(This item was provided by Leonard's daughter Valli at the request of Stephen Jackson. Forgive us for the months of delay in posting this, it is shared with due respect for our friend and fellow artist.)
August 24, 1924 - February 5, 2011
Leonard Marcoe was born August 24, 1924 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. From an early age he demonstrated a talent and interest in art, beginning with designing and creating his sister Malca's Hallowe'en costumes.
During his university years, Leonard worked part time in window display at the Bay in downtown Winnipeg. The managers were so impressed with his windows that he was requested to assist with the window displays in downtown Vancouver. Leonard also created the costumes for many of the theatre productions for the fraternity to which he belonged while in attendance at the university of Manitoba, at which time he was enrolled as a pre-med student.
Because of family illness, Leonard had to leave university and take over management of the family business which was Marler Shoe Store, located at 406 Main Street in what was then known as the McIntyre Block. Leonard quickly became famous for his wild and zany windows, costumed sales people and ladies' dress shoes that were dyed with vibrant colours and beautiful clips.
Leonard married his best friend and partner, Bernice in 1949. Theirs was a true romance and a strong relationship. They had two children, a son, Paul, born in 1952, and a daughter, Valli, born in 1954. Leonard loved being a husband and father and the house was always full of love, laughter, lively discussion, good music and of course - a great deal of art.
In the mid 1960's, Leonard tired of the business world an wanted to return to university to study his true passion which was art. He enrolled at the University of Manitoba and graduated with honours and majored in painting.
Leonard's dream was to have his own art gallery/studio in order that he could have a space to create and promote local art. During the 1970's, there were very few opportunities and venues for the local artist in Winnipeg. He began by renting a space on McDermot Avenue East and it was known as "Arts in Sight" Studio. Leonard primarily focused on his own work, and became more diversified by not only painting, but silk screen printing and pottery. He also instituted Saturday morning art classes for children where he would encourage the children to be creative and would often take them on walking tours of the area for inspiration.
Leonard moved on to purchase an old home on Sherbrook which he renovated and it was known as "Leonard Marcoe Studio Gallery."
Leonard continued with his beloved art classes for children and began in earnest to show and promote local art. His art openings were unique and always an adventure to attend. He helped many artists to get their stsrt an exposure, including Kim Forrest, Darlene "ˇoots" Toews, Eva Stubbs, Marvin Turner, Judith Allsop, and Bud Gillies to mention a few. He had successful shows for more established artists such as Grant Marshall.
The time came for Leonard to downsize, and he sold the building on Sherbrook, and rented space on Stafford and finally in the Silpit Building in the Exchange. Leonard continued to create his works and promote local artists.
Leonard and his wife loved traveling to tropical destinations and his favourite escape was to Cozumel, Mexico in the Yucatan. His later works of painting, pottery, and papier mache masks reflect this influence with both vibrancy and subject matter.
Leonard was always recognized as an outspoken supporter of the Winnipeg Artist Scene and write a number of reviews of various shows for the Winnipeg Free Press. He also reviewed restaurants, bakeries, children's toys and books, as well as cultural events such as Folklorama for CBC Radio. He was an instructor for gifted children with the St.Vital School Division.
Leonard also was invited as a guest to deliver lectures at the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Architecture. He was often called upon to appraise various works of art and sit on exhibition juries.
Leonard had his own work on display in his art gallery, as well as at the Site and Mayberry Galleries. A Show of of his work was also featured at "A Show of Hands" Gallery in Toronto. His work was also shown at the University of Manitoba and the Manitoba Crafts Council. The public and private collections of Leonard's work include the Government of Manitoba, Government of Canada, and privately in the U.S.A. and Australia.
In November 2010, Leonard contributed to a book on Eva Stubbs entitled "For The Love of Creation".
The last few years, Leonard faced some health challenges and family tragedies. In January, 2010 leonard lost his beloved son, Paul to cancer and it devastated him. In May, 2010, Leonard lost his partner and best friend, Bernice. Leonard was brave and fought to continue, but the challenges and grief could not be overcome. Leonard died on February 5, 2011 with his devoted daughter Valli at his side.
An evening commemorating Leonard's life and work was held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on June 15, 2011, and there were moving speeches and tributes to Leonard and his dedication to the children he taught and to the local art scene. Leonard's work is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in the Art Rentals. An auction of Leonard's paintings, prints and pottery was held in November 2011 at the Rady JCC in Winnipeg with the proceeds earmarked for charity.
Leonard will not be forgotten and his work and generosity will live on.