"True to form, he passed surrounded by love and creativity, and I’m confident that even though he couldn’t say it out loud, he knew wasn’t alone."
A well-known Chilean-born artist from Saskatoon has died.
Hugo Alvarado died Saturday, his family shared on Facebook.
His daughter, Raquel, wrote in a post: “Hugo Alvarado (July 16, 1948 – May 23, 2020) wasn’t just a man. He was a giant, who lived a brilliant, epic, unbelievable life. He taught me everything I know and I am so proud to be his daughter, curious and stubborn and restless in every way just like he was. All of my politics and passions, anger and hope…it was all because of him.”
Alvarado arrived in Saskatoon and started his journey as an artist after he fled to Canada from Chile as a political exile in 1976 following a violent military coup in 1973. In her post, his daughter Raquel wrote, “He said he wished his parents could have seen the life he’d built when he left Chile in political exile and came to Canada alone all those years ago. He told us that he knew they would be proud, because ‘after all, I found peace and love far away.’ I’ll always remember that.”
He built a career in Saskatoon as an artist known for his landscapes, cityscapes, still life, and nude portraits. He is also remembered as a philanthropist who helped co-found Artists Against Hunger (AAH), which has supported Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, the Saskatoon Crisis Nursery and CHEP Good Food Inc., through art auctions and events.
Alvarado’s son, Ricardo, wrote a poignant tribute to his dad on social media, noting the past few weeks have been rough, but that his father was consistent right to the end.
“This past few weeks his hospital room quickly became his art studio, and he was creating and sharing his gifts until almost his last breath. True to form, he passed surrounded by love and creativity, and I’m confident that even though he couldn’t say it out loud, he knew he wasn’t alone,” he wrote.
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark spoke fondly of Alvarado in a social media post on Sunday.
“Sarah, Rachel and I visited Hugo and Julie in February and had a wonderful visit, even as he was struggling greatly with his lungs and waiting anxiously for word that he could get a transplant.”
Clark says even when circumstances were bleak, Alvarado saw the positive.
“In late April we got a message from Hugo in Edmonton where he was waiting for a surgery that really touched me, from his very challenging circumstances he always saw hope and opportunity,” remembers Clark. “He signed off by saying ‘I miss Saskatoon and our friends and our children. Please be safe you, and the kids….It is a good time for all of you to do fun things together.’ ”
Alvarado is remembered for his artistic and charitable contributions, but also for being a man who loved his family.
“And while there is never enough time with the ones we love, I know that he’ll live on forever in the stories we tell ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren,” wrote his daughter, Raquel.