Henry Vyfvinkel – Our People, Our History
Henry Vyfvinkel born Hendrik Vijfvinkel in Eindhover, Netherlands on December 13, 1934 was the eldest of five children to parents Zwaantje Vijfvinkel-Zweep and Izak Vijfvinkel.
His family was his inspiration in his talent and he credited his own father, who outside of work with Phillips Co was an accomplished artist, as being one of his earliest and most influential art instructors. “The desire to paint – make images that not only depict nature but also reflect the individual was instilled in me at a very early age. My father was the most content and happy person when he was painting a picture and I recall with great joy the times I spent just watching him paint. Some sort of peace, tranquillity and self confidence would come over him when he started painting – and yet there was also a passion and strength that would just emanate from him and fill the air of our tiny home in Holland- and I inhaled every bit of that.”
The call of adventure and travel played a big role in Henry’s life and in 1956, at 21 years old, Henry and close friend Hank, sized an opportunity to immigrate to Canada. Arriving with only a suitcase and a few dollars, he found lodging with a kind family in Eastern Ontario, and soon Henry and Hank formed their own business as house painter and decorators.
It was here in Canada that Henry met the love of his life and future wife, Juney Garlough in 1957 in Cornwall, Ontario. Henry and Juney were married July 18 1958 and settled in Brockville to start a family of their own. In the fall of 1959 they had their first of six children (Susan, Linda, Karin, Wendy and the twins Tim and Tom). Henry’s love for his family, near and far, was evident- sharing his caring touch and often incorporating them in his art.
Henry took what jobs he could get in order to take care of his family, growing his business to include billboards and commercial sign painting. He eventually landed a formal position as staff commercial artist for DuPont in 1965, and in 1972 began teaching part time classes in commercial art at St. Lawrence College. He later became a full time professor of Fine Arts and Teaching Master at the college until his retirement in 1994. Henry is also credited for the creation of the now well known Summer School of the Arts.
Even in retirement, Henry still had a hand in the arts, not just for himself, but for others around him: “Art is something to be enjoyed by everyone. And sharing this enjoyment is special to me.” He continued to enrich numerous art communities through his teaching and professional work. Long stays in St. George Island, Florida and annual “Paint Brush Holiday” travels with Juney to France, Tuscany, Normandy and Provence provided sources of inspiration and an opportunity for him to share his passion of the arts with others.
His love of art was self-evident and his commitment and dedication to his teaching, inside and outside the classroom was overwhelming. Henry always believed he was at his best when teaching: “The best part of teaching is sharing what I like best – Art. There is no difference between my art and my teaching; it gives me the same good feeling.”
As a professional painter, he is renowned for his “Northern Images” series, rich with colour and emotion. He has also become increasingly well known for his highly defined works from his travels abroad. His works are in private and corporate collections worldwide, and he has received a number of awards and accolades for his talents and his work in the art community.
Henry Vyfvinkel- December 13, 1934 to August 16, 2014