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Hastings Artist June Otani Baensch Dies at 78

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – June Otani Baensch, a longtime Hastings-on-Hudson resident, died Aug. 26 at her home. She was 78 and had a long bout with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a rare neurological disease.

Baensch was born July 7, 1934, in Santa Paula, Calif. Along with her family, she was interned from May 1942 to November 1945 in a relocation camp for Japanese-Americans in Gila River, Ariz.

She attended Pasadena City College and the Art Center College of Design, where she received a bachelor of fine arts degree with honors. She continued her education in New York at the Art Students League, Pratt Graphics Center and School of Visual Arts.

Baensch started her career working as an assistant art director for Grey Advertising Inc. in New York. She then started her own studio, where she illustrated fashions that appeared in magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

An artist, illustrator, printmaker and sculptor, she loved her garden, organic living and her salt and pepper shaker collection.

She received a New York Art Directors Club Award, Philadelphia Art Directors Show Award and a New York Illustrators Club Award. Baensch illustrated more than 20 children's books, some of which provided cultural awareness based on classic Asian stories.

Later in her career, Baensch turned to creating wood sculptures, mixed media, oil paintings and printmaking. Her work was exhibited in 30 shows, including exhibits at the National Association of Women Artists, Pratt Graphic Gallery, Silvermine Guild and Hudson River Museum.

In recent years, she was a founding member of the Upstream Gallery and held seven one-person shows from 1997 to 2011. She was also featured in an exhibit at the Circolo Artistico Gallery in Bologna, Italy, in 2000.

Baensch is survived by her husband, Robert E. Baensch; a son, Hiroshi Baensch; a daughter, Miyoko Nather; and four granddaughters.

Visitation is from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Edwards-Dowdle Funeral Home in Dobbs Ferry. A memorial service will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Social Innovation in Hastings-on-Hudson.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Cure PSP Foundation , 30 E. Padonia Road, Suite 201, Timonium, MD 21093, or Art Center College of Design , 1700 Lida St., Pasadena, CA 91103.

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