Thoughts on Jeff from Michelle Benjamin, GAC Executive Director


There are many reasons that I loved Jeff Molloy … but here I want to talk about him as my boss, in his role as a director and leader with the Gabriola Arts Council. Jeff took this role very seriously. He exhibited professionalism, commitment, and a fierceness that inspired his fellow directors and staff.

He was fearless. And audacious.

Jeff's Vision

Jeff’s vision: “To make Gabriola the most artistic community on the planet.”

This is a page I photocopied from an old notebook, with notes I took at a strategic planning session almost four years ago, shortly after I started working with the Arts Council. My original note was just the words; I added the enthusiastic circle later when I was reviewing the notes.

Jeff would say things like that — We’re going to have the greatest arts council in the whole world! — without irony, and he wasn’t being boastful. He was just really clear that we had to continually raise the bar. He was entirely committed to our mission to make the work we are doing — to build a creative community — so compelling that everyone on Gabriola, and maybe eventually everyone in the world, would want to be along for the ride.

And because it was Jeff — because of his infectious enthusiasm, his get-’er-done attitude, his enormous faith in the mission — it was easy to be inspired, and to believe that it was entirely possible.

Toque3WebAnd so this is the challenge for the GAC board — and for the staff, and for every artist on the Island, and for every Arts Council volunteer — as we carry on without Jeff. He has thrown down the gauntlet — or in his case, the toque — and it’s up to all of you, all of us — to take it up. For Jeff, we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and work harder, with greater focus, and unfettered ambition. It’s up to us to create and nurture that warm, generous, and creative community that Jeff believed in, with that ever-growing table where everyone is welcomed and supported.

Remember the phase in the ’90s, when Christian youth wore bracelets and t-shirts emblazoned with WWJD — What Would Jesus Do? 8050005-adult-black-band-with-white-print-wwjd-what-would-jesus-do-silicone-band-christianSoon it will be easy to recognize the GAC board members and staff. We’ll be the ones with WWJD tattooed over our hearts — What Would Jeff Do? When we’re struggling with a decision, that will be our guiding principle: What Would Jeff Do? Not sure if we should compromise? What Would Jeff Do? How do we build the most creative community on the planet? What Would Jeff Do?


  1. kathy ramsey


  2. Jill Yuzwa

    Jeff said, “We might fight like brothers and sisters but in the end we all come together”.

    A salient view on how things often evolve. Thought, conflict, reflection, collaboration, implementation…or something like that. 🙂

  3. Laurie Beth (Molloy) Stewart

    …w.w.j.d. ?
    … as a very young, a very precocious, rebellious boy …those letters might bring a shudder to the smartest most resilient teacher, could cause a brother&sister to pretty much duck… but those energies in later life created some extraordinary experiences, vision and a robust living and loving legacy to all who know and will come to know Jeff. Thank you Michelle for sharing….❤️
    I was truly blessed to be a part of your community for a time. Carry on Gabriola – a spirit never dies….

  4. Mary Sullivan Holdgrafer

    Jeff inspired many people in many ways. I love that we have his words and global aspirations to keep us moving forward. It is a noble vision. Let’s get to work.

  5. Maureen Karagianis

    Jeff’s art has a a distinct style and power, one that has always grabbed me by the heart. I feel very fortunate to have been inspired by such a man.

  6. GAC

    You’re an honourary Gabriolan now, Laurie — and we’re lucky to have you. — MB

  7. Nicely done Michelle.

    I have thought that often in my studio, “What would Jeff do?” WWJD….I like it.
    He also helped me to learn to listen to WWTD as well. To listen and “follow my nose” (his words) as I find my way on my own creative path. Thank you Jeff….I will always remember you.

  8. Jeff shifted my focus on how to see & create art, shifted my understanding of Canadian history, shifted my belief about the masculine.

    Undoubtedly he will be taught in schools as one of our most eminent Canadian artists.
    In my life however he helped me have faith in my sobriety journey & was one of the first masculine image makers that held up a mirror of beauty, honor & integrity.

    A raven just flew over & another is making his voice heard. I hear you Jeff & I am grateful.