has an answer for the public. I’m more interested in the
question to which I wish to find my own answers. My art is in that
sense futuristic. I tend to pick up on ideas to which there is no
common rhetoric."

Wayne’s unorthodox ideas and her experience in lithography, the
art of printing on smooth plane surfaces, would spring her into
prominence.

In 1960, she founded the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in her
own Hollywood studio to prevent the art form from dying out in the
United States.

As the studio gained prominence and would later move to the
University of New Mexico, Wayne cut ties with her once-infant
project to devote her attention into her art again, but not without
conflicting interests.

"Unfortunately, because of Tamarind and its success and the fact
that I took my own work off the market during those 10 years at the
time, I was – in effect – speaking for a great many artists and I
didn’t wish to be competitive (with them)," Wayne says. "So I took
my work out of public view, and I had to reestablish my own mean
and person, not as a foundation but as a working artist. So
Tamarind was, in effect, a handicap to me and a benefit to the
country."

John Milant, a print publisher for 30 years who opened Cirrus
Edition, can attest to the claim. Trained at Tamarind, Milant
attributes the existence of the art form to Wayne.

In a Los Angeles Times article written about Wayne by Isenberg,
Milant said, "I’ve always felt that June was the person who was
responsible for the whole print-publishing revolution in
America.

"She was Tamarind, and it was her vision that created all of us.
I think most of the people in the business can somehow be tied back
to Tamarind."

But Wayne has never suffered regrets at the happenings in her
life – even the situations that couldn’t be controlled, such as
being a female artist in a male-dominated business.

"It was not any important grievance for me because I am what I
am," Wayne says.

"The work is its own testimony. I’m not interested in being a
personality. I wish to advance my work to represent me."

Today, Wayne’s work is finally gaining visibility.

Cover stories in the Daily News and Los Angeles Times have
written about the exhibit and given it positive reviews.

But Wayne is not about to stray from the ideas and beliefs that
propelled her this far as a cutting edge artist and "an important
commentator on the Los Angeles art scene," according to
Isenberg.

"I think L.A. is a little late in recognizing me," Wayne says.
"But that’s the hometown handicap, and I don’t really mind."

ART: "June Wayne: A Retrospective" is showing at LACMA through
Feb. 15, 1999. For more information, call (323) 857-6522.CHARLES
KUO/Daily Bruin

June Wayne (not pictured) displays her work at LACMA until
February.

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