Creating the arts community we want

Momentum is building for the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre and Sculpture Park (KOAC), with outpouring of support by fellow artists, eager to acknowledge and perpetuate the legacy of eminent Alberta artists Harry Kiyooka and Katie Ohe.

More than 60 nationally and internationally renowned contemporary artists from across Canada donated their artwork for auction to raise $2.5 million required for the third and final stage of the project: the building of the Centre’s Pavilion.  Many of these pieces are unique and may not be found in their commercial galleries.

Teresa Posyniak is one of these artists.

“I support the KOAC venture not just because I believe it will be an amazing and sorely needed venue to present contemporary sculpture, installation and paintings but also because I truly believe in Harry and Katie themselves, as brilliant artists and genuine leaders in the art community for decades,” she said.

Architectural rendering of a future Art Pavilion for KOAC/Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre in Calgary. Courtesy of Kasian Architecture Interior Design & Planning Ltd

Architectural rendering of a future Art Pavilion for KOAC/Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre in Calgary. Courtesy of Kasian Architecture Interior Design & Planning Ltd

Kiyooka and Ohe donated the majority of their personal assets: their Springbank property, their home and studios, library and personal art collection to establish the KOAC/Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre.  Both grew up in Alberta, and made a conscious decision to remain Albertan artists first and foremost.

Over their lengthy lives they have been central to such storied organizations as the Calgary Allied Arts Centre, the Calgary Contemporary Arts Society and the Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts.

The 20 acre landscape has been transformed into a repository for large sculpture – a permanent place for sculptural art in Calgary. The native wetlands have been restored, and an annual endowment from Kiyooka and Ohe will enable future operations.

KOAC Project Manager, Jacek Malec, notes the Centre can proceed in perpetuity but the Pavilion is the critical piece to come. It will be where collaboration will take place between local and visiting artists; enriching and mentoring local talent, just as Kiyooka and Ohe have always done.

Jacek Malec – KOAC Event Project Manager. Photo by Christian Grandjean

He sees it as the creative expression of the founders’ lives.

“KOAC is unique in Calgary because of its focus on the best in Canadian and international contemporary art. So it needs the programming element to make the Centre a success to shape the local, national and international arts scenes. The Centre will be a creative art laboratory that fosters experiential and interdisciplinary learning for all communities, and a locomotive bringing future generations of artists along,” Jacek said.

Calgary’s Poet Laureate Derek Beaulieu is also contributing to the auction.

“KOAC is a stunning initiative that will transform Harry and Katie’s legacy into a centre for the arts that will benefit the future of the arts in Calgary forever. Both Harry and Katie have spent a lifetime modelling what it means to be an artist in Calgary, from their teaching to their own practice,” Beaulieu said.

“I’ve worked with Katie Ohe at ACAD for the last 4 years and have seen her in action, she’s an absolute inspiration. Katie is a deeply respected member of the arts community in Calgary, an incredibly friendly and supportive mentor — and a wonderful person; I’m thrilled to be able to help,” he said

Posyniak concurs.

“We at KOAC are very thankful for and humbled by the generous support from over 60 eminent artists from across Canada, who generously contributed their inspirational works of art to this premier fundraiser.  It’s indeed a great act of solidarity with KOAC’s founders:  Katie Ohe and Harry Kiyooka and a support of their vision. I am sure these impressive works of art will find permanent homes in Calgary… I firmly believe that Calgarians can be modern-day Medicis”. -Jacek Malec


“As my interim MFA supervisor at the University of Calgary in 1981, Harry gave me the mentorship and kick-start I needed to launch my art career in sculpture and painting.  While teaching at ACAD throughout the 80’s, I was able to witness up close how students admired, respected and loved Katie Ohe as an instructor and sculptor.  I am immensely happy to be part of this effort to realize their vision of a beautiful and expansive indoor and outdoor contemporary gallery.”

These artworks will be auctioned during KOAC Art Pavilion Fundraising Gala on April 8th at 7:00 PM at the Hotel Arts. Tickets are $100.00 and are available here.

The Honorary Fundraiser Chairperson Bret “The Hitman” Hart, himself an acolyte of Ohe, will deliver the opening remarks.

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