Bob ‘Daddy-O’ Wade, 1943-2019


A master of Texas camp, artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade has died.

The 76-year-old Wade died Dec. 23 of heart failure at his Austin home, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Wade’s enormous sculptures and hand-tinted vintage photographs depicted a kitschy, stylized version of Texas culture. His 40-foot sculpture of ostrich-skin cowboy boots planted outside a San Antonio mall captured a Guinness Book of World Records citation for largest cowboy boot sculpture in the world.

Wade’s sculpture of Iggy the iguano on top of the Lone Star Cafe on Fifth Avenue and Thirteenth Street, New York, 1978. Photo:

His giant sculpture of an iguana first sat atop New York’s Lone Star Cafe on Fifth Avenue and Thirteenth Street, riling the Fifth Avenue neighbors who complained it was advertising, not art. Mayor Ed Koch proved a fan of the iguana, and the reptile stayed until the Lone Star closed in 1989. The sculpture is now at the Fort Worth Zoo.

Wade enlarged vintage photographs of women rodeo performers, Western stars, Mexican revolutionary soldiers and Navajo Indians, and colorized them in kitschy hues. Wade published several books of colorized photographs.

“Cowgirls,” Bob Daddy-O Wade

Robert Schrope Wade was born on Jan. 6, 1943 in Austin. He received a BFA from the University of Texas Austin and an M.A. from the University of California Berkeley. A second cousin to Western star Roy Rogers, Wade was the recipient of three National Endowment of the Arts grants. Wade’s work was included in the 1969 Whitney Annual and the 1973 Whitney Biennial.

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum has plans for an exhibition titled “The Big A** World of Bob Daddy-O Wade” for summer of 2020.

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
An award-winning arts journalist, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sightlines.

Related articles