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Features / June 1, 1993

Greg Curnoe: A Hero’s Journey

The view through the big windows in Greg Curnoe’s studio in the Riverview Heights section of London, Ontario, is familiar from a number of his paintings. There, across the Thames, sits Victoria Hospital. The same Victoria Hospital where Gregory Richard Curnoe was born in 1936. Where Jack Chambers died of leukemia in 1978, leaving Curnoe the senior artist in a city bubbling with creative activity. And where the ambulance took Curnoe’s dead body on November 14, 1992, after he’d been struck by a pickup while riding on Highway 2 with his bicycle club, the London Centennial Wheelers.

Shortly after the accident—which seemed to tear the heart out of cultural London—the police called on Sheila Curnoe, returning her husband’s Mariposa bike, now horribly twisted, and the helmet he’d been wearing. The two objects now lie together in one corner of the 40-by-40-foot studio, amid the artist’s accumulated inventory, including some of the series of pictures the very same bicycle—images so famous that another London painter, John Boyle, can remember seeing them hanging in restaurants in Scandinavia and hearing them praised in Germany and France.

So begins our Summer 1993 cover story. To keep reading, view a PDF of the entire article.