"Since childhood, Gordon Wagner found inspiration beachcombing at Redondo Beach and wandering among the penny arcades of the Pier, dazzled by the seedy carnival atmosphere of the deteriorating beach city, port and boardwalks. He attended UCLA, studying engineering and art, followed by technique refinement at the Chouinard Art Institute. Working as an industrial engineer for the aerospace industry during World War II was important to the development of structure in his art. He, also, traveled extensively in Mexico and the Southwest, seeking indigenous cultures and shamanistic ritual forms.
By the 1950s, he shifted from painting to using his collection of detritus as raw materials in assemblage. Identifying with both Symbolist and Abstract Expressionist traditions, Wagner juxtaposed rich and humorous nostalgic fragments of rusting clockworks, driftwood, clothing, oxidizing snapshots, worn tools - and double entendre! Each piece told a story or commented upon society,,,or unpretentiously engaged in aesthetic recycling!