RIP Tampa artist Oscar Beauchamp, Aug. 4, 1971-March 3, 2011

I think this might be the first time a close, intimate friend of mine has passed away, and I'll be honest, when I heard the news last night about my dear friend Oscar  — he was found dead last night in his apartment — I didn't know how to react.

(As of this writing, it's just been reported that Oscar died of a heart attack around 3 p.m. March 3, 2011. His dad is going to announce arrangements for memorial services on his Facebook page.)

I was numb when I first learned of Oscar's passing. I didn't know what to think. I didn't want to believe it. The reality hit when I awoke this morning. Really hard. I spent the morning looking at his artwork on my walls and photos. I'm still grappling with the past tense in writing about him.

I can only imagine the tremendous grief his family is experiencing right now, and my heart goes out to them. Oscar was always very family-oriented.

It had been a while, but Oscar had been a fixture at local art shows. He was especially involved in Bob White's Bad Art for Bad People events. He painted a brilliant and unsettlingly beautiful piece for local band King of Spain (pictured below, left). KoS's Matt Slate was a dear friend.

[image-1]Oscar had health problems that slowed down his work. It seemed that he was just on the mend before he died, and I was looking forward to seeing more from him. I'd like to think he would have gotten around to a great art show. He had a unique style that was vivid, sophisticated and intricate while retaining the impulsive and child-like.

When it came to music, Oscar was an avid audiophile. He was into punk and hardcore like so many guys in his generation but wasn't stuck in the ’90s. Oscar continuously stayed up on the latest music, sending me random e-mails about new bands he'd heard.

He was probably among five guys I know who was knowledgeable about the latest releases in indie pop. A tune called "Bull Riff" by Still Flyin' was the latest song we chatted about:

Oscar's taste in music reflected his artistic genius. His ear was as attuned as his eye was discerning. He recognized mood, warmth, originality and balls-out, freaked-out weirdness and appreciated sounds that provided an escape hatch from the humdrum reality of this world.

[image-2]Yet, Oscar was down-to-earth, no-nonsense and completely unpretentious — and at the same time, anything but ordinary — it's like he was above provincial thinking and the nonsense of suburban status-climbing. He saw around him magic and brilliant insanity and embraced both.

Not many people got to know Oscar's quieter side. He was much more than a lovable clown; he was an introspective, sensitive artist who spent hours alone, by himself. His shadowy side was as deep as his brighter side was merry.

That's not to say he was morose or self-indulgent. Oscar always found time to reach out to friends. He always offered I-love-you's and tokens of affection. He visited friends' art shows and always tried to support their causes.

He never held back.

I cry just thinking about it.

Few people are as uninhibited in their affections.

[image-3]In his work and in his life, Oscar was in-touch and far out, and his native Puerto Rican passion spoke out loud just as much as his subdued sense of mystery kept a little tucked away.

I will update this post as soon as I hear more about services and other facts around this tragic loss.

My heart is heavy. Te envio un montón de besos, Oscar. Your big smile and big heart live with me always.

Much love to his family.

Many people have catch phrases. Oscar's favorite was one word and succinct: "Party."

It spoke to Oscar Beauchamp's larger-than-life, fun and  irreverent spirit. He was known to many as someone who was amped up and ready to get wild. He was always armed with a smart-ass quip and joked around and laughed constantly.

Scroll to read more Local Arts articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.