Well-known local artist John Sidney Kudlacek passed away Tuesday, May 4, 2021. He was 88 years old.
Born October 7, 1932, in Wilber, Nebraska, “the Czech Capital of the USA,” John was the son of Frank A. and Lillian (Sindelar) Kudlacek and proud of his Czech heritage.
He graduated from Wilber High School followed by the University of Nebraska with a B.F.A. in Art in 1954. After a two year stint in the Army he returned and earned B.F.A in Art Education. While he taught art in the public schools of Beatrice, Nebraska, he earned a Masters in Art Education from Penn State University. He continued to paint and work with clay until 1965 when he concentrated only on ceramics. He taught art at Emporia State University for 33 years, retiring Professor Emeritus in 1996.
Kudlacek’s work as an artist was recognized nationally and internationally. His pottery has been exhibited in juried shows throughout the U.S. and the Czech Republic. His award-winning work is included in many public and private collections as well as featured in solo and group exhibitions. Photographs of his work have been published in periodicals and books including Ceramics Monthly (where his work was featured on the cover), ceramicsART (Czech Republic), “500 Cups” and “500 Pitchers”. The Kansas Arts Commission recognized him with the Kansas Governor’s Arts Award and as one of the 2006 Kansas Artist Fellowship Recipients. John was active in the Kansas Artist Craftsman Association: a charter member and the first president of the organization. Besides the many pottery pieces John created, he was in part responsible for many students becoming active artists. He was very proud of this accomplishment and remained friends with many until his death.
John married Barbara Ann Jahn in 1963 in Falls City, Nebraska. They subsequently divorced. Survivors include his son Kale J. Kudlacek of St. Petersburg, Florida; daughter Trina L. Kudlacek and son-in-law Robert Jedicke of Honolulu, Hawaii. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Robert and Franklin “Babe”; sisters Harriet and Dorothy.
John enjoyed supporting the arts community in Topeka, reading, and working on his 13 acre property and home south of Topeka which he designed and lived in for over 20 years. He was a member of the Atheist Community of Topeka and was active with the North East Kansans for the University of Nebraska.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Topeka Shawnee Public Library’s Sabatini Gallery.
Dove Cremations and Funerals - Southwest Chapel is assisting the family.
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