Wayne, June Claire
Painter, Printmaker, Lithographer
Active in Calif.; Ill.
Size: Trancript: 33 pages
Format: Originally recorded on 2 sound tape reels. Reformated in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hrs., 43 min.
Collection Summary: An interview of June Wayne conducted 1965 June 14, by Betty Hoag, for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project, at the artist's studio, in Los Angeles, California.
Biographical/Historical Note: June Wayne (1918-2011) is a painter and printmaker in Los Angeles, California.
This interview conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.
How to Use this Interview
- A transcript of this interview appears below.
- The transcript of this interview is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with June Wayne, 1965 June 14, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
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Also in the Archives
- June Wayne papers, 1945-1981
- Oral history interview with June Wayne, 1970 August 4-6
- Image Gallery items from other collections related to Wayne, June Claire
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with June Wayne, 1965 June 14, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Interview with June Wayne
Conducted by Betty Hoag
At Artist's Studio in Los Angeles, California
June 14, 1965
The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with June Wayne on June 14, 1965. The interview took place in Los Angeles, CA, and was conducted by Betty Hoag for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
JUNE WAYNE: November 29, 1993 - Rereading this interview almost 30 years after it was given, I see that my spoken speech does not "read" well in transcription. Oral historians understand the vagaries of verbal meanderings, and believe that the spontaneity of interviewing adds insight, a feeling of the times, and even information that one might not retrieve otherwise. But not every user of this archive will be an oral historian, and will assume that either I said something or didn't say it. Therefore I warn that my spontaneous replies have not been sorted out and are unreliable. In short, this interview does relieve the user of further research. One more comment the interview reflects the usage of the male pronoun (MANLISH) that was the style of speech at the time. Had the interview been done in the early 70s, the language would have been gender neutral and more accurate thereby.
BETTY HOAG: This is Betty Lochrie Hoag on June 14, 1965 interviewing June Wayne at the Tamarind Workshop in Los Angeles. Ms. Wayne has been the director of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, INCORPORATED, since its initiation five years ago. She's one of the leading artists in this country, and certainly in this community and probably all over the country is Ms. Lithography for what she has done for it. She was on the Illinois WPA Federal Art Program under the name of June Clair (spelled C-l-a-i-r), without an "e", I believe.
JUNE WAYNE: No, with an "e."
BETTY HOAG: With an "e." And was on the lithography project then.
JUNE WAYNE: No, that's incorrect.
BETTY HOAG: It is? Good. Well, why don't you start and tell us.
JUNE WAYNE: I was on the easel project. I had never seen a lithograph being made at that time. I had never visited the printmaking part of the Federal Art Project, and I must claim absolute innocence of printmaking at that time.
BETTY HOAG: That's perfectly amazing. Tell me what had happened first, where were you born and when, if you care to tell us for the record.
JUNE WAYNE: Oh, it's so much all over the record that there's no way I could ever evade it. I was born in Chicago in 1918 and lived there until, I think, somewhere around '39 - '38 to '39 - at which point I left Chicago to go to New York where I got a job as a designer of jewelry.
BETTY HOAG: May I go back just a moment. Did you go to the public schools in Chicago?
JUNE WAYNE: Yes. I went to the public schools in Chicago except that I was a high school dropout at a very early age.
BETTY HOAG: Oh, really?
JUNE WAYNE: Yes. I didn't complete --
BETTY HOAG: Incorrigible?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, I was maladjusted, let's put it that way, I was very young when I got into high school, I was terribly bookish, quite awkward, and homely, and I was not a bit at home in the high school. It was much too big for me and I never could figure out just why, as I was getting adjusted to a room, a bell would ring and I'd have to pick up and go somewhere else. I never developed enough context. So I took to ditching school. I used to start for school every morning, but I used to go to a library located on Broadway near Lawrence Avenue, the Clark Street Library I think it was called - I don't remember it's so long ago. And I used to sit there all day and read, and then I would come home "after school." And I would spend weeks, months at a time this way.
BETTY HOAG: Your parents didn't know what you were doing?
JUNE WAYNE: My mother didn't know what I was doing, and when she found out she was terribly annoyed with me, as you might expect, and she said, "Well, you either go to school or you go to work." And by then I was too committed to not going back to that place - that place was Senn High School. I didn't like it. And furthermore I had an art teacher there who left an indelible mark on me.
BETTY HOAG: A good one?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, I suppose it was good; although it really wasn't at the time maybe. She didn't think much of me. She took me aside one day - I was an art major and asked me what I meant to be. I said I thought I wanted to be an artist. And she said, "Well, my dear, you'll never make it. You ought to pick something else." And I think from that day on I just didn't really go back.
BETTY HOAG: Well, I wouldn't blame you.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, no, I've often wondered about her, and the kinds of things that were being expected. I wasn't doing well, I was befuddled ---
BETTY HOAG: Well, were you interested technically in something that was not academic, which was what she was teaching, would that have been it?
JUNE WAYNE: Nothing so romantic. I just wasn't "with" any of it as far as school was concerned. I was highly sophisticated in many ways, very underdeveloped in others. I had always been a bookish child and I was enormously well-read even at that age, but I was going through that awful Dostoyevsky, Schopenhauer period; my favorite composer was Wagner. And I was just "out" with the coke set. [Coca-Cola - not cocaine] It just wouldn't work, and so I dropped out of school. And then when my mother got so annoyed with me I took entrance exams to the University of Chicago, and passed them. But we really couldn't afford to send me to college so I went to work in a factory, which is where I got my first job when I was about fifteen.
BETTY HOAG: My goodness!
JUNE WAYNE: And that began my work history. As a matter of fact, I was lucky to have such a job because those were the depression years.
BETTY HOAG: Yes. That would be '32, '33.
JUNE WAYNE: Yes. And therefore I got started very early with the kind of responsibilities that go with earning your own living, trying to survive. And the depression years particularly as they affected the art projects, you see, became a terribly important factor in my life. Now as an artist, or someone wanting to be an artist, you can understand that at that time the last thing in anybody's mind was that you could take art seriously, or that this could be a profession out of which you could earn a living; or that you would have any social acceptance. An artist at that period was on the outside, as it were, of school environment, of being an oddball kind of child, even though I was quiet and always presentable, personally I didn't look queer [this did not mean gay at that time] or anything like that --
BETTY HOAG: But when you said you wanted to be an artist you immediately were accepted as queer, so you couldn't say that.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, I don't know that one went around even saying anything as far out as "wanting to be an artist." My mother, my grandmother - we were a household of three - my mother, my grandmother and I. The men in our lives had either died or "fled the camp" rather early. Things cultural were very much valued in our household, so that my spending many hours painting or drawing or making something, whatever it was, was, of course fine. Besides, it kept me quiet. Both my mother and my grandmother were very craft-oriented, although my mother was a business woman. My grandmother was enormously skilled with her hands and she used to, as a young woman, aid my grandfather, who was a carriage maker. She used to help him make wheels by hand, carving the wooden pegs and fitting them, you know. And she, herself, sewed very beautifully. She knitted well. And making something beautiful was very important in our household. But nonetheless you didn't take seriously an actual "art for art's sake." It was more of a craft, art for craft's sake that was valued.
BETTY HOAG: In all of these years of working in the library studying by yourself, was there a good art library there?
JUNE WAYNE: I never read about art. I didn't know about art that way. As a matter of fact, I was totally uneducated about art. I remember once on the WPA project hearing another artist, Bernice Berkman, I believe was her name, mention Picasso. I realize now that she was an artist who was very much influenced by Cubism at the time. But I hadn't the slightest idea who Picasso was. And I had no idea - I remember with what astonishment I discovered the name Seurat. My education in art was nil, absolutely nil! I was more educated about writing and about music, and these were things that I knew quite a lot about.
BETTY HOAG: You hadn't gone to the Art Institute for any of the children's classes at all, then?
JUNE WAYNE: Yes, I went to Saturday morning classes occasionally, but there too I began to ditch. I remember a wonderful teacher that I had there, a woman named Sylvia Beech, whom I was interested in. I can't even tell you why. My work was undistinguished, I think, and I shortly took to ditching those classes too. I preferred walking along the lake front. The influence of the Art Institute on me in those years was minimal. If I went to visit any exhibits they were apt to be the Chinese art or the Indian art. The modern art not at all.
BETTY HOAG: Well, that certainly is interesting considering where you have come, isn't it?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, I suppose so. I don't know. I have never stopped long enough to draw any conclusions about these things.
BETTY HOAG: How in the world did you happen to get on the Project, then, with this background.
JUNE WAYNE: I really can't trace that for you. I don't remember how I got on the project. I don't know - somebody must have said, "Well, you go and you apply here and somehow you get on." Everything in those years - I was very young and those years were crowded with sensations and ideas and problems. I was in my teens and it was exceedingly difficult for me even to know who I was, let alone what I was, or what anything else was made of. So that I remember those times as enormously confusing times. I don't know honestly how I got on the projects, but I know that I did.
BETTY HOAG: Well, the general procedure at the time was for a person to bring examples of his art work to qualify to get on it, so you must have been doing something because I'm sure that --
JUNE WAYNE: Well, I was painting. I had in 1936 already had a one-man show at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and I believe that was before I got on the Project. I'm not even sure about that, whether it was before or after. But I had been painting all my life so I obviously had art work. I do remember thinking that whoever it was that decided that I was an artist was agreeing with me although I couldn't see particularly that they had any standards because certainly I didn't have any. I didn't know what was good and what wasn't good. Everything was terribly befuddling and I would say that I don't think that I became an artist of any importance whatever until around 1947. Everything I did before then was intuitive, inchoate, uninformed. Although I have found a couple of my early paintings - people never seem to destroy pictures, they think maybe they're going to be valuable - from time to time I find an early work of mine which I buy back with new work. And of those, one or two have turned out to be quite good. Here's one...
BETTY HOAG: Oh, I'm so glad you have.
JUNE WAYNE: ...that I got. And I was surprised at how well painted it was.
BETTY HOAG: Oh, isn't that interesting!
JUNE WAYNE: It's in surprisingly good condition too. Anyway, that one I just happened on to a couple of years ago. But another one of the same period was dreadful and I destroyed it.
BETTY HOAG: Well, that has an interesting technique, doesn't it?
JUNE WAYNE: Yes, at that time I was painting completely with palette knife. And the paintings I did on the project, if they exist, must be of this genre.
BETTY HOAG: Well, if your memory of it is that hazy, there undoubtedly were no people who were influencing you at the time and you probably don't even remember the other artists that you were working with.
JUNE WAYNE: Not as artists. I do, but I remember them as people. I remember some, I remember a great deal about that time in another context, because looking back I found that I learned an awful lot about the world on the projects. And some of the things that happened to me then, or that I observed at that time now are very influential in my thinking whenever I think of government in the arts.
BETTY HOAG: I see. What are some of the things you feel it about is the result of experiences -- ?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, you know, in those days one of the reasons it was easy to get on the project is that government really didn't take seriously that any art was going to come out of it. It was "made" work in which categories of people got jobs, but nobody really took the job seriously. All right, on PWA they were building roads and dams and they expected dams to result from it, but except for a few people at the heads of the programs, like Holger Cahill, for example, who was an enormously cultivated man, - I never met him, but I can now deduce that he must have been - certainly Congress had no expectation that anything by way of a national culture, or a heritage, was going to result from anything as bizarre as having a category called artists on the relief programs. So that this indifference actually had an enormous influence for the good in this sense that there was a category called artists, that these people would be expected to "art" the way plumbers were expected to plumb, and that they could expect to get $18.50 a week, or $22.50 a week, or whatever it was, and their materials, in return for "arting," or painting, or whatever you want to call it. And not much attention was paid to anything really beyond this. The result was that many artists were called artists, in a category, for the first time. It gave them an identity --
BETTY HOAG: And they were proud of it?
JUNE WAYNE: And they were proud of it - well, it wasn't even a question of being proud - they knew they were artists, but, you know, in this crazy Kafkian world, even knowing that there is such a category that the Castle recognizes and for which a paycheck will arrive once a week, let's say, or once a month (whatever it was, I don't remember any more) this confirms your identity to yourself. In a peculiar way this sense of identity in a category, an impersonal category that was a workmanlike category, a reasonable category since it was apparently as reasonable as being a plumber or a ditch digger, gave a sense of identity, however fragmentary, to artist who till that time really could not find a slot for themselves within society, particularly the young ones. Those of us who, and most of us who were on those programs were in those years quite young, thirty and under. (I was well under twenty) Who were we? What were we about in a society which, at the time, was having trouble feeding teachers? I remember when our school teachers weren't paid for two years in Chicago.
BETTY HOAG: Oh, really!
JUNE WAYNE: Oh, yes. That was one of the things that was going on when I was going to high school when the city was lacking funds and teachers were teaching without salaries. The city owed the money to them but they had no cash flow. So that here you had, suddenly, government creating a category and recognizing that artists or actors or poets or writers or whatever existed, and that there were functions to be filled. The very successful artists, people like Mitch Siporin and Eddie Millman got PWA, I think they were - contracts to decorate post offices. I remember when Siporin got his contract (he and Millman) to do a $29,000 mural - of course, they were laying out the materials and so on - but it seemed like an astronomical sum to me, the peak of social accomplishment to be paid this and have a city wall that you would decorate. My God! Such an accomplishment! I was staggered by it. And, of course, in winning such a mural contract they earned the enmity and anxiety of everybody else in the art world, poor people. Anyway, what I wanted to say was that there we were in categories being paid to be what we were. This was an enormous experience.
The second important thing that happened as a result of it was that we became aware of ourselves in a social context and we began taking on some very strange characteristics. I, myself, for example, began to behave as though I had some status. Really, I hadn't. I hadn't really accomplished anything, just barely survived. Certainly, the daubs that I was making did not entitle me to any recognition, but here I was in a category - artist - and there was at the other end of that check some place in Washington something called the government, which by the fact that it mailed this check must care, you see. So that there was, for the first time, a sense of linking to society with something other than the raised eyebrow, with which people would realize that you were interested in art, whatever that was. So that that was important. The indifference of Congress was tremendously important.
BETTY HOAG: But wasn't there an interest in the public? That is, in the exhibitions that were given of your work in Chicago?
JUNE WAYNE: No.
BETTY HOAG: There wasn't?
JUNE WAYNE: Oh, no! It is the grossest kind of ego to assume that we meant anything at all to the public. Nothing at all!
BETTY HOAG: I'm surprised because Arthur Millier's articles here in Los Angeles at the time of the exhibits are simply glowing.
JUNE WAYNE: Ah! -- Let's not confuse Arthur Millier with the public!
BETTY HOAG: Possibly. I don't know how much was Arthur Millier and how much was the public.
JUNE WAYNE: Most people were massively indifferent.
BETTY HOAG: Really?
JUNE WAYNE: Massively indifferent. And they were until fairly recently. I have observed this very carefully as part of my consuming interest at the moment in observation of the relation of the public to art. I have to be interested in that because of Tamarind. But it is gross idiocy, really, to say that the public wanted us, or was interested in us. The public was much too busy with its own concerns. In the 40's and 50's there were a few forward-looking people, and an occasional rare collector. There were a couple of critics, who hardly ever got published - oldtimers - after all, Millier himself was an artist. Naturally he was interested. We were ignored, thoroughly ignored. What understanding there was was minimal, and we were simply a small community here, in Los Angeles, as everywhere around the country, of people who wanted to practice their art. And even we understood very little about what the devil we were doing.
BETTY HOAG: Well, what about the acceptance of these paintings in schools and public institutions?
JUNE WAYNE: During the projects of the 30's, I think that was a convenience. Even today most people will gladly accept any old picture to hang on their walls that comes for nothing. And here was government property - you can't dispose of government property except through certain legal channels - -
BETTY HOAG: Right.
JUNE WAYNE: Where do you dispose of it? You give it to a school where some poor, benighted child is going to have to look at some very bad picture. I think that we are being dishonest when we try to read into the presence of these art works on walls, as having any great significance except to the people who painted them; and maybe to a rare person who was perceptive enough to perceive social value in them, or cultural importance in them. But those people were few and far between in those days, really, in my opinion.
BETTY HOAG: There were no classes for adults instruction in painting in Chicago then?
JUNE WAYNE: I have no idea.
BETTY HOAG: But you don't know about any?
JUNE WAYNE: I couldn't know less. Remember that I was outside the educational system, an oddball - -
BETTY HOAG: And working on these at home so you were not in with a group of people --
JUNE WAYNE: Yes, I was totally unaware. And on the easel project in the 30's in Chicago, we, you know, used to take our canvases home and paint at home. We worked in our own studios, which generally meant a room in an apartment, and we were isolated except when we brought in our work to deliver it, and at that point we were just as apt to cover it up as not because the other strangers coming in, who were they? You know. It was a very isolated kind of thing, as I recall it, as I experienced it.
BETTY HOAG: You don't remember any rapport with the other artists, then, on the project?
JUNE WAYNE: Not on the subject of art.
BETTY HOAG: That's interesting.
JUNE WAYNE: However, we had enormous rapport and a great deal of activity about trying to hang on to those paychecks. What did happen that was very important in many ways was that we formed an artists union. And of course that was absurd since we didn't have an industry. But we did try to band together to try to get Congress to understand that some sound socially-valuable things might come out of what we were doing. And I remember that I was, having always had a certain gift for expressing myself, elected by the Artists' Union group to go to Washington to lobby at a time when an amendment had been put in to discharge everybody on the art project every sixteen weeks to be sure that we would not start "boondoggling." And this was very valuable to me because I got to see how the Congressional process works. I might mention that we were successful - I don't remember - I went with somebody else to lobby and I was successful in getting Congressman Hook to withdraw his amendment, of that sixteen-week amendment, but successful for quite irrelevant reasons. And that taught me something too about how you get things done politically. It's much more a matter of who you know than the truth of your cause although being on the right side also helped.
BETTY HOAG: It was an amazing experience for a girl that young to have, really.
JUNE WAYNE: Yes, it was. It was an astonishing experience, very important to me. Those years were important to me because they helped me orient myself in time and place. And I understood very early what the problems were of being an artist in this kind of a world.
Interruption for phone call.
JUNE WAYNE: I don't remember where we were.
BETTY HOAG: Well, you haven't told me yet about learning anything about the lithography or print --
JUNE WAYNE: Oh, the print medium.
BETTY HOAG: Mention of the project in Chicago.
JUNE WAYNE: Yes. I knew nothing at all about that.
BETTY HOAG: You didn't?
JUNE WAYNE: No. Nothing at all. I never saw that print workshop, I didn't know anyone who was doing prints. Or, I may have known artists who were and we just never discussed it. I used to see the artists mostly at the Artists' Union meetings where we would come together to discuss the problems that we were having or try to turn the project into permanent sources of employment. And one of the rules was that all aesthetics were welcome, you see, so we never had aesthetic discussions.
BETTY HOAG: In 1938 or '39 you went to New York to design jewelry. Is that why you left the project? Or had it fallen apart?
JUNE WAYNE: In 1937 I was working at Marshall Fields. And then while I was there I designed some ornaments for myself, which attracted the attention of the buyer at Fields. And she wanted to buy them for the store. So I figured that if she did, maybe there was a market for this sort of thing. I took a trip to New York in maybe late 38 or 39 to try to merchandise these (assuming that I could produce them) and support myself in that way.
BETTY HOAG: Objects of metal?
JUNE WAYNE: Yes, of metal. And what happened was that I quickly realized on that trip that I could never produce these orders. But a wholesale jewelry manufacturer met me, and liked the ornaments and he said (with his cigar hanging out of the corner of his mouth) "Well, Claire, if you can design one thing, you can probably design something else." So he hired me, and I left Chicago and went to New York as a designer.
BETTY HOAG: Were you there long doing that?
JUNE WAYNE: I was there until the war broke out. I was dating a young doctor who was in - well, the war hadn't even broken out yet -that was in June 1940, and he was about to be drafted. So we decided to get married, and I simply closed my studio, quit my job, and went off without a word of warning to become an Army wife. I left New York. But people did things like that in those days.
BETTY HOAG: I remember.
JUNE WAYNE: Life was very fragile, very fragile. We were just pulling out of the depression and you did the best you could at the time.
BETTY HOAG: You didn't stop painting, I hope?
JUNE WAYNE: No. No, I didn't stop painting. I carried my paints with me. But George was sent overseas on the first convoy out after Pearl Harbor. I came back to New York to find that my industry, my job and the industry was wiped out by the war because metal ...
BETTY HOAG: Plastics.
JUNE WAYNE: ... had been turned into parts for armaments and so on. And I fell ill that same month, quite ill, with strep throat and decided to go to California to see what I could do there. And on the trip out, evidently I was incubating rheumatic fever. The day I arrived in California I became terribly sick and spent some months in a sanitarium here. It was a long haul getting better. So during that period when I was convalescing my husband was overseas. I didn't want him to know I was ill. And I began writing, I was writing him fictional letters about what I was doing. Then I became interested in the problem of writing. And then I became a radio writer --
BETTY HOAG: Why, how fascinating!
JUNE WAYNE: And I began to realize at that point that problems in creativity are the same. How you solve them in one medium or in another may be different, but the essential concepts are the same, you see. This was very valuable to me because I was by this time then able to put a group of experiences together - writing, painting, and designing, plus the contextual quality of my experiences with the artists' problems that I talked about on that trip to Washington. And I began seeing great relatedness in creative thinking, which I use incessantly now as part of the tools at Tamarind. I never could have done Tamarind without the kinds of experiences I am now describing to you, in the relatedness of thinking patterns as part of creativity.
BETTY HOAG: What a fascinating result of this.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, you see, if you're trying to make something where nothing was (which is what creativity is about) you're always asking the question, "I wonder what will happen if?" You ask that when you draw a lithograph, when you change the formula of your ink, when you are painting and you have a new idea. Or in this situation - what will happen if we do this and so with this group of people; can the artisans really produce such and such when working with an artist of this characteristic? You see what I'm talking about?
BETTY HOAG: Yes, I do; yes.
JUNE WAYNE: So this kind of creative thinking, conceptual thinking is a way of life for me, and applies very strongly to the Tamarind program. But I could just as easily go right back tomorrow to writing or to painting, although I think I would go to painting if I were to go.
BETTY HOAG: How long did you stay with radio work here in Los Angeles?
JUNE WAYNE: Actually, I wrote for radio in Chicago, WGN, till my husband came back from overseas, and then I joined him again as an Army wife. I should also tell you that during the time that I was learning radio writing I went to Cal Tech and learned how to read blueprints, how to do airplane production illustration, they called it, which was very useful too. And that work in production illustration in which you project a blueprint into a three-dimensional drawing, later led me to certain developments in my own art.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, you see, the whole business of perspective, of the optical truth of perspective, the laws of perspective not being laws at all but only generalities that hold within certain angles of vision - not outside the five percent [angle] for example, around the focal point of vision. This began to interest me. Then I started getting interested in optics, the problems of optics, optical distortion, and, God, I was doing these op things as a result of the production illustration, you know, for years before the Op Art came along.
BETTY HOAG: Why, that's amazing! And this was in the same kind of ...
JUNE WAYNE: A crazy kind of ...
BETTY HOAG: And this was through the medium of oil that you were working?
JUNE WAYNE: Not necessarily. What led me into lithography, after the war, I was painting. I became very interested in optics. And I began working out problems that I wanted to explore in other media because oil on canvas has been, to me, a sick kind of medium. The materials are antithetical to each other; that is to say, that oil expands and shrinks at a different rate than does canvas. The colors are fugitive, etcetera.
END OF TAPE
BETTY HOAG: This is Betty Lochrie Hoag on June 14, 1965, interviewing June Claire Wayne, the tape one ends abruptly, but we decided we have covered the subject. You were starting to tell me about what you felt about the painting and it was fascinating.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, what I was saying was that I had observed that oil on canvass is a basically idiotic combination. The canvas expands and contracts at a different rate from the color and as a result you have paintings turning old overnight or relatively overnight, cracking, chipping, etc. The whole quality of painting a picture and having it the way you painted it seemed to me partially the function of the materials themselves, something to begin with, not combine, except very rarely into healthy objects, as far as their physical life is concerned.
BETTY HOAG: This is an astonishing theory, I never heard anybody say anything like that.
JUNE WAYNE: It isn't a theory, it is a fact. We take for granted that oil on canvas is good. It isn't, and as art forms go, as media go, it's a relatively new one if you're accustomed to thinking of the history of art as something that endures over a long period of time. By that, I mean not ten years, but a thousand years. As a matter of fact in Paris, just a few months ago, I noticed the appalling condition of many impressionist paintings, many post-impressionists. The Manet's are cracked to hell and good --
BETTY HOAG: They have?
JUNE WAYNE: And even the Van Gogh looked to me as though they were fading markedly which I said in a New York Herald review and caused a certain amount of furor; anyway, the point I wanted to make was that I was dissatisfied with oil. And kept trying to find a way of handling it so that it would last. And then decided that maybe I ought to try some other media. One of the problems I was working on at the time, seemed as though I should explore it in black and white, in a print medium. And through sheer accident, since I now decided that I was going to try another medium, I went looking for the closest, handiest way of doing it and found that Lynton Kistler, a master printer who was then here in Los Angeles, he's still here, but he no longer works in art lithography, lived only a few blocks from where I was. So I went over to Kistler's atelier and persuaded him to let me take home a stone, and I would try to draw on it, and I did and I was fascinated - as a matter of fact that first print I just handed over together with all the proofs to Grunwald Foundation --
BETTY HOAG: Oh, really, --
JUNE WAYNE: UCLA, yes and I began that way to make lithographs. The more I made, the more I got intrigued with the medium; the more I knew was there that I didn't know about, and I worked constantly then, moving from oil on canvas into prints, lithos and drawing, taking an idea, and attacking it in various media, calling out now one aspect, now another, that seemed more appropriate to the other media. This is how I came to lithography.
BETTY HOAG: Did you go into etching or woodblock or serigraph --
JUNE WAYNE: No, I never made a woodcut, never made a serigraph - I've made four or five etchings (I don't like it at all). I did that in 1959 or was it '58, I don't remember, I'd have to literally look up my prints.
BETTY HOAG: Too harsh and sharp for -- Because your things are very romantic, really, the ones I've seen.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, some are and some aren't, but you don't -- the ones you've seen stem from the John Donne period, and they are romantic, because I was dealing with that kind of material --
BETTY HOAG: John Donne, the Poet you mean?
JUNE WAYNE: Yes. But the - many of my works are no - this is hardly romantic, might be fantastic, (laughter) but I've always been --
BETTY HOAG: It's very frightening ---
JUNE WAYNE: Yeh. It is frightening; it's called "The Cavern." It's a primordia thing; but it's one of the things in which I was dealing with focal and peripheral vision. The question of optics from - that I was talking about earlier on the tape - you see the statement of the theme - those five images in white - and all of the rest of the Cavern are simply variations on the themes, as they move into the periphery. Now it is interesting that if you look at the focal area with one eye closed, that picture moves into third dimension.
BETTY HOAG: It swirls, yes, it tends to go around.
JUNE WAYNE: Right, that's right, that's because I have built into the picture - binocular vision, which is the key, of course, to third dimension.
BETTY HOAG: I see.
JUNE WAYNE: You've got to have binocular vision, you know. People who have only one eye, view things in a much flatter state than normal vision, because what happens is that the two eyes focus - you get now this side of an object and now this side and that gives the "round" to it, but here when you look at it with both eyes open, it cancels out the third dimension, because the binocular vision exists already in the print, itself, you see?
BETTY HOAG: It reminds of things they used to have in hospitals, where you look at a double picture and make it come together.
JUNE WAYNE: Yes, that's right - exactly, exactly - so this particular print is a fairly sophisticated statement already of certain optical principles that I was probing in my work, and I did painting of the same thing, too.
BETTY HOAG: This is a lithograph?
JUNE WAYNE: This is a lithograph, yes.
BETTY HOAG: What were the colors of the painting?
JUNE WAYNE: I don't think I could describe them to you, but I used a color breakdown in periphery, just as we experience it in vision, you know, the eye does not perceive color in periphery.
BETTY HOAG: I didn't know that.
JUNE WAYNE: It's focal vision that gives you color. For example, if you look at me - you will see color wherever there is color, but out here on the periphery everything breaks down, and into greys. For example look at me here, now here on the table is a Tiffany Lamp with brilliant colors - but you don't see those colors through peripheral vision.
BETTY HOAG: You're seeing just values of light and dark.
JUNE WAYNE: That's right. So I use those concepts also in the color of the painting ---
BETTY HOAG: Must have been a fascinating thing to work out.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, these are very interesting things that I've worked with, and I no doubt will work with some more when I get around to it.
BETTY HOAG: Mrs. Wayne, you've probably started, over when you first saw Mr. Kistler about 1950? Would that be about the right date?
JUNE WAYNE: No, it was 1947.
BETTY HOAG: Would you mind spelling his name?
JUNE WAYNE: K-i-s-t-l-e-r. His name is Lynton Kistler.
BETTY HOAG: Yah. I want to be sure I get that right. And you were still working completely by yourself?
JUNE WAYNE: Oh, yes, I've always worked by myself.
BETTY HOAG: Well, until the time of the founding of Tamarind.
JUNE WAYNE: Yes.
BETTY HOAG: May I ask right away what Tamarind means. It's such a beautiful name. Is it Indian?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, it's simply the name of the street. You see, we're located on Tamarind Avenue ---
BETTY HOAG: I supposed they named it after you.
JUNE WAYNE: No, no, no. I named it. When I was designing the Tamarind program I was looking for a word that had no special connotation of it's own. Of course, there is such a thing as a Tamarind tree, but I simply named it the Tamarind Workshop after the street on which it would be located - and allow it to build its own legend, which was my deliberate intention, assuming that we were good and did a good job and then Tamarind would come to mean something else actually, you see.
BETTY HOAG: Well it has already. How did it start?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, the Tamarind program really resulted from an accident, the same way that my going into lithography resulted from an accident. If there had been someone around with woodcuts six blocks from where I lived, I might have gone into woodcuts, who knows. I had been in the habit of going to Europe to work in lithography because Mr. Kistler was no longer available to print for me. And whenever I wanted to do a lithograph I had to travel to Paris to find an artisan. And in this fashion I had an opportunity to experience the difference between lithography as Kistler performed it, as we knew it in the United States and lithography as the Europeans did it at a much more professional level, much finer equipment, better paper and with attitudes that came out of a fairly long tradition. I had never seen a beautiful sheet of lithography paper until I went to France to work. Such paper didn't exist in the United States.
BETTY HOAG: Because there weren't enough people to ---?
JUNE WAYNE: And we had absolutely no taste, and didn't even know that we were printing on ugly paper. Our inks were ugly; as a matter of fact, most American color lithographs until Tamarind came along were really -------. They were ugly, just plain ugly.
BETTY HOAG: Do you happen to know Edward Taylor's woodblocks?
JUNE WAYNE: No, I don't.
BETTY HOAG: Because he gets gorgeous papers from Japan - because of this problem, has for years, for woodblocks.
JUNE WAYNE: Japanese paper, for the most part, won't do for lithography.
BETTY HOAG: It isn't sturdy enough or --?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, there are a great many characteristics the paper requires that Japanese papers don't have. We have a special paper made for us in Japan with our own water mark, that's good for certain kinds of prints. The Japanese paper have so much character of their own, that everything looks Japanese. So that we can only use those papers for selected work, that can take that kind of an aesthetic, but I started to tell you ---
BETTY HOAG: May I digress one more thing while we are on material.
JUNE WAYNE: Yeh.
BETTY HOAG: Is it necessary - I know some of the lithographs are on metal I think -
JUNE WAYNE: They're drawn on metal.
BETTY HOAG: Yes, but what about those ones that are on stone, do you still have to get those stones from Bavaria?
JUNE WAYNE: Yes, we do, except that that quarry, you know, is exhausted.
BETTY HOAG: That's what someone told me.
JUNE WAYNE: The stones, presently extant in the world are all that there are, all there will ever be, and Tamarind is searching for and trying to stockpile Bavarian limestone for use by American artists. It is a terrible problem. The stones in this country now are just enough for maybe another ten years of use.
BETTY HOAG: They had a great many of them at the lithography section here at the Art project here in Los Angeles, and someone told me about a year ago, that you were hunting for more, and so I have been asking the artists - and no one knows what happened to those stones --
JUNE WAYNE: No. Generally what happened to these stones was that people dumped them into the Long Island Sound, or Lake Michigan, or built patios of them in Los Angeles. We have terrible problems locating stones. My last trip to Europe I located only nine, in Italy. There are old artisans who own stones and won't part with them. Little by little, we hope to buy them up but its a great problem and lithography may well disappear simply because of this natural resource problem.
BETTY HOAG: Well, it is inconceivable to me that with the whole Rocky Mountain chain right at out backs that there isn't the same kind of deposit someplace in the U.S.?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, the - the limestone in the U.S. that we have experimented with - is all too soft, too soft or full of fossils, or veins. This particular vein in this area (of this stone) is blue/grey, very dense and without defect. There are still limestones there in Bavaria, you see, but not of a quality suited to this art. You touched of course on one of the great "Perils of Pauline" problems that we have. We are running a race with the exhausting of natural resources and with a society bent on technical obsolescence. Because the metal plate (we conquered zinc for example), to replace stone and found, suddenly within the space of six months, that it was impossible to find a grainer to regrain the zinc because industry had converted to aluminum ---
BETTY HOAG: And people weren't trained, you mean?
JUNE WAYNE: No, it was a factory process and those machines were simply shut down. Zinc grainers went out of business because industry did not need them. So, we have now learned to control and have helped to produce, a new kind of aluminum plate. But I have no doubt whatever that industry will find something else again and that again we will face the loss of our resource. In our society, anything that isn't made by the billions is financially obsolete as well, and industry must continue to out-date itself, as it were. Our entire economy is based on this kind of technological change.
BETTY HOAG: Except, that it is aesthetically, it seems to me, that there is a scale by which education of the public for appreciation of all the craft objects is beginning to weigh heavier all the time, don't you think so?
JUNE WAYNE: Yes. It's been a persuasive argument. For example, in 1961 or 62 I found that paper was vanishing, even French hand-made paper, changing rapidly in caliber, and I began complaining very early to my importer who didn't know what the devil I was talking about. We began having great problems with the quality of the paper, and there had only been two or three suitable papers for our art. So I picked up these people from New York, bodily, and brought them here and explained and they were very impressed with Tamarind and began to join our cause, because they could see that the art was dependent on the paper. So, they began inquiries around Europe for paper, and following their hints and such leads that Tamarind itself could uncover, we engaged an agent in Europe to start searching for mills that might be persuaded to provide paper for lithographers. I myself went in March, of this year, to Fabriano in Italy, (to Peschia, that is I didn't go to Peschia, another agent from New York went there) and I saw the people from Cartiari Borgo in Italy, I also saw the Rives people in France, and now paper samplings are beginning to come to Tamarind from these mills. Fabriano is making a paper for us, and we are researching their samples to tell them what to change, what to improve, what qualities are needed, and I do expect that we will reopen the supply of hand-made paper for our art. We're having the same problem with ink. But what is necessary is for someone to go to the heads of these companies and literally enlist them on the side of the art to make them face their aesthetic obligation to provide the materials that we need.
BETTY HOAG: Aren't the European lithographers making the same demands on them? Or aren't they interested any more?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, there aren't very many. You see the heart of lithography has now moved to the United States.
BETTY HOAG: I didn't realize that.
JUNE WAYNE: And Europe having just discovered the Industrial Revolution (laughter) is converting from the handmade lithograph to the machinemade lithograph and the machine, of course, can't use the kinds of papers that we use. We have been quite successful in producing the paper. We're now having to do this with ink. [We] have to persuade the aluminum companies to work with us. This is difficult because we cannot show a cash flow for them. Their chief reason for helping us is that it gives them prestige, you see. The Tamarind name now means something, its saleable, merchandisable to an aluminum company that makes a plate that suits us, the company knows that it can suit its most demanding client - it has a certain value.
BETTY HOAG: Well, the next question is why isn't it of some interest to some paper company in this country? To meet you demands and make these papers?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, it might well be. [In fact, shortly after this interview, handmade paper workshops began to appear in the USA] However, making this kind of paper is an art in itself. It takes certain kinds of artisans. For example, at Fabriano, at the mill the artisans who make this kind of paper are very jealous of their secrets and they will not teach them except to their families.
BETTY HOAG: Oh, really!
JUNE WAYNE: And, of course, you must understand that the cost of an artisan per hour is going up, up, up as standards of living increase, as wages increase. However, his output does not increase. He will still only make, no matter how hard he works, a certain number of sheets per day. Now in industry, for example, if wages go up, industry compensates by increasing the productivity of each employee, but in our art -and this is true of our artisans incidently and this explains partially why the original lithograph can only mount in price as the years go on for the same reason sheets of hand-made paper can only be more and more expensive. They are already enormously expensive, you see. But in years to come, the very materials of which we make our art must double, triple, quadruple, god knows how much they will cost. And industry has no way of compensating for this, because the productivity ratio in this kind of thing cannot change.
BETTY HOAG: Maybe some day you will have to have a sideline in connection with Tamarind.
JUNE WAYNE: I do not expect to save the world. (laughter) My responsibility is, and I'm limiting it, it has do with getting this art going and seeing it is safely moved over out of the hothouse of subsidy, into free enterprise, and I expect to accomplish that by April of 1970, at which point I expect that Tamarind will close. I have my goal.
BETTY HOAG: ---- way off the track because I started to ask you about the beginning of how it was set up - techniques instead.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, you see, it was no longer possible for me to make a quality
lithograph in this country. There was no master printer. And I could never print
a lithograph myself, Lautrec could never have printed a lithograph himself.
To make a beautiful print, you must have a great artisan, for the same reason,
for example, that Mr. Beethoven needs Mr. Heiftez to play his concerto. It's
two kinds of talent, you see, to make a lithograph. So I would go to Europe
to work, and I went in 1958, to do a livre deluxe, a hand-made book on the Songs
and Sonets of John Donne. Now in Europe any artist worth his salt, has done
a book. We think of Picasso and etchings, lithograph and sculpture, stained
glass, tapestry and everything, because Mr. Picasso can draw upon a society
rich in artisans, who make it possible for him to move freely in any media.
But the American artist has been a do-it-yourself man. Many of our art forms,
no doubt, have developed as they have, for good or for evil, because an artist
must be able to control all of his techniques himself. We are just now beginning
to break away from that. I'm sure that much of the welded sculpture that developed,
was an answer to the absence of bronze casters in this country. Not that we
shouldn't have had welded sculpture, but my point is that many collaborative
arts could not take place here. But they are routine in Europe, so that we see
Picasso, Matisse, all these contemporary European artists routinely making hand-made
books. And you see collaborations between artist and writers there as though
it were an ordinary and normal event. But for an American to do a book was quite
Well anyway, I wanted to make such a book and I went out to Europe to do it. And that book attracted a good deal of attention, my Songs and Sonets of John Donne. I had had occasion to be a consultant to the Ford Foundation - to one of their programs on the arts when they were located out here. And when I started for Europe to do that book, it happened that the program in Humanities and Arts of the Ford Foundation was at that moment preparing the nominations for one of their annual givings of $10,000 grants to artists. And if you will recall they used to do this by circulating all over the country and they would ask various people to nominate artists for these grants.
Through some circumstance, I'm not prepared to say what it was because I don't know what it was, they asked me who I thought should get such a grant. And I wrote a rather snippy letter, nominating a couple of artists, and at the same time expressing my disapproval of their program, because I don't believe in this kind of solution for the problems of the arts. I don't think artists should leap for pennies. I don't think they should take means tests. I don't think their economics should be determined by whether or not they get a prize or a grant. It's no way for our society to solve the problem. And out of my experience with the [WPA] Project, see, I had rather sharp feelings about this. So I wrote a snippy letter of criticism and I sent my nomination and letter in quite early, because I was leaving for Europe. Well I was on my way to Europe, I was in New York when I received a telegram that had been forwarded to me from California, asking me to please see Mr. Lowry at the Ford Foundation. Of course, this meant nothing at all to me, I didn't know who he was. I called the Foundation (I was sailing the day after I got this telegram) and said again in a very high-handed fashion that the only time I had available was 8:30 in the morning, and then I would only come if they'd give me coffee (laughter) because I thought surely this was one of those idiotic routines.
BETTY HOAG: Reprimand to your letter?
JUNE WAYNE: No, not a reprimand. I didn't know what they wanted and really cared less. They asked me to come in and I did, and there was coffee, and sweet rolls too, and there was the - in this office was a very poker-faced gentlemen, rather pale, scotch-looking with reddish hair and a high forehead who began quizzing me about my letter and what I objected to about the grants. And he took shorthand, and I thought, "Well, this poor flunky, what is he doing, trying to find out if the PR of the Ford Foundation needs correcting?" And since I had no vested interest in anything, I was quite frank. I might have been anyway, I don't know. I criticized the kind of program and he asked me what I would do, if I were giving out money. And I said, "I don't know, but I would try to change things basically so that people would benefit as a group without it being personally oriented." I had observed, you remembered how Siporin's winning a prize had aroused enmity. I had observed that my prizes all through my professional life, made me enemies. Prizes seem to bring out the worst characteristics in people. If I added up all the prizes I had received (and I received a great many) it wouldn't be enough to keep me decently, you know, for a month. It didn't mean anything. It aroused a lot of illusions, and it was faulty, it was stupid, and I said all these things. He said, "Well, what would you do?" I said, "I don't know. Look" I said, "for example, an American artist can't make a lithograph if he stands on his head. He can only do those things he controls. I have to travel 6000 miles to do this book because there isn't a soul in this entire country who could help me with lithography. Here's a whole art form dying under you nose. And the American artist, we never see him, in anything except oil on canvas, or in water colors or these primitive media which he can handle himself." This seemed to interest Mr. Lowry and he asked me to let him see my book when I got back. And he said to me also, "What can we do for you. Is there anything we can do to help you." I said, "No, for heavens sake, unless you mean to create some artisans so I don't have to go so far to do my work." And off I went, thinking nothing of it, not knowing anything about this man. I came back six months later with the book in my hand. I had done the work. It had been very complicated, difficult. I had the type done in West Berlin while it was being blockaded (lots of romance about it) and on my way back on the ship, I remember that he had wanted to see the book, so I sent him a postcard, saying "I'm coming with my book," mailed it in New York ---
BETTY HOAG: Get out the coffee and rolls!
JUNE WAYNE: And if you want to see it, I will be at the Warwick Hotel for 5 days. And I got a call. I went down with the book, showed him the book and he was very interested, he loved the book. Of all times (phone rings) and I ---- Mr. Lowry liked it very much and he said, "Why don't you tell us what ought to be done about lithography." And I said, "Oh gee, I know you people. You're full of red tape, and you like committees and boards and after all I can't..." He said, "No, I'm really serious. Tell us what ought to be done." I said, "Well" still giving him a kind of brush because I still didn't know who he was. I said, "Well, I have a lot of problems that - my mother is ill and problems, and so on and so on, and I'll think about it and write you from California." And as I was leaving his office, I ran into Bill Nims, whom I knew from Pasadena when he was here and we greeted each other and he said, "How'd you get in there?" I said, "What do you mean." He said, "In Lowry's office." I said, "Why? Who is he?" "Who is he?" he said, "He's just the horses mouth that's all."
I realized then, you see, the implication of what I was doing, but still was much to cynical to take any of this seriously. I was very self-absorbed and I had many things in life that were complex at the time. I returned to California and after about 6-8 weeks, thinking about this in a spare moment, I wrote and said, "Now tell me again, whether you were really serious about our conversation, because if I'm going to think about that question, it would be very demanding and I don't want to spend any energy unless you're serious." And I got a letter back, "I'm very serious in knowing what you think is needed to save the art of lithography." So I began thinking what was really needed. I was thinking of it at a very primitive level - where you would have to have one apprentice, you would have to have a master printer and an artist. I knew you needed those things. And I began thinking "what institution could perform this task?" I tentatively probed several places to see how they would feel about anything as fantastic as a Ford Grant for such a purpose. One university that I probed, unofficially, because I wasn't official, (it was just sort of a dream at that point) reacted with typical academic anxiety. The thought immediately produced great anxiety that lithography might take away money from the etching department. I decided very early at least in this vicinity, that there was no organization that wouldn't be so torn with internecine warfare that it could function. At that point having probed just still with nothing but thoughts in my head, I sent a letter to Lowry saying that I had researched as far as I could go, but that I needed to come to New York, and I certainly wasn't going to do this on my own funds, with which I got a wire back authorizing a trip, and per diem. I came to New York to do the same kind of probing, I spent ten days this way, looking for materials, what would the natural problems be? The human problems be, etc. And I saw Mr. Lowry and he said, "Well, well, well?" And I said, "Well, what?: He said, "Well tell me." I said, I have nothing to tell you yet, I'm still fact gathering, but now I'm going back and I'll start writing. And he was a little annoyed with me, because he had seen nothing at all. He may not have been annoyed, I don't know - but it seemed that way to me. I came back and I began writing, and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. And I had to have a structure and I had to have how would it happen, why should we do it, what is the state of lithography, you see. And I wrote the Tamarind Plan, the first outlines, the structures of it. Now that plan has turned out to be absolutely sound. Absolutely sound, and it still functions as the skeleton of this organization. I was smart enough to seek certain kinds of advice.
BETTY HOAG: From specialists?
JUNE WAYNE: From specialists. Often my most useful advisors were from non-art disciplines where my own knowledge needed beefing up. Industrial engineering, management, etc. Because I faced almost at once that if you could restore the art, if you could do all this with the art it would be enormously expensive. Money would have to foot this. How could the money be turned into a revival of the art? This is a critical problem. It is a critical problem of government in the arts. And I had no skills for this, money-management, etc. But I was smart enough, as I said, to find the kind of advice I needed. Well, once more I wrote a testing letter, saying, "Now tell me again, if I design this, how much attention do I have to pay to structure. I don't want complicated boards. I don't want to have to serve with idiots, people who must be idiots, because they can't know anything about this subject. They might be smart about something else (laughter) but after all there aren't any of "us chickens" around to speak of. I didn't ---
BETTY HOAG: Yes. You didn't want to be patient with people ---
JUNE WAYNE: And he wrote back again and he said, "I promise you'll never have to deal with anyone but me, make it as simple as you like."
BETTY HOAG: Oh, how thrilled you must have been?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, I still didn't have a grant or anything, but what it meant was I was free to build an organization that was not heavily in debt to social obligations, to boards to be serviced, etc. Although we have boards, you understand we have all the proper things, but it was understood from the beginning, in my plan, that I must have a lean organization in which all of the effort could go to the task at hand.
BETTY HOAG: Things that you could manipulate.
JUNE WAYNE: But a wieldy, fair, lean dedicated organization that would get to the heart of the matter of re-creating the art. And so I designed the program, learning from management and industrial consultants, lawyers, accountants. Adams was particularly helpful. His administrative experience within universities as well as his knowledge of litho. Lowry's keen eye caught a couple of underestimations in my proposed budget and cash flow. These helped decide what kind of personnel you need and all the things that are the sinews of organization. This plus my own vision and my sense of the art, you see, was able to frame this document. And I sent it in to Mr. Lowry and I heard nothing for weeks, except a brief note acknowledging its arrival and that it appeared "adequate." That's all. And since I still didn't take this seriously and did not intend to perform this, in other words I didn't even budget myself into this.
BETTY HOAG: You didn't?
JUNE WAYNE: I intended to recommend personnel. I designed the program, but I didn't intend to do it. And then he communicated with me and he said, "Well, you know, this won't do, you may not budget yourself in or be active, but as far as I'm concerned you're on the hook, you will be responsible for this. You will have to direct it." And I wasn't sure what that meant. (laughter) And that's how it is. So, then, after another long silence, about a month, I received a long distance call from Mr. Lowry and he said, "Well, June I want to tell you that I have circulated the Tamarind Plan all over the art world, and I exploded - "What do you mean you circulated it all over - my plan?" He said, "Well, I have to do that to get a reaction on it." I said, "Well, I discussed this with you. I told you this is absurd. What the devil do you expect people to say to anything as far out as this?" I was very angry with him. He made me feel like "I'm out in my Maidenform brassiere." (laughter) He said, "Well, I must tell you, I have never circulated a program that got more universal disapproval." I said, "Well, what did you expect? I told you that it would be disapproved of. If anybody understood the problems of lithography, it wouldn't be dead." He said, "Now hold on there, I think you should know that you did pick up a few very important champions." James Johnson Sweeney for example, and a couple of other people. He didn't tell me at that point who they really were (I later found out who they were) because all of the circulating was confidential. And he said that I picked up enough champions to back it, and furthermore there are times in the life of a Foundation man, when he has to take a risk, and do something in which he believes, "and I believe in this program, so I am going to recommend it." And he did. And the Grant came through. The first grant was for $165,000. The one condition was, as I said, that I would have to be responsible for it. Well, then I tried to set up this apparatus. First thing we had to have was a tax exemption, but you can't get a tax exemption until you've been in existence for a year, and I couldn't get the grant until I got the tax exemption.
BETTY HOAG: How ridiculous?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, that's how the IRS works. I didn't know any of this, you see. So I applied for the exemptions and naturally got turned down. And since I was absolutely ignorant, I didn't realize that being turned down was a pretty final thing with the government and therefore I challenged the turn-down (laughter). Wrote a very passionate argument on why they should give this grant, why they should give us clearance, and to our amazement they did (laughter).
BETTY HOAG: This whole thing sounds like a "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread" business, an astonishing story.
JUNE WAYNE: Of course, I really didn't know what I was doing, or the problems I was getting into, or I would never have done it ---
BETTY HOAG: Isn't it great that you did?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, that's a mixed question. I'll tell you that when I'm 70.
BETTY HOAG: Well as far as the history of art in America goes, it is, I know that.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, anyway the IRS did reverse its position and gave us a temporary clearance which is, you know, all clearances are only temporary and they review them regularly, see that you are obeying the law and so on. And I recruited Clinton Adams ---
BETTY HOAG: He was at UCLA then, wasn't he?
JUNE WAYNE: No. He was then at Florida - University of Florida, Gainsville to be the associate director of Tamarind. He was on a salary and I was not. I built the building out there, and I got Garo Antreasian to be the Master Printer. He was from the John Herron School of Art in New Mexico.
BETTY HOAG: Would you mind spelling his name?
JUNE WAYNE: A-n-t-r-e-a-s-i-a-n.
BETTY HOAG: Antreasian, thank you.
JUNE WAYNE: Now, there again I had fantastic luck. I knew Adams and I thought he would be good; I didn't know Antreasian, I had seen his color prints and I knew that whoever did them knew a great deal about lithography, so I flew to Indiana and spent a week working with him, and decided I could risk his taking the job of Technical Director. And these choices, again, some angel I suppose was sitting on my shoulder, but they were marvelous, just marvelous. I couldn't have had two better people, and they are still very active in the Tamarind Program, but they started it for the first year. Adams set up many of the systems of curating and administration that we still use, Andreasian and Adams do all our preliminary training for artisans. We send them for preliminary training with these two men (now at the University of New Mexico) before we bring them to the Tamarind Program itself. They are technical consultants to Tamarind. They are doing our textbook. You know, there is no definitive text book on lithography. We're doing one. Anyway, our first three year program we completed in two years, and I applied for a second grant which the Foundation gave with no difficulty at all, $400,000 to see us to October of 1965. And this last year I applied for a third grant, this time for $900,000 to see us until April, of 1970.
Now I should explain that the Tamarind Program really was a wild idea. It was very idealistic. It postulated terribly difficult questions. Is it possible in an industrial society such as ours to re-establish artisanship? I have just indicated to you about a half hour or so back, the inherent economic problems of an artisan in an industrial society - problems of cost, constantly mounting prices, etc. Could you even tempt young men away from factories, fringe benefits, retirement pay into anything as esoteric as the creative act, working constantly with artists to produce art. These were some of the questions that we were asking.
BETTY HOAG: Are you beginning to see the answers?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, yes, we know that you can certainly tempt young men into this; we know the young American has a great talent for craft, he just seems to understand, he seems to understand machinery easily. His aesthetic development often lacks the sensitivity of the European, because they are born and bred into it, its a part of their society, and our society is only now (in the last five or ten years) taking art for granted, as a good thing. The result of mass education, of course, where we have created tremendous audiences for the arts, and this audience for the arts, makes it possible for us now seriously to postulate a life dedicated to quality other than to mass production.
BETTY HOAG: And a lithograph has the advantage of being less expensive than many other art forms so that it can reach a larger public too in education.
JUNE WAYNE: Well, on the surface of it you would think so, but actually not because - because you see, although in lithography or etching or woodcut, you have a possibility for making multiple impressions, the number of impressions that you can make is minuscule compared to the potential market. For example, an artisan working full time, for a year at peak productivity might pull only three or four thousand impressions. Now he can either pull, let's say a hundred of thirty images, or he can pull 20 of 150 images - whatever those numbers are, I'm not terribly good at numbers, in spite of the fact that I manage them (laughter), I have to work it out. But the point is that no matter how hard he works, he can only produce a very limited number of art objects. The costs of these are constantly rising in material costs and in his cost of living. Furthermore the cost of marketing an art work is going up. Now, it is true that lithographs can reach a much broader economic base, but it would take a great many artists to produce even one lithograph for one-one/hundredth (1-1/100th) percent of the population. In other words the potential demand is far greater than artists are able, or artisans are able ever to supply. And these can no longer be supplied at the kinds of prices that people associate with prints. Now prints have, in this country particularly for decades now, have been selling for far less than they cost to produce.
BETTY HOAG: Have they really?
JUNE WAYNE: This is very interesting, but when an artist - we know that any print that sells for less than a $100 is being subsidized by someone - either the artist isn't getting paid, or the dealer isn't getting paid, or the artisan is not getting paid. But someone along the line is losing money on that $100 print. Now we have done exhaustive studies in the economics of printmaking, because until Tamarind came along, nobody knew what it cost to produce an art work of this kind. It costs more to produce a lithograph than it does to produce a painting! And yet a painting may sell for thousands of dollars more; why? Because the bulk of money in the art works is still in that non-tangible that rests with the aesthetic, you see. But to produce a lithograph, you must have stones which are enormously expensive if you can get them at all. Special inks. Collaborative talents that have to be fed so much an hour, whether you're having a creative dry spell or not, you know. Overhead for an atelier which goes ticking off whether you're working or not. You see, all of these economics - and furthermore to sell an edition, let's say of 20 lithographs, the dealer has to sell it 20 times. Which means that his cost of sale each time is the same on the 20th as it was on the first. So the costs of distribution and marketing are the same for each unit, though the gross for each unit is smaller than in a painting. So that the idea of the print as the poor man's substitute for the painting, must go by the boards.
BETTY HOAG: It's certainly a myth.
JUNE WAYNE: It is a myth. It doesn't stand up to even the most elementary business examination. And we have been pointing this out very energetically. Now the prices of the prints are mounting, the average price now of a contemporary print is somewhere over that $100 minimum we've been talking about. And we may expect this to be considerably higher in years just ahead. So forget this whole idea of the democratic art form, blanketing the market. Rather people are buying prints now for the only reason they should, because they are aesthetically important, and have their own rationale just as a painting does. They don't take the place of the painting, but they have their own aesthetic just as chamber music has in relation to the orchestra.
BETTY HOAG: Mrs. Wayne, before we started on the tapes, you were telling me that there were always two artists in residence here, how does that work? And can any artist apply to come here to make a lithograph?
JUNE WAYNE: No, they may not apply at all, they come by invitation only. Tamarind has 12 artists a year, that's all we can service, that's all we care to service.
BETTY HOAG: And who decides who is to come?
JUNE WAYNE: We have a panel of selection which nominates artists and we say to the panel, "In considering their nomination, if there were only one artist that you thought was going to make an important contribution in the art of lithography, who would that artist be?" So they nominate you see, on that basis, because our hero is the "art", not the individual. And we want to get the finest artist that we can get in his aesthetic, whatever it is and we take all aesthetics. Now, every month an artist arrives, overlapping an artist who has been here for a month you see. This is how we get twelve a year and always two in residence.
BETTY HOAG: Is this so they can help each other?
JUNE WAYNE: They don't help each other.
BETTY HOAG: But if --
JUNE WAYNE: This is so that an artist is well integrated in the medium and hard at work before the new one arrives, so that we can give more attention to the new man, you see.
BETTY HOAG: Wonderfully thought out.
JUNE WAYNE: It's very carefully thought out, all of these details, and now another rational for the selection of the artist - and this is very important to understand, we are, you understand a sort of aesthetic stud farm. We are trying to produce progeny, the human resources to keep the art going. The art cannot go without the artisan, they are the primary goal. The artists here are really grist for the training mill of the artisan. An artisan who is in residence here learning, should learn how to deal with many aesthetics, so that - even though pop art might be the fashion we are unlikely to have more than one pop artist for any given group of artisans. Because once they understand the aesthetic and technical problems of this kind of art, they should also be exposed to the expressionist, to hard edge, to the imagist, etc. So that this interior rationale then is brought to bear on the nominations that have been given us by our National panel. And ultimately selection is made on the basis of what the art requires at that time, not on the basis of personality, or reputation or anything else.
BETTY HOAG: I would think just the record of the artists that you've had would be a fascinating thing to study in relation to American painting today - just the names would be interesting.
JUNE WAYNE: Oh, yes, yes, well we have that material, and am glad to provide it to you.
BETTY HOAG: I think that it should be in the files of the Archives for students.
JUNE WAYNE: Oh yes, the one thing we do leave is footprints (laughter). We're very easy to follow when you are trying to reconstruct history.
BETTY HOAG: Have you seen any other similar workshops spring up in the country, as a result of your --- ?
JUNE WAYNE: Well, a number of art departments have improved their facilities a great deal. You see, lithography was mostly not being taught in the colleges, because there was no one to teach it. Our artisans - even our failures - are quite good enough to teach at advanced college level, so there are jobs instantly available for our artisans. However, only a few of our men have reached the quality of "masterprintership" that we would like. You don't create "Heifetzes" in a couple of years. One of our men has his own atelier now in New York, in free enterprise and he's struggling - struggling because he is obliged to be his own business manager and one thing that we know is that an artisan cannot survive without business management. He needs special skills, he needs capital, he needs someone arranging his contracts, scheduling the artists in, arranging the projects that he is going to perform, and we are now giving a lot of attention to the creation of these intermediate supportive skills. For example, we now have grants for curators - we have started the training of print salesmen to work in galleries because handling prints and selling them is very different, you see, than selling paintings - it is an art in its own.
We pioneered a course at UCLA, to train print specialists to work in galleries, and we are going to package that course to try and get other universities to teach it.
It's very interesting, and here again I want to come back again to the idea of government in the arts. We have a fascinating situation now in the United States, with a mass audience and wonderful performers in all the arts, including the visual arts, but very underdeveloped means of linking the artists to the audience. (telephone rings) Well it's the only way in which our art can survive. The point that I was making is that for the first time, as a result of mass education you have a mass audience, you have plenty of "culture" going on in this country. But the links, the arterial circulation from the heartbeat of the arts over to the body of the population is archaic or actually missing in very important ways. For example, certain kinds of people will have to come into being, they will have to be trained for professions that must be filled and actually integrate art into our society, all kinds of arts.
And what kind of skills do I mean? For example you have a medical secretary, but there are no art secretaries, there are no art managers, there are no art business managers, there are no PR people who specialize in the arts, except the films, you know, and then they do a special kind PR. There are no salesmen, salesmen are needed in all the arts. There have been very few management studies performed if any, on the problems of the economics of the arts. I don't know that any have been performed, ours is by itself, practically.
Now we know for example, and out of the Tamarind Program it is possible to extrapolate all sorts of information - we know that there is plenty of money in our society eager, anxious, ready, waiting, hot for the art that we are producing. Our artists sell, but they sell in very bizarre fashion, because the dealership is infantile and archaic in our country, so that very important artists, men like Joseph Albers, for instance, have had no one to handle their print output which often is more distinguished even than the painting. Tremendous cash sitting there and no way for the clients to come together with the artist's work. It is as though writers had to keep their novels in their living rooms and you had to go knock on their door, in order to buy a book. My friend Irving Stone would never survive that way and yet we have artists every bit as important, or more important aesthetically, who must peddle their work in this bizarre fashion in spite of the fact that they have a tremendous potential market for it.
BETTY HOAG: Do you think the government could ever do this?
JUNE WAYNE: No, I don't think the government can do it. I don't think it ought to do it. I think that our free enterprise society has all of the means that it needs provided certain kinds of people recognize their social function. Dealers, for example, are mostly one-man businesses. They have to recognize that the day of the one-man business is gone. They have to become sophisticated as businessmen and function well as businessmen. If they do this, that's all that's needed. However, to do this they must find salesmen whom they can hire. There are careers for young people just all over the place, the minute young people combine their training in the arts with practical business training.
BETTY HOAG: Very few universities are offering it.
JUNE WAYNE: No, they haven't even recognized the problem, you see. And what we will try to do, is to persuade them to pick up this function.
END OF INTERVIEW
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with June Wayne, 1965 June 14, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.