Nfld. & Labrador

Gerald Squires, distinguished Newfoundland artist, dies at 77

Gerald Squires, one of Newfoundland and Labrador's most distinguished artists, passed away Saturday at age 77.
Long-time friend and gallery owner Emma Butler said Gerald Squires' death is an incredible loss. (CBC)

Gerald Squires, one of Newfoundland and Labrador's most distinguished artists, passed away Saturday at the age of 77 after battling cancer.

"There are no words, really, that can express what an incredible loss this is — not just to the arts community but to the province," friend and gallery owner Emma Butler told CBC News. 

Best known for his dramatic landscape paintings in oil and acrylic, as well as his portraits and surrealist paintings, Squires also worked as a sculptor, print maker and newspaper artist. 
This acrylic painting entitled Uprooted (1989) is on display at The Rooms. (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Squires was born in Change Islands but spent much of his childhood on Exploits Island.

At age 12, he and his family moved to Toronto where Squires developed an interest in art. 

Growing up, Squires and his family moved often as his mother worked as an officer with the Salvation Army. 

He returned to the province in 1969 and received numerous honours for his work, which has been featured in more than 300 solo and group exhibitions. 

'He was the best loved Newfoundland artist' 

"What this man has left behind is profound. It's an immense contribution to the history of Newfoundland art," Butler said. 

"Someone once told him that there were other Newfoundland artists who were better known than Gerry Squires, and there were better paid than Gerry Squires, but this person told him that he was the best loved Newfoundland artist."

Filmmaker and fellow-artist Kenneth J. Harvey is working on a film about Squires and his work, to be released in 2017.

Squires was awarded an honourary doctorate from Memorial University in 1992 and was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and appointed to the Order of Canada in 1999.

He also received the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's Hall of Honour Award in addition to the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Award.

"Money and fame weren't as important to Gerry Squires as being loved, and we all loved him ... It's an incredible loss. He was a gentle, gentle man," Butler said. 

The Rooms is curating a major retrospective of Squires' work for 2017.

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