14 July 2007

Terry Falk - R.I.P.

Walter S. Falk III Texas artist and long-time Austinite Walter S. Falk III died unexpectedly on Tues., July 10, at home in Rockport. The son of the late Anne and Lt. Col. Walter S. Falk, Jr., he is survived by wife, Rhonda; and sons, Nathan and Benjamin, Rockport; daughter, Sheryl, Houston; sister, Patricia, Bridgeport, CT; and an enormous extended family. Born Sept. 20, 1945, in Philadelphia, PA, Walter graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1967 and attended graduate school there, but when his Ph.D. advisor lost his dissertation, Falk crossed Guadalupe St. and began painting and selling watercolors on the sidewalk. An original "Drag vendor", Falk pushed to establish a dedicated marketplace for artists and craftspeople to sell their work. These efforts led, in 1982, to the West 23rd St. People's Renaissance Market, and eventually, closing one block permanently to vehicles. In the 1970s, Falk was on the Board of Directors of the University YMCA. He helped institutionalize Eeyore's Birthday Party, to this day an "iconic" Austin celebration, and emceed the event for many years. For over 30 years, Walter and Rhonda hosted an annual Super Bowl party, with exotic barbeque and an amazing potluck spread. With Falk, a noted gourmand and co-founder of the Hendrik van Loon Eating Society, a meal was always a Feast; a party always an Extravaganza. When the Falks sold their home in Austin, it was on the condition that the party still be held there every January, and so it is. Walter Falk's distinctive artistic style combines dreamlike watercolor, acrylic, or oil scenes and vividly inked human figures, seemingly caught in mid-gesture, with brief, poetic titles. He sold nearly 40,000 original works in his lifetime, an achievement friends believe is unequalled. His daily work on the Drag, in all seasons and weather, made him a keen human observer, contributing to his artistic reach even as it challenged him materially. Walter loved beauty, and sacrificed much for his art. He enjoyed travel, visiting Mexico, Canada, Europe, and South America. With his open countenance, booming voice and warm camaraderie, Falk was a mentor and hero to friends' sons and daughters, and to hundreds of University students. He relished life, and stayed true to himself throughout his too-brief span. A funeral service will be held this Sunday, 2:30 p.m., at the Methodist Church, Main St., Rockport. An Austin memorial service will be held in the near future. An on-line guest book is available at http://www.legacy.com/Statesman/Obituaries.asp. In lieu of flowers, contributions towards his sons' educations may be made through Youth Emergency Service, Inc., PO Box 13549, Austin, TX 78711; or a gift given to any charity supporting the arts or the environment.


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