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Charlie Rapsky gives the gift of art

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Jun 04, 2014 - 3:49 PM |
Artist Charlie Rapsky works on a mural at Sudbury Secondary School. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Artist Charlie Rapsky works on a mural at Sudbury Secondary School. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Although he's loathe to speak about it, Charlie Rapsky is aware he's in the twilight of his life.

That's why the large mural he's been creating on a wall at Sudbury Secondary School means so much to the well-known 85-year-old local painter, who attended the school himself in the 1940s.

Rapsky's creation — which he expected to finish in time for the school's June 5 graduation ceremony — will be on the wall as long as Sudbury Secondary stands, as the school has promised to never paint over it.

He said even after he's gone from the earth, he'll live on in the mural and his other art.


“Artists never die,” Rapsky said. “I'm going to be hanging around a lot after I'm gone on people's walls.”

Besides, it's a gift to spend time plying his craft at his alma mater 70 years after graduation, he said.

The mural features an Arctic scene with a polar bear and the north star — an appropriate subject matter, as Sudbury Secondary's mascot is a polar bear, and its sports teams are called the North Stars.

He's being helped by a group of the school's visual arts students Rapsky has nicknamed his “Charlie's Angels.”

Rapsky admits this has been a challenge for him, as he isn't as patient with young people as he once was, but said it's been refreshing.

“It revitalized even an old fossil like me,” he said, adding that one of the joys of being at the end of his career is passing on the torch to young people.

One of Rapsky's “Charlie's Angels” is 16-year-old Grade 10 Sudbury Secondary student Ryan Scanlon, who said working with the more experienced artist is a dream come true.

“It means a lot to me that I got the opportunity to work with such a good talent,” he said, adding that Rapsky taught him a number of new skills, including how to blend paint and how to clean brushes.

Sudbury Secondary principal Bob Deeth said it was a group of students doing a project on Rapsky's work that asked him if he'd be willing to do a mural.

“He said this would be the perfect gift to Sudbury Secondary from him,” he said.

Deeth said he thinks it's absolutely fabulous Rapsky has come back to his old school to mentor students.

“It's invaluable experience for our kids to work with somebody like that,” he said.

Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer

@heidi_ulrichsen

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