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Fred Ross Passes away at 87

By Paul Constable, Director September 9, 2014

Fred Ross remembered as a seminal figure in Canadian art.

It is hard to keep informed of all the great Canadian artists that we have regionally, yet they seem to be well guarded art treasures of that region. I wish our public galleries would promote more Canadian artists within our country, before it is time to post their obit. Too often artists reach out to the rest of the world for attention before they are well known in Canada. The rest of the world seems to embrace much of what is being done in Canada before our own country does. Is it the size and diversity of our country that is overwhelming, yet the outside world look at the same country – how is it they can see the great Canadian artists?

Canadians and especially Canadian artists deserve to know what is going on in the other Canadian Provinces. This visual communication would start a catalyst in the formative development of an unique Canadian vision, a distinctively Canadian art conversation that our country is hurting for. It is sometimes hard to appreciate, value and nurture what we have in our own back yard.

Fred Ross passed away at the age of 87, Tuesday, August 19, 2014. He will be best known for his portraits and murals. 

Premier David Alward issued a statement, referring to Ross as a "seminal figure in Canadian art" and "internationally renowned." Ross was a mentor to countless young artists he taught art at Vocational School from the early 1950s until 1970, when he resigned as head of the art department to focus on painting full-time.

Ross was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2004, when he was praised for his contribution to the "rich social realist tradition of Saint John artists with his vision of Atlantic Canada and its people."

He was also inducted into the Order of New Brunswick in 2008 for his "numerous achievements and immense contribution to New Brunswick’s cultural identity and to the province and Canada's art world."

His work has been displayed at the National Gallery in Ottawa and he was the first New Brunswicker to have an exhibit in the art gallery of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

It was his 1993 Beaverbrook Art Gallery retrospective, The Art of Fred Ross — A Timeless Humanism that secured his reputation nationally.

View Fred Ross on CBC.

Fred Ross was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1927. He received his early training in Saint John and later travelled and studied in the United States, Mexico and Europe. He lives and works in Saint John.

Excerpts from “The ART of FRED ROSS A Timeless Humanism” by Tom Smart:

“In the dynamic artistic community of postwar Saint John, Fred Ross's talents were nurtured by Jack Humphrey and Miller Brittain. After working in Mexico with Diego Rivera and Pablo O'Higgins, Ross returned to his home city to develop his unique style. A figurative artist, Ross synthesizes images, symbols and gestures from the Italian Renaissance, 17th-century Dutch art, 18th-century France, and American Pop Art as well as the Mexican muralists.”

Since 1949 his work has been exhibited in more than 80 solo and group exhibitions. He has been the recipient of Canada Council grants and in 1986 was honored by the University of New Brunswick with the Degree of LL.D. In 1990 he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada. The artist has received the Order of New Brunswick in recognition of his artistic excellence and achievement and for his outstanding contributions to the cultural well-being of New Brunswick and its residents.


If you have a Fred Ross piece of art post it on FaceBook

 Hi everyone. I have started a Facebook page with the goal of collecting images of my dad's work along with historical photos & articles. If you have any images/content that you would be willing to post, thanks Chris Ross. - Here is the URL:

Fred Ross - The Lovers, 1950, Tempra with oil glazes on masonite, national gallery of Canada –  Diego Rivera Working on the Murals at the Palacio Nacional, Mexico City (ll), 1950