Artist and printmaker Joseph Zirker dies aged 97

Famous artist and printmaker Joseph Zirker died on June 25, two months before his 98th birthday. Earlier this year there was an exhibition of his work at Café Zoë near his studio in the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park. Some of his works remain on display.

Joseph Zirker was born on August 13, 1924 to Clarence Harold Zirker and Lillian Rappaport Zirker, in Los Angeles, California. Zirker was a renowned and respected innovator and multi-media artist who worked as an engraver, stationer, painter, sculptor, teacher and poet and inspired thousands of students, collectors and other artists for over 70 years.

He invented a unique process for creating monotypes which is documented in his two books: The Cast Acrylic Glass Print and Translucent Transformations. He has also developed collage sculptures of wood, foam core and cardboard. Using copies of his handwritten words and other common materials, he created table-sized sculptures. Examples of his work can be seen on his website.

Joseph Zirker is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, was a member of the National Academy of Design, and has received two Pollock-Krasner Awards. He earned his MFA from the University of Southern California, where he later taught printmaking. He taught at San Jose City College and taught at Stanford University and Portland State University. His workshops have been held at Drake University, Rice University, Cooper Union School of the Arts, and several art academies in Belgium and the Netherlands.

He is represented in numerous public collections, including the Smithsonian Institute, the Stanford University Museum of Art, the Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts; Brooklyn Museum; the Anderson Collection, Centrum Frans Masereel, Belgium; De Saisset Art Gallery and Museum, Santa Clara University; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Philadelphia Free Library; Grunwald Collection, UCLA; National Academy of Design, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Oakland Museum of California; and the Portland Museum of Art.

In the 1970s, Zirker and his beloved late wife, Eva built a studio in Menlo Park that was featured in Sunset Magazine for its unique and beautiful design.

Joseph believed that “art is the garden of social justice, and that includes all mediums in its expression.” He constantly invented new methods of artistic creation and often used his art to reflect on political and world events, always for the benefit of the poor and working people. He worked in his studio until three weeks before his death, more recently creating new images from tire treads.

Joseph’s wife of over 50 years, Eva, died in 2015. He is survived by 4 children, Karen Jo Koonan of San Francisco, Daniel Zirker of Hamilton, New Zealand, Lisa Moses of Chang Rai, Thailand, and Nila Zirker of Terrell, Texas. . He is also survived by three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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