After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Stefano Savioli remembered

 

Stefano Savioli

More than two hundred people attended a "Remembrance and Celebration of Life" yesterday at the Gorge Hall on Cortes Island to honor local artist Stefano Savioli.
Longtime friend Julian Ayers gave this eulogy...

Stefano Savioli was born in Roma, Italy, on the 26th of September 1949 and is survived by two older brothers, Luciano and Maurizio. Stefano married his first wife, Danila in the early 70’s, and they had a son together, Christiano, born April 1975.

The family moved to Canada in 1977, settling in Chatham, Ontario as neighbors to his best friend, Stefano Perdisa. The Savioli’s bought land and became farmers, raising corn and soybeans on the fertile farmland of Southern Ontario. In the winter of ‘78 they drove together to Belize, the first of many journeys Stefano would make to Latin America.

In 1980 Stefano sold the farm, and moved to BC to live on a boat in the Gorge Harbor. He discovered Cortes on his first trip to BC, and had fallen in love with the island. The family separated, Danila and Christiano moved home to Italy, and Stefano bought the house at the corner of Robertson Road, next door to Trudes Café.

In 1983, he became a land-partner of the property at Thunder Road, and over the decades he transformed the land into a unique expression of his creative vision, building gardens, a guest cabin, shop, studio and house, while living off the grid. Long before people heard of sustainable living Stefano was practicing a minimalist life, conserving, salvaging materials, and putting many long hours of hard work into the land that he loved so much.

Over those happy years he fulfilled his dream of becoming an artist, painting Cortes Island, and Islanders, in ways that reveal how the eye of the artist perceives the world and shows it to the viewer anew in ways we never imagined. With a gift for color composition, landscape and a vivid imagination, not to mention a touch of political and social satire, Stefano became a well known and much loved Cortes artist. He was unfailingly generous, giving anonymously to both individuals and community groups, while living a modest, quiet country life that gave him creative inspiration and inner satisfaction.

In January 1996 he travelled to Cuba, and met Abigail, his love and muse for the rest of his life. In 1998 they married in Havana, and came home to Cortes together in the spring. They were inseparable, working long hours together in the garden, growing their own food, and expanding the house to make room for Abigail’s son Samuel, who was finally allowed to leave Cuba in 1999 to join Abi and Stefano in Canada. Abigail and Samuel soon learned to speak English, Samuel went to school, and the family lived an honest, simple life filled with love.

They experienced many adventures together, travelling to Cuba, Peru, Italy, Paris, Holland and Mexico, often with just a small backpack, visiting out of the way places and sharing one another’s dreams. As the years went by Stefano, Abigail and Samuel were well loved and well respected in a small community where a person’s worth is based on their word, their deeds and their actions.

Having come to a tragic and untimely end has left us heartbroken and sad beyond measure. We ask how this could happen to a man with such a good heart, solid values, and so much love and respect on this island called home. There are no answers to our grief and our suffering, other than to remember that the light is always stronger than darkness. Stefano led by example, showing us ways to live in community within the spirit of love, compassion and friendship. We can honor Stefano’s spirit by expressing the positive, giving with a humble heart, and sharing our kindness and love with one another. Stefano always had a sparkle in his eyes, because he saw magic in the world around him. We will forever miss the gift of his light in our lives.

The eulogies were held outside under a tent.  The sixty-year old artist's son, Christiano, came from Italy and spoke. It was "very articulate and moving," a friend told me aftewards.  In her words:

Christiano talked about how his father was a "complex" man, and how they'd had difficulties in their relationship and didn't speak for a couple of years, but during Stefano's last trip to Italy they reconciled and the trip ended with a hug. Since then they'd been emailing and talking on the phone and rebuilding their relationship, so losing him was very hard. Lots of people talked and told stories, many of them were really funny, too. So lots of tears and laughter. Very sweet, Cortes memorial, but with this shadow  of murder hanging over it

We may never know who did this, someone said. We have to let that go.

More in Art

Giacometti & peers: "no lack of void”

Van Art Gallery show places mid-20th century master in cultural context

Move over Van Gogh: A New York City artist has re-emerged in Vancouver

Original, illuminating, Bhaskar Krag's 6x6 foot abstract paintings will rock your world. Krag's studio, along with many others, will be open this soon, part of Eastside Culture Crawl.

Canzine West 2016: giant zine fest hits Vancouver on Nov 5

Free festival showcases the best in zine and DIY art
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.