Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Shortly after Ivaan's death, two of our nephews, Angus and Ivor Benderavage, collaborated on a tribute to Ivaan which was published in the Globe and Mail, in the Lives Lived section, a regular feature about an interesting person who has recently died.  People who know Ivaan instantly recognized Ivaan's huge personality in the article, and readers who had never met him before suddenly felt as though they'd known him all their lives.  Here is the text of Angus' and Ivor's tribute:

"With Ivaan, we were always laughing.   He called us the plemeniks, Yiddish for nephews.  We called him avunculus, Latin for uncle.  Witty, debonair, endlessly fascinating, he was the coolest of uncles.
Ivaan exuded a rare, unabashed joie de vivre, perhaps because his early life was marked by extreme hardship.  He was born in a Nazi internment camp, where his parents, Mykyta and Maria, were forced to work from morning to night.  The family endured illness and near-starvation until liberation.
They immigrated to Canada in 1949 and settled in Smoky Lake, Alberta.  There, Ivaan’s passion for metalwork was sparked by observing the village blacksmith.  In 1951, the family moved to Toronto.
Ivaan was a member of the camera club at Harbord Collegiate Institute and he won awards for his early photography.  After graduating from Ryerson  Polytechnical Institute, he joined Maclean Hunter Publishing in 1967, and became Chief Photographer in 1970.  His many notable subjects included The Beatles, Janis Joplin,  Jimi Hendrix, Yousuf Karsh, Pierre Trudeau and the Queen.
By 1969, Ivaan’s focus was shifting to metal arts.  Although he left Maclean Hunter in 1973 to devote himself full time to metalworking, he continued to pursue photography as a hobby.  He won gold and silver National Magazine Awards for his photographic essay, No Fixed Address, published in Toronto Life magazine in 1996.  His long-standing interest in photographing street people reflected his deep respect for life. 
We loved spending time in Ivaan’s studio, sorting treasures and operating the grinding and polishing machines.  Ivaan transformed wax, plastic, glass and even bread dough into objects of beauty.  He cast jewellery and small sculptures in gold and silver using the ancient  lost-wax casting process.  His vision and skill were so breathtaking that nothing about him seemed improbable.  For years we believed a tale that certain painted bricks on his house were solid gold.
Ivaan and his long-time beloved, Eya Donald Greenland, married in 1995.   He taught us that carrying a camera was a great way to meet girls.
A relentless series of strokes that began in 2000 led to Ivaan’s eventual paralysis.  He adapted patiently to wheelchair life, continuing to laugh and to create.  Faced with an imminently fatal brain aneurysm, he underwent a pioneering neurosurgical procedure last December.  Although it was successful, he suffered a massive stroke, never regaining consciousness.
Ivaan was an artist for whom the creative process was as essential as breathing; from it he derived great joy.  He shared that joy every day."

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