Lynda's Art Gallery Michael's Art Gallery Press Contact Home
 

Lynda Lapeer

Lynda’s story was written by her months prior to ‘moving beyond the physical world’ on December 16, 2007. The following was published in a Yoga Spirit Newsletter

I sit overlooking the woods behind my home in the small village of Gore’s Landing on Rice Lake where I have lived for over 30 years. For the past 13 years I have lived here alone with my daughter Angela who is now 17. I am reflecting on my life as I have been asked some pointed questions due to my current health condition.

In the winter of 1976, while living in the highlands of Guatemala with my partner Michael, I contracted Guillaine-Barre Syndrome and became totally paralyzed. I was hospitalized for 13 months while undergoing extensive therapy. This experience brought me many powerful gifts that have guided me throughout my life. The most profound was to realize that my ultimate freedom in the situation was my choice of attitude and remembering that I was a complete, whole being inside my unresponsive body. I experienced unconditional love from my devoted partner Michael. When I was discharged from hospital, I was left with nerve damage to my legs but I continued to do everything in my power to heal and strengthen my body. I incorporated yoga into my therapy regime and with encouragement of Michael, an accomplished artist, I became a successful painter. For 6 years we supported each other until 1982 when my beloved Michael succumbed to lymphoma. With this deep loss, I found solace & strength with yoga, meditation and my painting to move through life and carry on.

In 1988, I traveled to Kripalu for a 4-month program of Spiritual Lifestyle Training. This program strengthened my body, spirit and my commitment to the relationships in my life. Following a 21-day yoga intensive at Kripalu in January of 1989 I began to teach yoga in my community. My passion for yoga overcame my apprehension about my physical limitations. A sense of community was important to me and I felt privileged to contribute with my yoga teachings. That spring I became pregnant with my daughter. I realized that my window of opportunity to take the Kripalu YTT was shrinking but I decided to apply for the November training even though I would be in my 3rd trimester. My intentions were to proceed but my partner was diagnosed with MS and so my responsibilities at home increased. I decided to take their weeklong intensive program instead. My daughter Angela was born in January 1990 and by 1994 I was a single parent.

In 1999, I was still determined to do a yoga teacher training program and enrolled in a 2 1/2 year course close to my home. The teachings were based on the work of Vanda Scaravelli and allowed new pathways to open with this work. With encouragement from friends and colleagues, I rallied my courage and began teaching in several small local communities. I immersed myself with as much exposure to exceptional teachers that came to local studios and Toronto by attending workshops with Yoga Spirit. I was still determined to learn as much as I could. My body was getting stronger and there were noticeable changes in my legs. I attended a workshop on Anusara Yoga and immediately felt that this approach incorporated all aspects that I had been looking for and working towards. I was determined to do their Teacher’s Training even though it would be extremely challenging for me. I felt that to be the teacher I wanted to be, it would entail learning and sharing this wonderful method.

In March of this year my teaching, practice and YTT plans came to a halt as I was hospitalized with abdominal pain and diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. Following surgery, I once again realized that my attitude was everything and that instead of fear; I would focus on love for answers.

In July, after undergoing 3 rounds of chemotherapy, a scan showed that treatment was ineffective and would not continue. I was told I was on “my own”. Since that day, I have spent my time researching and learning all I can about alternative treatments and practitioners who may help me. I am spending my time following a regime that I hope will heal my cancer.

My daughter and I are trying to stay positive and optimistic about my recovery but she worries about her future, as her father is now a quadriplegic due to the MS.

I have been profoundly moved by the kindness and love being shown to me on this journey and I am grateful for all the blessings in my life.

 
     
 

Artwork by Lynda Lapeer

     
     

Click here to view more thumbnails

 

 
 

Michael Behnan - An artist and singer who probed the ordinary

Michael grew up as a child in Prescott, Ontario along the St. Lawrence River. He attended South Grenville District High School, went on to University of Toronto where he received an Honours Fine Art degree in 1970. He spent the entire summer that year painting in Spain. He battled with cancer for three years before being called to his Creator and Master Artist at the age of 35 on September 22, 1982.

Despite his illness his family and friends believe the last three years of his life were the most productive as he concentrated on many new mediums of art after losing his voice. Michael had a passion for life, for his friends and family, and politics. He was known for his depictions of life in small-town Ontario. Michael married his soulmate partner and artist, Lynda Lapeer, and they lived in Gores Landing north of Cobourg for ten years.

He was an admirer of the American radical folk singer Phil Ochs and visual analysts of the human condition. He used his art and his music to portray mankind’s lot. But instead of presenting abstract moral generalizations, he stayed close to what he saw and knew daily – the sick, the poverty-stricken and the dying in Guatemala, the colourful locals of Gores landing on Rice Lake, Cobourg, and Toronto. He painted ordinary people going about their pleasures or enduring their sorrows; members of his family were rendered in monoprints based on old photographs.

Both Michael and Lynda found time to travel – annually they went to the Mariposa Festival on Manitoulin Island, visited Ireland and England. They were victims of the earthquake in Guatemala in 1976 and helped others revive their lives and dignity, until Lynda had to be brought home when she was struck with Guillaine-Barre Syndrome.

According to the Cobourg Daily Star Michael’s life and art changed while he was in remission. He and Lynda hitchhiked all over southern Ireland and Newfoundland, singing and painting as they went. He painted huge and colorful canvasses of east coast seascapes and British Isles vistas. The crimson of bulging blood vessels of his earlier portraits were replaced by deep, ocean blues, illuminated skies and bright colours.

Although Michael made his living and described his life as a professional artist, he and four other musicians (George Bertok, Jim Leslie, J.P. Hovercraft, Doug Bowes) produced his first album called “Night Shift Life” (Mad Dog Records). It was about men and women of the streets, labourers and drifters and frequenters of bars who play out their day and nighttime dramas. The cover, included on this website is one of Michael’s early lino-prints from a sketch drawn while he was playing at the British Hotel in Cobourg. Michael’s partner, Lynda, illustrated the cover of his second album “Sweet Cosima”, (also included in this website) that included more of his ballads, and showed his awareness of the human condition and musically illustrated his sensitivity and compassion for people. He always expressed his compassion in concise and clear terms.

In August, 1981 a show of his paintings was held at Toronto’s Gadatsy Gallery, where once again he demonstrated his remarkable ability to transmute the simple visual ideas of folk art into vehicles for deep, humane visions – again of ordinary life. Since 1970 Michael’s artworks were showcased in more than 20 one-person exhibitions in Canada and South America. His graphic art appeared in Canadian Forum, This Magazine, Sound and other periodicals. He was professionally represented by the Gadatsky Gallery on Yorkville Avenue in Toronto where he showed in 1976, 1980 and 1981.

In Michael’s final year of his life he compiled a collection of hospital drawings during his first major bout with cancer. In his final months he was constantly reassuring family and friends who were worried about him. An incredible depth of spiritual development took place and he was able to transmit much of this to those around him. Shortly after Michael passed there were several celebrations of Michael’s life at Cold Springs, Ontario and tributes were paid to him on CBC programs (Morningside, and Speaking Out were two).

At the time this website was created to pay tribute to Michael and Lynda, Michael’s most immediate family, brother Andy in Guelph, Ontario, sister Lorraine in Ancaster, Ontario, mother Anastasia in Guelph, father Eddie (deceased), sister-in-law Anne and his nieces Kimberley in Toronto and Kelley in Buffalo, N.Y. still treasure his memory and his art and music. Along with them is Lynda’s loving daughter, Angela Stimac-Lapeer.  

Together we dedicate this website in their memory – Michael and Lynda, who followed Michael Home on December 16, 2007.  May they both “Rest In Peace” and enjoying painting the skies eternally.

 
 

Artwork by Michael Behnan

     
     

Click here to view more thumbnails

 
   
All images on this site are protected by copyright.
© 2017 Lorraine Behnan. All rights reserved.