Exhibit offers reflections on late artist John Mlacak

‘Never seen’ work on display Sept. 30 to Oct. 16

From OttawaCommunityNews.com by Jessica Kunha, Kanata Kourier-Standard, 9/22/17

Chute du Diable

Koyman Galleries will host an exhibit of John Mlacak’s work, some completed shortly before his death three years ago. The showing takes place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 16. Pictured is an oil on canvas by Mlacak, titled ‘Chute du Diable.’ – John Mlacak/Courtesy Beth Mlacak

Some never-before-seen works by the late artist John Mlacak will be on display at an Ottawa art gallery.

Koyman Galleries, in the city’s east end, will display around 30 of Mlacak’s oil paintings — from the very small to the very large — in an exhibit titled Reflections, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 16.

The former March township reeve, who died in Sept. 2014, always had new art work on the go and was often working on two- to three-dozen at a time, said his widow Beth Mlacak.

“There’s going to be (paintings) for people who think they’ve seen everything, that they have never seen before,” she said. “This will be different.”

After his death, Koyman Galleries stored the entirety of Mlacak’s work and hosted a retrospective in 2015.

“It was so successful on many levels; it was very well attended, but even more so, the exhibition sold many pieces that showed that his work really moved many people,” said gallery manager Eddie Baroud.

“We decided to show his work again, new pieces that had never been displayed before. One reason was to show clients his vast array of works that he painted, as well as to meet the demand for his work.”

Mlacak always had time for anyone who wanted to speak with him and often showed up at the gallery with treats in hand.

“John’s connection in the community was pretty amazing. He was well-liked by many and had an amazing reputation in the art community,” said Baroud.

“He was a very patient and generous man; patient, to discuss his work any time and tell his stories about the composition and the location of his subject matters.”

Mlacak most enjoyed capturing Canadian landscapes with his brush, particularly when fall colours met early snow.

“He just loved that — the wonderful golds and reds popping through the snow,” said Beth. “It’s hard to look at his paintings and not see how much he loved (Canada), how much the country had to offer in terms of beauty. You can just see he brought it forward.”

Many scenes in his works are recognizable — trees along the Old Carp Road, a garden in the Glebe, and a lake in the Gatineau Hills. Other paintings take the viewer on a trip to far-flung destinations such as France and Italy.

“He painted scenes and places that people felt a connection to. And if they didn’t know the location, his paintings took you there,” said Baroud. “He achieved what he was trying to do.”

Aside from his oil paintings, Mlacak was well known for his community activism and 11-year political career, and is considered one of Kanata’s founding fathers.

He continued to advocate for his Beaverbrook community leading up to his death, pushing back against proposed intensification and developments that didn’t fit the vision.

An elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists and the Ontario Society of Artists, Mlacak’s artistic career spanned more than three decades. 

“John is pretty well-known in Ottawa. He has a very loyal and fond following,” said Beth, who will be at the exhibit on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

“It’s very gratifying for me to see it so professionally displayed — that’s what any artist would wish for. It’s really wonderful.”

Koyman Galleries is located at 1771 St. Laurent Blvd. For more information, visit koymangalleries.com or call 613-526-1562.

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