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The art of parenthood

How one supporter grew closer to art—and her father—at the AGO.

Janice Klymson

Janice Klymson with Large Two Forms, 1966 – 1969 by Henry Moore. Photo AGO

One of Janice Klymson’s earliest memories is of sitting on the Henry Moore sculpture, Large Two Forms (1966-69), outside the AGO. This vivid image is one of many recollections that, for Janice, trace her lifelong love of art and her close relationship with her late father, John.

“Dad loved Henry Moore,” Janice explains, recalling the time she spent with her father at the AGO. “He also talked a lot about art and cultures from around the world and loved opening up my boundaries to new forms and shapes.”

According to Janice, art was a language through which John—himself an artist—expressed his values and principles. Over the course of years and countless visits, he used the works on display at the AGO to teach her about art, the world and himself.

“Art was transcendent for him,” says Janice. “It took him to a different place. And he could share that with his children.”

Through art, John introduced Janice to a wide variety of artists and cultures—and the connections between them. He explored topics ranging from literature to history to religion. He regularly led her through the Canadian galleries at the AGO, where abstract paintings and city scenes by Group of Seven artists reminded him of growing up in Winnipeg and works like Paul Peel’s After the Bath (1890) prompted passionate discussions about painting technique.

Janice adds that she and John always made a point of taking in works like Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Burger (1962) and Andy Warhol’s Elvis I and II (1964). “My Dad taught me that art can also be playful and fun.”

Janice and John continued to visit the AGO together as Janice grew into adulthood and studied art history at Queen’s University. The passage of years brought subtle shifts in their shared experiences.

“There was so much more that I could add to our discussions, and we had teachable moments in both directions,” says Janice. “We could communicate more as equals and have deeper conversations.”

Meanwhile, Janice was continuing her AGO tradition through other relationships. She and her husband had their earliest dates at the museum, and she now takes her own children to the AGO to help them understand the wider world—as John once did for her.

John Klymson

John Klymson

In 2018, Janice took her father for lunch at the  Norma Ridley Members’ Lounge. John, who by this time required the use of a wheelchair, was delighted by the service and ambience of the lounge and the accessibility of the AGO. Janice fondly remembers the outing—the last time she would visit the museum with her father.  

Moments like this, and the countless others she shared with John at the museum, inspired Janice to make a gift in her will in his memory. “My Dad is the reason art and the AGO are in my life. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have this gift as part of my legacy, because I want future generations to have that experience.”

The AGO is a proud partner in Will Power, a national movement of charities, financial advisors and legal professionals working together to show Canadians that they have the power to make a difference through their Will. Take a look at the free Will Power resources and tools at www.willpower.ca/charities/ago/ #willpowerca

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