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Totems get artist's touch

Marjorie Hoogenraad stands with newly-painted totem poles. - Alex Browne photo
Marjorie Hoogenraad stands with newly-painted totem poles.
— image credit: Alex Browne photo

When Ian Mitchell, a collector of First Nations-themed art, needed two weather- worn totem poles flanking the gate of his Ocean Park bluff residence repainted, he knew just where to turn.

His neighbour on historically named Indian Fort Drive, Marjorie Hoogenraad – who turns 80 this weekend – has long been known in White Rock and South Surrey for her artistic touch.

The exterior and fence of her own home is decorated by her own homages to First Nations art and themes, including striking interpretations of the thunderbird icon.

"I work from photographs but I use my own colours to fit in with the colour scheme of the house," the self-described "sporadic painter" said.

"The poles have been there 40 years, but they were getting very deteriorated. When our neighbour asked me to touch up his totems, I said sure. I like painting if I have a reason to paint. If somebody asks me to paint this or that for them, I'm raring to go."

While celebrating the refurbished poles, a brief visit to the oceanview home she shares with her husband of 50 years, John, indicates that there are few styles of painting and artwork Hoogenraad hasn't tried over the years.

A staggering range of pencil portraits, oils of people and landscapes, floral, dance and figure studies, surrealistic and psychological portraits, fanciful illustration-type paintings, African tribal-style art and experimental watercolors occupy the walls, all of them distinguished by Hoogenraad's fine eye for form and detail, as well as some strong background in technique she acquired while studying art at Douglas College.

The murals that many remember from the old Black Forest Restaurant were also hers, she notes.

"I don't have any one style. Some artists say you should find one style and stick with it, but I've never been able to do that. I paint a few flowers and I get tired of them – I want to move on to something else. "

Looking at their large, well-kept and enthusiastically-gardened property, it seems a wonder that she can find any time at all for painting, particularly when one learns that the couple spends half of each year in Los Cabos, Mexico, in the home they bought 36 years ago.

"I don't garden in Mexico," Hoogenraad confides. "That's where I paint."

Born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. (just outside of Edmonton), she seems always to have had a paintbrush or a pencil in her hands, she said.

"I've always been drawing, painting and creating things," she said, adding that she came to B.C. with her large family (five sisters and one brother) at the beginning of the Second World War.

She also studied to be a teacher at UBC and worked as a telephone operator before she met John, a former Dutch Air Force pilot who came to the White Rock area in 1956, after service during the Korean War.

In 1960, the couple opened the Kwik Klean coin-operated laundromat at the corner of Vidal Street and Victoria Avenue – the first such operation south of the Pattullo Bridge – and ran it for close to 20 years.

John was also part-owner of Jeffs Realty, and managed the office from 1975 to 1980.

Hoogenraad was also a dancer who studied in White Rock with the fondly remembered Mme. Riette Hilliard – and she believes her active lifestyle and range of interests has helped keep her young.

"My brother passed away at the age of 60, but all of my sisters – the youngest is 75 and the oldest is 87 – are in good health and active," she said.

 

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