Bob Wade

Joan Baker

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BOB "DADDY-O" WADE (Am. 1943-)

Bob Wade is an Austin based artist who helped shape the 1970s Texas Comic Cowboy counterculture. He is known for creating over sized sculptures of Texas symbols and for experimenting with hand-tinting black and white vintage photographs transferred to large photo-emulsion canvases. His sculpture piece of the Giant Iguana "Iggy" sat on top of the Lone Star Cafe in New York City in 1978. It now resides atop one of the Fort Worth Zoo's admin buildings facing University Drive.

Wade's work has made important breakthroughs in the art world and has extended the barriers of how people perceive the medium of photography. Wade has been called a "pioneer of Texas Funk and connoisseur of Southwestern kitsch" by the Fort Worth Star Telegram and a "legendary free spirit" who is "larger than life," by The Chicago Tribune. This native Texan, second cousin to Roy Rogers, literally draws from the past as he pays tribute to "the spirit of The Old West."

The inspiration for Bob Wade's paintings is derived from his extensive collection of vintage photographs and postcards of Tex-Mex, Hollywood film stars, rodeo stills, and undeniably unique subject matter. Wade enlarges the images by transferring them onto photo-sensitized linen, then adding color by airbrushing transparent layers of acrylic paint over the images and hand coloring them with oil paint. For the first time in his career, Wade has created a group of photo-based works on paper using a thermal ink process to enlarge the image. These large format works are then hand-colored with acrylics.

By employing uncharacteristic, whimsical hues reminiscent of Technicolor films, Wade celebrates the spirit of the legendary characters depicted throughout his works and gives them an enduring place in history.

Born in Austin in 1943, Wade received his BFA from the University of Texas in Austin and an MA from the University of California in Berkeley. He is the recipient of three National Endowment of the Arts grants and has been included in Biennial exhibitions in Paris, New Orleans and the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Works by Bob Wade are included in the collections of the Menil Collection, the Houston Museum of Art, the Austin Museum of Art, the Chase Manhattan Bank, and AT &T. His work is also in numerous prestigious private collections throughout the world.

"Too High, Too Long and Too Wide," the documentary on Bob Wade's career by New York filmmaker Karen Dinitz, features images and discussions of Wade's career and chronicles his road trip across Texas in his Iguanamobile. Other familiar images included in the film are Wade's 40-foot cowboy boots that stand on the grounds of a San Antonio shopping mall, the dancing frogs that surfaced on top of a Dallas nightclub and eventually moved to Carl's Corner on Interstate 35, the 70-foot saxophone that is the signature icon of a nightclub in Houston and the infamous giant iguana that graced the rooftop of the Lone Star Cafe in New York. WIllie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Dale Watson contributed music for the sound track.

Two books have been published on Wade's works, "Ridin ' and Wreckin'" and "Cowgirls," as well a biography titled "Daddy-O: Iguana Heads and Texas Tales." Wade was recently included in "Texas Curiosities," a book by John Kelso featuring quirky Texas personalities and roadside oddities. Wade has also been included in "Texas Men: 100 Big Guns, Rising Stars & Cowboys," a book published in the fall of 2000.

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