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Jan Audun Uretsky

January 20, 1960 ~ March 10, 2016 (age 56)

Jan Audun Uretsky died on March 10, 2016 at age 56 in Hoboken, New Jersey. After a six-month fight with pancreatic cancer, he spent his last few weeks at home, kept company by his friends and cousins.

Jan was born in January 1960 in New York City and was the only child of Karlin and Marion (née Engel) Uretsky. The family lived in Brooklyn Heights before moving to Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Jan attended Little Red School House, where his father taught art, and went on to the Walden School for high school. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Vassar College in 1982, and a bachelor of fine arts degree in communication design from the Parsons School of Design followed in 1986.

In October of 1987, he married fellow designer Christy Trotter at City Hall in New York City. The couple first lived on St. Mark’s Place and then moved to Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, where Jan resided until 2009. They worked together as Trotter & Uretsky Design until they parted ways in 1989.

Jan continued to work as an independent designer as Uretsky & Co. His clients included publishers such as HarperCollins and Rizzoli, schools such as NYU and Parsons, non-profits such as Human Rights Watch and March of Dimes, and businesses from solo photographers to KPMG Peat Marwick. From 1999 until his cancer diagnosis, Jan taught graphic design as a visiting instructor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he was widely loved by his students for his passion, wit, and encyclopedic knowledge of art and design. He was also the creative director of FOEM, one of the world's biggest free music labels and producer communities on the internet.  Jan was well known within the NYC design community, and his work was featured in numerous design publications.

Following after his father and American modern artists of his father’s generation, Jan was also an accomplished artist, chiefly in painting and photography. His paintings tended toward colorful abstractions while his photography found compositions of lines and shapes in the urban environment. Jan’s last non-medical excursion was to the Whitney Museum of American Art on February 2, 2016 to see a large retrospective exhibit of the works of Frank Stella, at which, by chance, he met and spoke with Frank Stella himself.

Jan was an ardent lover of a broad array of music, ranging from rock and jazz to disco, reggae and electronica. While his knowledge was deep he never flaunted it, preferring to simply find his joy in music and share it with others. He enjoyed going to concerts and dance clubs with friends on a regular basis. Jan also enjoyed travel, fine food, cooking (he was pescetarian), mixology, literature and poetry. His birthday parties at home every year, for which he designed beautiful invitations, continued to draw the usual crowd from Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond even after he moved to Hoboken in 2009 to join his then girlfriend.

Jan was predeceased by his parents, Marion in 1981, Karlin in 2012, and to both he was a loving and devoted son. Jan looked after his dad during Karlin's long illnesses and decline. He is survived by a few cousins and many dear friends whom he made in the many facets of his life and whom he kept over decades through mutual loyalty. A memorial gathering of friends and family will be held in early April.


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