On February 26, 2013, William Perehudoff passed away in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at the age of 94.
Born in the Doukhobor community near Langham, Saskatchewan, Bill studied art in Colorado Springs, New York and Europe before returning to Saskatchewan in the early 1950s. Over the course of his 25-year career as a commercial artist for the Western Producer, Bill actively participated in the Emma Lake artists’ workshops and developed his personal style of painting, eventually moving from landscapes and murals to the international abstract style that established his reputation as a leading Canadian abstract painter. Without question, Bill was one of the most respected artists to come out of Saskatchewan.
Jeremy and I have the privilege of representing Bill and his wife, renowned landscape painter Dorothy Knowles, as owners of the Assiniboia Gallery. Working with them allows us into an exceptionally artistic family. All three daughters—Catherine, Carol and Rebecca—are fine painters in their own right. In particular, we work closely with Catherine, the facilitator of all of our visits to collect new artwork.
In 2000, we made our first road trip to Saskatoon to visit Dorothy and Bill. Catherine met us out at their farm, where she was charged with the task of being our official tour guide. The first thing we noticed was the uniqueness of the farm. Alongside their comfortable home were several outbuildings that served as painting storage and studio spaces. Most spectacular was the breathtaking backdrop of the North Saskatchewan River and the prairie that stretched farther than the eye could see.
We met with Bill in his studio and, after Catherine had helped us select several recently painted works on paper, watched while he carefully signed each piece. The works were then handed to Catherine, who photographed and entered each painting into inventory. It was a methodic ritual that we came to know well during our many visits to the farm over the years.
Back into Saskatoon only a few hours after that first trip to the farm, Jeremy and I tried, unsuccessfully, to locate a particular downtown business. We walked around lost for quite some time before we happened upon Bill, who graciously showed us the way. Every time we've been to Saskatoon since then, one of us recounts the story—"Remember that time we ran into Bill Perehudoff in the middle of Saskatoon . . ."
We will always remember Bill, his incredible talent and his generous spirit. It has truly been a privilege to know and work with him. We will miss him.
Photo courtesy of Mendel Art Gallery