Paintings, Prints, and Tapestries
May 4-August 31, 2014
Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 E. Union St.
Pasadena, California 91101
By SANDRA VISTA, JULY 2014
Little Bits of Eternity- June Wayne ( 1918-2011)
During the opening night of June Wayne’s exhibition I observed a friend of hers smiling at the large photograph of Wayne as a young woman. She poses in front of The Dreamers, l952. This painting demonstrates the artist’s ability to tap into timely and imaginative ideas swirling around the universe. Regarding the art world time line, The Dreamers is an example of the art styles that Wayne was reflecting in the l950’s. By then she had been to Mexico (1935) and had been influenced by the social unrest of the poor and their effect on Mexican artists of the time. Additionally, artists like Diego Rivera, had been to Europe and returned to Mexico inspired by Picasso and Cezanne. The Dreamers, vividly exemplifies how Wayne gathered what was happening at the time with examples of her previous art experiences. The Dreamers touches on her influences of the Mexican political artists’, palettes of golden and bronze tones laced with Impressionists and Cubists fragmentations. Also, the interpretation and placement of the figures include her interest in Surrealism, poetry (John Donne) and literature (Franz Kafka).
Wayne’s current retrospective of her work is a survey of her philosophies, concepts, and crusades that are now part of our existing artistic and political landscape. As a contributor to the feminist movement of the sixties and seventies, Wayne formed communities (Joan of Art l972) to educate woman artists regarding the business aspect of the art world. Especially featured are artworks dedicated to Wayne’s mother Dorothy, an undeclared feminist of her time. The Dorothy Series, a lithograph series from the late seventies, illustrates Dorothy’s life as a Russian immigrant who settled in Chicago in 1907, until her death in 1957. Wayne experienced a woman’s revolutionary struggles first hand. Dorothy, a working woman, politically active, and married twice, was a brave example of women in the work force when women were predominantly stay-at-home mothers. Dorothy’s long term employment at Bien Jolie Corset Company is represented in Wayne’s Next to the Skin Series, l980. These painted lithographs contain images of brassieres and corsets. The Merry Widow, 1980 (painted lithograph) is an example of passionate engineering to accentuate a women’s form and breasts. By the time this series was created, the brassiere had been used as a symbol of women’s rights through “bra burning” and “going braless”. Wayne was in the vanguard of the reinvention of the brassiere as an outer garment which is a mainstream form of attire today.
Paintings from l984 Cognitos , influenced by Descartes motto: “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) and the styrene-acrylic paintings from the late eighties through the nineties, are examples of Wayne’s interest in science, ecology, and metaphysics. The Cognitos, repurposed paintings with silver or gold leaf invite the cosmos to work cooperatively. The paintings are “pieces of planets” that change as they reflect off each other. The styrene-acrylic paintings beginning in l989 are prophetic in their communication of hazardous materials to our planet (styrene) and how they are ironically used to symbolize natural disasters like the Northridge, California earthquakes of l994. The world of minutia, DNA, Ben-Day dots, atomic particles, are also depicted in through Wayne’s tapestries that she began working on in l970. The tapestries originated from Wayne’s paintings and prints such as from The Target l95l.
Wayne’s exhibition is like little bits of eternity. Each piece of art beginning with The Mexican Woman Wearing the Rebozo 1936, is a time capsule of a woman who inherited and cultivated creative drive. The Mexican woman not only is representative of the emerging Social Realism of the time, but also the pain and suffering of the Depression. She is also a definitive example of how the future of Wayne’s work unfurled to represent women’s rights, and women as visionaries. WM
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Sandra Vista is A freelance journalist in Los Angeles.