James John Bennet: Painter. Chef. Athlete. Pal. Born March 3, 1965, in Ottawa died April 19, 2022, in Toronto, from troubles of COVID-19 aged 57.
James John Bennett died suddenly. The temperature was gray and chilly, and after having difficulties with COVID-19, his health and fitness was poor. Nevertheless he was safe at residence, at prolonged previous, and he was in really like.
He was a extended way from his childhood household, wherever he lived with his sister and brother and moms and dads, who ultimately break up up.
John, as we termed him, was born into funds, and funds remaining his fingers as shortly as it appeared. But by the time he grew sick, ravaged by health and fitness difficulties, including epilepsy and a debilitating again injuries, the Rake’s Progress was over: He experienced place apart his wild youth and lived in a smaller, immaculate condominium in Toronto, filled with tropical vegetation and the stunning colors of his paintings. In front of two votive candles stood a photograph of his father, Paul, a gentleman he struggled with and loved.
John arrived in Toronto in the 1980s from Ottawa College. He’d been a varsity basketball participant, design, artist and caterer-turned-chef, and ultimately opened a bar called Mrs. Smith’s Cocktails on Queen Avenue West. He promptly commenced breaking hearts and his closest mates notify stunned, affectionate tales about the man himself, who was so daring, vivid and alive. At his Vegas bachelor celebration, he organized an impromptu battle club, and limped towards his bride to receive a ring that hardly skimmed his initially knuckle a ring he would throw, impetuously, from a bridge as the relationship dissolved.
John survived severe childhood trauma and struggled most of his everyday living with habit and a bewildering collection of incidents and illnesses. He held his unparalleled lust for lifetime intact but he fell on difficult times a decade ago. He fought with all of his toughness to return, not to his suave and generally turbulent self, but to God and to serving some others. He give up drinking, acquired into condition and began, finally, to choose treatment of himself. And others: He gave talks at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Well being to addicts, which ended up nicely obtained he cooked for St. Michael’s church and homeless shelters, getting accomplished a stretch of sleeping rough himself.
His apartment was his safe and sound haven, his “happy area,” he instructed his superior mate and brother-in-regulation Bryan Hendry.
Acquiring sketched all his lifestyle, he turned to painting, sooner or later exhibiting his bold, shiny operate at the design and style boutique Qalat in Toronto. He used his brush like a knife: Indeed, he had a big chef’s knife inked on his still left forearm, which spoke to his life’s function as a chef and to the way he had normally lived: on the really edge of the blade.
“John improvised with colour and texture to build the most intensive expressions and affirmations of the natural beauty and turmoil that haunted him for many years,” recollects his buddy Shelley Falconer, president and CEO of the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
John achieved the charming and variety Teresa De la Nuez, whom he adored, and who cared for him soon after his bout with COVID. Teresa hardly ever remaining his aspect, but she was out when he died and she returned to come across him seated with his eyes open, as if waiting to say goodbye.
John did not meet Grace, his organic daughter from his unsuccessful to start with relationship, but he observed her picture, which he shared with near mates. He was very pleased of her and her identify was the very last matter he at any time wrote.
Skipped, amongst so quite a few matters, is this light giant’s massive snicker, his sharp wit, perpetual delight and his magnificence which grew better as it turned inward. At the outset of the epidemic, John and a mate walked to glimpse out at Lake Ontario. They viewed a lady feed dozens of pigeons: They roosted on her arms and shoulders gabbling of her loneliness.
John’s have loneliness was vast, his hope indestructible.
Lynn Crosbie is John Bennett’s pal.
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