Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Philip Iverson was a terrific artist. I had the pleasure of moving him and several dozen of his 8’ by 4’ works on two occasions since first making his acquaintance some five years ago. Here were these unframed behemoths splintering as we brought them down four tight flights of stairs. “Oh, pshaw. Don’t worry about that,” he’d say, handling his own works with no more care than one would show a discarded toy.
Philip was a kind and confident man in those days, undeterred by the occasional seizures he suffered from. He’d been diagnosed as epileptic originally, before the tumors started appearing. His creative process was itself not unlike a controlled seizure (at least, so I am told, for I never had a chance to watch him at work). One hot summer day, he and his wife joined us at my parents' house for a swim. I don’t think anyone has ever enjoyed that pool as much as Philip did: diving, splashing, and executing cannonballs with abandon. He was such a kid, getting everything he could out of the moment.
He was a good friend, too. A fan of celtic music, he would make a point of attending my sad little acoustic gigs, and he would play the bodhran at jam sessions down at Hurley's Irish Pub (no one had the heart to tell him his rhythm was lacking – he was obviously having so much fun). Philip was an accomplished and celebrated artist, but was ever humble and supportive of whatever slim talents others had. I will miss him, as I already have been for some time; such was the toll of the cancer that was eating his brain away, bit by bit over the last two years.
Goodbye Philip. I hope wherever you are, you’re having as much fun as that day at the pool. You deserve no less.
Family will receive condolences on Friday, August 18, 2006 from 3 to 7 p.m. at le Centre funeraire Cote des Neiges, 4525 Cote des Neiges Rd, Montreal, QC. (514) 342-8000. Interior parking. Donations can be made to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery - Philip Iverson Memorial Fund (Fredericton, New Brunswick).
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Post-script (Aug. 21):Thanks for the comments, all. It was a warm-hearted, secular service and it ended in a bit of an Irish wake. Some of those closest to Philip had some charming anecdotes to recount, like the time he started sawing his pieces in half to make them fit in the trailer when heading off to his first Toronto exhibit. And how he never even off-handedly mentioned to the others in the Irish jam sessions that he was an artist. How honest and unassuming he was right up to the end. I held back tears listening to Philip's father speak. I will never get used to seeing the utter anguish of a parent who has lost a child.
For those who want to browse through some more of the Iverson porfolio, you can check out the site he put up here.