Laguna Art Museum presents Wayne Thiebaud: California Memories on May 30

On Thursday, May 30 at 6 p.m., Laguna Art Museum executive director Dr. Malcolm Warner will discuss the work of Wayne Thiebaud, California’s most beloved artist.

Wayne Thiebaud was born in 1920 in Mesa, Arizona, and resides in Sacramento, California. As a child he lived in Long Beach, California, and in Hurricane, Utah, where his family’s farm failed during the Depression. The family moved back to Long Beach in 1933, and Thiebaud worked in his youth as a sign painter and as an “in-betweener” in the animation department of Walt Disney studios. 

Thiebaud studied commercial art in a trade school, attended Long Beach Junior College, and worked as a shipfitter in the Long Beach harbor. In the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, stationed in California, he drew a cartoon strip for the base newspaper.

After leaving the service, he worked as a designer and cartoonist at the Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles, where a fellow employee was painter Robert Mallary, who encouraged him to begin painting. Studying under the GI Bill, Thiebaud received a BA and an MA from California State College (now California State University) in Sacramento. His first solo exhibition was in 1951 at the E. B. Crocker Art Gallery (now the Crocker Art Museum).

Laguna Art birds

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LAM

Wayne Thiebaud, Palm Road, Soft-ground etching, second state, artist’s proof, 1965 - Laguna Art Museum Collection, Promised gift of the artist, 2013
Art © Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Thiebaud began teaching at Sacramento Junior College in 1951. He has been a teacher ever since, working as a visiting professor in schools around the country, from Colorado University to Harvard and Yale. From 1960 he sustained a teaching commitment to the University of California, Davis. (He nominally retired in 1990).

In 1956-57, he lived for a year in New York City, became friendly with Elaine and Willem de Kooning, and met other abstract expressionist artists. His first exhibition in New York, at the Alan Stone Gallery in 1962, received tremendous critical attention, with reviews in Newsweek, Art News, the New York Times, and Life magazine. That same year he had a solo exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. He has been an active printmaker throughout his career, and began making etchings at Crown Point Press in 1964.

Thiebaud has shown in numerous exhibitions and received many awards, including the National Medal of Arts, presented by President Clinton in 1994. His paintings are in the collections of most major museums in the United States, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Admission is free and advance tickets are recommended.

For questions or to reserve tickets by phone, call (949) 494.8971 x203.

For more information, visit

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.