Studio Tour: Abstract painter Ted Stanuga

Abstract painter Ted Stanuga grew up in Chula Vista, CA where he fell asleep at night to the muffled roar of the crowds at the bull ring less than two miles away in Tijuana. In contrast to the conservative Chula Vista environment, the nearby Mexican city was a different world – one where artists created velvet landscapes they sold along the side of the road. As a grade school kid, Ted watched the Tijuana artists working on ten pieces at a time assembly-line style, and he liked those pieces as much as he liked the more refined, ubiquitous California land and seascapes. Despite growing up in a conservative political environment where most artists derided abstract expressionism as nonsense, Ted’s interest in the form was nurtured by one of his more enlightened teachers, Mrs. White, and after graduating from high school and serving in the Marines, Ted studied art at the College of Great Falls in Montana, until teacher, Jack Franjevic, himself an abstract artist, advised Ted to explore living in an urban environment. Taking Franjevic’s advice, Ted moved to Chicago in 1973 to study at the Art Institute. But Chicago wasn’t the hotbed of abstract expressionism Ted had envisioned. “Chicago is an imagist and figurative town,” says Ted. “I look at that as ‘the right.'”  Fortunately, Ted began studying with Tom Kapsalis who he described as, “the third and last teacher in a line of what I would call visionary teachers” in a 2008 interview with Neoteric Art.

Working with Kapsalis helped Ted master the craft, and he has been a successful working artist for more than 30 years. Ted’s Garfield Park studio is filled with oversized canvases, some black and white, some with an almost explosive use of color. Some people say they see people in his work, and it’s easy to see why, but Ted insists he doesn’t include them intentionally. “Sometimes the line will feel figurative,” says Ted. “It’s accidental, but that’s what draws people to the work.” According to Ted, the same things that make a realistic piece successful are what make abstract pieces work; it’s all in the lines, which carry the same weight and ultimately tell the same kind of story. Rather than articulating a form like figurative work, abstract work articulates a feeling. “If it doesn’t, it just falls flat,” says Ted. Ted’s work is anything but flat. After spending just an hour in his loft studio, I began to see the images differently, noticing a shape I’d overlooked or  an interplay of lines that changed the way I saw the piece. His pieces are more than simply aesthetically pleasing – they are engrossing, revealing themselves a bit at a time like a beautiful story. Thanks Ted!

Ted Stanuga is represented by Kate Hendrickson. Click here for more information.

Click here for Ted’s ArtWorldChicago profile.

Check out Neoteric Art’s fascinating interview with Ted.

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7 Responses to “Studio Tour: Abstract painter Ted Stanuga”

  1. I love these. I’m not usually a fan of anything black and white but the sheer size and impact of these is great.

  2. I really love the first two color pieces.

  3. Great art from a great guy.
    Ted’s dedication is inspiring.
    Thank you!

  4. Awesome paintings Ted! Looking forward to the studio visit!


  5. is all very ‘just right’..easy to look at, balanced…..anyone would love……
    oh i was talking about Ted..not the paintings!

  6. I like the black and white ones best. In my hypothetical home, I want to have a black and white entryway, so one of these no larger than 16 X 20 would suit me ideally.