Friday, July 19, 2013

Passing of a Great Artist

Meeting Alex Colville at the Owens Art Gallery,
Sackville, NB

It is with a sad heart that I learn Wednesday of the passing of one of Canada's greatest artist. Alex Colville, 92 died peaceful at his home in Wolfville, NS. Today, I read a CBC on-line interview where his daughter Ann mentioned that "If he would get letters from young artists, aspiring artists, he was tremendously kind and took a lot of time to respond to these". That statement rings very true for me as I have five reply letters with great advise to work hard in order to find my way as an artist. 

During my formative years as an aspiring artist, the surrounding milieu of Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. kind of became a pilgrimage place for me. It was where he received his Fine Art degree and later thought art for almost 20 years.  It gave me great insight into his artwork that was so regional and yet he had attain great national and international recognition. That a local artist was revered as Canada's painter laureate was certainly a great source of inspiration for myself and countless other realist artists, as the images he created are forever etched in the consciousness of our nation. I had the privileged to view several of his retrospective exhibitions including Alex Colville: Paintings, Prints and Process, 1983-1994 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal (1994), Milestones at the National Gallery in Ottawa (2000), the Dow Gift in Wolfville (1997) and Return at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia among others. 

I had the enormous pleasure of meeting him during the opening reception of his gift of preparatory drawings to the Owens Art Gallery during the spring of 2002. When I introduced myself, he quickly asked me, "Are you the runner?". I was so touched that he instantly recalled me writing to him. We had a very pleasant and animated conversation. To me that spoke volume of the man and artist he was. Confident in his role as a respected and celebrated artist and even better as a great human being. He remained active well into his late eighties. He will be missed. His essence and artwork will live in my heart forever. Condolences to the family and all of those who's lives he has touch.