Leo Mol, Winnipeg sculptor, dies at 94

Internationally renowned Winnipeg sculptor and artist Leo Mol has died.

Internationally renowned Winnipeg sculptor and artist Leo Mol died Saturday at age 94, surrounded by family at the Tache Centre, a long-term care facility in the St. Boniface neighbourhood.

Mol's death was confirmed by a family friend Monday.

Born in Ukraine in 1915 as Leonid Molodozhanyn, Mol studied sculpture at the Leningrad Academy of Arts from 1936 to 1940 and in The Hague in 1943. He and his wife, Margareth, emigrated to Winnipeg in 1948.

During his career, Mol created works that are on display around the world, including bronze sculptures, ceramic figurines and stained-glass church windows. The subjects of his sculptures included such prominent historical personalities as Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Diefenbaker.

Mol created three monuments to Ukraine's most famous poet, Taras Shevchenko, which are located in Washington, D.C., Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Prudentopolis, Brazil.

In 2002, his sculpture Lumberjacks was featured on a Canadian postage stamp.

He also accumulated a large collection of his sculpture work and in the interest of keeping the collection intact, Mol donated it to the people of Winnipeg.

More than 300 of his works — bronze and ceramic sculptures, paintings and drawings — are displayed in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park. The garden was unveiled in 1992 and has been expanded twice since.

In 1989, Mol was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of his artistic contributions and in 2000, he was awarded the Order of Manitoba.

"Leo Mol was one of Manitoba's brightest stars. Through his work, he gave the Manitoba art world a gift that will enrich our province for generations," Manitoba Culture Minister Eric Robinson said Monday. "He was a world-class artist living in our midst, and our capital city proudly preserves his talent and passion through collections of his work."