The Gabriola Arts Council is paying tribute to a beloved and valued member the Gabriola arts community.
Jeff Molloy died of cancer in 2016 and on Jan. 16, on what would have been his 62nd birthday, the GAC is honouring the six-year arts council director and multimedia artist by naming its new administrative building after his performance alter ego, Jack Pine, and holding an exhibition of his work.
“People who were on the island who got to know Jeff were very fond of him. We had, I think, over 200 people attend a memorial for him just after he died,” said GAC secretary Margy Gilmour, a close friend of Molloy’s who shares a grandchild with him.
Gilmour said Molloy was the driving force behind the GAC acquiring and renovating the former Women’s Institute Hall that now serves as the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre, and without him the project, which was finished after his death, would not have come together. It is for that reason that the adjacent cabin is being named in Molloy’s honour. Gilmour said even when Molloy was too ill to attend council meetings, he was still giving directions from his sick bed.
The accompanying art exhibition is made up of work on loan from private collections. Gilmour said a lot of Gabriolans have Molloy’s work hanging in their homes and there was a great response when the GAC put the call out. His works include painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media pieces that examine Canadian history and identity. He was also a musician.
“I think people, even those who didn’t know him personally, have a fondness for him because he really comes through in his art. It’s very much who he was,” Gilmour said. “He loved Canada. He recognized that our history wasn’t always a just history for everyone and that comes through in a lot of his art. He was a real social activist, I would say, through his art and people remember him for that.”
Molloy was also a mentor to other Gabriola artists, Gilmour said, and added that he was admired for being somebody who “followed his own path in his art.” She said he openly shared his process with anyone who wanted to learn.
“When people were maybe struggling to find their voice or didn’t have their muse sitting on their shoulder, Jeff would just say, ‘You need to go out and paint the shed,” Gilmour said.
“And what he meant by that was you just have to go and keep doing it … and by doing art, something will emerge.”
Gilmour said Molloy lives on through his three children.
“They’re all artistic in their own ways and his youngest of six grandchildren, who wasn’t born at the time that Jeff passed, is called Jack Pine,” she said. “So, he will always be a way for us to remember Jeff and he actually, of all of the grandchildren, looks the most like Jeff.”
WHAT’S ON … Jack Pine Cabin celebration and Jeff Molloy art exhibit opening take place at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre, 476 South Rd. on Jan. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. The exhibit runs until Jan. 19 at 4 p.m.