Warren G. Padula, 71, Architect and Artist

March 17, 1947 - May 27, 2018
Warren G. Padula, March 17, 1947 - May 27, 2018

Warren George Padula, who was said to have been at the forefront of the digital revolution among visual artists, died of heart failure on May 27 at his home on Long Beach Lane in Sag Harbor. He was 71 and had been diagnosed with cancer in 2013. 

Mr. Padula’s artwork, including sculpture, is in museums and collections around the world. Large-scale digital prints of his own photographs are in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Musée de la Photographie à Charleroi in Belgium.

His brother, Alfred (Fred) Padula Jr., and an uncle, Edward Padula, a Broadway producer who won a Tony Award in 1961 for “Bye Bye Birdie,” were among his mentors. Fred introduced him to Mad Magazine, which “precipitated a lifelong interest in the nature of perception . . . and the follies of human existence,” his wife, Elaine Ann McKay, who was with him at the time of his death, said in submitting obituary material.

  Lynn Libman, Mr. Padula’s sister, said, “Warren had spent some time with a naval architect named Giovanni Cardelli, when he was about 12 or so, as an apprentice, so he learned respect for space. Warren became an advocate for artists and creativity in all forms. . . . We could say he was an art historian because he could explain how Warhol, etc., were laughing at the world, and then it all made sense.”

He was born on March 17, 1947, in Newark, N.J., to Alfred Padula and the former Dorothy Buckelew. The family moved to Water Mill in 1955, and Mr. Padula attended Southampton public schools, going on to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, from which he graduated in 1965. Inspired by the architect Louis Kahn, Mr. Padula enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania to study with him, later transferring to the Rhode Island School of Design, from which he graduated in 1970.

After college, Mr. Padula’s interest in architecture was cultivated when he worked in his family’s building business in Water Mill. He not only managed construction sites and learned the basics of the building trade, but soon became known for skilled cabinetry and the innovative houses he designed and built. It was during this time that he met and became a mentor and lifelong friend of Miles Jaffe, the son of the noted East End architect Norman Jaffe. 

He and Ms. McKay met in 1987 and were married on Feb. 2, 2014. “He was my love spark, my companion, my husband, a true art warrior who worked every day on art, creating a good life being abundantly generous to all,” Ms. McKay wrote in an email. “Warren wanted to thank all the farm families, local families, and visiting families who had embraced him over the years,” she wrote.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Padula is survived by a stepdaughter, Jennifer McKay Palermo of Houston, his sister, Ms. Libman, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., and Naples, Fla., and by godchildren, nieces, and nephews.

The family has suggested memorial donations to  East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978. A memorial service will be held later this year.