Trail artist’s work leaves lasting legacy

Velen Fanderlik left a legacy as a teacher and an artist, known locally for his paintings of Trail.

by Lana RodlieIf you go into Council Chambers at City Hall, you’ll see some beautiful paintings depicting old Trail. My favourite is the one of Byers Lane. It’s like it comes alive with new features every time I see it. Was that dog always there? Have some of the clothes disappeared from the clothesline, and has the man in the forefront made a few steps closer since the last time I looked?

That painting, along with all the others, were left to the citizens of Trail by Velen Fanderlik. He and his wife, Velenka were well-known in the art scene. But I knew him as a teacher. Often, he digressed to his life before the war. I don’t think there was a single class at Crowe that didn’t hear how he escaped his homeland on skis over the mountains.

Although he had been a lawyer in Europe, he didn’t talk about his life as a military judge or his membership in the prosecuting team at the Trials of Nuremburg. Nor did he talk about his involvement with the World Scout Committee where he and his father organized the Czechoslovakian Boy Scout movement and Velen became president.

Velen was born and educated in Czechoslovakia. He displayed artistic ability from an early age, but followed family tradition and became a lawyer. During the Second World War when Czechoslovakia was being absorbed by the Soviet Union, Velen fled. He practiced law in England, and also in France, where he worked as an evacuation officer for Czechoslovak refugees. It was there that he met his wife Velenka. They were married in 1941.

On a visit back to their homeland in 1947, Velen was warned that his name appeared on a list of persons considered dangerous to state security. So the couple fled Czechoslovakia illegally to the American zone of West Germany, where they involved themselves in the work of the International Relief Organization. About a year later, they returned to England, but before long, made the decision to relocate to Canada. They settled in Vancouver, where Velen worked at the YMCA and studied at UBC to become a teacher.

In 1955, Velen accepted a teaching position at J.L. Crowe Secondary School. Here, he taught Latin, History, Social Studies, Law and Art until his retirement. He also taught the History of Art at night school classes in Trail and Castlegar and at summer schools at UBC and Notre Dame University in Nelson.

Velenka also had an illustrious career – qualifying as a teacher in French, Slovak and German languages, she taught in Lens, France, teaching expatriate Czechs. In Canada, she attended business school in Vancouver, and inspired by her husband’s art classes, began to study art in 1958. She attended summer school at UBC, the San Francisco Academy of Arts and the Banff School of Fine Arts.

Velen went on to study art at the University of Brno, St. Martin School of Art in London, Cambridge University, the Academy of Art in San Francisco, UBC and the Banff School of Fine Arts. His favorite medium was watercolours, but he also liked oil paints, pastels and other mediums. He became known as a miniaturist and for his lino cuts.

Velen died in 1985. His wife had preceded him five years earlier. They left a wonderful legacy of artwork.

The Fanderliks were added to the Home of Champions monument September 28, 1996.