BICE, Megan Elisabeth
16 December 1949 - 6 June 2019
Megan was the dearly loved daughter of the late Clare and Marion (née Reid) Bice. Affectionately known as “Meegie”, she is deeply missed by her brother Kevin and sister-in-law Daphne, her niece Jennie (Joe Samorodin) and nephew Jory (Camille Atebe). She is fondly remembered by cousins Jane Peckham (Vaughn), Heather Simpson (the late Ken) and Jacqui Walsh (Michael). During her lifetime, Megan developed long and lasting friendships, sending out artfully-crafted greeting cards from her home in Toronto to friends and colleagues around the world, all of whom mourn her death.
Megan grew up in London Ontario where she was immersed in a wonderfully rich and diverse environment of art and design. The people, events and surroundings of Megan’s early years nurtured a passion for the visual arts, culture and Canadian history which she translated into a lifetime of work in art, becoming a leading curator and critical writer on painting and drawing in Canada. After completing her honours Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of Western Ontario, Megan studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London England and received her Master of Arts in the History of Modern Art with an insightful dissertation on the modern figurative painter Francis Bacon. While still a graduate student, she was assistant to the curator of the art collection at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
Upon completion of her Master’s degree, Megan continued her career in Canada, where she assumed progressively more responsible curatorial positions in public art galleries and museums: as an intern at the Art Gallery of Ontario (1974 - 1975); as Education Curator at the Art Gallery of Windsor (1975 - 1983); as Curator at the Sarnia Public Library and Art Gallery (1983 - 1987); as Curator in a variety of senior roles at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg (1987 - 2002); and as an independent curator based in Toronto from 2002 onwards.
In each of these settings Megan always sought out ways to get people, especially youth, excited by art. As a curator she brought her deep appreciation for history and her keen sense of colour and form to underscore the importance and beauty of the painted image. Over her lifetime, her curatorial work explored a number of significant themes and chronicled the impact of the artist on the development of Canadian culture and the importance of Canadian art at home and abroad. As a curator, she highlighted the work of Canadian artists including Franklin Carmichael, David Milne and Lawren Harris, as well as examining the mystical connections connections found in the landscapes of Canada’s Emily Carr, American painter Georgia O'Keeffe and Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Through this work, Megan developed a national reputation as an intelligent and sometimes audacious curator. Her colleagues in public galleries and art history became close friends, appreciating her for her sense of fun and fairness, her enthusiasm and professionalism, and her sensitivity and mentorship. In her later career as an independent curator, Megan was particularly honoured in 2005 to be asked by Av Isaacs to curate “Isaacs Seen”, a three-part show paying tribute to him as one of Canada’s pre-eminent art dealers. Megan’s love of art and the painted image lives on in her insightful writings in the numerous catalogues, essays and books she produced during her lifetime.
Megan kept in close touch with her wide circle of friends including those in her immediate community of Oaklawn Gardens in Toronto, fellow students from public school and university days, colleagues in the world of art across the globe, her childhood and family friends, as well as friendships nurtured during summers on Lake Huron at her family cottage in Kincardine. As anyone who knew her will tell you, she was a sucker for animals of all kinds, cats and dogs in particular, and especially Nellie, Jenny, Zoe and Charlie, often including them in her whimsical Christmas cards.
In recent years, Megan’s life was compromised by early onset dementia, robbing her of the capacity to be independent, spatially cognizant and articulate, and prohibiting her from continuing her creative life’s work. Throughout this illness, however, she remained positive and greeted her family and friends with excitement and a joyous smile during her times with them.
Megan taught us to view the world in an open and giving way. A beautiful sister, sister-in-law, aunt and cousin, a loyal friend, a valued colleague, a true humanist, a discerning critic, a lover of life, Megan will be deeply missed.
A service of celebration will take place at 11 a.m., Friday, June 14 at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, London with a visitation one hour prior in the church.
Special thanks to Valerie, Pat, Rachel, Maria, Karen, Christie, Heather and all staff at Country Terrace in Komoka, Ontario, to residents John, Gloria, Mike and Rob for their friendship and to Renée Melvin for her care. Megan’s ever-present smile will be remembered.
Memorial contributions to the Alzheimer Society of London and Middlesex would be appreciated.
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