Monday, 26 September 2016

R.I.P. John Bentley Mays

 John Bentley Mays, a parishioner of St. Thomas More and member of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter died peacefully on Sept. 16 in Toronto, at the age of 75.  He was an influential art critic and best-selling author who wrote on matters of faith, art and culture.  

John's insightful writing appeared in the Globe and MailCanadian Art, The Catholic Register and the National Post, among numerous other national publications.
John  had a Faulknerian upbringing. According to his biography, he was born in 1941 “into an old family of cotton planters, small-town merchants and local politicians in the American South.” He came to Canada in 1969 and not long after resolved to become a writer. By 1980, he was the Globe and Mail‘s art critic – a post he held until 1998.

He was also known for writing bravely and eloquently about his own life, in books such as In the Jaws of the Black Dogs: A Memoir of Depression, and Power in the Blood, in which he tracks his family history through travels to Virginia, South Carolina, and Louisiana. Both were national best-sellers.

Later in his career he turned his attention to architecture and urbanism to which he brought clarity and accessibility. His book Emerald City Toronto Visited (1995) – about the development and history of Toronto’s network of neighbourhoods and its slow progress toward an international city – is still required reading for anyone interested in Toronto’s urban planning history.
John thought much of the Art Gallery of Ontario addition by Frank Gehry: “Gehry’s electric-blue design stands in friendly combat with the soaring table-top, next door, of the Ontario College of Art and Design by British architect Will Alsop, and, with its windows open to the city, it encourages viewers to recall contemporary art’s vital and ongoing relationship with contemporary metropolitan culture, its social problematics, conflicts and opportunities.”
Ardently pro-life and an Anglican who had entered into the full communion of the Catholic Church,  John described his conversion following a mystical experience at Lourdes (where he had never thought he would be in any way moved artistically or spiritually).  He wrote beautifully, thoughtfully and authoritatively on faith, culture, family and mercy. 
John's Funeral Mass according to Divine Worship: The Missal (Ordinariate rite) was celebrated by the Catholic Parish of St Thomas More, 263 Roncesvalles Ave., Saturday, September 24.

In John's memory, "Mercy in the City" -- two lectures by the noted Catholic artist and author Michael O'Brien will be given at Regis College, Queen's Park Circle and at STM, 263 Roncesvalles Ave. TORONTO, on November 17 and 18.  Check this site for details.

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