There are certain people in the world who have the knack for inspiring me to be a better person (and I use the term BETTER as it expresses itself in humility, kindness, empathy and plain hard work and creativity) and one of those people, for me, has been Katie Ohe. I don’t know that she knows that she has that influence with me, but this is how some one who is truly remarkable can be laying down seeds in other people’s hearts.
I’ve written about her a few times.
In 2013, I wrote about the objects that live in Katie and Harry’s home.
In 2017, I wrote about KOAC and the experience of a studio tour, led by my creative friend, Wendy Lees.
And also, in 2013, I looked for a way to process my connection with Katie through a poem. You see, she had taken some time, in the light of her kitchen window, to leaf through the pages of her sketchbook with me, and to talk about the experience of having ‘painter’s block’. She spoke with me about painting. She asked me, with all sincerity, about me. I felt affirmed. I felt filled.
A few weeks ago, I knew that the exhibit of Katie’s work at the Esker Foundation, was drawing closer. As would be the case, I thought that Katie might be surrounded by many people…important people…at the opening. I couldn’t imagine myself getting anywhere near her. When I saw that the Herringer Kiss Gallery was hosting an exhibit of early works by both Katie Ohe and Harry Kiyooka, I thought that I would take the chance to visit her at that opening, so that I might make contact and wish her blessings for the big event.
It turns out that I had a lovely chat with both Katie and Harry in the peace of the gallery. She looked into my face and her eyes looked that remarkable blue and as she held one of my hands in both of hers, she said, “You are the painter.”
These words were/are transformative words. I am changed in the way that I think of myself, in the way that I feel and in the way that I am processing the events of my life, even the simple every day events. I can’t explain it.
Included here, a few of the images from the opening at the Esker Foundation. I got no where near Katie. It was such a mighty celebration of her art and her life, I felt it was just marvelous to witness her with friends, former students, well-wishers. As I was negotiating my way from the bar and past the steps to the nest, at one point, she looked up and literally our gazes met in the big hubbub and we smiled at one another. That was enough.
(I know…i sound like a blithering goofball here, but, Katie is a hero for me, as she is for so many others.)