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In loving memory of Jini Stolk

August 31, 2022

With a heavy heart, we share the news of the sudden passing of Jini Stolk, the beloved and cherished Chair of the Board of Directors of Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, who passed away on August 25th, 2022. 

We were incredibly proud and honoured to have her join the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair (TOAF) board in 2017. She took the leadership helm last year with a level of passion and energy. We knew we could do magic together, which we did over these years. 

Jini was a cherished and relentless champion of the arts in Toronto. Many organizations, artists and art managers are touched by her wisdom, knowledge, sharpness and great sense of humour. 

We will remember Jini for her deep care for the arts. She cared deeply about the artists, emerging arts managers, health of arts organizations, and decent work practices and led by example. The personal stories of people whom she has impacted with her grace are pouring in, and they are touching. She has left a beautiful legacy. 

Her generosity of attention was rare and inspiring. She also loved these newsletters and read them to the end and always took the time to share her thoughts and compliments of what inspired her from the artist stories and highlights we shared. She bestowed the same generous attention to the organizations, artists and causes that she cared about. 

Together with Jini, our board and our team, we revitalized this cultural gem in the city that is TOAF over the years. We updated every policy, revamped our governance structure, and focused on healthy core organizational practices. 

We knew with a solid and strengthened foundation, we could focus on growing our impact, expanding our services to the artists and bringing in new initiatives and programs. 

She planned and prepared for every board meeting with absolute thoroughness. She elevated the conversation and constantly focused our attention on the bigger picture, and nudged us to be forward-thinking. At every Fair, she connected with as many artists as possible. She wished she could talk to every single one of the 350 artists at the Fair, but that was just not feasible over 3 days! 

In my last conversation with Jini, we were both on cloud nine, filled with pride and joy of the incredible success of TOAF61 as an event and as an organization, especially after going through some major challenges along the way. We were exhilarated and invigorated and were immediately dreaming of new ideas and visions for the continued growth and impact of TOAF. 

This is an expert from the note Jini’s sent us after the Fair: 

 “Everyone I spoke to, at the Fair or since, loved it and was incredibly impressed – the attention to detail, the warm and welcoming atmosphere, the excellence of the work, the overall excitement of having been part of a very special event.

I am so excited for next year and beyond: we’ve earned our place as one of the outstanding arts events in Toronto and Canada.

We have so much to be thankful for, so much to be proud of, and so much to build on in future years. Who would have imagined that our 61st Fair would easily win the “Best of” award!”

To me, she was a mentor, sounding board and colleague. I had the privilege of working with Jini in the early years of my arts management career at Creative Trust, which became an instrumental and informative foundation for later years. We continued working together on the Creative Champion Network blog and then at TOAF. But above all, she was a true and dear friend all these years. We shared the love for a perfectly brewed cup of cappuccino at Manic coffee shop, over which we shared life and work stories, ideas and great laughs. 

We deeply loved her and will carry with us her wisdom and guidance. Our loving thoughts are with her beautiful and caring family, friends, colleagues and the community she tended to. 

With love and compassion, 

Anahita Azrahimi & Ania Harmata 

TOAF Board of Directors: Colleen Diamond, Harry Enchin, Brett Ledger, Darcy Killeen, Robert Mitchell

The following official obituary captures a loving glimpse into her life and her character.

With much love

"Jini was always there to offer advice, and send beautiful and honest words of encouragement no matter the circumstance. It has been an honour and an education working with her at TOAF and I will miss her dearly. My heart goes out to her family and to the countless people she touched in the arts community."

 - Ania Harmata

"Jini Stolk - a perfect combination of a gentle and thoughtful soul, and a fierce advocate for the arts and the careers and aspirations of artists."

- Brett Ledger 

“It was a blessing to be considered a friend of Jini Stolk. Anyone who knew her can see that she was the definition of grace. In 2019, I had the privilege of calling her to ask for advice. Within minutes, I was in tears due to the warmth and compassion of her response. With a few words of expertise, she scooped me up and, with what felt like magic, the challenge I had dissolved before my eyes. She was an ally to everyone who called upon her. I will think of her each time I close a new favourite book, see a beautiful garden, or attend a play. Her legacy lives on in every future artist. My heart goes out to her family."

- Colleen Diamond

"Jini was a highly respected, innovative leader, mentor and friend to many in the arts community.”

- Harry Enchin

"Working closely with Jini on the board of TOAF has been a pleasure and I am blessed to have known her. She will be missed terribly. Our thoughts go out to her family, friends and the arts organizations that she fearlessly supported."

- Robert Mitchell

Jini Stolk 

June 16, 1948 - August 25, 2022 

It is with great sadness that we announce Jini Stolk’s sudden and unexpected death on August 25 at the family cottage on Kasshabog Lake in her 74th year. She died of an Aortic Dissection, an unforeseen and catastrophic event. She was John (Zdizlaw) Gladki’s wife, partner and best friend for 42 years. She leaves behind her daughters Kasia Gladki (Fraser) and Sarah Gladki (Jonas) and her four grandchildren—Elise, Sasza, Ariel and Alistair, as well as her sister Jeri in Baltimore, Md, Cousin Barbara Swann in Wilmington, NC and numerous relatives across the US.

Jini grew up in Teaneck, NJ. She excelled academically in high school and attended the University of Chicago as an undergraduate. She moved to Canada in 1972, after which she dedicated her work to her life’s passion: the arts. A true champion, she had a huge impact on the arts community in Toronto, first as general manager of Open Studio, an artist-run printmaking centre, and later as associate director of the Association of Canadian Publishers. After the birth of her two daughters, she became executive director of the Toronto Theatre Alliance (now known as Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts) which she led for 10 years. Following this, she was the executive director of the Toronto Dance Theatre, where she worked with artistic director Christopher House to establish it as one of the leading modern dance companies in Canada. Her last major project was Creative Trust, where she raised and distributed more than six million dollars to support the sustainability of over 50 small and medium sized performing arts organizations. In retirement, under the auspices of Toronto Arts Foundation, she established Creative Champions Network, a networking and learning program for arts board members.

She also served on many boards. She was the Chair of Artscape, an early tenant board member of the Centre for Social Innovation, a founding member and the first Chair of the Ontario Nonprofit Network and at her death she was the Chair of the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, among others. Her support of Toronto’s arts community was ongoing; in 2021 she donated to 22 different arts organizations. She was the recipient of multiple awards for her service to the arts.

Her enthusiasm for life extended to many passions, including nature and gardening with native, pollinating plants, trying to read every good book ever published, maintaining strong, meaningful friendships with many people, good conversation, sharing beauty with others and staying active at the Jewish Community Centre. She loved her cottage, hummus, dancing, good music, her children, her grandchildren, her cats, lawn sales, elegance and good dining.

She was a strong feminist. She was an advocate for social justice, not just in theory, but also in practice by befriending and supporting those in need. She lit up every room. She leaves a powerful legacy. She made the world a better place. We miss her terribly.

Following a private funeral there will be a Celebration of Life at Wychwood Barns on Sunday, September 11 between 4-6 PM. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Sistering or a small or medium arts organization of your choice.

 
Jini Stolk and Artist Julia Hepburn at the 2019 Awards Ceremony
Carrie Perreault, Peter Owusu-Ansah, Anahita Azrahimi and Jini Stolk at the TOAF61 Launch at Market Gallery, June 2022
Jini chatting with Mayor John Tory at TOAF 2019
Anahita and Jini and Sarah Gladki explore Artist Kima Lenaghan's booth at TOAF 2019

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