Carl Wilen, visual artist extraordinaire, whose creativity, curiosity, sense of humor, and dedication to teaching touched so many people throughout his life, died this morning, September 11, 2018 at the age of 85. He was a first generation American of Finnish and Polish parentage, and grew up living a happy, active childhood in Chicago’s Cicero neighborhood. Teachers recognized his talents and quietly worked ways to assure opportunities for him to pursue his gifts. Carl would proudly mention graduating from Morton High School and culminating his education with an MFA from University of Illinois, Champaign. He was the department chair and taught art at Clark College in Atlanta and a few years later joined Eastern Illinois University from which he retired in 1994 after over 30 years of teaching as a professor of painting and drawing.
Ever a fan of The Cubs and Blackhawks, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Botanic Garden and a follower of many roads less travelled, Carl Wilen actively contributed to visual arts technically, imaginative, and intellectually.
His contagious, creative spirit served him well, maintaining that engaging smile and sense of wonder to the end. We miss him already and send our condolences to Jackie, his wife of 61 years, and to his children Paul and Winnie, grandchildren, friends and many, many thankful students of which I was one.
ZIA Gallery has been honored to represent Carl’s work. Do take a look at a few of the varied directions Carl pursued over the years. He is an artist whose work is worth discovering, examining and appreciating.