Ken HouseGo | Personal Landscapes

To stand before the work of Grande Prairie artist Ken HouseGo is a little bit like contemplating Egyptian hieroglyphs or perhaps pictographs more generally. There is clearly a language here: symbols recurring in different shapes and forms and media.

Old Stone

Old Stone

There is a small toy-like blue boat that appears, made out of wood and fastened to the frame of one work, then drawn or painted in several others. There are “x” shapes, or maybe they’re crosses or stars; simple child-like houses, lighthouses, and grain eleva- tors; trees composed of balls or cones with cylindrical trunks. There are belaying cleats and mooring rings from small boats, as well as anchors. There are Milagros, small hand- made votive objects collected on a trip to Mexico and Santa Fe. There are hearts and hands, some of which are pointing upwards. And the moon. Always the moon.

There are stories being told here, but the narratives are not linear ones; they’re more like the kinds of narratives you find in dreams. The objects, images and places in HouseGo’s art function symbolically. They are representative only in the way that words are rep- resentative; they signify or refer to things outside of themselves. They are not literal depictions of them.

Anchor

Anchor

HouseGo says, “Sometimes dreams and memories get mixed up, and dreams become like memory.”

His memory of the moon, for instance, is intimately connected with the time he spent when he was a child at his grandparents’ cottage in Lion’s Head, Ontario on the shores of Georgian Bay. It’s a place which still appears in both his dreams and his artwork. It was

Beacon Basillica

a place where he would get up early in the morning and go for three-hour walks along the shoreline, learning the land with his feet. For him, the daily ritual of “walking and looking was really important.”

The lighthouses, the watery landscapes, and even the upward pointing hands (from an old grave marker in a nearby cemetery) are all drawn from his memories and dreams of this place-time. Fragments are collaged and constructed to form a whole; each stroke, each image, and each object adding layers of meaning in HouseGo’s interpretation of that place and the events that happened there. These artworks are not landscapes as such, though they incorporate elements of the landscape. They don’t represent what anybody else would see looking out a window in Lion’s Head. They are what HouseGo refers to as “personal landscapes.” They are his very personal responses to what he sees.

HouseGo remembers: “As a child, making things and envisioning ideas was always an intense part of my life. The highlight of my summer holidays was making ‘stuff’ in my grandfather’s boathouse.”

It was there, he recalls, that: “At the age of 18, on December 11, 1968 at 8:00 p.m., less than twenty feet from that boathouse, I realized: I want to be an artist.”

That epiphany set HouseGo on a journey that took him first to study art at Humber College in Toronto, and later to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Eventually he found his way here to the Peace Country, where he has spent most of his lengthy career teaching the visual arts at Grande Prairie Regional College.

Basillica

Basillica

One might be tempted to describe HouseGo as a folk artist but for the level of his educa- tion. He himself says, “I would have made a great folk artist! Fortunately or unfortunate- ly, I have attended art school for too many years.” Although admittedly “inspired by na- ïve expression,” the simplicity of the shapes and the clarity of the colours in HouseGo’s work belie its conceptual complexity.

Still, HouseGo says, “folk art is indigenous” – it grows naturally from a specific place or environment – and this is also true of his own art. HouseGo’s work is very rooted; a natural outgrowth of the places where he has lived, the communities he has been a part of. It is also indigenous in the sense

that it is not about “some concept coming from a big urban centre.” He has learned in spite of his education that he doesn’t need to “paraphrase other people’s aesthetics to find (his) own work.” As he puts it, “I want to do work that is indigenous to myself.”

HouseGo would also say his art fits within folk art conventions in another respect: It is functional in a way that is perhaps analogous to the way one uses a handcrafted or hand painted piece of furniture. “My art is used,” he contends, “by the very activity of making it and living with it. If it breaks, I just fix it. What could be more obvious? Would you question fixing a wooden chair? If it can’t be fixed, it might be repurposed, trashed or used as kindling. I have used all four approaches as solutions in building my construc- tions.”

In HouseGo’s view, art may be invaluable, but it isn’t untouchable. While I visited him in his studio in the basement of his home, he was still making changes to the collection of works now showing as the Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ travelling exhibit, Dreams Do Not Come With Titles. While talking to me, he casually removed a carved snowman from the frame of one work and moved it to another where he decided he liked it better. He describes this process as “cannibalizing” one work to feed another: “This is just part of [that artwork’s] life cycle.” A work isn’t finished until it is safely crated, and out of easy reach.

I DoS

I DoS

HouseGo contends, “Mixed media and collage are essential to my way of thinking and building.” He mixes a wide variety of media in his work – from traditional art materials to found objects to glitter. He also mixes “polarities of working modes in his construc- tions,” working at times two-dimensionally (painting and drawing) and at other times

three-dimensionally (carving, hammering, nailing, gluing). Sometimes he fabricates the objects he includes, as in the case of the upward-pointing hand cut out of sheet metal; other times he attaches objects that are pre-existing, that have had a life of their own. In some ways his work is functional, in other ways it is playful. In some ways,

his process is very controlled (as in the construction of the multi-layered frames integral to each work); in other ways, it is expressive (as in the scumbling and dribbling of paint).

HouseGo likens his art/life journey to the long walks he took as a kid on Georgian Bay. He says, “You know how you go for a walk and see something new each time? I’ve been learning how to do that through my art. I’ve been learning how to replenish my soul while on my journey.”

He sums it up: “The creative process connects me and anchors my life. For a moment in time, I am in that boathouse once again exploring my own creative vernacular temperament.”



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An Excellent Representation of the Fine Art of the Region

by Eileen Coristine

[caption id="attachment_444" align="alignleft" width="266" caption="Grace by Kiren Niki Sangra"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Grace by Kiren Niki Sangra" width="266" height="350" /> [/caption]The Art of the Peace Visual Arts Association launched the Iskoteo Arts Festival with their first juried art show. In the show, which was displayed at the Glass Gallery in con- junction with the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards, 53 artworks ranging from paintings and pho- tographs to sculpture and fibre art, demonstrated the variety and excellence of our regional artists.

“Artists were challenged to submit work that met national standards for consideration in the show,” says Dale Syrota, president of Art of the Peace. “This show reflects the deep well of artistic talent that quietly grows in the Peace country.”

The jury consisted of Doug McLean, private art dealer and owner of the Canadian Art Gallery in Canmore, Karin Richter, Calgary artist and in- structor and member of CSPWC, ASA, the Cana- dian Federation of Artists and the Society of Cana- dian Artists, and Robert Steven, Director/Curator of the Prairie Art Gallery.

The winner of the first Award of Excellence was Grace , a collage of magazine paper circles on bamboo, by Kiren Niki Sangra. Second went to Island , an oil and mixed media by Ken HouseGo and third to Vase with Traditional Japanese Iron Ash Glaze , wood fired clay, by Bibi Clement.

Niki Sangra, currently the Creative Operations Coordinator at the Grande Prairie Centre for Creative Arts, says she was very surprised to have taken away the top award. “It is an honour just to be in the same show as Ken and Bibi, let alone winning.”

Sangra likes to work with a variety of media, especially found material and “green” materials that she can re-use. “Creating art makes me come alive and allows me to channel the ideas in my head into something I can share with others,” she says.

[caption id="attachment_445" align="alignright" width="174" caption="Island by Ken HouseGo"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Island by Ken HouseGo" width="174" height="250" /> [/caption]Ken HouseGo too, likes to give old objects and materials new life as artworks. “I respond with junk as well as painted and constructed material,” he says. “The world is a mixed material interface.”

“I was taken aback by this award,” says HouseGo. “I was delighted and pleased to be part of such a diverse show with a completely different group of people.”

Vase with Traditional Japanese Iron Ash Glaze , by Hythe potter Bibi Clement, was wood fired for 70 hours. “The color of this traditional iron ash glaze was a dream come true when we opened the kiln,” she says.

Steven explained to those in attendance at the show’s opening on June 16, that the jurors used a mathematical formula based on points for originality, skill and appeal to arrive at the three winning entries.

All three winners were awarded with cash prizes generously provided by event sponsor Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines.

As well nine artists received Honourable Mentions for their pieces. These were: Northwind , soapstone carving, by Grant Berg; The Argument , soapstone carving, by Leslie Bjur; The Tree Family , acrylic paint on canvas, by Vicki Hotte; Plato’s Cave , acrylic, by Carrie Klukas; Belong to Yourself , acrylic, by Kristine McGuinty; Make Hay , black and white photograph, by Katherine McLaughlin; Wild Peace , linocut print on paper, by Mary Parslow, Letting Go , photography print by Angela Patterson and Tree Studies- My House , acrylic and charcoal collage on paper, by Bernadine Schroyer.

[caption id="attachment_446" align="alignleft" width="193" caption="Vase with Traditional Japenese Iron Ash Glaze by Bibi Clement"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Vase with Traditional Japenese Iron Ash Glaze by Bibi Clement" width="193" height="250" /> [/caption]The jurors, who had so conclusively scored the three winners, all came up with different favourites for the category of Honourable Mention. “There was no duplication in choosing, each judge chose three different entries, said Robert Steven. “This tells us that appeal, skill and ability do not necessarily equal preference.”

“I was impressed with the talent that is found in Northern Alberta,” commented juror, Karin Richter. “My wish would be to have more artistic communication between the regions, something we all could work on in the future.”

All of the artists who entered their work for consideration received valuable feedback from the jurors. As well the entire show was exhib- ited from the opening until June 21 and presented a dramatic panorama for the enjoyment of those present for the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Awards Dinner.

“I would extend my congratulations to all the applicants for their efforts and works,” commented juror, Doug McLean. “There are some that will stay with me, and some that I wish were on the list, but sadly all cannot be there.”

Although not every entry was exhibited, all submissions to the show that were received by the deadline are presented in a http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" virtual exhibition .


9 years ago

An Excellent Representation of the Fine Art of the Region

by Eileen Coristine

[caption id="attachment_444" align="alignleft" width="266" caption="Grace by Kiren Niki Sangra"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Grace by Kiren Niki Sangra" width="266" height="350" /> [/caption]The Art of the Peace Visual Arts Association launched the Iskoteo Arts Festival with their first juried art show. In the show, which was displayed at the Glass Gallery in con- junction with the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards, 53 artworks ranging from paintings and pho- tographs to sculpture and fibre art, demonstrated the variety and excellence of our regional artists.

“Artists were challenged to submit work that met national standards for consideration in the show,” says Dale Syrota, president of Art of the Peace. “This show reflects the deep well of artistic talent that quietly grows in the Peace country.”

The jury consisted of Doug McLean, private art dealer and owner of the Canadian Art Gallery in Canmore, Karin Richter, Calgary artist and in- structor and member of CSPWC, ASA, the Cana- dian Federation of Artists and the Society of Cana- dian Artists, and Robert Steven, Director/Curator of the Prairie Art Gallery.

The winner of the first Award of Excellence was Grace , a collage of magazine paper circles on bamboo, by Kiren Niki Sangra. Second went to Island , an oil and mixed media by Ken HouseGo and third to Vase with Traditional Japanese Iron Ash Glaze , wood fired clay, by Bibi Clement.

Niki Sangra, currently the Creative Operations Coordinator at the Grande Prairie Centre for Creative Arts, says she was very surprised to have taken away the top award. “It is an honour just to be in the same show as Ken and Bibi, let alone winning.”

Sangra likes to work with a variety of media, especially found material and “green” materials that she can re-use. “Creating art makes me come alive and allows me to channel the ideas in my head into something I can share with others,” she says.

[caption id="attachment_445" align="alignright" width="174" caption="Island by Ken HouseGo"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Island by Ken HouseGo" width="174" height="250" /> [/caption]Ken HouseGo too, likes to give old objects and materials new life as artworks. “I respond with junk as well as painted and constructed material,” he says. “The world is a mixed material interface.”

“I was taken aback by this award,” says HouseGo. “I was delighted and pleased to be part of such a diverse show with a completely different group of people.”

Vase with Traditional Japanese Iron Ash Glaze , by Hythe potter Bibi Clement, was wood fired for 70 hours. “The color of this traditional iron ash glaze was a dream come true when we opened the kiln,” she says.

Steven explained to those in attendance at the show’s opening on June 16, that the jurors used a mathematical formula based on points for originality, skill and appeal to arrive at the three winning entries.

All three winners were awarded with cash prizes generously provided by event sponsor Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines.

As well nine artists received Honourable Mentions for their pieces. These were: Northwind , soapstone carving, by Grant Berg; The Argument , soapstone carving, by Leslie Bjur; The Tree Family , acrylic paint on canvas, by Vicki Hotte; Plato’s Cave , acrylic, by Carrie Klukas; Belong to Yourself , acrylic, by Kristine McGuinty; Make Hay , black and white photograph, by Katherine McLaughlin; Wild Peace , linocut print on paper, by Mary Parslow, Letting Go , photography print by Angela Patterson and Tree Studies- My House , acrylic and charcoal collage on paper, by Bernadine Schroyer.

[caption id="attachment_446" align="alignleft" width="193" caption="Vase with Traditional Japenese Iron Ash Glaze by Bibi Clement"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Vase with Traditional Japenese Iron Ash Glaze by Bibi Clement" width="193" height="250" /> [/caption]The jurors, who had so conclusively scored the three winners, all came up with different favourites for the category of Honourable Mention. “There was no duplication in choosing, each judge chose three different entries, said Robert Steven. “This tells us that appeal, skill and ability do not necessarily equal preference.”

“I was impressed with the talent that is found in Northern Alberta,” commented juror, Karin Richter. “My wish would be to have more artistic communication between the regions, something we all could work on in the future.”

All of the artists who entered their work for consideration received valuable feedback from the jurors. As well the entire show was exhib- ited from the opening until June 21 and presented a dramatic panorama for the enjoyment of those present for the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Awards Dinner.

“I would extend my congratulations to all the applicants for their efforts and works,” commented juror, Doug McLean. “There are some that will stay with me, and some that I wish were on the list, but sadly all cannot be there.”

Although not every entry was exhibited, all submissions to the show that were received by the deadline are presented in a http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" virtual exhibition .


9 years ago

An Excellent Representation of the Fine Art of the Region

by Eileen Coristine

[caption id="attachment_444" align="alignleft" width="266" caption="Grace by Kiren Niki Sangra"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Grace by Kiren Niki Sangra" width="266" height="350" /> [/caption]The Art of the Peace Visual Arts Association launched the Iskoteo Arts Festival with their first juried art show. In the show, which was displayed at the Glass Gallery in con- junction with the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards, 53 artworks ranging from paintings and pho- tographs to sculpture and fibre art, demonstrated the variety and excellence of our regional artists.

“Artists were challenged to submit work that met national standards for consideration in the show,” says Dale Syrota, president of Art of the Peace. “This show reflects the deep well of artistic talent that quietly grows in the Peace country.”

The jury consisted of Doug McLean, private art dealer and owner of the Canadian Art Gallery in Canmore, Karin Richter, Calgary artist and in- structor and member of CSPWC, ASA, the Cana- dian Federation of Artists and the Society of Cana- dian Artists, and Robert Steven, Director/Curator of the Prairie Art Gallery.

The winner of the first Award of Excellence was Grace , a collage of magazine paper circles on bamboo, by Kiren Niki Sangra. Second went to Island , an oil and mixed media by Ken HouseGo and third to Vase with Traditional Japanese Iron Ash Glaze , wood fired clay, by Bibi Clement.

Niki Sangra, currently the Creative Operations Coordinator at the Grande Prairie Centre for Creative Arts, says she was very surprised to have taken away the top award. “It is an honour just to be in the same show as Ken and Bibi, let alone winning.”

Sangra likes to work with a variety of media, especially found material and “green” materials that she can re-use. “Creating art makes me come alive and allows me to channel the ideas in my head into something I can share with others,” she says.

[caption id="attachment_445" align="alignright" width="174" caption="Island by Ken HouseGo"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Island by Ken HouseGo" width="174" height="250" /> [/caption]Ken HouseGo too, likes to give old objects and materials new life as artworks. “I respond with junk as well as painted and constructed material,” he says. “The world is a mixed material interface.”

“I was taken aback by this award,” says HouseGo. “I was delighted and pleased to be part of such a diverse show with a completely different group of people.”

Vase with Traditional Japanese Iron Ash Glaze , by Hythe potter Bibi Clement, was wood fired for 70 hours. “The color of this traditional iron ash glaze was a dream come true when we opened the kiln,” she says.

Steven explained to those in attendance at the show’s opening on June 16, that the jurors used a mathematical formula based on points for originality, skill and appeal to arrive at the three winning entries.

All three winners were awarded with cash prizes generously provided by event sponsor Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines.

As well nine artists received Honourable Mentions for their pieces. These were: Northwind , soapstone carving, by Grant Berg; The Argument , soapstone carving, by Leslie Bjur; The Tree Family , acrylic paint on canvas, by Vicki Hotte; Plato’s Cave , acrylic, by Carrie Klukas; Belong to Yourself , acrylic, by Kristine McGuinty; Make Hay , black and white photograph, by Katherine McLaughlin; Wild Peace , linocut print on paper, by Mary Parslow, Letting Go , photography print by Angela Patterson and Tree Studies- My House , acrylic and charcoal collage on paper, by Bernadine Schroyer.

[caption id="attachment_446" align="alignleft" width="193" caption="Vase with Traditional Japenese Iron Ash Glaze by Bibi Clement"]http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" alt="Vase with Traditional Japenese Iron Ash Glaze by Bibi Clement" width="193" height="250" /> [/caption]The jurors, who had so conclusively scored the three winners, all came up with different favourites for the category of Honourable Mention. “There was no duplication in choosing, each judge chose three different entries, said Robert Steven. “This tells us that appeal, skill and ability do not necessarily equal preference.”

“I was impressed with the talent that is found in Northern Alberta,” commented juror, Karin Richter. “My wish would be to have more artistic communication between the regions, something we all could work on in the future.”

All of the artists who entered their work for consideration received valuable feedback from the jurors. As well the entire show was exhib- ited from the opening until June 21 and presented a dramatic panorama for the enjoyment of those present for the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Awards Dinner.

“I would extend my congratulations to all the applicants for their efforts and works,” commented juror, Doug McLean. “There are some that will stay with me, and some that I wish were on the list, but sadly all cannot be there.”

Although not every entry was exhibited, all submissions to the show that were received by the deadline are presented in a http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Grace-KirenNikiSangra-266x350.jpg" virtual exhibition .


9 years ago