June Wayne: Propeller, Paintings & Mixed Media, the Pop Up DTLA 4/19/18
June Wayne: Propeller, Paintings and Mixed Media, a pop up exhibit celebrating the work of American master June Wayne, during this centenary year of her birth 100 years ago took place on April 19, 2018 and was on view through April 21, 2018 at the beautiful Moinian Group Property located at 550 South Hill Street in DTLA.
Watch the video of opening night
Wayne was recently honored by a proclamation of the Mayor and Los Angeles City Council on the centenary of her birth. Her creative spirit, original mind, and activism on behalf of women who had not been well represented in museum and gallery life, were all noted. Wayne was above all an experimentalist, refusing, in the words of noted art critic William Wilson, to be “imprisoned in a signature style”. We are confident that Wayne, who had a keen sense of impermanence, would have enjoyed this temporary installation of paintings and mixed media works in such a dramatic downtown Los Angeles setting.
Born in Chicago, Wayne (1918-2011) left school at age 15, and quickly emerged as a prolific painter with a gallery show in Chicago, and then as she turned 18 with an exhibit (1936) at the Palacio del Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Settling in Los Angeles during World War II, Wayne continued her painting and mixed media experiments even as she revolutionized the world of print making by the founding, with the support of the Ford Foundation, the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Hollywood in 1960. For the next ten years, Tamarind brought many of the most important artists of the day including David Hockney, Annie Albers, Ed Ruscha, Louise Nevelson, Sam Francis, Francois Gilot, Rufino Tamayo, Ruth Asawa, Bruce Conner and many others into residence and collaboration with master stone lithographers from France. In 1969, the Museum of Modern Art, NY showed the scope of this achievement in the exhibit “Tamarind, Homage to Lithography”.
Wayne’s own work has been the subject of dozens of museum exhibitions, and large bodies of her lithographs are held in the permanent collections of MOMA, LACMA, the Norton Simon Museum, and many other collections. While Wayne’s lithographs are well known, her later paintings and mixed media works, smaller in output but equally significant, have until recently been less available. In 2010, the Art Institute of Chicago held a solo show of Wayne’s narrative tapestries, woven in France at the historic workshops dating back to the time of Louis XIV, and resonating, like her paintings, with big themes of science, DNA, celestial imagery, and the place of humanity in an expanding cosmos. These contemporary themes, pursued in a poetic rather than illustrative fashion, became Wayne’s focus in her abstract paintings and mixed media, created between 1984 and 2011.
The exhibition of 14 original works encompassed paintings, mixed media, a large scale tapestry Lame de Choc (Shock Wave) and includes the legendary work Propeller completed in 2011, the year of Wayne’s death. There were also paintings from the Cognitos series, a play on the French philosopher Rene Descartes’s dictum, “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, there I am). As Wayne’s friend and noted curator Jay Belloli observed, many of Wayne’s paintings were repainted on earlier canvases that were built up with thick, textured mixtures of gesso, gelatin, and paper. Wayne stated that the metallic leaf on many of these made each painting a reflective source that changed as one walked around them. “I thought of these pictures as pieces of planets, the way they might look if you could go from one planet to another, planet hopping as it were”.
We hope visitors to the exhibit imbibed some of the spirit of June Wayne, one of the most remarkable and innovative minds of our time.