At 4:18 PM on November 2, 2022, Carolyn Zick passed away at her home in New London, Connecticut. She was 58 years old and had been undergoing treatment for stage-4 pancreatic cancer during the past year. She is survived by three siblings – Donna Zick, Brian Zick, and Ellen Spitsen – and her parents Steven and Barbara Zick, as well as her husband Drew Bishop, two nephews, a niece, and two stepchildren.
Carolyn was a renowned and pioneering art blogger, having created and run the seminal art blog Dangerous Chunky, which remains accessible on her own art website CarolynZick.com. A gifted artist and writer, she also had interests in knitting and fashion design. Inspired by Harriet The Spy, she began her own journaling in the fifth grade. With only brief interruption, she continued the practice for the rest of her life. Her gardens were other sources of creativity and refuge for many years.
Carolyn put herself through college, working as a corn processor in a factory and a waitress, among other jobs. She received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degrees from Central Washington University in Ellensburg Washington, and, several years later, a Master of Fine Arts degree from SUNY Albany.
Her pursuits as an artist took her to New York City, where she lived in the East Village and Brooklyn with her boyfriend and future husband Benjamin Jones, started visiting galleries, and launched Dangerous Chunky. After 9/11, she and Ben decided to move back to Seattle. There she continued writing her blog and making art until, disenchanted by the insular nature of the art world, she stepped away from it.
Carolyn was very frank about her experiences with grief and loss. She was twice a widow and worked hard to understand those losses and process them into something new and constructive. Just before the sudden death of her second husband Fred Teasley, she started a knitting group in Seattle and began to make art again. She had this to say about her own artistic journey:
I’m an artist interested in capturing moments linked to my own experience through drawings, paintings, printmaking, and small sculptures. Mark-making and exploring color remain formal concerns and a starting point, but my main goal is narration. Narration of a story, a poem, an experience. There are themes that return again and again in my head: an obsession with unidentifiable birds, places of the heart, the continuum of grief and that feeling of inadequacy found while being human.
In 2020, Drew Bishop convinced her that if she married him and moved to Connecticut from Washington state, they would have a life together worth living. He was right, though it was much too short. They married on Leap Day in 2020 and Carolyn put her tiny Seattle house up for sale just as the Covid-19 pandemic erupted there. She packed up her belongings and, with two cats in a rented vehicle, drove across the country alone as the pandemic quickly spread from state to state. Resettled in Connecticut, she transformed their little fixer-upper house in New London into an artist’s home. Carolyn worked remotely for a year and then left her job to devote herself completely to art and writing. Before falling ill, she briefly worked at the The Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery and Center in New London.
The most important thing about Carolyn was the abundance of friendships she made during her life. She was singularly funny, talented, generous, and kind – the sort of friend that most people wish they could be. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
the sound of winter by Carolyn Zick
The sound of winter is me, mostly the friction of my arms flapping against the side of my polyester coat.
Maybe a leaf rustling across the street, a bird in the background very faintly
The landscape is littered with inflatable holiday decorations deflated
Which seems very unappealing two days after Christmas.
I don’t know why some clumps of snow hang on longer than others – there’s one over here.
To center my body back to gravity there is poetry, and walking, and thoughts.
The sound of winter, is one or two ducks that you can hear way out from a distance as the water lapses on the shore.
Everything is the same color this time of year: brown, straw, dead.
My love sidles up in a car next to me, coaxing me to get in .
“Hey what’s going on, should I come home with you now?”
But I continue right on.
Now we’re at Montauk and Pequot.
The sky is overcast and touches the water in that same exact gray blue color.
I walk along enjoying the peacefulness. It’s not very cold today and at least and not too windy.
I’ve got two lighthouses in my view right now, more brown, gray, dead but there’s a certain comfort to revisiting all these places in the winter.
The sound of winter is relieved of tree frogs, choruses of birds, and any other lively thing that occurs six months previous. Even in the middle of winter though, here people sit with it all their engines running, car lights on to sit and stare out at the ledge light lighthouse.
The sound of winter makes notation marks where none are found in spring. I suppose there’s calm in the softening of all colors combining to make one thing.
I flap my arms, turn around and the interior of my coat fills with blue sky.
Read more poems online at The Walking Diaries, poems and paintings by Carolyn Zick
Listen to a Two Coats of Paint Conversation with Carolyn Zick
In Carolyn’s memory, please send a donation to your local hospice care provider or one of the two organizations that she was involved in:
Healing Therapies Thru Sharing Inc
Seattle Artist League
I am so MOVED and SADDENED reading Carolyn’s obituary. I met Carolyn in 2005 when we were both teaching in the summer MFA program at Western Carolina University outside of Asheville. Before arriving, we (husband and I) were a.) trying to figure out what a blog even WAS and b.) thinking that Dangerous MONKEY would be a good name for Carolyn. (She loved it when we told her!) Upon meeting we immediately fell in like/love-and hung out ALL THE TIME. One fond memory: Going to an Appalachian dulcimer concert on campus.
Anyway, we only stayed in touch for a few years…. and reading the obituary about Carolyn reminds me of how special each of our lives is, and how hard and fragile and struggling and deep and sensitive an artist’s journey is. I am so sorry she lost two husbands and succumbed to cancer, but I’m glad that overall her life continued to be rich and full and abundant.
I’m happy Two Coats published this — Carolyn was not some GIANT world-famous artist with a giant reputation, but she was a wonderful sensitive artist who just got up everyday — like most of us — and put down a creative step, again and again and again and again and again….