Tony Lazorko died last August (2017) in Mesilla, New Mexico, just south of Las Cruces, where he had moved after he retired from a long career at newspapers in Philadelphia and St. Louis. He had worked at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin from 1956-1982 and then as Art Director at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1982-2000. He moved to Mesilla and set up his printmaking studio with a new Takach press and focused his artistic attention almost exclusively on color woodcuts.
We had the good fortune of visiting Tony several times at his Mesilla home and studio and learned from him that he had attended the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts for four years and was a working artist before the necessities of having a steady income for a growing family realigned his priorities. While studying at the Philadelphia Academy, he met fellow art student and his future wife, Marguerite.
The commitment that Tony made to making prints following his retirement to Mesilla seemed to know no boundary. He inherited the spirit and vision of American regionalism but with a 21st century flair. Images of people feeding at McDonalds, of 18 wheeler trucks speeding down I-10 and I-25 between Albuquerque, Los Angeles and El Paso, of cafe’s and other businesses abandoned along stretches of older highways relegated to obscurity by the interstate highways, and the dramatic Organ Mountains that filled the landscape to the east of his home, found their way onto his wood panels. His sense of color and control of his craft converted these images into multiples that celebrated the places and peoples of early 21st century southern New Mexico. As quoted in his obituary, he noted that, “The focus of my work has always been to depict something about the American experience, no matter how ordinary, and to say it in an aesthetic manner with tactile surfaces, color and composition.”
As his health deteriorated, Lazorko worked with Ivan Rincon who helped print his woodcuts, frame and ship them for his many exhibitions, and handle the variety of tasks that face an ambitious artist.