May 9, 2014
Framed: The Stuff of Life Looks Like an Angel of Death in 'Col Noir'
Los Angeles Magazine, 05/09/2014
Lyle Zimskind


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Framed: The Stuff of Life Looks Like an Angel of Death in 'Col Noir'
Los Angeles Magazine, 05/09/2014
Lyle Zimskind


June Wayne’s tapestry “Col Noir” is based in part on a visual pun derived from two unrelated definitions of the French word col. In one sense un col refers to something worn around the neck; it also means a mountain pass. Hovering above the peaks in the distance and the rocky crags in the foreground of this desolate landscape, a black strand necklace twisted into three loops fills the sky like an enormous winged beast that looks like it might be on the verge of making a swift, violent descent.

By the time visitors reach this piece in the Pasadena Museum of California Art’s new retrospective of Wayne's work, they'll have encountered the recurring image of a DNA helix often enough to recognize that the twisting black strand in the sky represents not an angel of death but the raw material of life. Wayne herself was long “fascinated by genes’ total indifference” to the human beings they formed, by the “paradox of knowing [so] much about ourselves, yet nonetheless being at the mercy of this system of molecules.” An earlier lithograph by Wayne that closely resembles “Col Noir” was named “The Verdict,” as the artist explained, “because it refers to an inherited genetic verdict.”

The genetically coded helix was one of several scientific phenomena that Wayne repeatedly explored in her work as a painter, printmaker, and tapestry weaver. In the Solar Flares lithograph series, she imagined what the sun’s rays looked like at close range. Another group of prints, collectively designated the Stellar Winds, achieve an extraordinary fine detail. Tidal waves and massively enlarged fingerprints are additional subjects of multiple works.

Apart from all the images inspired by scientific themes, Wayne also produced a remarkably moving series of prints evoking the life and times of her mother, Dorothy (a 17-minute video featuring these pieces with Wayne herself reading Dorothy’s letters to her, originally produced for KCET in the 1970s, is worth watching). Earlier series on view were inspired by Franz Kafka and John Donne. The surrealistic Kafka prints were among the first she produced after moving to Los Angeles in her mid-20s during World War II. She lived here for most of the rest of her life, passing away in 2011 at age 93, although she also launched New Mexico’s Tamarind Lithography Institute in the 1960s. When she returned to L.A., she focused her attention on promoting women’s artistic careers with a workshop she officially called “Business and Professional Problems of Women Artists,” but which soon became popularly known as “Joan of Art.”

Later in her career, Wayne created a large number amazing abstract, near-monochromatic, highly textural paintings, some made of metallic leaf material, others made from styrene packing “peanuts.” These works practically call out for you to run your fingers and hands along their surfaces. But, of course, you can’t.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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