Sugar Skull Tribute created in 2021
To help raise attention to September as suicide prevention month, mental wellness in general and the local “You Good” campaign, this piece is a tribute to my college roommate who died from suicide, Alexander “Bud” Kulpecz.
Bud was an amazing artist, sculptor, and character designer who loved proper football aka soccer, Fulham FC, Lord of The Rings, and punk rock bands like The Misfits. He was a gentle soul, head adorned with red dreads like Captain Sparrow. Bud is missed and loved by many who knew him at SCAD.
I regret drifting out of touch with him after graduation, not calling enough to hear his accent slip into British idioms, to gauge how he was really doing aside from texts or social media posts.
Not knowing the depths to which he struggled with depression, I regret not asking often enough, “You Good?”
So please call and check in on your friends even the strong ones, hear the tenor in that voice reveal what texts can conceal. Play some Misfits tunes loudly for Bud, he’s out there somewhere in Heaven, sculpting epic statues of Vikings or Dwarves or Ziggy Stardust that put Michelangelo’s works to shame.
Dia de los Muertos is a holiday where you can honor those who have passed on by celebrating their memory. The first time I dedicated a sugar skull was in 2018, for a SCAD professor who was an influential mentor, Jorge Alvarez. Painting these has helped with grief & healing.
If you or some you know are struggling with mental health or substance abuse visit yougoodpinellas.org or call 727-791-3131 for immediate assistance. The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255