Stephen Werlick – 396 Park Avenue
Born in the Bronx to recent immigrants from Romania, Stephen Werlick grew up in Queens and attended the Cooper Union Art School, where he studied with eminent American sculptors such as Milton Hebald. He was the studio assistant for a year to Hebald who became a mentor and lifelong friend. He was drafted into the Army before he could graduate from Cooper Union. On the verge of shipping out to Korea, the war ended and instead he was sent to France for the duration of his duty.
He returned to New York to graduate from Cooper Union.
Among the honors scholarships he received is Tulane University”s Newcomb Art School where he received his MFA in sculpture, followed by a year long stint at U.C. Santa Barbara teaching Sculpture. The defining event in his life was winning the prestigious Rome Prize Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome, Italy, which was extended for three years. Here was a wonderful experience living among great art, architecture,, the whole environment and history that is Rome, as well as excursions to other great European sites for study and inspiration.
Upon returning to the United States, just in time for another defining event, the birth of his daughter Eve, he accepted a position as professor of sculpture at California University Long Beach, where, with colleague Ken Glenn he built the foundry and the bronze casting program, which he presided over until his retirement in 1999. His program in bronze casting and figure sculpture was sought out by students from all over the world.
His work celebrates societal human conditions as depicted in monument-like groupings of figures interacting with and through various angled planes. The feminine form is celebrated in his classical bronze figures, portraits and reliefs. His mid-career saw several commissions, among them the FINA Prize Sculpture for the Munich Olympics and World Swimming Competitions, a commission for a Holocaust memorial for Temple Judea in Southern California, a Processional Cross for Loyola Marymount University Chapel, a bronze crucifix and candelabra for St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Los Angeles, The FINA sculpture is in the Fort Lauderdale Sports Hall of Fame.
In his later years his work took on more whimsical, spontaneous and expressive forms.
Adding to his extensive body of work are his transformations of wood into “tools”, undulating pieces that are wonderful to behold and touch.
He participated in group and solo exhibitions in Rome, New York, and California.