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Hayward King (aka Hayward Ellis King)



Collage with acrylic on paper
35 x 31.5 in.
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation

Hayward Ellis King excelled in a career as an arts professional rather than one solely in art practice. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, his family migrated to Pasadena, California, when he was a child. Educated in public schools and at Pasadena City College, King initially left for the San Francisco Bay Area with artist friends Wally Bill Hedrick, Deborah Remington, David W. Simpson, and John Allen Ryan. From the outset, it was clear that King’s concept of an art education entailed more than painting. Before leaving for San Francisco, he took summer courses at UCLA Extension to develop his awareness of art history and the developing art scenes.

In 1949 King and his friends enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute), because experimentation in abstraction was the cornerstone of the school’s painting program. This untitled work illustrates King’s freshman-year exploration of abstraction through collage. The process of layering newspaper and painted shapes continued in his painted compositions, which also recall the coloration of his teacher Elmer Bischoff.

After graduation, King’s arts management skills superseded his art practice. He was one of the founding members of the multidisciplinary Six Gallery, which he opened in 1955 with Hedrick, Remington, Simpson, Ryan, and poet Jack Spicer—all from Pasadena. The inaugural event, hosted by poet Kenneth Rexroth, featured Allen Ginsberg reading his poem “Howl.” It was the first significant occasion where artwork, poetry, film, and music performances were combined, a precursor for the happenings of the 1960s. King had a thriving career in museology, teaching, and art advisory positions in the Bay Area through the 1980s.

Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins

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