In Memoriam: June Schwarcz
June 10, 1918 –August 2, 2015
Born in Denver, Colorado, June Schwarcz was a legend in the field of metal enamel sculpture. After studying industrial design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Schwarcz pioneered unconventional, electroformed and electroplated metal nonfunctional sculpture. Schwarcz utilized the traditional bassee-taille enameling technique, which involves cutting and etching into the surface of copper plaques, plates and bowls to create complex, abstract compositions that are visible through layer upon layer of transparent, almost ethereal enamel. When asked why she chose this technique, Schwarcz replied, “I felt there were characteristics of enamel one could use that were not available in any other medium. I didn’t want to do what everyone else had done.”
Schwarcz was a founding member of the Northern California Enamels Guild where she was also given a Life Time Achievement Award in 1991. She was designated a California Living Treasure in 1985 and was awarded the Masters of the Medium Award by the James Renick Alliance of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her work has been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York (now the Museum of Arts and Design), the San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Mingei Museum, San Diego, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the de Young Museum in San Francisco and many others.
Schwarcz exhibited her work at the Richmond Art Center in 2012 alongside acclaimed camera obscura photographer John Chiara in the show titled, In Coversation: June Schwarcz and John Chiara. Ken Baker, art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle recognized this exhibit as the top five exhibit in the Bay Area for 2012.
“We were honored to feature her innovative artwork at the Richmond Art Center, and are so fortunate to have worked with such a fearless and experimental leader in the enamel arts, Ric Ambrose, Executive Director of the Richmond Art Center.