J.F. ALBERT (November 22, 1945 – August 29, 2017)
Was a well-know Canadian artist, born Jaroslav F Albert,who emigrated to Canada from the idyllic Medvednica mountain (Bear Mountain) ranges near Zagreb, Croatia. JF identified with, and has been compared to the 1920’s Canadian Group of Seven’s semi-impressionistic painter Manley E MacDonald. He gained recognition for his style in the tradition of Canadian landscape, and is particularly renowned for his depictions of nature and wildlife. Oils were his choice of medium, his subjects brought vividly to life through his commanding color palette – the changing seasons deeply inspirational. While Plein Air was his greatest joy JF also painted the occasional whimsy caricature. JF was a natural born artist. As a young boy in the Mountains of Croatia his beloved grandfather would take him out wandering for hours carefully explaining the elements of nature to him. Still a boy, he started transcribing those memories through sketches when, in the middle of the night, his parents having barely escaped being killed by Nazi’s during the war, were granted the opportunity to flee the country and suddenly took JF from his grandparent’s home. Hewas forced to live in an internment camp in Italy, where US soldiers passing in tanks would throw candy to him and the only place to play was a garbage dump filled with black snakes. Sketching became his escape, his solace and his connection to the grandfather he would never see again. Arriving in Canada with nothing, on his deathbed, JF reflected how those early hardships forged his lifelong motto was that he was able to ‘Create something from nothing’. With an artistic talent spanning many disciplines; JF was a proficient hand wood carver, who never used stencils or machines but simply, from an image held in his mind, could create anything – animal or caricature – to scale. He was also a talented professional wildlife and landscape photographer – often trekking off road out west to gain a glimpse of his favourite bears, eagles or wild horses. JF lived by the creed, ‘All who wander are not lost’. Always coming home with a story… be it a grizzly bear encounter, the witnessing of a pack of wolves taking down a moose or even running into a fellow artist from the other coast while on a remote rocky mountain path or one of his many painting sojourns. Amazingly considering the scope and renown of JF’s legacy, he only started painting in his 50’s after his wife, Susan, surprised him with paints. From that day forward art consumed him. Traveling across North America and taking courses with his favourite American Masters: Matt Smith, Ralph Oberg and Ron Rencher. Their mentoring, friendship and encouragement became a wonderful and inspiring support system.JF died suddenly and un-expectantly on August 29 as a result of the failure of the health care system after a very intense and brief battle with cancer. He was honored by friends, admirers and the art community he loved being a part of with a final Art Exhibition Memorial featuring a collection of his works. Over 500 people, paid tribute at the 4hr event. Having completed over 1000 pieces, today his work is sought after by private collectors and galleries. A member of the Canadian Federation of Artists, Quinte Arts Council, Spirit of the Hills – while alive, selections of his work were auctioned off for charity in Toronto fetching $5000 a piece. His art is now on permanent display at The Northumberland Gallery, John M. Parrott Art Gallery at the Belleville Public Library (beside Manley MacDonald’s). A few whimsy wildlife selects are being featured in the Canadian Consulate Booth 2017 representing Canadian Artists at Aqua in Miami. (JF’s work retains American/Canadian representation.) JF felt his greatest living accomplishment was being a grandfather and spending hours teaching is grandson about nature and wildlife.