Professor Betty Theresa Woo

January 4th, 1943 – June 13th , 2019

Artist and Teacher of Fine Art

We have lost a comet in the cosmology of artists, and, critical theorists, scholars, collectors, and curators of fine art agree, the galaxy has gone quiet, for a moment in immediate time, in total tribute to Betty Woo: artist, sculptor, educator, and teacher extraordinaire.

The extended Family, Friends, Colleagues and Associates of Betty Theresa Woo regret to announce the death of eminent renowned artist and professor of Fine Art at Vancouver, Canada on Thursday June 13th, 2019, at 4.39 am, peacefully, with friends at her side. She was in her 77th year, Ms. Woo has received many awards for her fine art during her lifetime. In the last decade, in 2010 Betty Woo was recipient of the Hands Across the Pacific, China Cultural Agency China Prize for her graphite portrait of artist Donald Slade. In 2014,Betty T.Woo was awarded the 900 year old fine art private HSH Longhouse Collection high honour and received the HSH Longhouse Collection Memorial Prize, for Meritorious Excellence, in recognition of her large body of outstanding art work over a 70 year period. Her works of art are held in distinguished international and private collections throughout the world, including China, Japan, UK, USA, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Egypt, Italy.

Professor Betty Theresa Woo, who signed her work BTW and BT Woo, developed great skill in brush painting with Chinese masters Ho Ke-Min and Yu Zon-Lin in Taiwan and graduated from the College of Chinese Culture and Taipei University in fine arts. Betty Woo excelled in and was herself a master in Oriental Art and brush painting on rice paper, and taught in Taiwan before coming to Canada at age 25.

Betty Woo was a contemporary figurative and portrait artist and sculptor and an associate of Basic Enquiry Centre for Figurative Arts, and had worked for many years with Severino Trinca, the international Milan Sculptor, and was a friend of and had exhibitions with artist Donald Slade. As a child prodigy she was taught by her mother. As an undergraduate in Canada, Betty Woo was taught and influenced in her early career by artist Peter Aspell. Betty Woo was a graduate of Vancouver Art School, now Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Betty in her own right, was a sublime, ground-breaking, ‘individual-one-artist-collective-aesthetic-force’. She was “… an inspiration to staff and students…” (Jeff Burgess/Langara College) and impacted large bodies of art students, and mature artist colleagues with her extraordinary art, manner, style and charismatic gentle personality. Betty Woo was an artist and teacher of exquisite phenomenal ability, who quietly, and competently connected directly with her students. “… Betty Woo was exceptionally influential and well liked and a great artist….” (Alain Boullard, Curator, Basic Enquiry) She had an innovative and exploratory enquiring mind: she loved teaching and did so with profound magnetic joy. Students and associates loved Betty and the emotion was fully reciprocal. Everybody she encountered intuitively responded with contagious passion to her charismatic sincerity and self-evident aesthetic integrity.

Betty Theresa Woo’s work represents highly innovative and imaginative contemporary forward looking and cutting edge phenomenological aesthetic respect of the dignity of the human figure, and, the actualized poetic soul, and spirit and veridical bona fide ‘presentation of self’ as ‘truthful’ human person and living entity. Professor Betty Woo’s works of art represent semiotic reciprocal interrogative human aesthetic respect, intermingling and conjoined with deep structural levels of sensuous whimsy, and wonder and understanding, within the artist herself and her subject as person. Betty was an absolute Master of colour and line; pen, ink and graphite; oil, acrylic and pastel: master of all mediums, including sculpture. Collectors and curators compared aspects of this authentically humane deeply empathic artist’s painting and remarkable figurative drawings to those of Viennese artists Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimpt. Betty Woo’s outstanding innovative philosophical and artistic competence was also compared across the full frequency sweep of inventive excellence of two American artists: impressionist Mary Cassatt, at the turn of the last century, and appositionally, modern contemporary figurative artist Michael Lipke: Betty T. Woo’s work, acknowledged as on ‘shoulders of giants’, was described as dynamically innovative and ground-breaking within her own oeuvre; ‘magnetically edgy’, formative, fascinating, sensuous, and simply, deeply, directly ‘deliciously authentic’.

She travelled extensively and had had more than 100 exhibitions in her lifetime worldwide. Betty Woo had taught at Langara College, Shadbolt Centre of the Arts in Burnaby BC, Capilano University. Professor Betty Theresa Woo’s final retrospective exhibition, curated by Marianne Otterstrom and Donna Hagerman; entitled “A life Well Travelled” was held at the Jack Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in September 18, 2018 thru October 16, 2018; originally for one month and held over and extended through mid November 2018 for a total two month run. Betty Woo stated at the opening of the retrospective, despite her illness, ‘she had had a good life, was ready to go, had no regrets and was in state of serene peace’.

Professor Betty Woo died of lung cancer, but notwithstanding her sudden September 2017 terminal six-month stage IV cancer diagnosis, continued in dignity to teach two fine art courses, then one course, with the encouragement and support of Jeff Burgess, Art Coordinator, Langara College. Betty endeavored to endure and continued to dynamically create and complete her final major “777” fine art undertaking. Betty’s response to her illness was profoundly positive generous selfless artistic bravery in the face of otherwise adverse extreme circumstance: that is, Betty Woo carried on with her final fine art Super Project creating a ‘Parthian’ and final significant body of work, outlined within precursor Maroon Sketchbooks, ten years in the making. Professor Betty Woo worked on her art to the very end of her life. A complete and dedicated altruistic artist. The latter final body of work, archived within the H.S.H. Longhouse Collection, consists of several hundred finished works of art, collectively entitled, “777 – Betty T. Woo EXIT SUITE”. The palindromic number in the title references a mega multiple of her seventy-seventh year. At Professor Betty Woo’s compelling and strong insistence, at a penultimate stage when it was difficult for her to move, other than sit and draw in pen and ink and graphite pencil, several of Betty Woo’s Iast images of her final “777 – Betty T. Woo EXIT SUITE” were completed, with sheer grit, resolve and tenacious determination, under oxygen, two days before she died;

Such nobility of soul and outstanding strength of character and priority of purpose is not surprising given the merits of Betty’s historic family background, sense of personal duty, and old China Mandarin official antecedents.

Professor Betty T. Woo, born in Tensui, China, is a member of a distinguished and ancient family of South China subsequently Taiwan with cadet branches around the world. She was predeceased by her mother Kwok Pai Ken an eminent gynecologist, surgeon and polymath, founder of hospitals in China and Taiwan; her father, Ming Kong Woo, Civil engineer designer and builder of mega-bridges. Betty Woo was especially very greatly influenced by her mother who recognized Betty’s exceptional abilities at a very early age as a child fine-art prodigy. Betty Woo is a member of a family of gifted achievers.

Professor Betty Woo is deeply mourned by her family: brothers, Hawking Woo, marine engineer; and Roger Woo, businessman; and her sister Pah May Chen Woo and cousins and nieces and nephews, including Kevin Chen and Susan Gibbons who visited her from abroad in her final fortnight; and, Betty is deeply mourned by very special friends; and, cadres of international friends and her students who celebrate her phenomenal empathy, warmth and kindness, and selfless generosity: She is survived and deeply mourned by her only son, forestry engineer Raymond Gendi, daughter-in-law, artist Shauna Gendi, and grand children, Kara, 8, and Alexander, 5, of Edmonton, Alberta.

Professor Woo was a gem of a person: blameless, ethical, sincere, conscientious from start to finish; responsible and steadfast from beginning to the end. Her entry to sacred places is assured. Betty Woo is considered by all who encountered her and became her friend, to have been ‘blessed and honoured’ to have known so joyous and remarkable a human being. Betty T. Woo was a talented, generous, humble, and authentically kind, and selfless person. She will be very very greatly missed. ln truth Betty goes with God.

Professor Betty Woo leaves a fine art legacy of a superbly accomplished contemporary master who created her own aesthetic oeuvre fused with an assured reputation in the galactic pantheon of modern masters. A Betty T. Woo Tribute Exhibition is scheduled by curator Alain Boullard for the 2019 – 2020 Season at the Basic Enquiry Centre for Figurative Arts in association with major collections, museums, and fine art collectors of Betty Woo’s work.

Funeral Mass of Christian Burial for Betty Theresa Woo will be celebrated at St Augustine’s Catholic Church, 2028 West 7th Avenue @ Maple Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 11 am. Rev. Fr. Robert Smith, OMI, celebrant, preceded by silent prayers @ 10.30 am.

Randal Cullen

November 8th, 2017

Dear Members,

Many of you may have heard by now of Randal’s passing. Please find attached a short biography of his life. Those of you who knew Randal were also aware of his commitment to the Society, serving on the Board of Directors for about 8 years as the Vice President. Any one interested in attending his Celebration in North Vancouver the evening of Thursday November 23, 2017 please feel free to contact myself or any other member of the Board.

Doug Smardon

Ingeborg Raymer

Ingeborg was a long time member and active contributor to the running of Basic Inquiry. I knew her as the no nonsense Monday morning session manger who always insisted on hiring her own models while I was the modeling booker. She was one of the last old guard to Basic to pass on. Due to failing health she withdrew from the activities of the Society but her mark on its make up persists today. Biography and Interview @ Gallery Direct

Stephen Alexander Corcoran

November 10, 1948 – October 11, 2013

Stephen passed away peacefully at age 64 from a short illness surrounded by his loving family. Stephen is survived by his sons (Mathew, Kumar, and Owl); sisters (Sheila and Joan); brothers (Patrick, David, Bill, and Tom) and by many other caring relatives and friends.

A working artist whose canvas now spans eternity, Stephen attended the Vancouver Art School in the 1970’s (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design). Basic Inquiry Gallery and Studio in Vancouver showcased his art in February 2011 and October 2013, and the North Vancouver Arts Council continues to exhibit Stephen’s work. Stephen’s mixed media artwork provides special insight into his expressionistic and inspirational art.

Special thanks to family members Joan and Dave for their support to Stephen over the years. A private family service will follow at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Stephen A. Corcoran Memorial Fund at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

If you prefer to own a piece of Stephen’s art, contact Joan for viewing at, and all proceeds will go to the fund.

Wende L. Davis

Wende L. Davis bequeathed Basic Inquiry a generous sum of money and in in her name the Board is planning to set up a student bursary. Her estate has kindly granted permission to post the attached link to her web site which profiles the accomplishments of this extraordinary and talented woman.

Richard Morris

Richard Morris Photos and Artwork

August 5th, 2011

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Richard Morris on Saturday July 9, 2011 at 12 noon. Richard was a beloved and long time member of Basic Inquiry. For those of you who knew him he was one of the last remaining vestiges of what Basic used to be, an inspirational water colour painter, true to his art and kind in words to everyone he met. He will be sadly missed.

In follow up to Richard’s passing his family have graciously given us permission to post a photo, his bio and examples of Richard’s work; please see attached. No information has come forward regarding a service so the Board assumes the family wished it this way.

Richard was a cherished member of our community and it is hoped this humble representation of his life pays suitable homage to the time and passion he gave.

Born in Vancouver in 1922, Richard served in the R.C.A.F. overseas from 1942 to 1945. On his return he entered the Vancouver School of Art, graduating Fine Arts in 1949. Following his graduation he pursued his art career in the commercial field as an Art Director at Trans-Canada Films, later managing newspaper advertising with a leading department store. Retiring in 1982, Richard pursued his interest in watercolours, participated in three two-man shows and was a frequent exhibitor at the Federation Gallery in Vancouver. In recent years Richard was associated with Basic Inquiry, pursuing life drawing, oils and portrait painting — referred to by Richard as “a most enjoyable challenge.”

Yeana Kim

January 27th, 2011

On Sunday January 16, 2011 Yeana Kim our Thursday evening session manager succumbed to a very serious illness while in hospital. With all the sudden turmoil many details are lacking but the Board at our January 17, 2011 meeting agreed that as information unfolds a space on our web site and Facebook page be dedicated in her memory. Yeana’s sister is presently with family in Korea. Upon her return we will seek the permission necessary to post photos and even examples of her art work.

At the studio are three sympathy cards to choose from for expressing support to the family.

Yeana started her volunteering with us last September. As a volunteer to our organization she was invaluable. Our session managers are held in high regards and we could not have asked for anyone better to run our Thursday evening sessions. She was dedicated, hard working, conscientiousness and well organized with a charming personality that radiated warmth and understanding. With a youthful enthusiasm that augmented a naturally calm demeanour she carried through with anything she did to a standard of excellence seldom seen.

For those of you who did not know Yeana she was a lovely young woman, in her early twenties who had away of leaving a lasting impression on anyone who had the pleasure to be graced by her presence.

She will be sadly missed; someone whose time came all too soon, such is a heart breaking reality of life.