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Lochhead, Ken (1926–)

Kenneth Lochhead, “Chevron Blue,” 1962, enamel on masonite, 121.9 x 182.9 cm, MacKenzie Art Gallery, University of Regina Collection, gift of the MacKenzie Art Gallery Society.
MacKenzie Art Gallery 1962-001

Kenneth Campbell Lochhead was born in Ottawa on May 22, 1926. His major art training was undertaken at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. Scholarships allowed him to study in Europe and western Canada. After several short assignments, he was hired by Regina College (forerunner to the University of Regina) in 1950 to direct its School of Art. He was also charged with developing what became the Norman MacKenzie Art Gallery.

Under Lochhead’s guidance, both the School and the Gallery flourished, attracting energetic personalities and generating excitement. It was his significant role in the development of the Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops, however, that attracted the most attention to the prairie region. While the Emma Lake camp dates from the 1930s, the workshops established a modernist direction. Visitors included such artists as Will Barnett (1957), Barnett Newman (1959), John Ferren (1960), Clement Greenberg (1962), and Jules Olitski (1964). These artists attracted international attention to Regina.

In his own work Lochhead developed a distinctive style, producing such notable works as “The Kite” (1952), “The Dignitary” and “The Bonspiel” (1954). His work was exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in both public and private galleries in Canada and abroad. He began to win major commissions, completing an enormous wall mural at Gander Airport in Newfoundland in 1957–58. Other commissions included art for the Canadian Chancery Building in Warsaw, Poland; the Confederation Centre in Prince Edward Island; and the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg. Then in 1961, with other Regina artists Art McKay, Ron Bloore, Ted Godwin, and Doug Morton, Lochhead displayed his paintings at the National Gallery of Canada. This show, “Five Painters from Regina,” placed the Regina arts scene on the national map. In 1964, however, he was the first of the five to leave Regina, accepting a teaching position with the University of Manitoba. In 1973, he went on to York University in Toronto, and finally to the University of Ottawa.

Lochhead has served on many public boards, committees, and organizations throughout his career, including the Wascana Centre Authority in Regina, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and the National Capital Commission in Ottawa. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1971 and an honorary degree from the University of Regina in 2001.

Mark Vajcner

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Further Reading

MacDonald, C.S. 1991. A Dictionary of Canadian Artists. Ottawa: Canadian Paperbacks; Marzolf, H. 1988. Kenneth Lochhead: Abstract Paintings, 1962–1967. Regina: Dunlop Art Gallery.
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