In Memory of

Robert

McKaskell

Obituary for Robert McKaskell

McKaskell: Robert (Bob) Ward- Our beloved Bob died on June 30, 2020. He was a man of exceptional intelligence whose life was marked by a profound curiosity of the visual arts and language. Bob is survived by his husband Hugh Barrett, his son Chris McKaskell (Michelle), and grandchildren Lisa (mother Marie) and Henry. Born in Montreal in 1943, Bob was raised in Fredericton NB. Having received undergraduate and graduate degrees in music and comparative arts from Acadia University, Indiana University and Ohio University, Bob eventually accepted a teaching position in Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism at the University of Western Ontario (1974) in London, ON. Here Bob was exhilarated by the lively debates of the exceptional artists in the community and thrived in their company. At Western, Bob was an outstanding Professor of Art History and specialized in the work of Marcel Duchamp. He ingrained in his students the lessons of Dada, a movement that questioned long-held assumptions about what art should be, and how it should be made. Bob “performed” his classes and relied, in the spirit of Duchamp, on a sense of play. Former students, now amongst Canada’s finest artists, never forgot these courses. Bob eventually left a full professorship in academia to pursue an ambition to curate at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and later the Art Gallery of Windsor. As a curator, he was a true collaborator and simultaneously championed and challenged the artists he exhibited. Throughout his career, Bob was always a tireless advocate of performance art. A diarist, Bob also wrote stories that were questioning and openhearted. He wrote dog stories, stories about his grandmother, and artworld stories that were observational, funny and absurd. Whatever he was writing, he was his own person on the page, incapable of sounding like anyone else. He was original, opinionated and wayward. For Bob, writing, smoking, and seeking solitude was just how he spent the day. It was a form of thinking. In the winter months, he loved being on his Oaxaca, Mexico rooftop overlooking the Zapotec site of Monte Alban. It made him feel grounded and yet spiritually connected to the ancient landscape. In recent months, Bob meticulously converted a room in his Oaxacan home into a gallery in which he supported the work of young Mexican artists. He was a champion of zestful experimentation and it gave him purpose and satisfaction. Likewise, he enjoyed the renovations that he and Hugh were making on Hugh’s childhood home in Port Dover, Ontario. Bob had his eccentricities, but they were always benign. He was, in fact, a very warm companion and superb host. His evening soirees, discussing novels, studying Spanish, sipping mezcal and sharing his passion for desert gardening, nourished many. He loved people well. None more than his husband Hugh. Cremation has taken place. SERENITY BURIAL & CREMATION SERVICES INC. 361 Main Street, Port Dover, Ontario (226) 290-9093 have been entrusted with the arrangements. For those wishing to make a memorial donation please select your favorite charity. A party to celebrate Bob’s life will be planned at a time when we can all gather. Online condolences can be left at www.serenityburialandcremation.com