Monday, October 10, 2011

Finding The Art of Wayne Quinn

Last month I went to the annual sale put on by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. I usually avoid this, as some of the book buying and hoarding public can be pretty vicious. Some volunteers advised to come on the last day when things would be more mellow. They were correct, by Sunday everything was priced at one dollar and there were still plenty of books. There was a crowd, but in general it wasn’t too crazy. And I did find some more atlases for further adventures in map art.

I think the real reason I was meant to go to the book sale was to find this one overlooked book titled The Art of Wayne Quinn. The book was published in 1977. It was from a San Francisco publisher house called New Glide Publications. Online there is no reference to New Glide except in listings for books for sale – all published in the 1970’s. Probably their most notable book was Word is Out, a companion book to the documentary of the same name.

The Art of Wayne Quinn has 95 pages of excerpts from the artist’s journal with color images of about 20 oil paintings, including detailed images. Quinn was a realist. The clothing and hairstyles in some the portraits are clearly from the 1970’s though there is an out-of-time quality to much of his work. Clearly ignoring many of his art contemporaries, Quinn worked in a style that seems more in place among America’s Regionalist Artists of the 1930’s. It’s work that brings to mind such artists as Andrew Wyeth and Grant Wood. One can imagine if Grant Wood had lived to a ripe old age and finally fled Iowa for San Francisco, these would have been the sort of paintings he would have been doing in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Finding the book, made me curious to learn more about Wayne Quinn. The book itself offered little biographical information other than that he was born in 1941 and raised in Upstate New York and had lived in San Francisco since 1963. 35 years after the book was published, the internet would provide me with some answers. Wayne Quinn was nearly nowhere to be found except for this one brief blog posting.

Considering Wayne Quinn was nowhere to be found online, lived in San Francisco, and was born in 1941, I assumed the worst. I found Quinn’s 1987 obituary from the Bay Area Reporter on the GLBT Historical Society’s database. The obituary was brief with few details. Two of his friends have recently added a few remembrances of Quinn.

Further searching on his full name, Wayne Douglas Quinn, these items online:

  • A reference to an honorable mention award he won at an art show in Palm Beach in 1973.
  • I did find reference to another book of his work called Fourteen Line Drawings published in 1973.
  • He also did a painting of Mt. Sutro.
  • His work was shown at the Jehu-Wong Gallery. The Upper Market gallery operated from 1971-83. Some documents from the gallery as well as two of Quinn’s paintings are listed in the Smithsonian’s archives of American Art.
  • One of his paintings is at Cornell University’s Johnson Museum of Art.

All said there was not very much information out there. If you come across this blog entry and have things to share about Wayne Quinn, please let me know. The book was a real find, and I’d like the opportunity to preserve Wayne Quinn’s memory. He is an artist who should not be forgotten.


  1. I own the Rocking Chair painting. I bought it on Market Street and was staying across the way at the Beck Motor Lodge.
    I also had two 12' x 6 screens he did as wash on canvas and a back portrait of a Japanese man with a tattoo in the same style.

  2. I posed for him and recently found the sketches he gave me and I just ordered his book of art that I believe the painting of me is name is Iris

    1. I just looked and yes, you are in the book I have - it's a great painting. Please email me via if you would like to share some images of the sketches and I'll do a new post.

  3. He was one of my classmates at New Paltz State (New Paltz , New York) 1958-62. He was a talented artist in college, and loved puns.

  4. I knew Wayne in San Francisco. A group of us when we were young lived together on , it was either, Cole or Carl Street . Before that we lived together around upper Noe. One of the roommate s was Eric Rudisill. I may not have the spelling of his name right. He did a nude of me and said I could have it if I paid for the oils. I didn't take him up on the offer. He had my feet jutting out of one side of the painting with white socks on.Good times .