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KOAC-KatieHarrytogether-2289a30d(Photograph by Jeremy Fokkens, www.jeremyfokkens.com, Published in Avenue Magazine, February 2016. )

The Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre (KOAC)  was started by Harry Kiyooka, RCA and Katie Ohe, RCA,  two artists who have been married to each other for over 46 years and together, have created a living legacy of philanthropy, community outreach, curation, education and mentorship. (Click here to read a recent article in Avenue Magazine on the couple.)

In 2007, Katie Ohe and Harry Kiyooka formed the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre Society of Calgary, a charitable society dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art.   Located in the community of Springbank on 20 acres of parkland, west of Calgary, the residence and studios of Harry Kiyooka and Katie Ohe are being donated and transformed into the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre (KOAC). The value of this donation which also includes the couple’s enormous art library, private collection and their own work has been appraised at 6 million dollars. Their vision is to establish the KOAC as a contemporary arts centre that includes a botanic sculpture garden, wetlands, woods sanctuary and Pavilion to house Harry and Katie’s extensive collection of contemporary painting and sculpture.  KOAC is to be an art in nature destination for experiencing art. Objectives include promoting contemporary art through exhibitions, fostering creativity, research, lectures, symposia, workshops and residencies.  On completion, the Centre will become a legacy for Springbank/ Calgary/ Alberta and beyond for the general public and future generations of contemporary artists.

KOAC-KatieOhe(Photograph by Jeremy Fokkens, www.jeremyfokkens.com, Published in Avenue Magazine, February 2016. )

Katie Ohe is a renowned Canadian sculptor and one of the first artists to make abstract sculpture in Alberta. Born in 1937 in Peers, Alberta, she attended the Alberta College of Art (ACAD), the Montreal School of Art and Design, the Sculpture Centre in New York and Fonderia Fabris in Verona, Italy.

Ohe’s work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally, in addition to numerous commissioned works installed throughout Alberta. Her work is also represented in collections including the Canada Council Art Bank, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Shell Collection, The University of Calgary, and the Glenbow Museum. In 1991 Katie received the ACAD Alumni Award of Excellence Award (formerly the Board of Governors’ Award of Excellence) and in 2001 was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary in recognition of her influence on art in Alberta. Since 1970, Katie has continued to teach at ACAD and has been instrumental to the college.

Katie is a fiercely beloved teacher and mentor in the arts. She has taught sculpture at the Alberta College of Art + Design since 1970 and her students include many successful and high profile artists with International careers such as Evan Penny, Christian Eckart, Brian Cooley, Alexander Caldwell and Isla Burns. Students comment on her open and kind spirit and past students follow her career with passion.

Katie is an elected member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and entitled to use the RCA designation as acknowledgement of her contribution to Canadian art.  Driven by the desire to be able to express thoughts and emotions through her work, Katie’s sculptures compel you to physically interact with them and their kinetic movements mesmerize.

KOAC-HarryKiyooka(Photograph by Jeremy Fokkens, www.jeremyfokkens.com, Published in Avenue Magazine, February 2016. )

Harry Kiyooka, younger brother of Roy Kiyooka, was born in Calgary in 1928 and is an accomplished painter and printmaker. A Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of Calgary with tenure of 27 years, Harry holds both undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Education and Fine Art.  This alone is an amazing feat for a Japanese Canadian who fought discrimination and poverty in his youth.
Harry has always gone above and beyond for the arts in terms of community outreach and mentorship. Harry has served on local, provincial and national boards such as the Canadian Conference of the Arts, the Royal Canadian Academy, the Alberta Society of Artists, the Alberta Art Foundation, Calgary Allied Arts Centre, the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation and the Calgary Contemporary Arts Society. Harry is a founding member of the Calgary Contemporary Arts Society (1982), Life Member of the Alberta Society of Artists and member of the Royal Canadian Academy. Harry Kiyooka was awarded a 125th Anniversary Medal of Confederation for his contribution to the community in establishing the Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts (1988) in Calgary (Now Contemporary Calgary). In 1996, Harry was the recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Alberta College of Art and Design for his contributions to the visual arts.

In the 1960’s studio space became a problem for both Harry and Katie because of changes in their studio practice. Katie’s studio was in the Stu Hart Carriage House and City of Calgary had changed the zoning so she could no longer do her welding in the studio. Harry’s studio was in the couple’s inner city home’s garage and was no longer large enough to accommodate the scale of works he wanted to make (The Aegean Series, thought to be his masterpieces). And so they decided to build on an acreage in Springbank which they acquired in 1973.

The couple are hosting a fundraiser on April 8th at Hotel Arts. Click here for details and to purchase tickets. I hope you will all turn out to support this amazing couple and their dream!