Remembering Jerry F. Albert

The Link, Winter 2017
| by Janet Jarrell |

The recent and sudden passing of the well-known Canadian artist Jerry F. Albert has stunned the art world in Canada and abroad. Jerry not only leaves behind his family including his wife of almost 50 years, Susan, his two daughters Kristina (Lloyd) Dyrow and Shanna Albert, and his grandson Andrew – he also leaves behind a legacy in his art.

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 attended Kemptville College where he met his soon-to-be wife Susan.

“Sometimes we can almost fear the enormity of our passions…”

Jerry made a career as a paper broker, a profession that had him moving from time to time. He lived in Trenton and then Belleville, across the country to Western Canada with family in tow and then down into Washington State, U.S. where he lived for many years. 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 we can almost fear the enormity of our passions, so they wait. Or sometimes all we need is a heavy nudge and the latter 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 every day for the rest of his life. He read an article in ‘American Artists Magazine’ featuring artist Matt Smith which led him to sign up for a workshop and from there his painting studies began.

Jerry’s favourite place to paint was ‘en plein air’ – out in nature. He was known to drive out into the countryside and set up his easel in the back of his truck. While living south of the border, Jerry painted some epic landscapes in places like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Ouray, Colorado, Scottsdale, Arizona, Carmel and Laguna, California and Wells, Maine.

His spectacular landscapes continued when he returned home to Canada to Baltimore (just north of Cobourg) in 2003. 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 and 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. In winter with the first snow, like the bear, he was ready to hibernate. His passion moved indoors and he used this time to create his larger pieces, working from the photos he took, the sketches he did and the memories he kept.

Referred to as the next Manly MacDonald, Jerry continued to paint, amassing a huge collection of art. In August of 2017, Jerry took ill and was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A short 12 days later he died. Suddenly. We are left with the paintings that reflect his journey, the journey of that bear wandering through the woods, through his travels all the way to his hibernation.

To read more about Jerry and see many of his paintings, please view the website isanybodyoutthere.ca

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