Internationally renowned visual artist Fafard passes away

Renowned visual artist Joe Fafard, whose work was shown everywhere from Japan to France to the United States to Prince Albert, has passed away at the age of 76.

Fafard’s family said he died peacefully and surrounded by family members at his home in Lumsden on March 16.

“Joe died the way he lived, simply, unpretentiously, in complete serenity, with a twinkle in his eye, but above all with the love of his family and friends,” his partner Alyce Hamon said in a statement.

The family plans to hold a private ceremony to celebrate his life. A public ceremony will be announced at a later date.

Fafard is best known in Prince Albert for the giant wolf sculpture that greets visitors at the entrance to the E.A. Rawlinson Centre and Mann Art Gallery Parking lot. Nationally, Fafard is known as someone who helped raise Saskatchewan’s artistic profile.

Born to a French-Canadian family in the small farming town of Ste. Marthe, Sask., Fafard first began making clay sculptures in the 1970s. The awards started arriving not long after, the biggest coming in 1981 when he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

In 1985 he established a foundry in Pense, Sask., and began using bronze in his works instead of clay. Meanwhile the awards kept coming in. He won the Architectural Institute of Canada Allied Arts Award in 1987, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2002, the National Prix Montfort in 2003, The Lieutenant-Governor’s Saskatchewan Centennial Medal for the Arts in 2005 and the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Fafard also received honourary degrees from the University of Regina, the University of Manitoba and the University of Saskatchewan.