Page 1

“ Like a g ra ndfat her ”

Fredericton art community pays tribute to the art and mentorship of the late Bruno Bobak Meghan O’Neil The Aquinian

A book of condolences is laid open for Bruno Bobak at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton. Words filled the pages paying homage to one of Canada’s great artists. They spoke of gratitude for the time he lent to the art community, as well as to his friends. Bobak, who received an honorary degree from St. Thomas University in 1984, passed away at the Saint John Regional Hospital last Monday night at the age of 88 from throat cancer. “Sometimes he was quite shy,” said Germaine Pataki-Thériault, manager of Gallery 78. “Sometimes people take shyness as being standoffish but when you got to know him then it was very, very easy.” Pataki-Thériault’s mother, Inge Pataki, started the Fredericton gallery. Bobak not only had many of his works shown at Gallery 78, but was good friends with the Pataki family. “Molly [Lamb, Bobak’s wife] and mom used to make bread together and go fiddle head picking and Bruno would go fishing with my dad. He was a guy who did lots of things with so many different people.” Pataki-Thériault met Bobak as a young girl when her family moved to Fredericton from Germany. She has spent many meals with Bobak and his dry sense of humour. Pataki-Thériault said it was the best way to break the ice, his good sense of humour. “It’s funny to say that he felt like a grandfather figure because obviously we’re not related or anything, but we would spend lunches and dinners together at times and my dad and Bruno were really good friends,” said Pataki-Thériault. Bobak was born in Poland and moved to Canada at the age of three. At 13, he began taking art classes in Toronto and working under Arthur Lismer, a member of the Group of Seven, the influential collection of Canadian landscape painters. In 1942, he enlisted in the army and served as the youngest official war artist

Wonder Woman left out in the cold

Justin Cook The Aquinian

during the Second World War. He met Molly Lamb, a fellow war artist, and they married three years later. They settled in Vancouver before moving to Fredericton in 1960. Pataki-Thériault said his time spent as a war artist helped him grow in his art, as well as a person. Many European influences translated into his later works, especially his figurative paintings, she said. He had his hand in many different mediums such as paint, watercolor, sculpture and printmaking. As well as receiving an honorary doctor of letters from St. Thomas in 1984, Bobak was also recognized by the University of New Brunswick two

years later with an honorary doctor of literature. Two years after his move to Fredericton, he accepted the position as the director of the arts centre at the University of New Brunswick. “He created this community and the community wasn’t just for visual artists. It was a community for literature, for music. It was just this golden era for art in the 60s and 70s that happened up at the art centre when Bruno was there,” said Pataki-Thériault. During Bobak’s 26-year stay at the centre, he worked with Betty Craig. Craig worked as Bobak’s secretary for 12 years and got to know Bobak and Lamb

outside of the centre. “He’s an easy man to know. A wonderful boss, easy going and kind. If I’d make coffee one day and take it over to his desk, he’d say ‘you made coffee yesterday so today I’ll bring the coffee to you,’” said Craig. Bobak never went anywhere empty handed, said Craig. “He’d always bring something. If beets and carrots were in season, he’d take some from his garden.” Bobak gave the Pataki family, from their perspective, the gift of naming their gallery. “My mother, Inge, who started the gallery, was trying to figure out what to call it and Bruno said ‘just make it simple,

just call it 78 because that’s where it used to be, at 78 Brunswick [Street]. He’s been with us for 36 years,” said Pataki-Thériault. Like many others in the Fredericton art community, Pataki-Theriault still finds it difficult to speak of Bobak in the past tense. “The things he would do, the clever things. He wanted to have a one of those beautiful ceilings that are gold, like metallic. There’s a type of cigarettes that had a gold lining so he saved all those and he plastered the ceiling with them. He was a very patient man,” said Pataki-Thériault.

Bobak was the youngest war artist during the Second World War. (Canadian War Museum/Submitted) I’m not sure if people hate Wonder Woman, or if they’re just apathetic to her. Maybe it’s a sign that our society’s still got some sexism in their veins. The only thing I’m sure of is that there must be some reason that every attempt to expand her franchise fails. Batman’s blowing up the box office, and Superman keeps getting movies whether they bomb or not. It’s quite sad that a weak Superman knock-off and a glorified opportunity to see Halle Berry in bondage gear were worth spending millions on, but not Wonder Woman. The final member of the trinity hasn’t had a single feature film. Even Supergirl had a movie, and I don’t even want to bring up the 2004 Catwoman film. Comic fans aren’t to blame. She’s always sustained a monthly comic book which sells fine. Her 2009 animated movie is the fourth highest grossing out of 14 and when you take into account that the majority of these films feature Batman, Superman, or

a combination of both, this is a pretty impressive figure. Therefore, it’s the rest of the world that’s keeping Wonder Woman down. Sure, she had a successful television series in the 70s, but she’s also had four failed attempts at live-action shows. Just last year a pilot was filmed for NBC, but they decided they weren’t interested. Surprisingly, CW has announced that they’ve begun planning a Wonder Woman series (tentatively titled Amazon), but we’ll see how far that gets. It was announced in 2001 that she would have her first theatrical release. Since then it’s been in development hell. Avengers director Joss Whedon was even attached to it from 2005-2007. Basically he eventually left because the powers-that-be just weren’t into it. A Wonder Woman film’s been announced yet again, this time just because all of DC’s main Justice League members are getting a shot at the big screen (despite the

traumatic misstep that was Green Lantern). If someone asked you to name a female comic character, I guarantee your first thought would be Wonder Woman. She’s an iconic character. She was created as a strong independent woman during a time when women were happy they could finally vote. Wonder Woman’s a badass. She’s smacked Superman around countless times and could literally tear Batman in half. A batarang isn’t going to stop a pissed off Amazon. It’s a shame Whedon didn’t get his chance. Whedon is the rare filmmaker that understands a female character who isn’t around to be rescued. Buffy was a vampire slayer, not the pathetic mess that Twilight woman is. In the Avengers, Black Widow’s not there to play the love interest. She knocks Hawkeye out, survives an encounter with the Hulk and isn’t afraid to take on a Norse god. I’d be willing to bet money that Whedon

would’ve done the character justice. Unfortunately, now we’ll get a Wonder Woman who’ll probably just stand in the shadows of her male counterparts. DC recently rebooted their entire line of comics. Since then there’s been some notorious and borderline misogynistic depictions of female characters. In August, DC announced that Superman and Wonder Woman would be hooking up. The scheme’s generated sales and a lot of media attention, but it’s hard not to see it as a step back for her character. I’m sure Superman will soon be back with perennial damsel-in-distress Lois Lane, but until then fans will have to hold on hope that there’s no lasting damage to Wonder Woman’s character. If we’re lucky, maybe someday she’ll get a real chance to shine outside of the comic world. Recommended Reading- The Crow Special Edition TPB

Vol77issue04page10