The Revolutionary June Wayne and Tamarind Lithography Workshop

By Karen K. RSS Tue, December 19, 2023

On the second-floor gallery of Parkway Central Library as part of the exhibition The Art and Influence of John Dowell, there is a tribute to the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles. It was there that Philadelphia artist John Dowell completed his Master Printer training. A giant archival photograph shows a young John Dowell talking to German-American artist Josef Albers in front of a wall covered with Albers prints that they completed together.


a young John Dowell talking to German-American artist Josef Albers in front of a wall covered with Albers prints


Artist June Wayne (American, 1918–2011) was the mastermind behind the Tamarind Lithography Workshop. Born in Chicago, Wayne started making paintings at a very early age, eventually enrolling in Saturday classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. While attending high school, she skipped school in favor of reading all day at the Clark Street Library. Her mother nicknamed her “Dusty,” short for Dostoyevsky. Wayne was given two options: go back to high school or get a job. Wayne officially dropped out of school at age 15 and began working in a factory. 

In 1935 at age 17, she had her first solo exhibition in Chicago at the Boulevard Book Shop. A year later Wayne was invited to exhibit at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City after painting there for many months. After returning to the States, she worked for the prestigious department store Marshall Field and Company in their art gallery. By 1938 she was working full-time as an artist for the WPA Easel Project in Chicago. She used a palette knife technique and focused on the effects of the Depression in Chicago. 

Wayne moved to Los Angeles hoping to work in the aircraft factories to aid the war effort. She earned a certification in Production Illustration at the California Institute of Technology. In 1948, Wayne met Lynton Kisler who ran a small lithography studio. At the time lithography and printmaking in the U.S. were generally regarded as more suitable for throwaway posters than for serious art. Wayne saw bigger possibilities for the medium and traveled to Paris in 1959 to collaborate with French master printer Marcel Durassier on the lithographic portfolio John Donne Songs and Sonnets.


June Wayne in her lithography workshop


Frustrated with the lack of master printers in the United States, Wayne submitted a proposal to the Ford Foundation seeking money to revitalize lithography nationally. Her goal was to ensure that Americans would be on par with other master printers around the world. In addition, lithography would allow fine artists to create multiples, expanding both the artistic palette and the affordability of quality works.

With support from the Ford Foundation, Wayne established the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in 1960. Named after the street in Los Angeles, California where Wayne’s studio was located, Tamarind hosted residencies for artists to collaborate with and learn from master lithographers of Europe, and later the United States. More than 150 artists created seminal work in Tamarind’s unique environment over the next 10 years. Tamarind was a major part of the American print revolution of the 60s.

In 1970, the Tamarind Lithography Workshop became a part of the University of New Mexico School of Fine Arts. Wayne’s vision to support the art of lithography continues at Tamarind Institute to this day. Its two-year program trains printer-fellow apprentices in the technical aspects of lithography. Apprentices have the opportunity to collaborate with graduate students at the University of New Mexico and work with professional artists who come to Tamarind from across the country.

Until her death at age 93 in 2011, Wayne continued to create art in a variety of mediums. Her body of work is well represented in major museums and collections throughout the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the British Museum, the National Gallery, and the Whitney Museum.

Join the Print and Picture Collection on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, to view prints and other material related to June Wayne and the Tamarind Lithography Workshop. Drop in anytime between 5 and 7 p.m. The Art and Influence of John Dowell exhibition will also be open late that evening. 

The Art and Influence of John Dowell will be on view through Friday, March 1, 2024. The exhibition spans two floors of Parkway Central Library. The Dietrich Gallery on the Third Floor features prints and photographs from John Dowell's life as an artist and teacher, including work by his students who studied with Dowell at Tyler School of Art. The Special Collections Gallery on the Second Floor features artwork donated to the Free Library by Dowell, including lithographs created at Tamarind Lithography Workshop in the 1960s.

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