Artist Owen Pach, 65, died Thursday, June 14 after being diagnosed with stage four cancer four months earlier.
During chemotherapy treatments, medical teams had been optimistic regarding the prognosis, wrote Pach on his medical expenses GoFundMe page. Accordingly, Pach shared his future plans.
“I’m very much looking forward to getting through this malady and resuming a highly productive life,” wrote Pach. “I still have much to contribute to my profession and helping others through this process. My doctors have assured me at least five years. But, in my heart, I’m going for 15.
“I find it necessary to get back into my studio. I will be set up to blow glass, fuse and cast glass, forge, fabricate and begin a series of masterworks based on the extreme natural progression of disparate items. An extension of my ever-evolving ‘Ceremonial Relic’ series, the progression of murrini work and whatever else the universe sends my way.”
Pach wrote that about two years ago he had begun a spiritual journey “toward celebrating life in good health with a strong heart and an abundance of blessings.”
For his entire adult life, Pach described himself as a studio artist who created works as a glassblower, blacksmith and sculptor. His love of glassblowing spanned 32 years. Pach’s art resides in numerous private collections, museums and public displays like Clymer Park in Gulfport.
Pach grew up in Tampa said his brother, Jack Pach of Lipan, Texas. “He did glass work in Ybor City and came to Gulfport later on.”
Both Jack and his twin sister Jill of Azle, Texas, describe their older brother as a “phenomenal artist.”
“He never met a stranger,” said Jack. “He was an outgoing guy. Every year he would visit Texas and we would have the best times. He would bring Cuban sandwiches and devil crabs from Florida.”
Jill also remembers him being “goofy.”
“When we were little, Owen was in his rodeo kick,” she said. “He got up on top of the house and made Jack run around so he could lasso him.”
Pach’s contributions to the Gulfport community included serving on the board of the Gulfport Merchant’s Association (GMA) and being president of the Industrial Arts Center when it reopened in December 2013, first in the city’s courtyard area located on Beach Boulevard, and later in the artist’s alley studio.
Friend Diane Craig, a former resident of Gulfport with a home that had a view of his work in Clymer Park and a correspondent with the Tampa Bay Times, recalls interviewing Pach.
“He was a wild and crazy guy,” said Craig. “I loved his astonishing energy, his humor, his passion for glass making and the tattoos on his forearms – instruments all related to glass working. He was the bad boy with an artist’s heart.
“He was such an advocate for community art and art students. His death is a huge loss to the art community.”
Jeff Greene, now of Tampa, first met Owen when they were associated with the GMA, then he assisted Pach with art sales and apprenticed with him for years to learn the art of glass blowing.
“We were teaching how to make glass, but more importantly, we were teaching a way to enjoy art and how to embrace creating something beautiful,” said. Greene. “No matter what comes out of it at the end, it’s beautiful because you were able to create it. Owen was an amazing figure when it came down to reminding people that ‘it’s within you to make beautiful things.’ Glass to us was much more than a skill. It is literally a way of coping with the hard times and the good times of life. The medium drove Owen. It didn’t’ matter what kind of glass art we did. His passion for the medium” made the difference in his art.
Ric Joyner and his wife commissioned a work from Pach in 2007 and also became his friends.
“With Owen, you saw this incredible force of will bring a piece of art that’s totally in his mind into your mind because he was writing all over the benches and the floor” in the studio, said Ric Joyner. “You could see what he was seeing. I’d never experienced an artist like that.”
In his online autobiography, Pach wrote before his death, “My work drives my life. As well as my never-ending need to learn more, I dedicated my life to glass.”
Pach is survived by his sister Jill and her husband Chuck; his brother Jack and his wife Crystal; two nephews Brandon Pach of Orlando and Chance Stewart of Minnesota; three nieces, Logan Pach and Shayla Wright of Lipan, Texas and Brandi Valencia; and numerous loving cousins.
Memorial Service Details
A memorial service will be Tuesday, June 19 beginning at 6 p.m. at Grace Connection Church, 635 64th Street South, St. Petersburg.
A potluck dinner will immediately follow including an open mic event where the people of the Owen’s Tribe Facebook group and others will have the opportunity to reflect on the man and his art.
For more information, visit facebook.com/groups/OwensTribe.