Stryjek, Dmytro, 1899-1991.

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Stryjek, Dmytro, 1899-1991.

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Dmytro Stryjek was born in 1899 in the village of Lanivtsi, Ukraine. Leaving Ukraine in 1923, he immigrated to Canada, settling in Hafford, Saskatchewan. In 1926, he joined the Canadian National Railway, retiring 38 years later. During his working life, he gardened and kept bees, but there is little reference to his making art. The outdoor life had its effect, however. Over all those years, he stored up observations of nature that make his landscapes and skyscapes so vital. He once stated that he "...worked 38 years on the railroad and every five minutes the sky is changing." He was also influenced artistically through the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Hafford which is full of folk ecclesiastical architecture and decoration. When Stryjek did start painting, he was misunderstood by local people in his town. He was sometimes referred to as "Durny Stryjek" (crazy Stryjek). A local acquaintance explained that it was very strange for an old man to use crayons and pencils as if he were a child. Stryjek moved to Saskatoon in the late 60's and it was there that he began to show his artwork. He showed from 1975-79 in the Saskachimo Exposition, an annual exhibition of cattle, agricultural industry and homemade goods. One room was set aside for the display of art, all unjuried. It was here that his work started to gain some attention, and he was awarded a red ribbon in 1978. From that time on, Stryjek began to receive support and encouragement, selling his work to local collectors and to public collections, and being included in exhibitions of prairie folk art. His work is now in many public collections, including the Glenbow Museum, the Mendel Art Gallery, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The artist was a prolific worker up until his death in 1991. (Kate Davis, Director, MacKenzie Art Gallery)

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