The Passing of Theo Wujcik

Theo Wujcik
Theo Wujcik

Theo Wujcik passed away on Saturday, March 29th, 2014, succumbing to cancer at the age of 78.

Theo worked at Graphicstudio in the early 1970s as a Master Printer, and later returned to the studio to work in residence, creating several works on paper. (see them here). He was also a professor for the USF College of Art and Art History from 1972 to 2003. He visited Graphicstudio frequently and was always a joy to see. It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to this talented artist and dear friend.

Though he will paint no more in his Ybor City studio, his commitment to his craft and our community remains a source of inspiration to all those he touched. He worked tirelessly throughout his life, dancing in Ybor all night, then painting in his Ybor studio till morning. Theo never stopped working. Even with his late stage diagnosis, Theo continued to make art. His latest show, “Blue Chip,” is currently on view at Galleri Urbane Dallas.

Memorial Events for Theo Wujcik

Memorial Event for Theo Wujcik at the Castle
The Castle is hosting a Memorial party on Friday. Theo was a regular at many Ybor bars, but the Castle was a favorite. In fact, he has been credited with naming the Tampa treasure. As the story goes, he and his friends used to call the space the “Castle building.” When it was time to name the establishment he said “Don’t get all fancy. Just name it ‘the Castle.'” Ten of Theo’s paintings hang on the club walls. The night will be a celebration of Theo’s life. DJs will spin Theo’s favorite tracks all night long. His spirit will live on inside the Castle walls.

The Castle ~ Party for Theo
The Castle, Ybor
Friday, April 4th

USFCAM Planning Memorial Service in May
The USF College of the Arts and the Institute for Research in Art will be hosting a memorial event for Theo. He touched many lives here at USF. The event is currently open to the public. More details to come.

Theo Wujcik Memorial

USF Contemporary Art Museum
Saturday, May 10

Remembering Theo Wujcik

A sampling of stories about Theo Wujcik

Creative Loafing | Planet Theo | May 24, 2012

….After his fellowship at Tamarind, Wujcik moved back to Detroit. The Lithography Workshop had just finished its biggest commission, a 1,000-print series with minimalist Robert Morris, when Wujcik got a call from inviting him to work at the then 2-year-old Graphicstudio.

“I was the best move I ever made,” he says.

After a couple of years as Graphicstudio’s shop manager (the friend who had invited him promptly vacated the post), Wujcik stepped into the position he would occupy for a little more than 30 years at USF — professor of art, teaching printmaking, drawing and painting. His influence was strong in the classroom but just as strong in the social scenes. In the 1980s he became a fixture at a Tampa punk venues the Buffalo Roadhouse and the Miss Lucky Club, and with a few USF graduate students he started an art-and-music, genre-blurring collective called Mododado. During that time, Wujcik would wear gold-painted boots to concerts and then use them in his work, smearing paint onto paper with the shoes. Full article >>

Snapshot Tampa Bay | Theo Wujcik

Why Ybor City?
I moved to Ybor in 1987 to be close to the clubs and not have to drive home drunk! We would hang out at Masquerade and El Goya. I still go out to the clubs, usually to The Castle and Czar. I know a lot of people here and I don’t pay for cover charges or drinks! Plus I have plenty of studio space and cheap rent. Full article >> | Art world pauses to remember Tampa artist Theo Wujcik | Apri1 1, 2014

…A rebel in the tradition of James Dean, Wujcik refused to be defined by a single genre. But regardless of style, Wujcik’s work contained two common denominators: bold, in-your-face color and the unabashed, often-irreverent use of metaphors to express poignantly insightful commentary on the human condition and the state of art in the world today.

Wujcik credited friend and GraphicStudio colleague James Rosenquist with the latter. “I wanted to do a picture of a tornado destroying the world,” Wujcik explained during a Gallery Talk that marked the opening of a 10-year retrospective of his work at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery in 2012. “But I couldn’t draw. James Rosenquist suggested I work in metaphors, and while I was visiting an archaeological site in Tampa, I came across a cyclone fence that was in the form of a tornado. I did a thumbnail ballpoint sketch and that’s how my chain link fence imagery was born.”

Wujcik went on to use the device to reinterpret works by van Gogh, Theodore Gericault, Rodin and Robert Rauschenberg, and a number of his Chain Link works were subsequently displayed and acquired by prestigious museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Full article >>

Tampa Bay Times | Acclaimed artist and USF professor Theo Wujcik dies at 78 | March 31, 2014

Collectors in the Tampa Bay area and beyond, however, knew Mr. Wujcik as a heavyweight, a two-time best of show winner at Gasparilla Festival of the Arts whose work hung in scores of galleries in the United States and Europe, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

He loved to work with colleagues, including internationally renowned artists Edward Ruscha and Robert Rauschenberg, and would incorporate their themes — along with that of Rodin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Andy Warhol and others — into his own work.

Such appropriation, Miller said, was done “out of affection and admiration for those great art heroes, but he was among them.” Full article >>

Creative Loafing | The legacy of Theo Wujcik | April 2, 2014

The question of whether Wujcik could have achieved greater success as an artist had he not stayed in Tampa, or had he adhered to a narrower approach to art making, followed him throughout his career. But mostly others asked the question; Wujcik himself seemed unconcerned by the possibility that he had missed out on something by not being somewhere, or someone, else.

Wujcik left his mark on several generations of Tampa artists, especially those educated at USF. Soon after Kirk Ke Wang arrived at the university as an exchange scholar from Shanghai in 1986, Wujcik became a touchstone as a professor, a friend and, from time to time, a collaborator. When Wang and a group of other artists formed the experimental art collective Titanic Anatomy and created an exhibition space inside an Ybor City cigar factory, they organized a neighborhood art walk with Wujcik, whose studio was located nearby. Full story >>

Stanton Storer, Sarah Howard, Bob Ballard, Theo Wujcik, and James Rosenquist at Theo's "No U Turn" opening in Ybor City.
Stanton Storer, Sarah Howard, Bob Ballard, Theo Wujcik, and James Rosenquist at Theo’s “No U Turn” opening in Ybor City – 2012.

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