Sad news this week as local famed Ukrainian artist, Oleh Valenyuk passed away:
He arrived in Canada from Ukraine in 2000, fuelled by the promise of artistic opportunity and success.
As both immigrant and artist, he defied the odds by achieving success and recognition immediately following his arrival into Canada.
His style was constantly shifting, and there was almost no medium he hadn’t mastered.
He painted in the Ukrainian tradition, incorporating biblical symbols into many of his paintings, but his clients, many of whom hired him for private residential projects, came from all backgrounds and income brackets.
Although lots of his work was done for individuals, he was also commissioned by several major organizations. He’d helped redesign part of Casa Loma and created wall art at the Golden Lion Restaurant in Etobicoke.
He painted frescoes for St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toronto and St. Basil Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Edmonton.
Art was ingrained in his everyday life, a life full of family and friends.
He may have been in high demand, but money didn’t motivate Valenyuk the way creativity did. Despite his many commissioned jobs, he was in and out of work as an artist. He did everything he could to provide opportunities for his children, including sending Nadiya to York University.
Donations collected through the Ukrainian Credit Union will help cover funeral and other family costs.
Nadiya fondly recalled her father’s first project in Canada 12 years ago — to paint the magic railway for Thomas and the Magic Railroad, a film based on the Thomas the Tank EngineTV series.