Cultivating Creativity: Remembering J.F. Albert


“To create something from nothing. That is a life well lived.”

By Janet Jarrell

Just over a year ago, family, friends and the art world at large suffered the sudden passing of this well-known Canadian artist. J.F. Albert (Jerry) was born ‘Jaroslav’ in the Medvednica mountain ranges (translated as bear mountain) of central Croatia. He immigrated to Canada, first landing in Toronto, but quickly moving on to settle in Frankford Ontario where he grew up.

He made a career as a paper broker, a profession that had him moving from time to time. He lived in Trenton and then Belleville, before traveling across the country to Western Canada, family in tow, and then down into Washington State, USA before returning home to settle in Baltimore, Ontario. Jerry enjoyed travelling, being out in nature, photography, sketching wildlife and landscapes, and wood carving too.

He always wanted to paint, but for reasons of his own, he left that passion waiting. Sometimes all we need is a heavy nudge, and that is exactly what Jerry got when his wife presented him with his first set of paints – he was 52 years old. It was the permission he needed to pursue his passion for painting, something he did everyday for the rest of his life.

Jerry’s favourite place to paint was en plein air – out in nature. He was known to drive out into the country side and set up his easel in the back of the truck. His travels took him across the country, which he documented in paint. Once while painting in Canmore, Alberta, he had a dangerously close encounter with a grizzly bear. He did not panic, instead observed this beautiful creature in its own wild habitat. Once a hunter, Jerry was now a naturalist, a painter, somewhat known as a bear himself. Animals were just naturally attracted to him, and that was mutual. He was the Papa Bear to his family, a moniker his grandson used to call his grandpa.

Although well travelled, Jerry always referred to Northumberland County and surrounding area affectionately as home. Spring, summer and fall, he was rarely without a camera and his paints; he loved taking the back roads, going on day trips and finding trails where he could photograph, sketch and paint this beautiful region.

Compared to Manly MacDonald by some, Jerry continued to paint amassing a huge collection of art. In August of 2017, he took ill and was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A short twelve days later he died. So sudden.

We invite you to the Quinte Arts Council Gallery at 36 Bridge St E in Belleville to experience a part of his journey through his art. The show runs until Jan 22, 2019.

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