Beloved artist's unexpected death sends shockwaves - FOX 13 News

Beloved artist's unexpected death sends shockwaves

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His real name was Bill Correira but everyone knew him as "Woo." His death Monday evening sent a shock wave through St. Petersburg's thriving arts community.

"Even though he had achieved success, he was not going to shut you out because of his success," neighboring artist Jennifer Kosharek recalled. "He welcomed people into the fold."

She was one of many people who gathered on the sidewalk in front of Woo's gallery Tuesday morning. Some placed candles and flowers; others left sticky notes that began covering one of the windows.

Liz Furlong, another artist and gallery owner, recalled his generosity.

"If you wanted to do a fundraiser, he'd jump right in and say okay, let's do this. I'll do a painting, and you can auction it off and you guys get all of the profits," she gave as one example.

Furlong said Woo would also close up his shop to take a client to another gallery "...and show off his favorite pieces of yours."

St. Petersburg Police said Woo's body was discovered by the owners of a nearby coffee shop around 5:20 Monday evening. They had been checking on him frequently since he suffered a seizure in their shop about a month ago. His exact cause of death is not known, but paramedics reported he suffered an "unsurvivable medical event."

Within hours, artist Derek Donnelly started working on a mural of Woo on the back of his gallery.

"We figure we'll do a nice portrait of him, have his arm extending up with his paint brush, how everyone remembers him," Donnelly told FOX 13 News, adding the next step would be to "...have everyone in the community come and paint a fish in there and make a nice community effort out of it."

Donnelly said he only knew Woo for a short time, but he made a big impact on his life.

"I only knew him about a year and a half, but in that year and a half, he did more for me than 30 of my friends over the past 30 years," he said.

St. Petersburg City Council chair Leslie Curran also owns a gallery and frame shop, and recalled Woo bringing in some nudes painted on granite for framing. She displayed some of his work.

"Then he started painting fish and people really liked those," Curran recounted. "So I said, why don't you just start painting some more fish? And he did and kind of found his niche."

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