Biography of Roméo SAVOIE
Roméo Savoie was born in Moncton, New Brunswick, in 1928. He was granted a master’s degree in plastic arts by the Université du Québec à Montréal (1988), a bachelor’s in architecture by the École des beaux-arts de Montréal (1956), and a bachelor’s of art by the Collège Saint-Joseph in Memramcook (1950).
After earning his degree in architecture, he worked until 1959 with several architectural firms in Montreal. Between 1959 and 1964 and again between 1965 and 1970, he worked in New Brunswick, on his own and in cooperation with other architects. Over the 1959-1970 period, he was responsible, singly or in collaboration, for the construction of about fifty buildings.
In late 1964 and 1965, a study trip brought him to 14 European countries. It was his opportunity to visit famed architectural and urban projects as well as the largest museums in Europe. He settled in Carvajal, Spain, for three months, to practice painting. When he received positive reviews and encouragement from a French painter, an art that had been a spare time activity for him now became a passion. In November 1970, he began a two-year stay in Aix-en-Provence, France, where he gave himself entirely to painting. From that period on, his career as an architect faded into the background and his new passion filled his life.
Between 1973 and 1981, he taught part time in the Visual Arts Department at the Université de Moncton. He also taught adults, gave private lessons and led art workshops for children.
His involvement in the development of infrastructures in Acadie has not gone unnoticed. He was a participant in the establishment of several art galleries, including Galerie Sans Nom and Galerie12, both in Moncton. He curated the retrospective exhibition Les arts visuels en Acadie, held in Bouctouche as part of the 1994 Acadian World Congress. This exhibition was the largest visual arts show ever presented in Acadie, with 230 works that covered painting, printmaking, photography and ceramics in Acadie. He was the curator for an anniversary collection gathered by the Caisses populaires acadiennes, and coordinated, designed and co-directed, with Herménégilde Chiasson, the exhibition Évangéline, mythe ou réalité at the Festival international des arts contemporains in La Rochelle, France.
Since 1971, Savoie has exhibited his own work in more than 30 solo shows and as many group shows. His exhibitions have been very successful, especially after 1982. In addition, he has participated in performance art, designed sets for the theatre and published six volumes of poetry.
Savoie has received a number of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and from the provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec. He received the Miller Britain Prize in 1994, and the Strathbutler Award for excellence in visual arts, in 1988. He was also the winner of the Éloize as Visual Artist of the Year in 1988, awarded by the Académie des arts et des lettres de l’Atlantique.
Over the summer of 1997, he created in situ at the Galerie d’art de l’Université de Moncton, a mural painting on the theme of Evangeline, marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem. Since 1998, Roméo Savoie has had a constant stream of solo exhibitions, especially in Moncton and the Southeast region of New Brunswick; numerous group shows have also featured his work, in New Brunswick and elsewhere in Canada, in the Caribbean, in Brussels and in Paris.
In 1999, the Université de Moncton awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in visual arts, in recognition of his successful career as a painter. In 2001, the Festival des arts visuels en Atlantique, held annually in Caraquet, chose him as their patron of honour. He was also selected in the Parks Canada competition to create a commemorative monument celebrating the 400th year of Acadian settlement, at the international historical site of Ste-Croix Island, located between New Brunswick and Maine.
Works by Roméo Savoie are found in the Canada Council and New Brunswick Art Banks, at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, in the collections of the Université de Moncton, the University of New Brunswick, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, the National Bank of Canada, the Fédération des Caisses populaires acadiennes, the Caisse populaire Beauséjour, in Moncton, Assomption Vie, in Moncton, and Groupe SNC-Lavalin, in Montreal.