Fine Art

Grace Visits: Artist June Wilson

Tasting Shape – The Artwork of June Wilson from Grace Graupe Pillard on Vimeo.

Wilson’s father kept bees in the backyard of their home. She remembers the mysterious outfit he wore, the vision of bees alighting and moving up and down his arm, which marked the beginning of her enchantment with bees and the realization of their critical influence on the environment. She was particularly interested in the bees’ method of communicating the location of a food source in their hive through a “waggle” dance. In 2010, Wilson began The Bee Thorax Series,  an ongoing body of work utilizing a cutout wooden outline of the bee’s thorax — the top half of a bee’s back. As the “engine of the bee,”  this thorax shape became the artworks’ basic form, resembling an armored shield, a reminder of how this species is both warrior and defender of an ecologically indispensable system.

June Wilson, Zippity Doo Dah, oil on wood, 30″ x 26″, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.


Zippity Doo Dah (2011) and Milk And Honey (2009) incorporate the curling dance compositions of bees moving through the whitish milk thistle. In Pollen Sac (2012), Wilson depicts two interacting shapes, referencing how bees collect pollen onto their legs — like “saddle bags” — to bring back to the nest. She has rendered the act with the utmost simplicity that belies the vital intricacy of these “baskets” in the pollination of flowering plants and crops. Its Gonna Rain (2015), a fuzzy white ball of dandelion seeds morphs into clouds, pierced by a disembodied antenna, the deepening blue sky threatening rain — an element essential to life. Blown Away (2016) places the viewer in the midst of milkweed seeds, erupting out of a plant being dispersed by the wind and ready to attract bees and the Monarch butterfly, which is facing extinction. Green rivulets and waves in the painting reiterate the haunting mystery of propagation.

Wilson painted Midnight At The Oasis (2015),  incorporating an exquisitely rendered pheasant’s tail into her burgeoning cosmos of marks and drips. The contrasting elegance of this beautifully illuminated image with the golden background reminded Wilson  of “…a hive of swirling  bees…” hovering in a universe of volatility.  In Leaving The Host (2016), Wilson delineates barnacles, which are crustaceans growing on other substrates feeding through feather-like appendages with tongues combing the water for microscopic organisms. Wilson paints them in clusters, having been “shed” from its circular blue host. They are free floating and evolving, like the artist herself.


Leaving the HostJune Wilson, “Leaving the Host,” 48” x 43”, oil on wood, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

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  • Patricia Rosenblad January 14, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Good for you, Grace, & good for June! The work is really beautiful! I just saw this!

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard February 6, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      Patricia – So glad you did not miss this article on June Wilson’s work. Thanks for posting.

  • Mimi Smith October 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    What a wonderful interview article, Grace and June. I have always liked June’s paintings, but did not know the nature and family subject matter behind the recent ones. I also enjoyed seeing the picture of June in her studio.

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 27, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Thank you Mimi sir responding

      • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 27, 2016 at 11:27 am

        For responding

  • June Wilson October 24, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Grace, Your approach to writing is both unique and sensitive. The way you weave the paintings into a story is like following bread crumbs through the woods to get home. So honored that you wrote about me.

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 24, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      June – the feeling is reciprocal. Thank you.

  • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 23, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Suzan – Thanks for your thoughts. I will pass them on to June.

  • Suzan Globus October 23, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Your insightful explanation of the evolution of the format and content of June’s pieces gives me a deeper appreciation of June’s beautiful work.

  • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 22, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Miriam – As always enjoy reading your “take” on my “take” and the work itself. Thanks so much.

  • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 22, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Maria – you have known June’s work for years so I love your response. Thank you.

  • Andrea October 22, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Thank u Grace for sharing your visit to June’s studio with us. Her vibrant rich colors drew me in- I love how she interprets nature and it’s natural beauty.

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you for reading and sharing your response with us.

  • Maria Mijares October 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Wonderful, Grace! I had not seen June’s more recent work. Thank you! Learning how the thread of her early inspiration has moved through her lifetime illuminates the very art process. Great authentic work, June!

  • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 21, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Miriam- much appreciated

  • Phyllis Rosser October 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Wonderful to see June’s studio and her work in it. I love the size and shape of her canvases as well as the depth and richness of her color. Thought Grace did an excellent job of describing her aesthetic.

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you Phyllis

  • miriam brumer October 21, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    So effective – the way this article leads us through Wilson’s process and the influence that childhood memories and observations have had upon it and her work in general.
    For instance,I was attracted to the painting “Blown Away” immediately, but learning about its allusion to “milkweed seeds erupting out of a plant and being dispursed by the wind” made it even more intriguing. A really clear and articulate insight into the aesthetic aims and vision of June Wilson.