Friends pay tribute, mourn artist Cliff Eyland
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/05/2020 (825 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Cliff Eyland, a beloved painter, curator, writer and teacher who grew up in Dartmouth, N.S., but eventually settled in Winnipeg, died Saturday morning.
He was 65.
Eyland had been in poor health for several years — suffering from sarcoidosis, a systemic inflammatory disease. He received a double lung transplant in 2016.
Eyland was well known for his permanent exhibition of more than 1,000 paintings at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library, installed in 2005. He also had large collections at public libraries in Halifax and Edmonton.
“He’s kind of your quintessential artist, and you know, from out east. He studied in Halifax, but what is interesting is almost for 40 years, he’s used the same format to produce his art, which is the scale of an index card from the library, which is three by five inches, and so you can kind of chart his career just the way he’s documented the life around him,” said Stephen Borys, director and CEO of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
“…I had my daily art posts on the WAG, and when I talked about Cliff, I’m as intrigued with his paintings as I am with his perspectives, and how he’s taken an image or an idea and kind of recreated it into the little painting. And he was a huge champion of artists. He loved the life around him.”
“He was very thoughtful, he wrote very many thoughtful (pieces) about other people’s work, but about his own work, he was just, he loved the idea of expressing beauty and ideas, and then he also loved the idea of dispersing those to the public without great thought.”– Howard Gurevich
Eyland was an associate professor at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art where he earned the admiration of colleague Diana Thorneycroft.
“He and I did a lot of critiques of students’ work together,” said Thorneycroft, who had known Eyland for 25 years. “He was such a cheerleader. He was just so enthusiastic, so kind and so supportive. Some of my colleagues were extremely hard on the kids. Cliff never was. I just commended him for his sincerity. He was just a good guy.
“It’s still such a shock; I imagine that’s what everyone is saying. Just can’t imagine him gone.”
“He had an internal drive…,” said Howard Gurevich, who represented Eyland for 10 years as a gallery owner. “He was very thoughtful, he wrote very many thoughtful (pieces) about other people’s work, but about his own work, he was just, he loved the idea of expressing beauty and ideas, and then he also loved the idea of dispersing those to the public without great thought… You know, he wasn’t driven by fame or money, let’s say.
“And he inspired a huge number of younger artists, people like Marcel Dzama and Cyrus Smith, these guys took his idea and they would use little pieces of wood and go nail them to trees in the neighbourhood so that art was everywhere.”
University of Manitoba film professor George Toles posted this tribute to Eyland on Facebook:
“RiP. I lost a best friend and extraordinary collaborator today. Cliff Eyland. He taught me so much about art, elasticity, acceptance, forgiveness, and how to live joyfully. But most of all, right now, I remember his laugh. No one had a better one. My heart goes out to Pam Perkins and the Eyland family this morning. As everyone who knew him will attest, he was absolutely singular and irreplaceable.”
He is survived by his wife Pam Perkins, mother Kay Eyland, brother Terry and sisters Dawn, Lynn and Maryellen.
— with files from Katie May
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
Updated on Saturday, May 16, 2020 10:37 PM CDT: Edited