Saskatoon artist, philanthropist Hugo Alvarado passes away at 71

SASKATOON – Hugo Alvarado, 71, died Saturday for his generosity towards the community and his love and passion for the arts.

His daughter Raquel Alvarado posted on Facbook in memory of her father on Saturday night.

Along with her sister Paloma, Raquel told CTV News Saskatoon that her father was rarely seen without a paintbrush in hand, and he loved sharing his work with everyone around him.

“You put a brush in front of him and it’s like the world has ended, he was happy to do that,” she said. “He loved working with bright colors and abstractions. He is known for his cityscapes, but he also does a lot of landscaping and paints the Saskatchewan prairies. “

Alvarado’s family said Hugo had pulmonary fibrosis and was waiting for a lung transplant at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.

While still in the hospital, his daughters said he had set up a studio in his hospital room and had distributed many of his paintings to the hospital staff.

“Whenever one of his favorite nurses or doctors came in, he would give them a painting. He just loved sharing his art with people, ”said Raquel.

Alvarado was named Citizen of the Year by CTV News Saskatoon in 2017.

Alvarado co-founded Artists Against Hunger (AAH), a group of artists who organize fundraising drives for auctions. Over the 25 years AAH has helped several local organizations including the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Center, the Friendship Inn and CHEP Good Food.

“It is my duty and an honor,” said Alvarado at lunch for Citizen of the Year 2018.

Alvarado donated his artwork to various organizations across Saskatoon. He donated art supplies to school children.

Alvarado came to Saskatoon in 1976 after being politically banned from Chile. He told CTV Saskatoon he arrived with no knowledge of English, with only five dollars and a pair of shorts in a bag.

In 2018, he recalled being helped by a police officer shortly after arriving in Saskatoon. He said he was lost and tried to stay warm in a bus stop in the middle of winter.

Alvarado said the city welcomed him warmly.

“I will never forget when I came. I (had) nothing either. When I see people on the street, hungry or suffering from single mothers, I just think, ‘I was there,’ ”he said. “I noticed that people are very good to me. You treated me like a friend. They open their hearts and their homes, so this became my home. “

Alvarado’s longtime friend, Don Greer, told CTV that he met Alvarado at an art auction and they have been friends ever since. Greer, known for his winter sculptures, said he will always remember Alvarado’s art and his dedication to Saskatoon.

“His hard work, the color of his skin, his enthusiasm to help,” Greer said. “His willingness to share and give, Hugo was a man of this community.”

Emotionally, upon learning of his close friend’s death, Greer said the impact Alvarado had on his family and anyone he worked with will not be forgotten.

“I will never forget Hugo.”

– With files from CTV Saskatoon’s Chad Leroux

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