Prairie Prestige Digital Collections

Ukrainian-Canadian Artists - Sterling Demchinsky fonds

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In Saskatchewan, several of the Ukrainian churches that dot the landscape of this province, were painted by the artist, Stepan Meush.  Meush, like Maydanyk, immigrated to Canada during the early half of the twentieth century, and served as the leading church painter for Ukrainian parishes throughout Saskatchewan. Educated and trained in Lviv, Ukraine, Meush also studied art in Italy, where he developed a style reminiscent of the great Renaissance painters.

 Three main paintings of central mural behind the altar by Stepan Meush, 1936, St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, Arran, Saskatchewan (UCAWA - 08_11_270) One of the first large churches he painted was Yorkton’s St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. His masterpiece was the interior dome which he painted using an oil base fresco technique. The piece, titled, “Proclamation of the Holy Mother of God in Heaven”, consists of some 160 figures painted throughout the whole circumference of the dome (Baran, p. 152). It took nearly 2 years to complete, and is today considered one of the finest church paintings in North America. The church of St. John the Baptist in Arran, Saskatchewan, contains the original work by Meush, including the main paintings found in the sanctuary of the altar. The remaining murals in the church were painted by Theodore Baran some twenty years after Meush completed his artwork. 
Three main paintings of central mural behind the altar by Stepan Meush, 1936, St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, Arran, Saskatchewan (UCAWA - 08_11_270)


Besides painting churches in Saskatchewan, Meush was commissioned to redecorate the original St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Transcona (Winnipeg), after a fire damaged part of its interior in the 1940s (later demolished to make room for the new church building). Over half a century after his death, Meush’s art is still appreciated and admired. A few of the churches that Meush painted, including Yorkton’s St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, have been designated Saskatchewan heritage sites, specifically because of his art.

While Ukrainian Canadian artists like Mol and Kowal have created art using various mediums and themes (both religious and secular), others have established themselves mainly as religious artists, -- be they church painters, iconographers or designers of mosaics and iconostases. Ukrainian Canadian iconographers such as Emil Telizyn of Toronto, and Marianna Savaryn of Edmonton, have become renowned icon writers both nationally and internationally.

  Telizyn though known mainly as an iconographer, has worked successfully as a sculptor and iconostasis designer. In 1988 to commemorate the Millennium of Christianity in Ukraine, he was commissioned to create a large mosaic of Christ over the entrance to St. Nicholas Church in Winnipeg. He also served as the lead designer of the large bronze monument to the Basilian Fathers in Mundare, Alberta (located in front of the Basilian Fathers’ Museum).

Mosaic of Christ on south side of exterior, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church by E. Telizyn, Winnipeg, Manitoba (UCAWA - 08_11_053)


Marianna Savaryn is considered solely an iconographer, who writes her icons with traditional materials such as gesso-treated and cloth-covered wood with egg tempera medium (“Art as prayer and Scripture: Iconographer: Marianna Savaryn  creates image of faith”, Edmonton Journal, April 29, 2006, p. B6). Her icons show traditional depictions of Christ, the apostles, and saints, as well as more recent canonized and beatified individuals, such as Blessed Bishop Vasyl Velychkowsky, whose shrine is located in Winnipeg’s St. Josephat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in West Kildonan. Savaryn is recognized as an accomplished iconographer, and is considered to be one of the best in her field in North America.



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