Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Discovered! Leo McVarish - Illustrator/Painter

Finally, after posting Carry On - Reflections from a War, and putting out a call for anyone who might know the artist, L.J. McVarish, we have been discovered.

It is an interesting story, and it is still unfolding.

Virginia McVarish of Massechussets USA was researching her family history and found our reference to L.J.McVarish and our call for connections to him.

In January 2014, Ms. McVarish contacted me, thinking that just possibly, she knew which branch of the McVarish clan had the painter, L.J. McVarish.  She promised she would pursue it and she had me wait.

Then, this week, in February 2014, she made the connection, and indeed, she located his brother, Dennis.  Had we known that L.J. stood for Leo Joseph, we would have found Mr. McVarish sooner, but the text only gave us the initials, L.J.  In the end, Leo Joseph McVarish was found to be Manitoban, just like James Cameron.  He was a decorated veteran of WWII so, was considerably younger than Uncle Jim.  Unfortunately, Mr. McVarish passed away in 2010 so we will not meet him in person, but we do want to recognize the artist in this book of poems.

Clearly both poet and painter had a sense of the disaster known as war.

We would like to know how this collaboration came to be.  Was L.J.McVarish referred by the publisher, Freisens, of Altona?  Did he illustrate many other books of poetry? Did they have many conversations about the poems.  Leo McVarish did true artistic justice to Uncle Jim's poems.

Next I will contact Leo McVarish's brother, Dennis, and show him this blog.  Perhaps we will unfold more of the story.

Here is the 2010 tribute to the painter, Leo Joseph McVarish that was printed in the Winnipeg Free Press following his passing, in 2010.