Photo by Jeremy Fokkens for Avenue Calgary 

Harry Kiyooka, RCA (1928 – 2022)

B.Ed., B.F.A., M.A., M.F.A.

Co-Founder, Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre

With great sadness, the KOAC Board of Directors shares the news that our Co-Founder and friend, Harry Kiyooka, passed away peacefully on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Harry’s influence in the art community spanned across Canada. He was active not only as an artist but as an educator, curator, collector, mentor, activist, administrator and philanthropist.

Born in Calgary in 1928, Harry overcame prejudice and poverty to become an artist. He eventually received four degrees, including a Bachelor of Education, a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Masters of Art, and a Masters of Fine Arts, all before turning 30 years old. In 1958, Harry left Canada to study art in Italy. Upon his return to Calgary in 1961, he began a teaching position at the new University of Alberta, Calgary campus. In 1988, Harry retired from the University of Calgary after 27 years with the rank of Professor Emeritus of Art.

Throughout his long career, Harry 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 was a founding member of the Calgary Contemporary Arts Society (1982), a Life Member of the Alberta Society of Artists and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy.

In 1988, Harry was awarded a 125th Anniversary Medal of Confederation for his contribution to the community in establishing the Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts (now Contemporary Calgary). In 1966, Harry received the Award of Excellence from the Alberta College of Art and Design for contributions to the visual arts.

Harry was a passionate advocate and inspiration for the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre. Founded in 2007 with his wife, sculptor Katie Ohe, the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre, a year-round, art-in-nature destination, is dedicated to research, exhibition, education and documentation of contemporary visual arts. Harry successfully secured an Arts and Culture designation for the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre with Rocky View County, bringing the importance of the arts to the conversation of land use.

Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre and all those he influenced and inspired will be Harry’s lasting legacy to the Canadian art world. He will be deeply missed.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to Harry’s beloved KOAC.

Rest in Peace, Harry Mitsuo Kiyooka.

A few of many memories and tributes to Harry.

6 Comments

  1. I first met Harry over 60 years ago in Anticoli Corrado in Italy and we became lifelong friends.

    Harry was one of kindest and gentlest human beings I have ever known and he had a wonderful sense of humour . I will particularly miss his laughter and his extraordinary generosity of spirit

    I feel blessed to have known him and it is some consolation to know now that he is no longer with us that he had a long and very happy, productive life and had the perfect wife and soul- mate with the wonderful Katie OHe.

    There just aren’t enough Harry’s in this troubled World.

    .

  2. So sorry to hear of this tremendous loss. I remember his infectious enthusiasm while touring his amazing studio and the warm hospitality that greeted every visitor to the Arts Centre.
    Warmest sympathy to Katie and the arts community.

    Donna Livingstone

  3. What to say, with such sadness to hear Harry’s life has come to completion, even so soon, when he continued to bless so many. My favourite memories of Harry are the lunches with himself and Katie, and his stimulating, kind, and humorous conversation. Such intellectual depth and with those gentle, twinkling eyes and soft chuckles. His kindness and stature is most seen even outside of his high respect in the art word, in those most simple moments, such as when he took my active little girl away from the table, to keep her busy, so that Katie and I could visit longer. The 2 of them just quietly disappeared. Later to be found in the garage emptying the household garbage. she was happily staying close to Harry. Thank you Harry. You are one of those rare wonderful presences on this earth, that one can only be so fortunate to have met and known. I will greatly miss those visits and your wonderful kind conversations and affirmations.

  4. As a lifelong Calgarian and a former student in just one of Harry’s art classes at the University of Calgary in the mid-eighties, I can’t convey how inspirational and impactful it was to meet and study under him. His impish outlook and sheer joy at living, and art, was so evident and was infectious to all those who had the pleasure to meet him. Even though we disagreed a number of times on structured/non-structured learning in the classroom, knowing someone so exuberant about fine art as Harry existed in Calgary, was a sheer joy. When I eventually learned that Harry was Katie Ohe’s partner (whose sculptures I had “met” as a teenager) it was doubly wonderful to have been instructed by Harry. He will be sorely missed. We haven’t many like him. My sympathies go out to Katie whose life with Harry I continue to imagine as a kaleidoscope of colour, texture, form and wonder. He continues to soar in this one small vessel of memory.

  5. Our Deepest Sympathy to Katie and all at the KOAC. Harry Kiyooka was an important figure in the arts in Alberta. His love, passion and support for the arts was unstinting. He was not just an very accomplished artist but an advocate for and supporter of the arts and will be sadly missed. I first met Harry at the Triangle Gallery as a volunteer and then with the board almost 30 years ago. His will continue to be remembered for his remarkable contribution to the arts.

    Romana

    Romana Kaspar-Kraft

    The Collectors’ Gallery of Art

    1332 9th Avenue S.E.

    Calgary, AB T2G 0T3

    T: 403 245 8300 F: 403 245 8315

    email: mail@cgoart.com

    website: http://www.cgoart.com

  6. I was fortunate to grow up exposed to the Calgary contemporary art scene,. As a child, I had the privilege of visiting Harry and Katie’s studio and home. It left a lasting impression on me, as 40 years later I continue to seek out contemporary art – particularly in natural settings.

    We think of you often Katie, as your paintings hang on the wall of our Ottawa home.

    My condolences,

    Zoe Langevin ( aka Gibbs, daughter of Gordon Gibbs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Kiyooka Ohe Arts Center has heart and soul and it comes from the two iconic founders. Katie Ohe and Harry Kiyooka are Calgary Arts royalty who have taught, mentored, curated, wrote, painted and sculpted Calgary’s contemporary art scene. Meeting them is an honour and a memory to be treasured.”

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Director, Herringer Kiss Gallery

“My wish is for KOAC to accomplish everything they set out to do for the future of Calgary & culture. Katie and Harry have all the knowledge necessary to provide a home for excellent examples of art.”

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