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Charles Turzak


Charles Turzak was an American painter, printmaker and teacher born in Streator, Illinois. His immigrant parents hoped he would fall into a professional career, but Turzak had discovered a love for the arts. He was known for make animal carvings out of peach seeds and drawing cartoons to sell. After winning a cartoon contest, sponsored by The Purina Company, Turzak enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Having been an apprentice to a violin maker as a boy, he was drawn to the art of woodblock printmaking, which proved to be his favored medium.

After traveling through Europe in 1929, Turzak returned to a country grappling with The Great Depression. He made ends meet with a mixture of fine art and commercial work. One of the books he illustrated was John and Ruth Ashenhurst's "All about Chicago" (1933). It was also during this time he started working on his own book about the life of Abraham Lincoln (1933), carving many of the blocks before the public at the Chicago World's Fair. The book's success paved the way for the production of a similar publication, including one about Benjamin Franklin (1935).

Turzak's work made a dramatic shift from modernism to abstraction in the 1950s. He continued to make woodcuts until the late 1970s, when age became a restriction, but did not inhibit his ability to create. He continued to produce paintings up until his death in January on 1986, and had his last one-man show just eight months prior.