Oscar Velasquez, 77, renowned artist passed away in Akron, Ohio on September 10, 2021 surrounded by immediate family. He was born on April 5, 1944 to Cresencio and Vicenta Velasquez in Pharr, Texas. He married Pam Szymkowski December 1972, who still survives. As part of a family of migrant farm workers, Oscar came to reside in Putnam County, Ohio in 1953. There living in poverty, he was like the mythological phoenix that rose from the ashes to paint the world with his colorful watercolor paintings and murals that are displayed across the United States, Northwest Ohio, and other parts of the world.
After graduation from Pandora-Gilboa High School, Oscar received a scholarship to attend the Cooper Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon graduation he was hired immediately by the American Greeting Card Company. While he rose to direct the design department in 6 years, he wanted more freedom to do the art he desired to do, so he went independent. That launched his illustrious career.
As a member of the American Watercolor Society, his art was recognized and acknowledged by many prestigious academies and institutions, including being awarded the Mary S Litt medal 1973-1974, High Winds medal 1976, National Juror 1978, and the Dolphin Fellowship in 1981. His art is displayed in various museums and institutions, including the Joslyn Museum of Art in Omaha, NB, Erskine College in Due West, SC, The Henry Ward Ranger Fund, New York, The Opera House, Abbeville, SC, Self Memorial Hospital, Greenwood, SC, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Toledo, Ohio, The Lion and the Lamb Peace Arts Center, Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio and many more. His paintings are featured in "The New Spirit of Watercolor" and "Exploring Color" both by Northlight Books.
He was the author of two books, “Sketch of the South”, sketches of homes and scenery from the South, “Sketches of Homes”, which included homes in Bluffton, Ohio
He was hired by the art director for the filming of Sleeping with The Enemy starring Julia Roberts and Patrick Bergin in Abbeville, SC. to do three watercolors and five drawings of scenes and sets of the movie.
He was a renowned muralist, with countless murals in towns and cities throughout Ohio and all over the United States. His mural work also took him to Subotia, Serbia to paint a mural promoting "Peace thru the Arts" sponsored by Lion and The Lamb Peace Center, Bluffton College.
Oscar was also a musician who entertained in restaurants and night clubs. He was always a quiet person with deadpan humor except when he took the stage to perform. He would light up the audience with impersonations of Elvis, The Everly Brothers, and others. When he was asked to host a program he would impersonate Ed Sullivan.
He was a big supporter of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee in the struggle for labor rights for migrant farm workers.
Oscar was preceded in death by his parents Cresencio and Vicenta Velasquez, sister-in-law, Deb Velasquez, Father and Mother In-laws, John and Jane Szymkowski, brother-in-law, Michael Szymkowski., and a niece.
He is survived by his siblings, Cresencio Velasquez Jr (Suzann) Utah, Baldemar Velasquez (Sara) Toledo, Joe Velasquez, Oregon, Belia Spradlin (Richard) Vanlue, Irma Ayers, Toledo, Rick Velasquez (Amy) Ottawa, Emily Semenik (John), Medina, and Dan Velasquez (Anne) Leipsic. 26 nieces and nephews, (4 step); his in-laws, David (Ramona) Szymkowski, Tony (Fran) Symkowski, John (Patti) Szymkowski, and Mary Ann (Ronnie) Diegidio.
Thank you to family and friends for support and wonderful memories. There will be no funeral services as requested by the deceased. There will be a memorial celebration of Oscar’s life on October 23rd at the Eagles Hall 135 W. Main Street, Ottawa, Ohio from 3 to 5 pm
Please remember to bring and wear a mask to the celebration of Oscar's life.
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