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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the February 26, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
June Wayne’s Futurist Way
I have a kind of futurist mindset," says the tireless
artist June Wayne. "I know what has already happened and I do
have a feel for what’s coming next. So one strives, in some small
way, to shape a future that’s a bit better."
The 85-year-old California artist and founder of the landmark Tamarind
Lithography Workshop, celebrates the opening reception of her exhibition
at Rutgers’ Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick with a reception
on Thursday, February 27, 6 to 8 p.m. Her show, "June Wayne: Selected
Graphics, 1950 to 2000," chronicling five productive decades,
remains on view there to June 29.
Wayne is credited with the wholesale revival of the art of lithography
in the United States. Her solo exhibition celebrates her appointment
this year as a visiting research professor at Rutgers. She has donated
a collection of her own work and the work of 128 other artists, valued
at nearly $5.5 million, to the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print
and Paper (RCIPP) at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, establishing
the June Wayne Study Center and Archive.
The renowned, forward-looking Wayne, taking a break
last week from the meetings of the College Art Association in New
York, says she is still more interested in the future than in the
"I would need 500 years to do the things that are already in my
mind," she says. "At my age I have to decide which of my ideas
I’m going to put time into." Describing herself as someone who
is interested in science and esthetic expression, she says her close
ties to the Jet Propulsion Lab are key to her current project. She
is working collaboratively on the aurora borealis with composer Benjamin
The Tamarind Institute, now based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, grew
out of Wayne’s desire to use lithography as her favorite medium of
artistic expression. "I fell in love with lithography in the ’40s
and ’50s," she says, "but back then it was not only outside
of the mainstream, it was so low on the totem pole that you were below
the curb, so to speak." Etching, intaglio, and woodcut were all
being taught in the U.S. at the time, but lithography was not. It
had almost become a lost art, with only three practicing printers
in the nation.
Embarking at the time on a suite of prints inspired by the love sonnets
of John Donne, Wayne happened to see a lithograph by Mario Avati,
best known as a leading 20th-century artist of the mezzotint. "I
knew that who ever had pulled that print was the person I needed to
work with," she says. That person was Marcel Durassier, and in
1957 she set off to Paris to study with him.
When she returned in 1958, she moved out to Tamarind Avenue in Los
Angeles, she set up a lithography studio, and initiated what was to
become a lithography revival.
The task was accomplished, in part, when her contagious enthusiasm
caught the attention of W. MacNeil Lowry of the Ford Foundation. "It
couldn’t have happened without him," she says. "We asked ourselves
the same questions: Could we restore a dying art form as an act of
will? And could we build around it an ecology that could keep it going
More than 40 years later, Wayne feels she has found Tamarind’s worthy
legatee in the 15-year-old Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and
Paper (RCIPP). Judith K. Brodsky, professor emerita and founding director
of RCIPP, describes the center’s mission "to enable artists who
are contributing new narratives to the American cultural mainstream
to create original works in print and paper through collaboration
with master printers and papermakers."
"RCIPP takes the idea of Tamarind and expands it to all the other
print media," says Wayne. "Tamarind was a vision and a model — take a dying medium and make it thrive, especially in a free-enterprise
Thus far, says Wayne, Rutgers’ June Wayne Center consists only of
a room, a collection of her art, and a wealth of supporting documentation.
"The center is just beginning to develop and I hope it will embrace
much more. I’m hopeful that it will spill into what ever is needed
to document and support the art of the print."
It was Wayne’s confidence in the vision and talent of Brodsky, and
RCIPP’s innovative mission, that made Rutgers a logical choice for
this legacy to the future.
"The Tamarind is institutionalized now," she says, "but
RCIPP still has a certain amount of independence from the academic
mindset. We need to give succeeding generations a chance now to realize
— Nicole Plett
streets, New Brunswick, 732-932-7237. Opening reception for "June
Wayne: Selected Graphics, 1950 to 2000." Show continues to June
29. Free. Thursday, February 27, 6 to 8 p.m.
Zimmerli Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to
4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Spotlight tours every
Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m. Admission $3 for adults; under 18 free. Free
admission on the first Sunday of each month.
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