For Wayne Thiebaud, happiness was a solid morning of painting in his Sacramento studio

by AryanArtnews
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Jeremy Stone

Special to the examiner

Wayne Thiebaud was neither Gary Cooper nor Cary Grant, but in 1961 he passed through Manhattan and set foot in his parents’ lives. His arrival from Sacramento to my father, Alan Stone’s gallery, was one of the dramatic attentions. Wayne had the quiet elegance of a movie star who delivered goods and departed immediately after visiting the Flick and Whitney Museums.

His interest was to see art, think about painting, and work on painting. He wasn’t very interested in the little stories. He was convinced that no one would be interested in his work. His arrogance and lack of arrogance have always been remarkable to his caliber artist.

Wayne’s focus and discipline, coupled with his love for tennis, were in sharp contrast to the artists depicted in movies, television and theater. An unhappy soul suffering from alcoholism and drug problems. His paintings had vanilla frosting, a juicy cadmium yellow dress, and the fascinating sweetness of freshly cut daffodils. His pastel paintings were thickly processed and had the texture of a velvet surface. It was born out of deliberate thinking and intensive effort, not by chance.

Wayne always attended the opening of dinner party circuits, galleries and museums with the charm of Eldite, but preferred to be in a studio classroom where he discussed art history, how to start painting and how to paint. His passion settled on a solid morning of painting in his Sacramento studio. Unlike Andy Warhol, he was good at the process of creating the work and didn’t hand it over to a studio assistant to complete it.

As a teacher, he was encouraged and patient, clarifying the importance of prioritizing, observing and drawing daily. He impressed the students with the value of learning from the classics. Go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, study the works of Delacroix and Velázquez, see those dukes in shiny black leather shoes, bring a sketchbook, copy and steal from the best artists.

“How can I do that?” They may ask. I understand that, Wayne said. He looked up the student’s sketchbook to see what was happening and discussed the student’s drawings. “How many hours do you draw a day?” He quizzes students. Are you working on drawing and seeing from life?

Wayne Thiebaud, “Three Machines”, 1963. (Photo courtesy of Randy Dodson / San Francisco Museum of Art)

As a freshman at Cooper Union in New York City, I will spend my spring break in California. It was my first visit to the Golden State, and between Linden and Sacramento, I saw the scenery of Diebenkorn and Thibaw with my own eyes until the horrifying plane boarded the open biplane that Uncle Paul flew. There was never. This urban girl thought that two of my favorite artists created those designs, patterns and colors. I never thought that nature was inspiring them.

Uncle Paul delivered me to Wayne and Betty Jean Thibaw in Sacramento for a few days. After a warm hug and greeting, Wayne announced that we were going to his studio. He intended to draw me. Wayne pulled up in front of a modest one-story building on a tree-lined avenue. It’s far from the lofts of the cold, sandy warehouses in Bowery and old Soho. So when I was a kid, I visited an artist with my father.

After turning on the light, he sat me by the window in the room with a wooden floor and started painting. He turned on the radio. Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 made the room “ABC! As easy as 1-2-3! …” Wayne snapped his fingers and started dancing with a smile. “You are too serious. You are too sad,” he said. “Let’s make things brighter!”

He took out a horizontal canvas, stretched it out, primed it, placed it on a wooden easel, and began painting. I saw him bend his knees, leaning to the right, folding his arms in front of his chest, and putting one hand on his chin. He continued to work when I took a stretch break. I have never seen the painting again for 23 years.

But when I moved to California in the summer of 1980 and decided to open a small San Francisco gallery in October 1982, I saw Wayne. He and Betty Jean then came to the reception and dinner for the first exhibition on the mission of La Traviata. Favorite Italian restaurant. Wayne quietly handed me a Manila envelope. This envelope contained a 1964 hand-colored gumball machine print from the “Delights” series. “Love and Success for the Jeremy Stone Gallery” was engraved on the paper below the image with his small, unique handwriting. During the next nine years of the exhibition, Wayne unexpectedly stopped by to see the show, nodded his head, and continued to look at galleries and museums.

After my son was born in 2000, my doorbell rang at Dolores Heights. My father had a canvas in his hand. He had just visited Wayne in Sacramento. The picture called “Girl’s White” was small and rearranged vertically. The image was cropped on my shoulder. I wore a white T-shirt. The young face of the shag hairstyle looked thoughtful and pensive.

After decades of admiring Wayne Thiebaud’s drawing skills and the unique use of color, I was confused by his isolated distracted figure, but I was inspired. Alexander Nemerov was celebrated and discovered by Thibaw in his March 2018 lecture, “Merry but Miserable Sadness: Wayne Thiebaud’s Art,” held at the Jansrem and Maria Manettishrem Museums, unlike the still lifes of the 1960s. Claimed to have done. The beauty of everyday objects overlooked in automatics, lunchrooms and cafeterias — his portraits were intended to represent physical moments.

In the tradition of American realist painter Thomas Eakins, a person has a “really sad” face, as Nemerov said. He confirmed that my sad little portrait “Girl in White” (1975-76) was the same as the portrait of Eakins in Maud Cook, which Nemerov showed in his lecture. “You are a good companion,” he assured me.

Suddenly, this little painting, which I thought was about an unhappy teenage girl, turned into a symbolic painting inspired by the moody Ekins.

Wayne was not a fashionable 20th or 21st century career list. In a world where NFTs are floating as reliable purchase artwork, Wayne was clearly nothing “new.” His bold and unique paintings are formal structures disguised as landscapes, still lifes and figures. His support for art history and art education was rooted in his own childhood. The painting was his escape when he was trapped in bed due to a sports injury with a broken back.

Wayne risked his work until virtually the day he died on December 25, at the age of 101. He wasn’t happy to be content with his glory. He was a philosopher, a joke-teller, and a diplomat. He was neither a minimalist nor a conceptualist, but he was the one who used pencils, pastel sticks, or brushes to do what he liked: to make art.

Jeremy Stone has been working as an art advisor, curator and appraiser for 30 years. She founded Business Matters at Visual Arts LLC in 1998.

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