September 14, 1931: Andrew Staley Wing, Jr., known as Andy, is born in Greenwich, Connecticut into a creative family; he is the third child and first son. His maternal grandmother, Virginia Fox, was a painter who studied at the Art Students League and painted in the Connecticut neighborhood where Childe Hassam and other American Impressionists worked; his paternal grandfather, Joseph E. Wing, was a noted author and lecturer, best known for his promotion of the use of alfalfa in farming; his mother, Janet Fox, was a copywriter; his father, Andrew Staley Wing Sr., was a writer and the editor of Farm and Fireside magazine.
c. 1935: Forced to sell their home as a result of financial hardship suffered during the Depression, the Wing family moves to 116th Street in New York City but spends summers in Riverside, Connecticut with Andy’s artist grandmother, Virginia Fox. Virginia later presents Andy with her own paint box, a gift that has great meaning for Andy.
1940: Andy’s rapid growth is diagnosed as Marfan’s Syndrome, a condition affecting the connective tissue that causes the growth of extremely long limbs and feet and puts a strain on the heart. Abraham Lincoln also suffered from the disease, a personal connection that later manifests itself in the journals the adult Andy keeps to record his dreams
1941: The Wing children are distraught over America’s entrance into WWII, having been raised by their WWI-veteran father to believe that WWI was “the war to end all wars.”
c.1942: Andy enrolls in the MacBurney School, a preparatory school at 15 West 63rd St. in New York City. Notable alumni include Ted Koppel, Henry Winkler, Jason Robards and J.D. Salinger, who referenced the school in his novel The Catcher in the Rye.
1948-1951: Continues his education at the Solebury School in New Hope, Pennsylvania where he learns about Abstract Expressionism and wins awards for his works of art.
1951: Travels to Laguna Beach, California after high school graduation to visit his sister Nancy and her husband, artist Lenny Kaplan. Andy learns the art of picture framing by helping Nancy in her gallery, the Arts and Frames Gallery.
1951: Participates in Laguna’s Pageant of the Masters as an Assistant Stage Manager.
1951-1955: Returns to the East Coast and enrolls in Bard College, from which he graduates with a B.A. in English literature. At Bard Andy studies art under luminaries Louis Schanker and Stefan Hirsch; he also takes classes at the Art Students League in New York City.
1955: Works in the art department of Miller Advertising in their New York City headquarters.
1956: Andy leaves the East Coast and moves to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he stays with his other sister, Jane Wing Petchesky. Pottery shards discovered during their walks around abandoned pueblo buildings fascinate Andy. The shards later play a significant role in his art, as do the colors of the desert environs, which inspire a lifelong interest in organic pigment. Andy exhibits his work in the Santa Fe Art Association Gallery and in the Museum of New Mexico’s annual painting and drawing shows.
1957: Moves to Laguna Beach permanently. He exhibits at the Festival of the Arts, his first of 33 years as an exhibitor.
1957: Andy has an audience with Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a Zen Master. The experience is significant in shaping Andy’s spiritual outlook; Zen teachings also influence his art.
1958: Takes over the Arts and Frames Gallery on Cleo St. in Laguna Beach from Nancy and Lenny. Renaming the space The Contemporary Gallery, Andy exhibits works by well-established local artists, in addition to his own. He also teaches life drawing classes in the gallery.
1959: Shows in a group exhibition at the Dixi Hall Gallery in Laguna Beach, California. Dixi shows primarily abstract, avant-garde work and is an early champion of John McLaughlin.
1959: Moves to Sarah Thurston Park in Laguna Canyon and names his street “Victory Walk” in honor of the Victory Gardens his father developed nationwide during WWII. Without room to paint or funds to rent a studio, Andy makes the significant choice to use the outdoors as his studio space, a decision that drastically affects his painting style and his artistic philosophy.
1960s: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love moves into Andy’s neighborhood. A loosely religious group, The Brotherhood comes to be affiliated closely with Dr. Timothy Leary and the use of LSD to heighten awareness and expand consciousness. The psychedelic movement has an impact on Andy’s art of this period, including a group of works he titles “The Peyote Series.”
1962: Wing receives a Master of Fine Arts degree from California State University at Long Beach. His thesis focuses on the Old Masters’ use of organic pigment and the implications of those early innovations for contemporary art.
1962: Initiates the first experimental art workshop for school-aged children in the art department of Cerritos Junior College. During his life, Andy would also teach classes in his home and at the Laguna Art Museum, the Los Angeles Art Association, the Whittier Art Association, Orange Coast College and Cypress College.
1963: Andy develops a triptych “scroll painting” for his exhibition at the Wooden Horse Gallery. Andy paints his work on large reams of butcher paper, rolled out on the pathways near his home, then hangs them from trees for viewing. The Wooden Horse Gallery is known for exhibiting significant modern artists from Southern California, including Karl Benjamin, Paul Soldner, John McLaughlin, Tom Blackwell, Paul Darrow and Sister Mary Corita Kent.
1965: Andy and his friend and mentor Mirkla Marx become owners in joint tenancy of the Laguna Canyon property where they are living.
1965: Participates in a group exhibition and three-artist panel discussion moderated by Lorser Feitelson and sponsored by the Los Angeles Art Association.
1968: Timothy Leary, his wife and son are arrested in Sarah Thurston Park and booked on charges of possession of marijuana. Within the larger Laguna Beach community, there is an uprising against the illegal drug activity in Laguna Canyon.
1969: A house fire consumes the shack where Andy lives, destroying a large percentage of his existing body of work.
1970: The city council proposes eliminating the “hippie element” from the community by bulldozing the homes in Sarah Thurston Park. Driven by his outrage over the prospect of losing his own home, Wing circulates a petition questioning the constitutionality of the council’s move; the petition spans many sheets of paper, which Andy tapes together to make a large scroll that he unrolls from the back to the front of the council chambers, where it is read by the City Council. The council votes to delay their plan. Hundreds of young people congregate on Woodland Drive to celebrate. Eventually, the city council votes to support the neighborhood by bringing water and sewage lines to Sarah Thurston Park. Andy becomes known as the unofficial mayor of the neighborhood.
1972-1982: Andy serves on the Board of Directors of the Laguna Beach Museum of Art, adding to his existing duties as a member of the Board of Directors of the Festival of the Arts.
1982: Andy suffers from congestive heart failure, a condition directly related to Marfan’s Syndrome, which has caused his heart to be significantly enlarged. Andy, his friends and his doctors refer to the organ as his “great floppy heart.”
1983: A group of artist friends and the Vorpal Gallery in Laguna Beach host a benefit to raise funds for Andy’s much-needed heart valve operation. Andy’s friends and admirers turn out in droves to the exhibition, called An Affair of the Heart. Supporters pay an admission fee and those funds, along with artwork sales, exceed the goal of raising $35,000.
1984: The Vorpal Gallery hosts an exhibition of Andy’s work in its Laguna Beach and San Francisco locations.
1987: Andy builds his “studio home” from the ground up, complete with a large deck for his outdoor painting, as he is no longer able to climb onto his roof quite so easily. His studio includes mosaic walkways around the exterior of the home from “gate to gate” and a mosaic bathtub.
1987: PBS seeks out Andy for their pilot episode of “Arts Orange County,” a television program produced by Susan Sherman to document the processes of noteworthy local artists. During the thirty minute interview, Andy gives a tour of his new home and studio space. He also allows the cameras to film him painting on his rooftop, pouring vessels of paint onto a canvas with various dramatic gestures.
1990: Undergoes a successful heart valve replacement operation, writing that he feels “graced.” Following the surgery, Andy feels a renewed sense of energy, reflected in his increasingly colorful and vibrant artworks.
1990: The Vorpal Gallery hosts an exhibition of Andy’s work in its New York location.
1991: Laguna Art Museum’s director Charles Demarais brings the museum’s Collectors Council to Victory Walk to view Andy’s studio and work.
1993: Fire strikes Laguna Beach. In Thurston Park many citizens, including Andy, ignore the order to evacuate. An impromptu line of neighbors forms, starting at the Sawdust Festival and continuing all the way up Victory Walk, to fight the fire burning on the hillside just above Thurston Park. Andy and his neighbors hold off the fire with garden hoses.
1996: Andy begins his weekly column in the Coastline News, titled “Gleanings,” building on his practice of participating in local events by writing letters to the editor and publishing succinct, witty and pointed op-ed pieces in local newspapers. The column continues through 2003, although the newspaper changes its name to the Coastline Pilot.
1999: Andy exhibits at the Sandstone Gallery in Laguna Beach. He describes the gallery as “a bastion for artists like myself whose work has spanned the decades here.”
2002: Builds a new deck on his home and begins to use it as his outdoor painting studio. At this time, Andy also undergoes another heart surgery.
2002: Bolton Colburn, director of the Laguna Art Museum, organizes an important retrospective of Andy’s work, called The Chances of Andy Wing. In the Orange County Register, arts journalist Daniella Walsh describes Andy as “a Laguna Beach artist, writer and community activist [who] is the closest thing to an institution in a town defined by its artists, eclectic individualists and those who aspire to be either or both.”
February 3, 2004: Andy Wing succumbs to heart failure. At his memorial service, Bolton Colburn eulogizes Andy as having “understood the role of chance in creation…he accepted it as a part of his artwork. The only voice he consistently listened to was that of nature."
1958 Contemporary Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1959 Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA
1959 Plaza Mall, Riverside, CA
1961 Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA
1962 Long Beach State College Master’s Show, Long Beach, CA
1963 Wooden Horse Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1965 Laguna Beach Art Association, Laguna Beach, CA
1966 Gallery Carnot, Seal Beach, CA
1966 Pomona Library, Pomona Library, CA
1967 Cypress College, Cypress, CA
1968 Greener Pastures Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1969 Palos Verdes Community Arts, Palos Verdes, CA
1976 Woods Cove Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1978 Julie Dohan Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1981-2 Collector’s Choice Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1983 Vorpal Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA: An Affair of the Heart
1984 Vorpal Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1984 Vorpal Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1990 Vorpal Gallery, New York, NY
2002 Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA: The Chances of Andy Wing: A Mini Retrospective
2004 BC Space, Laguna Beach, CA: Homage
1956 Museum of New Mexico Painting Annual Exhibition, Santa Fe, NM
1956, 1957 Santa Fe Art Association Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1957-1959 Contemporary Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1957-1989 Festival of the Arts, Laguna Beach, CA
1957 Dixi Hall Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1959, 1964 Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA
1959, 1960 Roy Parsons Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
c.1960 Downey Museum of Art, Downey, CA
1961, 1965 Newport Harbor Museum, Newport Beach, CA
1961 Constance Counter Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1961 Gallery Marcus, Laguna Beach, CA
1962 La Petite Louvre, Los Angeles, CA
1963 Cee Jee Gallery, Hollywood, CA
1963 Cerritos Jr. College, Norwalk, CA: Art Faculty group show
1963 Newport City Hall, Newport Beach, CA: Six Artists from Laguna
1964 Laguna Beach Art Association, Laguna Beach, CA
1964 Adele Bednarz Gallery, Hollywood, CA
1964 Pomona Valley Art Association, Pomona, CA
1964, 1965 The Attic Gallery, Newport Beach, CA
1965 Los Angeles Art Association, Los Angeles, CA: Art Now, Series Three
1965 Orange County Fair, Costa Mesa, CA: Best in Show Award
1965 KPFK Art Center Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1966 California State University at Fullerton, Fullerton, CA: Focus on Five
1966 Long Beach City College, Long Beach, CA: The Human Image
1977 Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA: Southern California 100
1983 Angel’s Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, CA: Collector’s Choice
1990 Uncanny Gallery, Newport Beach, CA
1999 Sandstone Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA: California Dreams
1999-2003 Wells Fargo Bank, Laguna Beach, CA: Banking on Art program
2000 Sandstone Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
2001 Wells Fargo Bank, Laguna Beach, CA: The Four Pillars of Orange County Art
2003 Howell and Green Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2003 B.C. Space Gallery, Pretty Lies Dirty Truth, Laguna Beach, CA
2004 B.C. Space Gallery, Mean Times Back at Home, Laguna Beach, CA
2004 Honorary exhibition at the Sawdust Festival, Laguna Beach, CA
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
California State University at Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Clarion Hotel, San Francisco, CA
Downey Museum of Art, Downey, CA
Joseph Wing Memorial Library, Mechanicsburg, OH
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
Loma Linda University, Music Concert Hall, Loma Linda, CA
San Diego Gas and Electric Company, San Diego, CA
Xerox Collection, Santa Ana, CA
In the preparation of this catalogue, Art Resource Group relied in part on the extensive personal writings of Andy Wing. The writings took the form of letters, journal entries and notes that have been held in safekeeping by his family members since his passing. All unattributed quotes are from these writings.
Arts Orange County: Andy Wing. Dir. Susan Sherman. 1987. Easy Brothers Productions.
Cantrell, Don. “Pop Art: Reflection of a Culture.” The Register September 1965. Print.
Collins, Jerome F. “Censor ‘Censored’ – Wing’s Work Went in Festival Closet.” Laguna Daily Pilot 1 July 1975. Print.
Curtis, Cathy. “Karma-Carrying Member of the Laguna Scene.” The Los Angeles Times 6 June 1995: F1-2. Print.
Diamond, Barbara. “Artist Andy Wing Dies.” Coastline Pilot 13 Feb. 2002: A1, A12. Print.
Goldner, Liz. “The Color Field Painting of Andy Wing.” Contemporary Art Dialogue. 2009. Web. 1 June 2011. <http://www.contemporary-art-dialogue.com/color-field-painting.html>.
Horan, Andrew. “Andy Wing: Translating the Colors of Life.” The Laguna News-Post: Print.
“Laguna Canyon Conservancy Plans ‘Paint-In.’” The Los Angeles Times 14 Feb. 1992: Print.
McGuinness, Liz. “Action: Art Colony Rallies to the Needs of an Artist.” The Los Angeles Times 23 June 1983: Print.
Nakaso, Dan. “Drive to Aid Ailing Laguna Artist, 51, Exceeds Its Goal.” The Los Angeles Times 17 July 1983: Print.
Ritchie, Erika I. "Andy Wing Continues To Soar with Color." Laguna News-Post 7 March 2002: Print.
Saari, Laura. “People Watch: Laguna arts types (and pols, too) open their hearts to help Andy Wing’s at a fundraiser for the ailing artist-activist.” The Register 5 July 1983: D3. Print.
Siple, Molly. "Exhibition at Los Angeles Art Association: Art Now, series 3." ArtForum June 1965: 15. Print.
Steen, Charlene. "Exhibition at Laguna Beach Art Association." ArtForum Nov. 1965: 43. Print.
Walsh, Daniella. “An Icon Gets His Artistic Due.” The Orange County Register 7 Apr. 2002: Print.
Weeks, H.J. "Exhibition at Wooden Horse Gallery (Laguna Beach, California)." ArtForum Nov. 1963: 15-16. Print. (Illustrated)
Wing, Andy. “Artist Recognizes those who Helped.” The Los Angeles Times 24 July 1983: Print.
- - -. “Gleanings.” Coastline Pilot 1996-2002: Print.