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- Mol, Leo, 1915-2009
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- Molodozhanyn, Leonid
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Leo Mol, a well-known Winnipeg sculptor was born in January 15, 1915, in Polonne, Ukraine under a name of Leonid Molodozhanyn. His father was a commercial potter and Leo worked for him from his early childhood. Leo’s father wanted him to continue the family business but Leo’s plans were different, he wanted to study painting in Vienna. He managed to persuade his parents and spent several years at the Wilhelm Frass’ studio in Vienna. On Wilhelm Frass’ recommendation he was hired by Frans Klimsh, a well-known Berlin sculptor and was accepted in Berlin Academy.
In 1943 Leo Mol married his wife Margareth and in 1945 the family moved to Amsterdam to escape Soviet advancements. In Amsterdam they spent some time in a refugee camp in a monastery in Eindhoven. In a village of Schijndel Leo Mol discovered a small ceramic factory and produced molds for figurines. He advanced to the position of supervisor and in his spare time studied at the Hague Academy.
The Berlin Partial Blockade (1948) made Leo Mol decide to move to Canada and change his Ukrainian name (Leonard Molodozhanyn) to his penname Leo Mol. Leo and Margareth sailed to Halifax and continued their journey by train to Saskatchewan. They were destined to work on a farm near Prince Albert. They arrived in the winter, and there was no work on the farm. Leo Mol left for Winnipeg in search of employment and found work in a church supply store owned by J. Maydanyk. Leo worked hard for low wages decorating churches in Winnipeg, Brandon, St. Anne. He supplemented his income by creating fine ceramic figurines with Canadian themes. They are considered now some of the best ceramics in Canada.
Leo Mol is well known for modeling over one hundred portraits among them are such famous personalities as D. Eisenhower, Churchill, Pope John II, Allan Eastman, Y. Hnizdovsky, the Group of Seven painters and many more. He received several commissions from the Canadian Government, the Provincial Government of Manitoba and Alberta, the University of Manitoba and Ukrainian University in Rome. Leo Mol also participated in many national and international competitions such as monuments to John Diefenbaker, Max Bell and Shevchenko monuments in Buenos Aires (1971) and St. Petersburg (2001).
Leo Mol executed over 90 stained glass windows for churches in Manitoba. The most famous one is the Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Winnipeg. In the 1970’s Leo Mol produced large life-sized figures of women. These nudes are his masterpieces “Hope”, “Dream”, “Europa”, “Balance”, “Negro Girl” and many more. During his artistic life he also created drawings of nudes. Leo Mol is a predominantly sculptor but he is also a painter who created many beautiful paintings and drawings. His paintings depict Canadian and European landscapes.
In 1989 Leo Mol decided to donate his personal art collection to the city of Winnipeg. The Leo Mol Garden was officially opened in 1992. This outdoor gallery is open to public free of charge. People come to enjoy this unique and outstanding display of art and it attracts many visitors every year. In 1995 the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden was a recipient of Award of Excellence for innovation. Also in 1995 the Manitoba Parks and Recreation Department presented the Garden with an Award of Merit.
During his life Leo Mol received many awards and honors. He was a member and a past Vice President of Manitoba Society of Artists and Society of Artists and Sculptors of Canada. He also held memberships in many organizations such as the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, the Allied Artists of America, Muenchener Kuenstlergenossenschaft , and the Society of Ukrainian Artists in Diaspora. Leo Mol received honorary degrees from the University of Winnipeg (1974), the University of Alberta (1985), the University of Manitoba (1988) and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1989.
Leo Mol’s work is recognized all over the world and his artwork can be found in the galleries, museum and private collections in Canada, Europe and United States. Leo Mol is a well-known international sculptor of Ukrainian origin. He passed away on July 4, 2009.
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