Ivan Wheale continues his philanthropic tradition

Little Current artist Ivan Wheale may be in a class all of his own, but he recently showed just how classy he can be when he donated one of his iconic Georgian Bay masterpieces to a fundraiser for an injured Afghanistan veteran.

SUDBURY – A chance phone call from old friends piqued the interest of Manitoulin’s elder statesman of (oil paintings that is) Ivan Wheale. By the time he had hung up the phone the famed artist had committed one of his iconic Georgian Bay oil paintings to a fundraiser for Afghanistan war veteran William Kerr.

“I had a phone call from some friends and I asked ‘what have you been up to?’ and they told me about how they were involved in this fundraising event for an Afghan vet,” recalled Mr. Wheale. “I said ‘you know I would like to help.’ They said ‘really?’ and I said ‘why not?’”

So it came to be that an oil painting of “a couple of rocks appearing out of the water on the other side of Killarney with lots of pink granite” became a key part of the efforts of the fundraising efforts of a group of seven artists who exhibited pencil sketches, watercolour paintings, portraits and oil landscapes to an exhibition fundraiser. Admission was free, but public contributions were accepted at the door by members of the 2912 Sudbury Irish Royal Canadian Cadet Corps.

Corporal William Kerr, late of the Second Battalion Irish Regiment of Canada, who now lives in Chelmsford, lost both of his legs and most of one arm on October 15, 2008, during his second tour in Afghanistan. Mr. Kerr was four hours into a foot patrol when a remotely-detonated explosive device went off underneath him, shearing off his legs above the knee and severing his left arm just below his elbow. The veteran deals daily with the physical effects of his experience overseas with determination, patience and the support of family. But to help him become even more independent, artist Judith Van Boxel and a group of other artists decided to raise funds for a vehicle that can be modified for use by a triple amputee.

“He had a vehicle that was modified for him before, but that one is more than 10 years old and has reached the end of its useful life,” said Ms. Van Boxel. “When I received the call from Ivan’s friends saying he wanted to help, we were over the top.”

“It’s a good thing I asked how things were going and what my friends were up to,” said Mr. Wheale, “otherwise I probably would never have known.” He said that he was very pleased with how the event turned out.

The fundraising event raised a significant portion of the cost of a new vehicle. 

“We really have to thank those young cadets who helped out at the door,” said Ms. Van Boxel. “They were there all day long and were a really big help.”

The unveiling of Mr. Wheale’s 2019 paintings will take place at Spring Bay’s Perivale Gallery on Sunday, May 19 at 1 pm and, as usual, that show will be among the highlights of the Manitoulin summer art scene.

Mr. Wheale said that he was very excited about this year’s paintings. “I am very pleased with how vibrant the colours are this year,” he said. “I am looking forward to the opening. Like the La Cloche Art Show, I get to see a lot of people I only really see about once a year. We get to catch up.”

The reception for the Ivan Wheale unveiling will take place on Sunday, May 19 at 1 pm at Perivale Gallery.