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October 22, 2010

I was just working on my speech for Tony Romano’s show tomorrow and I realized that today marks the one-year anniversary of Peter Kolisnyk’s passing. How do the two relate? The story goes back to the second weekend of July in 2008 when I ran into Tony in Mirvish Village. I don’t usually remember dates this well, but I particularly recall this rendezvous since I had just finished exhibiting at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Nathan Phillips Square which always falls on the same weekend in the middle of summer. Tony told me that he took kid classes at Station Gallery and was taught by John Leonard, Ruth Read and Peter Kolisnyk back in the early years. Then and there, things clicked and that was the start of working towards Tony’s show at the Gallery.

Re-installing Ground Outline in Whitby, April 2010

Last Saturday, the seventh issue of Hunter & Cook was launched. This is a contemporary art quarterly that Tony produces along with Toronto artist, Jay Isaac. On the back page is a memorial to Peter Kolisnyk with two images: the façade of the late artist’s Queen Street East studio and a shot of  an empty space at the Harbourfront Centre where Peter’s Ground Outline once stood until it was permanently removed last summer. It’s interesting how some in the art community choose to forget, while others choose otherwise.

October 25, 2009

Peter Kolisnyk's: Ground Outline.

Peter Kolisnyk's: Ground Outline.

On Friday October 23, 2009 one of Peter Kolisnyk’s large sculptures, Ground Outline, was picked up for renovation. The piece left the gallery loading dock a day after the Canadian art community mourns the passing of this prominent minimalist artist. I didn’t know Peter well, but I get such strong impressions of his legacy from speaking with those who knew him, in many cases, as a mentor. Peter was born in Toronto in 1934.

Artist, Instructor and Mentor, the late Peter Kolisnyk.

He developed his distinctly pure style following his training at Western Technical School. The artist was the recipient of several awards, including Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council grants. His impressive exhibition record includes exhibitions throughout North America. The Art Gallery of Ontario circulated a solo travelling show in 1980. Peter had been actively involved with Station Gallery over many decades as a generous donor, exhibiting artist and a very popular experimental painting instructor. I am reminded here of the words of his student and friend, Joan Attersley, when she referred to Peter as “a national treasure under the guise of a very modest man.” Another of his former students, Tony Romano (an internationally-known artist scheduled to present his work at the Gallery in 2010) has cited Peter as a deep influence during his formative years. He had a profound impact on many individuals through the years and will be greatly missed.