The influence of June Wayne extends beyond the walls of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop. Like a stone that ripples water in a pond, her work and legacy continue to influence the practice of Lithography and have impacted the lives of Installation founders A. Moret and Garet Field-Sells. In many ways she is an artist that has brought the two of us closer together. Our stories are like the opening and closing chapters in a book. In 2009 A. had the chance to interview June Wayne at her home on Tamarind Avenue and shortly after the interview, Garet acquired 10th Wave. One of us has met the artist, while the other lives with one of her most iconic works.
An Afternoon with June
It was late morning on a weekday someday in October of 2009. A thin layer of haze and smog stuck to the windshield prompting the automatic wipers to go off every few minutes. Back then I was working for the Los Angeles Times Magazine and despite my junior position as an editorial assistant, my editor appreciated the arts and supported my freelance ambitions enough to allow me to report late to the office that day. Sarah Williams and Bettina Korek of For Your Art had approached me about interviewing Los Angeles lithography icon and trailblazer June Wayne. Opportunities like this rarely present themselves but when they do, you have no choice but to take it.
I arrived at Tamarind Avenue and approached a modest house that sat across from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. If only those walls could talk. The stories they would tell about the resident artists selected to participate in the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in the 1960s. A woman in a white uniform opened the door, and it took me a moment to notice her as I stood at the threshold awestruck. I managed to muster the courage to ask if June was home. I was lead down a hallway and sat on a tan leather couch. June Wayne was waiting for me, dressed in black wearing bold black plastic glasses which were greatly defined by her white short hair. A black jeweled magnifying glass hung around her neck and a lucite cane was at her side. She greeted me with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye like we were old friends.
We talked for well over two hours. I have nearly 18 pages of transcription to prove it. While our interview began with a specific focus on her series Cognitos,1984 that was on view at Khastoo Gallery, I soon became less interested in formality and wanted to soak up every word that she was willing to share. June talked about the early days before the Tamarind Workshop was founded and funded. She was frustrated with the politics of gender and the bureaucracy of exhibitions. She couldn’t understand why better resources for printing weren’t available in the United States. She had planned on visiting Paris indefinitely but Mac Lowry of the Ford Foundation tracked her down en route and helped make Tamarind a reality.
At 91 years old, June Wayne possessed an incredible power. Her commitment and dedication to the arts were palpable. She single handedly revitalized printmaking in this country, training generations of artists to continue her tradition. When she told a story it was easy to get lost in the rhythm and fluidity of her words. I saw myself from the perspective of a fly on a wall, thinking that I would look back on that day in the dimly lit house on Tamarind Avenue and smile with gratitude. How true that is now. As the afternoon crept upon us, June told me that she wanted to take me out for lunch but apologized that she was simply too tired. Another time. Before I left she said, “I’m depending on you. I want you to change the world.”
June, wherever you are, I hope that I’m not letting you down.
A Living Legacy
By Garet Field-Sells
Enter the A. Quincy Jones inspired 1960’s Valley Vista Boulevard living quarters of Sylvia and Gerald Field in Los Angeles and immediately you are greeted by a color cacophony of artworks made by some of today’s most luminary Californian artists. By the 70’s they amassed an eclectic collection of emerging artists, most unknown or somewhat known at the time – but it was not until 1983 that I had my first opportunity to not only witness the works but live with them.
Sylvia Field, my grandmother, served on the Graphic Arts Council at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for years. She had the opportunity to purchase early works which adorned her walls and even my childhood bedroom, but the one that spoke the loudest to me was by the hand of June Wayne titled, 10th Wave. After my grandmother passed away over a decade ago – my mom inherited her collection – and after I moved from an apartment to a loft and then to a house, I wanted to include pieces from the collection in my own home. My first attempt to obtain 10th Wave began by convincing my mom that the piece would make a perfect addition to my home office and that its presence would inspire me to be more productive. While my approach was crafty, my mom didn’t buy it. 10th Wave was also her favorite piece.
In 2010, I discovered archives of photographs taken by my grandfather Gerry when he served in the U.S. Army. From troops training on the ground to tanks in formation, the collection was peppered with personal family polaroids; my mom as a child as well as the construction of their home and first sponsoring of public art installation projects funded by LACMA. Along with the photos, I found journals, art receipts, gallery catalogs and two passports, which were both in my grandmother’s name. Each and every page was stamped with another country in another color and I began to imagine what my grandparent’s life was like together. The collection became more than works of art, but connected me to my family’s past.
For my birthday that year, I made my case again, armed with these new findings – and my mom gave the piece to me and it immediately went up in front of my desk, literally three feet from my face. Over time I became fascinated with the technical skill and wonderful inspiration that June pressed into the fine paper. I would find myself getting lost in the waves of texture and color, constantly inspired and even though the work was of course stunningly beautiful, it was the idea of my relationship with my grandmother that gave it such worth.
I never met June Wayne, but while she was alive, I took the opportunity to read about her, watch videos of her speaking so eloquently and witness my partner in Installation, A. Moret, interview her for an equally inspiring L.A. organization, For Your Art. She not only represented the idea of who my grandmother was but with her passing, 10th Wave became a new connection to an incredible artist that together with my grandmother inspires me everyday.