Peter Zahorecz, 41, artist in underground movement

June 15, 2006|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

Peter Zahorecz, an artist active in underground movements, died of a head injury June 4 on a trip to London. The Woodberry resident was 41.

A longtime skateboarding enthusiast, Mr. Zahorecz was hurt when he crashed at a skateboard park in Brixton in South London. He later died at a hospital.

Active in several art fields, a co-founder of Normals Books and Records in Waverly and a former Charles Theater projectionist-manager, he was recalled yesterday as a "a maker of visual ideas."

"He reached the city in a lot of different ways," said his wife of a decade, Dee Dee Taylor, a musician who is a Baltimore Museum of Art registrar. "He would never admit it himself, but he was a major presence ... in the underground art movement of the late 1980s and 1990s."

Born in Los Angeles, he studied for three years at the Otis Parsons Art College there and moved to Baltimore's Mount Vernon Place in 1987 on the advice of a friend. Friends said he was fascinated by the area's streets.

"Peter was a maker of ideas in visual form," said Gary Kachadourian, visual arts coordinator for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts. "He was unusual in a number of ways. He was not interested in name recognition. He loved the term `anonymous' more than anyone I've ever known."

Friends said he once made a head of Pinocchio, which he gold-leafed and placed on a velvet pillow with a brass plaque engraved with a single word: "Liar." He stenciled a portrait of Mad magazine figure Alfred E. Neuman and placed it on Falls Road street signs where the lettering had worn off.

He also made a set of stylized stations of the cross, depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, on utility poles going from North Avenue to Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church at Mount Royal and Lafayette avenues.

He collected discarded hypodermic needles from city streets and left the stenciled the word "stigma" in their place.

Mr. Zahorecz supported himself by working at the old Nyborg's art supply shop in Mount Vernon and as an art installer at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum.

From 1998 to 2004, he was a fine-woods finisher at Adajian & Nelson, a furniture restoration business.

"He was an excellent artist and a perceptive person. His work was not mainstream, pretty art. It was provocative and occasionally had a political slant," said James Adajian, for whom he worked.

At his death Mr. Zahorecz was the senior preparator at the Maryland Institute College of Art and assisted in the installation of shows and exhibitions there.

Mr. Zahorecz considered himself a political anarchist. He participated in Act Up, AIDS activism, gay rights and anti-war and anti-globalism movements.

A memorial gathering will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the Conservatory at Druid Hill Park.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a stepdaughter, Chelsea Kehne of Baltimore; and his father, Zoltan Zahorecz; two brothers, Lawrence Z. Zahorecz and Andrew Zahorecz; and a sister, Anne Wu, all of the Los Angeles area.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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