June Schwarcz: Enamelist

June Schwarcz: Enamelist


Chalice with cup in a fish design and electroplated copper foil base in a cross design, 8 x 5 in.

After studying industrial design, June Schwarcz was introduced to enameling 
in the 1950s through friends. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. In the October/November 1981 issue of American Craft, writer Lisa Hammel profiled the Sausalito-based Schwarcz, by then an eminent enamelist, noting the various methods utilized by the artist to create her distinctive expressionistic vessels. "Although Schwarcz works in traditional enameling techniques, they are all transmuted in some way. Rarely is a piece done that does not employ several techniques at once," Hammel observed. Schwarcz herself recently said, "The fact that the outcome of my work is not always predictable adds an excitement to doing it."

Prior to and since 1981, Schwarcz's work has been in numerous solo and group shows. She was selected for inclusion in "Painting with Fire: Masters of Enameling 1930-1980," a major retrospective of American enamel, and in the survey "Craft in America: Expanding Traditions." Both exhibitions, each accompanied by a publication, premiered in 2007 and toured through 2009. During the past year, Schwarcz 
garnered rave reviews in a retrospective at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego that closed in July. Additionally, pieces spanning various periods of her career have recently been acquired by the de Young Museum of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where 16 of these gifts 
are currently on view in the museum's permanent collection display.

Designated a Living Treasure of California in 1985, Schwarcz was elected 
to the American Craft Council's College 
of Fellows in 1987 and subsequently 
chosen by her peers to receive the Council's Gold Medal for consummate craftsmanship in 1996. She received the Special Award for Achievement in 2009 from 
the Enamelist Society.

According to Bernard Jazzar and Hal Nelson of the Enamel Arts Foundation, 
and co-authors of the Painting with Fire catalog, Schwarcz, at 92, spends several hours each day in her home studio, "creating new forms with a power and energy that belie her age." With her love of enameling and passion for the process, note Jazzar and Nelson, "June Schwarcz provides a model of artistic integrity and commitment that have exemplified her career for more than 55 years."