PAUL MAXWELL ARTIST IN YOUTH ARTIST AT CAMP TRIO TEXTILE DESIGNER ARTWORK
and concerts with choir and full orchestra performed every Sunday. Mathew toured Canada with his symphony and mandolin orchestras. While Lilly, also known by her Russian name Eliza Sladkaya, held national concert tours accompanied by pianist and violinist Mary and George Bornoff. All the money raised by Hilda's parents on these tours was donated to the organization to help the Ukranian immigrant community.
Hilda Popovich was born on August 15, 1915 in Winnepeg, Mannitoba, Canada. Her mother, Lilly Solodky, was known professionally as "The Singing Nightingale". Hilda grew up surrounded by musicians and politicians.
THE SINGING NIGHTINGALE AND MATHEW POPOVICH
Her father, Mathew Popovich, was an extremely loved, hard working man who organized The Workers Benefits Society & Cultural Ukranian Labor Temples. These temples spanned all of Canada and served the immigrant Ukranian communities. The first temple in Winnepeg housed a large auditorium and stage as well as a printing press. Mathew was publisher and editor of the organization's national newspaper. He organized and taught youth orchestras; an all girl's mandolin orchestra; and a symphony orchestra with choir. He and members of the organization wrote original plays and musicals utilizing their own master set designers. These shows were performed on the auditorium stage every Saturday
Her mother also had a standing singing engagement at the well known Russian Somovar in Montreal. She also soloed for the Moscow Opera when she visited Russia in 1939 and was asked to stay and join the company as a permanent featured artist. Declining the offer she returned to Canada to be with her family and continue to tour. She also soloed for Flo Ziegfeld in New York City singing with Enrico Caruso. Ms. Sladkaya was sought out and recorded by RCA Victor Records.
Hilda's brotherPaul Maxwell had a wonderful career as a working actor in England.
As well as being a magnetic entertainer, Hilda is an amazing artist. Her endevors range from oils, abstract and nudes to sculptures, painted tiles and eggs, pen and ink and wall hangings. Her involvement in the art world began at a very early age. When she was six years old in the first grade she became the teacher's assistant creating festive holiday drawings and decorations for every holiday and assisting the other children with their art projects.
When she was eleven Hilda's family moved to Toronto. She was skipped a grade and at the age of thirteen began attending Central Technical School. There were 20 periods of academics and 20 periods of basic art and vocational studies. These included woodworking, electrical and plumbing for the boys and cooking and art for the girls. She studied drafting, still life, clay modelling, and life drawing for the last two years. The school provided a basic learning foundation in various fields which prepared the students for future studies in college. Up to this point all schools taught strictly academic subjects only. This was the only school of its kind on the continent and principals and teachers visited from all across Canada as well as the United States to observe this new educational environment.
Hilda graduated in 1932 at the age of 16. In her senior year her teacher submitted one of her art pieces and just after graduating she obtained national recognition at the age of 17 winning third prize in a national Ivory Soap contest. She was the youngest person in her senior class to be awarded a prize, entrants ranging from 17 up to the age of 21. The piece she submitted was soap sculpture carved from a small block of ivory soap of men on a bread line.Zoom Back to Top of Page
Hilda worked as counseler for two separate summer camps. The first was the International Workers Children's Camp in the Lorentian Mountains. Each session ran two weeks and accomodated children of all diferent nationalities. She was one of only two volunteer counselors at the camp. They rented a farm with a few buildings and had as many as sixty children at one time. The crafts were rustic and employed all of their imagination to compensate for the lack of funding. They hiked into the mountains and peeled birch bark off the trees which the children used to create picture frames and model canoes.
A few years later Hilda got her second camp counselor position which paid $75 for the entire summer. Although there were actually no positions available she was offered the job as director of crafts after being introduced to the camp's manager by her boyfriend Glenn Seymour (who later wrote the arrangements for Hilda's trio). At the time the job market was suffocating and Hilda was desperate to provide her sick father with medicine. She was thrilled to receive this salary which was a generous sum in those days. The girl who ran the theatre department begged HIlda to trade with her and Hilda happily did so as theatre was one of her true loves.
The other counselers were all imported from the United States and taught choreography and ballet which they employed in their productions. There was also a marvelous scene with waves built out of rows of wallboard that moved up and down with fish jumping up from behind the water. Unable to resist putting in a little humour into things and "twist things" Hilda made a skatefish on roller skates which also jumped out from behind the waves.Zoom Back to Top of Page
Hilda formed a trio during World War II. Auditioning hundreds of female vocalists, she choose "not the best voices, rather two women with solid voices and tremendous motivation". Her trio included Harriet Gillman and Belle Levitt with Glenn Seymour as musical arranger. They were showcased as part of a YMHA Minstrel Show "On The Double" at the Palais Montcalm Theatre in Quebec City. The production included the travelling YMHA Minstrel Military Entertainment Troupe. These performances were coordinated with the famous Churchill-Roosevelt Conference.
The trio toured army camps of the soldiers waiting to go to the European front. These camps were located all around the outskirts of Montreal. They also performed at army hospitals and were the only group given the priviledge of touring the quarantined sections. After one such auditorium performance Hilda and her trio sneaked into the main section of the hospital and, locating the room of one of Glenn's army buddies, serenaded him and his roommates at the foot of his bed. Young soldier boys were hanging out the doors of their rooms waiting for the trio to walk by so they could catch a glimpse of Hilda and her girls in their "riske" costumes Tame by today's standard, the gowns were designed and built by Hilda herself.
Professionally Hilda worked in the garment industry as the only original designer in Canada during the depression, and was later hired by a major textile company in New York City. There she created designs for various fabrics including black and white jersey material, and men and women's ski clothing and accessories.
She met her husband in New York City. They relocated to Washington, D.C. for his job with the Library of Congress. Their first daughter, Wendy, was born in New York City and Mad Mel was born in Washington, D.C.
Hilda studied art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art In Washington, D.C. Her works include life figure drawing, abstracts and nudes in oil, pastels, weavings, painted tiles and eggs, book illustrating, pen and ink, sculptures and metal work.
She is currently living in Portland Oregon with her lovely daughter Mad Mel.Zoom Back to Top of Page