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January 18, 2013

Remembering Some Artists Who Made Great Art & Left Us Early

My recent article on William Kurelek prompted some discussion of artists who achieved a lot in a short life. Kurelek died at age 50 in 1977. 

Michel Lambeth 

Michel Lambeth was one of the most creative photographers Toronto has known. He had several exhibitions of his work at the Isaacs Gallery and among many photo shoots did one on Kurelek (see photo). He lived across the road from me in the 1960s and we had several chats. He died the same year as Kurelek and was 55 years old. 

Photo of William Kurelek by Michel Lambeth 1964. Submitted Photo

Robert Markle 

Robert Markle, a brilliant Mohawk painter, teacher and musician taught at the art school where my wife attended and he encouraged her leading to her first exhibition. His wife worked at the Isaacs Gallery. He moved to Mount Forest and died in a truck accident in 1990 at age 54. A book on his life called Blazing Figures was published in 2010. 

 Photo of Robert Markle with Eleanor Mackey 1968 D. Mackey photo

Christiane Pflug 

Christiane Pflug’s realistic paintings showed a remarkable talent and she had several successful shows and her works are cherished today.  My wife and I knew her and her 2 daughters were friends of one of my daughters and remain so today. A book on her life called Somewhere Waiting described her brief life. She committed suicide at age 36. 

Frida Kahlo 

The current exhibition of the 2 Mexican Masters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (until January 20 at the Art Gallery of Ontario) is a powerful show to see.  Frida led a remarkable life including a brief liaison with Leon Trotsky and a long marriage to Diego Rivera. She died at age 47 in 1954. 

Frida Kahlo Mexican artist 1933 submitted photo.

Denyse Thomasos 

Denyse Thomasos was a highly successful black woman artist from Mississauga who became a professor, a high achieving award winning artist in New York and in Canada.  A large abstract painting of hers is located at St. Michael’s College in Toronto in the collection of the Rev. Dan Donovan a St. Mike’s professor. Dan Donovan has one of Canada’s finest collections of paintings.  

Rev. Donovan married Denyse and her husband in Toronto a couple of years ago. Denyse died recently when she went for an MRI in New York and  a needle caused a reaction that killed her.  Rev. Donovan conducted the funeral. A large event took place at her Gallery the Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto. She was 47 Years old. 

This even caught the eye of my wife who is related to Rev. Donovan. My wife’s mother & Dan’s grandmother were sisters. 

Tom Thompson

While at the Kahlo/Rivera exhibition we saw some Tom Thompson paintings and saw why he is Canada’s most famous painter.  He died 95 years ago at age 39. 

Archie Belaney 

The brilliant author and conservationist Archie Belaney better known as Grey Owl wrote some remarkable books and some contained some of his lesser known drawings. He will be remembered here and in England this year on the 125th anniversary of his birth and the 75th anniversary of his death at age 49 in 1938. 

Ruth Jamieson 

There are other examples of early demise of artists but that of local artist and volunteer Ruth Jamieson shook the North Bay Arts Community last March.  The local Galleries made heartfelt statements at the loss. She worked for me as a secretary in the 1990s and I admired her and her pottery and graphics.  She was 55. 

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