July 20, 2010

In Loving Memory, Chris J. Melnychuck

On June 13, 2010 Christopher J. Melnychuck passed away after a determined battle with Cancer.

The works on this blog are works created by Chris. They are in my personal collection, I put them here so others could enjoy them. If you would like to purchase works, or donate and help upcoming animators through the Chris J. Melnychuck Legacy Memorial Scholarship contact the Quickdraw Animation Society.

First off it is important to give credit where it is due. Chris was a good friend to me and an incredible inspiration to many in the arts community in Calgary.  We had an unlikely friendship. We met through the Quickdraw animation Society sometime in 1999 because we each won a Production Scholarship.  Over the years Chris and I took workshops together, animation and shamanism and I always made sure to go to his openings.  He was usually the guy who people talked to to get cheered up.  It was me he went to for inspiration an cheering up. When his heart was broken, or personal battles with his weight, work, staple guns, or even when he was up against the insurmountable art world in Calgary, I know he talked to me to get another perspective. I would encourage him to get back on the horse and show him that life kept on going. I tried to give back to him what he gave to so many.

His enthusiasm and childlike positivity were contagious. He had a huge positive impact on those around him. He was also a painter at heart, like me.  In fact, a very important point here is that some years ago it was him who told me to start drawing every day. If it were not for his challenge and influence this blog would not exist!

Infinity Guitar ~ Chris J. Melynchuck
Acrylic and Collage on Canvas  2007

It wasn't until his Memorial this past Saturday when I had a chance to reflect, hear stories an tell my own, that I realize the positive effect he had on those around him. He is my hero, he knew how to live an enrich others at the same time, friens and art were the most important things to him! I read in his baby book that @ 3 the things he love most were coloring in his coloring book and building stuff with his blocks. Go figure.

One story that I forgot about was during the move from 15 pound pink productions, Kevin Kurtynik and Carol Beecher's home studio where they made "Mr. Reapers Really Bad Morning" and a few other films.  It was a destruction party as the house was being torn down.  Richard Reeves and Darlene were there to help and so where Chris and I.  We enabled each other in the worst way possible, and here is how.  We took the heave claw foot tub out of the second floor bathroom and decided to sen it down the stairs. At first we were going to ride it down, good thing we got talked out of that one, at any rate I went to the bottom and filmed the silliness, we were like kids in a candy store. Would you believe it, the damn thing sparked when it hit the floor!

The Beauty Within ~ Chris J. Melynchuck
Acrylic and Collage on Canvas  2006

For a while, Chris worked at the Kensington Art Supply store building canvases.  He had an overstock of about 40 frames of various sizes in cedar. He cut me a deal and let me walk away with the stretcher bars for around $200. I still needed to stretch the canvas over them, so he ordered a bolt for me for just above cost. He bent over backwards to help me be creative. And would you know it... All the Tibetan Deity paintings and some of the stuff I am still working on today are from that wholesale order I made way back then. The gift that keeps on giving! He ended up starting his own successful company building the best quality canvas's, so many artists are working on his grounds, including Artist  Paul Van Ginkel (see his work here).

 Chris was not only talented he was an incredibly spiritual person. We took Manfred Lucas's shamanism course and discover our spirit animals together. He journeyed with his Grizzly Bear.  Chris had a strong affinity with symbols, notable the spiral. He left behind notebooks of drawings (a drawing a day) and writings. At the memorial numerous rooms were filled with artwork, his movies pare still laying at festivals, reminding us of the importance of making art, he had a positive impact on all those he met, he leaves us with a legacy of creativity.... his "Art the Artifact of living a life." Chris was passionate, dedicated, optimistic, hard working, generous, honest, excited, inquisitive and made others feel better just by knowing him.

  Harvest Guitar Revival ~ Chris J. Melynchuck
Acrylic on Canvas  2007

 A special thanks goes out to our mutual friend Kari Mcqueen for having the strength and courage to MC the memorial and for all her hard work getting curating the art show. To Julia Burns for a moving eulogy, to all the volunteers, sitar player and Chris's brother for the phenomenal space for the event to be held.

I had myself convinced that I would not go up an share my words at the memorial. Those who went up wept, it took so much courage.  It was a definite hot spot with a direct line to my heart. I don't like being vulnerable, especially in front of a crowd. I heard a voice in my head, it was Chris telling me not to be a "chicken". It felt as though he gave me a swift kick in the butt.  I tell you, most who know me would say I'm not shy, on the contrary really outgoing...... but I can tell you I had never been so afraid or nervous in my life. My palms were sweaty, I choked back tears, my stomach had more than just butterflies in it. It was really more difficult than I thought and things did not come out the way I had wanted, but I think the message got across.

I visited Chris a week and a half before he passed away and he told me that he wouldn't wish "this terrible disease" on anyone. It was hard for us to communicate as he was weak and could barely speak, but he still had that youthful glint in his eye. He said, the thing that he missed most from when he was healthy was his Ass, they removed it in what he referred to as the "Assectomy".  Making light of his situation no matter how painful it was........ He kept a good head on his shoulders, and one with a great sense of humor at that. That my friends is a beautiful thing!

Thank you Chris for the many gifts you shared with those around you. You will be missed.


Robert J. Ryan said...

I too had been very inspired by Chris. I walked with him through his radiation treatments and truly loved the time I got to spend with his amazing life insights and powerful strength through his illness.

I got to explore his mind so curiously and would give anything to have him back just one more day to give him a hug and tell him I would see him in another way.

I will miss our coffee shop excursions and drives throughout Calgary. I really am saddened by his departure and will always remember him dearly for how kind and open he was.

Thank you Chris.
Robert j. Ryan
fellow artist

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Brian. A lovely written legacy you leave here of yourself and of chris. He would be deeply touched.