Some people paint landscapes – Voja Morosan became inseparable from them.
Before he died in 2008, the Belgrade-born artist had become one of the most visible practitioners of art in his adopted city of White Rock. A familiar sight on street corners whenever the sun was shining, Morosan sat, day after day, at his easel, wearing his trademark straw hat, reproducing views of the city with his unerring draughtsmanship and sensitivity to light and colour.
In retrospect, it’s clear that many of his paintings immortalized pieces of city heritage that subsequently fell victim to the wrecker’s ball and the inevitable march of progress.
That’s why it’s appropriate that several of his paintings have become part of White Rock Museum and Archives permanent collection, thanks to a donation from the artist’s widow – and continuing champion – Norma Morosan.
She recently visited the museum to deliver five canvases of historic views of city landmarks past and present, which were gratefully received by curator Amanda Sittrop and archivist Hugh Ellenwood. The subjects include the former Semiahmoo Secondary and White Rock Elementary buildings, now gone, as well as the old station building that houses the museum and the remaining enclave of pioneer homes on Elm Street, all rendered with Morosan’s customary detail and fidelity to light, shade and atmosphere.
Morosan said that, while she can’t believe it’s been five years since her husband’s passing, she is always amazed at the evolving White Rock scene.
“Can you believe how much has changed in five years?” she said. “It’s nice that Voja recorded it the way it was.”
Sittrop said the museum plans a formal display of Morosan’s paintings after the conclusion of the current Rock, Paper Scissors crafts-oriented exhibition. After, they will remain preserved in the archive, with the potential to be exhibited on a rotating basis.
“It’s a really emotional day,” Morosan said. “Voja would be overwhelmed. It always inspired him, sitting there painting. When we first moved to White Rock he couldn’t believe the abundance of light and colours, the difference between here and Ontario where we used to live and work.
“He was very happy – he loved it out here.”