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Sculptures honour outstanding citizens
Sep 04, 2009

Assiniboine Park is noted for the outstanding Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. This sequestered natural setting in Assiniboine Park displays a wonderful array of Mol’s artwork, masterfully sculpted over many years by the renowned artist. 

Thanks to Leo Mol’s generosity and his love for his adopted home, many of his works were presented to Winnipeg as a gift, which led to the creation of the magnificent sculpture garden in its peaceful outdoor setting. There is also an enclosed gallery and gift shop at this site featuring more of his pieces. In total, there are over 300 Mol bronzes, ceramics, paintings and drawings housed in the park. 

Mol, an internationally recognized sculptor born in the Ukraine in 1915, emigrated with his wife, Margareth, to Winnipeg in 1948. 

The Leo Mol Sculpture Garden has become important to many Winnipeggers, which was illustrated by his recent funeral service being held there. 

In paying tribute to Mol during the funeral, Premier Doer said that they were in the most beautiful place in Canada. 

In recognition of Mol’s great works and accomplishments, he was inducted into the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame in 1990, two years before the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden came to fruition, and seven years before the Citizens Hall of Fame inductee sculptures found a new home in Assiniboine Park. 

One of the best kept secrets of Assiniboine Park is the display of sculptures  honouring outstanding Winnipeggers, which is located in the Formal Gardens. 

Mol’s sculpture was not completed and installed until 2007 as it was his wish to do his own self-portrait at the time of his induction. However, due to Mol’s own preoccupation with working on other pieces of art and his humility, he failed to complete his likeness for the hall of fame. Local sculptor Madeleine Vrignon finally completed it in 2007, creating a masterful likeness of the talented and gracious man.   

With the recent installment of 2008 Citizens Hall of Fame inductee Bill Loewen’s likeness this summer, there are now 35 inductee sculptures prominently displayed under a canopy of majestic elm trees. Information on the 35 inductees and their accomplishments can be found at www.winnipegfame.ca. 

Loewen, noted as an arts philanthropist, is a lifelong supporter of the arts and a founding member of the performing arts consortium. He served as both president and chairman of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and received the Golden Baton Award in 1998 in recognition of his many contributions to the orchestra. 

He also led a successful movement to turn Winnipeg’s historic former Bank of Commerce building into a multi-use non-profit centre, provided extensive funding support to renew and upgrade the Pantages Playhouse Theatre, and made numerous financial contributions to other Manitoba arts groups and organizations.  

He is a member of the Order of Canada and received many distinguished business awards for the innovation and commercial success he engineered in the fields of computer services and electronic commerce.

Winnipeg’s recent designation as the 2010 cultural capital of Canada is testimony to the contributions of citizens such as Loewen. 

“When you hear someone talking about the importance of the arts and culture to Winnipeg’s fabric and identity you may want to let them know, if they are not aware already, how individual citizens like a Bill Loewen play an integral part in ensuring they do remain vibrant and will continue to flourish,” said Bill Burns,  the former chairman of the Citizens Hall of Fame. 

Later this month, Citizens Hall of Fame chairman Rick Preston will preside over an induction ceremony and reception to celebrate the contributions of the program’s 2009 inductee, who will be announced on September 21.