December 2021
The Art of Illusion
Kate Wujek bridges old and new

Catherine Wujek— Kate to her friends— is a delightfully energetic and creative personality with a fascinating talent and personal story. Kate studied art restoration in her native Poland, speaks four languages, and traveled Europe extensively, restoring treasured old structures of all sizes and purposes. As a conservator she knows how to evaluate, conserve, repair and rebuild art and architectural details. In addition to the vast knowledge of art history required for this fascinating work, Kate possesses a distinctive artistic talent of her own.

Creative since childhood, her artistic abilities and interests were nurtured in an education system that valued the arts, and in secondary school she followed a vocational art-restoration curriculum. Kate met her husband Jared after coming to the US 20 years ago to work with a Chicago gallery, and together they created the business they now own, Art of Illusion.

Three children followed, along with many successful years of restoration and commission work in businesses and exclusive homes in the Chicago area. After falling for our little town while on a summer vacation a few years back, she and Jared moved their family here. She says the pace, scale and beauty of Prescott remind her of her childhood home in Poland.

Kate admits to the love of a good puzzle, and she says she often sees her restorations and commissions as puzzles to solve. Murals, Venetian plaster, stone effects, gilding and wood finishing are among her many skills. She also restores furniture and offers varnish and French polish techniques.

Kate has a great sense of humor and a passion for her work, and is a delight to talk with. Looking at her portfolio it seems obvious that she can create just about anything, and likely has. One of herstories reflects the seemingly endless and delightful sense of industry she exudes. When pregnancy forced her to slow  down for a few months, to stave off boredom she painted herself a window in her bathroom in the middle of the night.

Sometimes clients are very specific in their requests, and at other times she will  guide them along as she draws inspiration from them in the planning. Her faux finishes are so realistic that she once had a client melt down over the cost of the marble trim, only to find out that the finish was indeed wood with Kate’s faux finish.

She has worked by referral for many years, and been commissioned  to work on a wide assortment of projects. Her creative scope is as broad asher expertise and experience. She has painted everything from frescoes for Grecian baths to themed business murals. Her beautiful faux columns and custom painting techniques adorn very exclusive homes as well.

I first became aware of Kate’s work while interviewing fellow artist Mary Kaye O’Neill of The Laughing Giraffe. I spotted the van that Mary Kaye had commissioned Kate to paint. You may have seen this delightful van, adorned with a laughing giraffe and family of animal and insect friends, driving around town.

What’s most striking or me about Kate’s work is the scope. She paints whimsy as well as she does opulence and history. Kate is available for projects needing beautification or restoration, and she will fill the conversation with laughter and inspiration as enjoyable as her talent.

To contact Kate Wujek for a consultation, email or call 928-583-2966.

Laine Murphy is a local writer covering the arts in Prescott. Photos by Laine.

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