Contemporary Figurative Works


See Kate's work in person: Studio 123
at the Open Studios at the Red Brick Center for the Arts in Aspen, CO. 

"First" 52" x 64" oil on arches paper. Kate for scale.

"Aiden and that Horrible Dress"June 2019 Oil on Arches Paper. 72" x 46" unframed. Will ship framed in our custom white box frame, with painting floated. No glass. Shipping by Art Forward of Aspen. Inquire for pricing.

Aiden is my son's best friend, and is in transition from female to male at 17 years old. This image was born out of many long talks about gender, transitioning, passing, and being true to oneself. The dress hanging just on the edge of the painting is the last dress he wore on stage. He stands in a spotlight with confetti fluttering down as he moves away from the dress and towards his true self. We made this image one week after he started taking Testosterone shots.

For this image, Aiden and I spent some time talking in the studio about what it means to pass and how it feels to be mis-gendered. He poses in his binder, the very thing which helps him to pass. Exposing this garment, the thing which helps him pass until he can have top surgery, exposes his genderstate as Trans. This choice is incredibly brave and vulnerable.

Aiden is a thespian, and is now exclusively playing male roles, most recently Eric in "An Inspector Calls" for Theatre Aspen. He has found in theater a place to be at home with who he always has been, and a family which embraces and encourages him as he continues to grow. Aiden has agreed to allow me to document his journey through transition for the next couple of years, and I am honored.

Interested In This Piece? »
"When Everything Burns" June, 2019 64" x 52" framed, in private collection.

Sumi-e ink, oil and crushed charcoal on Arches Oil Paper. This is the first time I have addressed the studio fire which effectively ended my Los Angeles art career in 2003.

This image is from a photograph taken during the fire: Bodhi, barely two years old has just woken up. Held by his father, he stares at the multitude of flashing lights while the firefighters cut a hole in the roof of our studio, wood shop, climbing gym and attic with axes. Floodlights, fire, smoke fill our vision. Suddenly, items are tossed into the burn pile: the boys pedal airplane, a gift from family for our son Ethan, a half burnt windsor chair, painting after charred painting. The attic above the studio was full of my family antiques and photos. All we could do was stand and watch.
"First"July 2019, oil on arches paper. 52" x 64" unframed.Will ship framed in our custom white box frame, with painting floated. No glass. Shipping by Art Forward of Aspen. Inquire for pricing. 

Ethan is seventeen this summer. He's my first born, this is the first painting I've made of him, and this is a summer of firsts. No longer my little kiddo, he is riding his motorcycle to his first job, running spotlight for Theater Aspen. He is also a native user of technology, his generation was the first to start commenting "First!" online, and also the first to stop.

My guess is that there are many firsts to come for him, and not just the ones we expect: his generation will be the first to be directly and immediately impacted by climate change, his is certainly the first who puts it on the top of their list of concerns, the first to truly wonder, will there be a planet to inhabit in ten years or twenty?

To me, his gaze is accusatory, he could just be relaxing on the couch like a teenager or he could be angry that we have left him a world which is falling apart, robbing him and all of humanity perhaps, from the lazy days of childhood.

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"Diagnostic Imaging 3001"April-June 2019 82" x 54" oil and glitter on canvas. Will ship unframed. Shipping by Art Forward of Aspen. Inquire for pricing.

As I went through two years of health scares, first being diagnosed with breast cancer and then being ill for a year following radiation, I was imaged, biopsied, poked and prodded, samples taken of every substance you can imagine. At one point, I was in the changing room in the cold imaging lab at AVH putting my clothes back on when suddenly it felt to me as though I was putting my body back on again. I was beginning to feel that I, myself, Kate, was separate from my body, which I could take off and allow them to sort through for malware. It has been a strange and uncertain time, one in which we waited over a year for a diagnosis, in spite of the 20 odd trips to the ER. Finally, diagnosis came: hyperparathyroidism and another surgery.

As an art history major, I have always been fascinated by the illuminated manuscripts of the 15th and 16th century, the imagery is often a combination of flattened scenes of every day life, morphing into surrealism as you look more deeply into the image. There are cautionary tales, demons, sprites, and magic in the borders and corners of these ancient paintings. I began during my own deconstruction of self (body) and self (athlete? human who can leave bed?) to allow myself to examine the sensations of intersectedness and see if I could represent the sensation visually.

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"Charlotte and Frankie" July 2019, oil on Arches oil paper. 105" x 87"  Will ship with our custom white box frame, frame installed and painting floated on-site. No glass. Shipping by Art Forward of Aspen. Inquire for pricing.

Charlotte is a textile artist who has lived all over the world. We became friends while both working as Resident Artists at the Red Brick in Aspen, where her huge Great Dane, Frankie would come bounding down the hall like a Panzer tank on roller skates when we saw each other. Frankie rarely sits up, and rarely sits still, he's either racing around or sleeping all over the floor of Charlotte's small space while she works on her knitting machines, bringing homespun fashion to life. The relationship of this huge dog to this ephemeral creative woman became a fascination for me. Frankie is at once her rock and her anchor, her love and solace and her tether.

This image is in Charlotte's studio as we chose to open a bottle of rose rather than get to work, and important aspect of any collaborative artist's space. The visiting, talking about life and art, the being in someone else's space before you go back to hammering on your own work (or finessing, coaxing or ruminating through...)

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"Diagnostic Imaging: Blue Concept"pastel and painters tape on computer paper. Will ship framed, with painting floated and UVresist clear non reflective glass. Shipping by Art Forward of Aspen. Inquire for pricing.

This small study has become a piece in its own right, and is leading the way towards a much more in-depth image combining the simplification of medical information as a layman would search for it on the web, or a med student would try to make sense of this system or that in the body with the realtime sensation a human (myself) is experiencing embedded in it, the thing you don't and can't see, the pain, presented as though it can be modeled.

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"Pain Maps"Oil on Arches Paper, various sizes, aprox 52" x 80" Will ship framed in our custom white box frame, with painting floated. No glass. Shipping by Art Forward of Aspen. Inquire for pricing.

These pieces came out of the darkest days of my illness over the last two years, when I was desperately attempting to relay to my doctors the quality and nature and seeming source and destination of the mind-numbing pain I was experiencing. Pain of this nature is not a normal complication of Hyperparathyroidism, but it was the symptom I was most familiar with.

Eventually, we found a doctor who looked at these drawings and paintings and understood that the pain was so large, I was unable to do anything mentally other than manage it. I couldn't sleep through it, study through it, speak through it, there was no reading, watching tv... all I could do was lay in the semi dark and follow the pain in my sketchbook with a pen. The result are these strangely humanoid images, the humanoid shape coming from following the pain and placing it where I felt it, sometimes even outside of my physical body.

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Installation View: "The Figure" March, 2019 at the Red Brick Center for the Arts, Aspen, Co.

This piece was chosen as the promotional piece for media for the group figure show.

Kate Howe - Artist Statement and Bio


Bio

Kate Howe is a contemporary painter who lives and works in Aspen, Colorado. Throughout her work, much of which is figurative, Howe explores how the human body fluidly reflects the complexity of life experience. With a research-based editing process the artist deconstructs found images from popular culture, news, recent history, and her own life through the lens of social anthropology. Her compositions often reframe specific moments or individuals through a variety of formal techniques that at times reference the history of painting. Further, Howe uses and manipulates the traditional form of the body to mirror the psychological and physical growth, comfort, trauma, illness, and violence many feel and endure.

Howe holds a degree in Technical Theater from Foothill College, Los Altos, CA and has studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University, Boston, and ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, CA. She is currently finishing a BA in Art History from Arizona State University and is a full-time artist in residence at the Red Brick Center for the Arts in Aspen, CO. In 2020 she plans to pursue an MFA.

Artist Statement

My work often references the intersection of technology and humanity, the duality of our strength and vulnerability both as intellects and flesh sacks. Humans are plastic, elastic, adaptable and destructive all at once. Parts are repairable, replaceable. We are powerful learning machines, we can teach our minds to overcome hurt, to embrace growth, and we can teach them to shut off to growth and dig in. My work often references belief systems, about ourselves, our nature, our relationship to each other and to spirituality. It explores that connection within the construct of brain and social science.


As a social anthropologist with mortality in mind, I try to take the visual language of painting from our vast history of pictorial representation and re-order that established and sacred language to form contemporary sentences which express this hybrid, dual evolution of form.


The process itself is meditative. The cognitive piece is an exercise which creates a framework strong enough and clear enough to create space in which I can just paint. Once the painting begins, I don’t think at all. There is only the mesmerizing, never ending cycle of looking: a suspended, timeless meditation of color, I’ve fallen into my painting and it’s eaten me whole. I now work for the image, and what it wants is specific. That is the making.

2019
55" x 88" x 3 1/2 "
oil on arches paper
framed and floated, no glass
St. Athena is a diptych which draws inspiration from the illuminated manuscripts of the 1300s, the posture, clean lines and constructed fantasy of 1940s hollywood glamour (is that a halo or a towel on her head by the pool?) and color studies done by Joseph Albers at the time, as well as technology, that of today and tomorrow.

The Athenas are a chroma-flip painting. To achieve this, I used Photoshop to find the exact chromatic opposite of the first piece I created (chartreuse) and built the Virgin Mary Blue one using that technology. Hand crafted on paper, it references the careful task monks faced while creating complex and singular works of worshipful art, and her body is extended by the attachment of the phone, which she isn't looking at.

The Athenas look both to our past and our future, sitting comfortably in all timelines, completely accepting her new appendage (the phone).

2019
102" x 96"
oil on arches paper
framed and floated, no glass
I'm interested in the figure and how non-traditional "spaces" help us feel the intention and tension of the figure as it progresses along it's timeline. Caught in this moment, what does the next one hold?

2019
55" x 88" x 3 1/2" deep
oil on Arches paper 
framed and floated, no glass
Right after the now and right before the next.
Can you get there from here? Who knows? It's probably worth finding out, though.

2019
55" x 88" x 3 1/2"
oil on Arches paper
framed and floated, no glass 
Detail of "There from Here"
Dorien is in the in-between space that fascinates me, having come through a difficult loss. She is past the shock but not quite back in the world, working on surrender to the place she is now, sharing her journey. She's not finished with the mourning process, she is still in the long unknown, facing her challenge every day. 

2019
52" x 68" x 3 1/2" 
oil on Arches Paper 
framed and floated, no glass
People often wonder how big is big. Most of my figures are 1 1/2 to 2 times scale. Because that is how big our emotive state appears when it grabs us. Because I am a fish that grows to the size of its tank.
Her idea, their idea, the idea before, the idea after, and maybe even the real. But she's coming. Oil and charcoal on Arches paper.
52" x 76" 
This piece is the basis for a body of work which is currently evolving into the performative/installation space.

2019
92" x 76" oil on canvas.

I am also in the long unknown, neither healthy nor ill, I exist in a space where nothing is as it was and there is no way of knowing what will be. Surrendering to the limbo and finding it to be a friend rather than the enemy, stubborn time stolen by cancer, I am studying what it feels like to be looking forward while at the same time being content with where I am. 

2019
60" x 48" oil on canvas,

The first in the series of the long unknowns, I am in a space which seems to move at a different rate of rotation of the rest of the world spinning around me. I've decided to look around rather than struggle to escape.

2019
72" x 48" oil and charcoal on canvas 

When I first had to quit my life as a professional athlete, I struggled with my changing body, as cancer took me off the mountain and out of the yoga room and onto the couch. A year later, I am cancer free, but my reality is very different from what it was before. Painting offered me a way back into myself, to examine who I thought I was, what I thought that meant to my worth, and why that mattered. 

2018
48" x 60" oil and charcoal on canvas

Pinning down the dysmorphic body, the desires that pull it to be this way or that, to present as accurate and same every time we see it is a fascinating exercise for those of us who never look the same twice in a mirror. 

2018
48" x 60" oil on canvas.

This is the first in a series of works based on young sex workers. I remove them from their environment and their abusers, setting them free on canvas to be their childhood selves, dancing naked in the yard, unaware of the alternate reality which faced them before they were painted. 

2018
45" x 60" oil and charcoal on linen

Over the course of a decade of travel in the ski industry, I shared space with people all around the world, sometimes as lovers, sometimes as work buddies, sometimes as traveling companions. Most of these people were men. 

In the middle of the night, when I would get up to use the restroom, I began to take photos of them. At first, I think this was a way for me to take power back, to say, see, I can take something I want from you without you even knowing it is gone. 

Turning these vulnerabilities into watercolor paintings requires patience and an obsessive quality, I am turning this stolen private precious moment into a souvenir that these men are unaware I even possess. Exhibiting them is an incredibly powerful experience. 

2018
84" x 48" watercolor on paper
Framed 

A great friend from Sera Jey monastary in Bayakulpe, India came to visit us last week and give some teachings. After agreeing to sit for this portrait we have decided together to make an installation style painting of Ven. Lekden debating himself in the Mahayana tradition... a reflection of the struggles we all go through as we work through a problem.

2019
3' x 4' aprox oil and pastel on canvas

This is Otto's Jacket, which was worn by Otto at his "trial."

This moment is the last moment in which he bowed as deeply as his clothing would allow as he begged for his life. Otto's father wore this coat to Otto's school when he spoke to the student body after Otto died.

Upon seeing the North Korean Beaches during and around the negotiations to bring Otto home, Trump remarked, "Look at those beaches, wouldn't it be great to build condos there?"

"Otto Frederick Warmbier (December 12, 1994 – June 19, 2017) was an American college student from Cincinnati, Ohio, who was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 for attempted theft, for which he was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. While incarcerated, he fell into a coma and never regained consciousness, dying in June 2017." (Source: Wikipedia)

24" x 36" watercolor on paper unmounted
2018
8" x 10" 2 panels, Oil on canvas board. 2017, Collection of Richard Segal.

These two ladies went to the same cafe in Amsterdam every morning. They would start at separate tables on either side of the door, and as the morning wore on, they would turn toward each other and talk. After a couple of hours, their chairs would be nearly touching, blocking the entrance, and forcing patrons to walk around them in order to get into the tiny, old, dark, cool cafe innards.

I watched them every morning while I was sketching and eating Poffertjes, and began to wonder about their friendship, their lives, and how long they had been doing just this. To me they seem to exemplify a time when people connected slowly and deeply, their affection, friendship and animation compelled me to want to take them home with me.
9" x 20" oil on shellac on birch panel. 2017
In private collection.
This series was created by using Sumi-e ink and watercolor on a stack of Mulberry paper. The paper underneath the initial painting is much thinner, like tissue paper, creating a series of bleed-through transfers, which I then soak with wax and layer using wax and more watercolor washed mulberry paper.

ALL: 14" x 20" sumi-e ink and watercolor on kozo paper, unmounted 2018

14" x 19" Sumi-e ink and watercolor on mulberry paper. Collection of the Artist. 

14" x 19" Sumi-e ink and water color transfer on mulberry paper with wax.
2018 

14" x 19" Sumi-e ink and watercolor on Mulberry paper.
2018


14" x 19" Sumi-e ink and watercolor transfer on mulberry paper.
2018
In private collection
2019 
3' x 5' aprox sumi-e and vermilion ink on kozo paper


2019
3' x 5' aprox sumi-e ink, tumeric ink and vermillion ink on kozo paper. 
Private collection of Richard Segal

Previous Work (before 2004: Painting, sculpture, installation)

Most of this work burned in my studio fire in 2003, ending my art career for over a decade.

Charcoal, pen and ink, ash, and amber shellac on mahogany. 2003, Destroyed in studio fire.

This large mural consisted of two 10' x 20' panels and three 4' x 8' panels. It was installed in three permutations during it's existence at Art Center College of Design in 2005. All pieces in this series were destroyed in the 2003 fire which burned my studio to the ground.
Charcoal, pen and ink and oil paint on shellac on Mahogany wood. 2003, destroyed.
10' x 10' india ink, ash, charcoal, sharpie, oil paint on shellac on mahogany. 2003, destroyed
charcoal, ink, oil paint on raw mahogany, 2003, destroyed
12' x 10' section. Pen and ink, shellac, dead bugs, grass, leaves, ash, charcoal, house paint, sharpie , oil paint on shellac and mahogany. 2003, destroyed.
Pen and ink, shellac, dead bugs, grass, leaves, ash, charcoal, house paint, sharpie , oil paint on shellac and mahogany. 2003, destroyed.
12' x 10' section. Pen and ink, shellac, dead bugs, grass, leaves, ash, charcoal, house paint, sharpie , oil paint on shellac and mahogany. 2003, destroyed.

(Apologies for dappled sunlight this was a reference photo the day before installation, and the fire happened the next day)
An ala prima experiment in class, background and intimacy. None of these women had modeled before or knew each other or anything about each other before posing for me for 3- 5 hours at a stretch. 47 paintings in this series were destroyed in our studio fire in 2003. 4' x 8' oil on shellac on cardboard on mahogany
7' x 9' oil on shellac on cardboard on mahogany
30' x 36' oil on shellac on cardboard on mahogany
4' x 8' oil on shellac on cardboard on mahogany. Private collection.
36" x 48" oil on shellac on cardboard on Mahogany. Collection of the artist.
4' x8' oil on shellac on cardboard. One of a series of 27 paintings of 27 different women in exactly the same pose, painted ala prima. None had previosly modled. During the course of all 27 patintings, every single woman who posed explained, over the course of our time together, naturally and un prompted by me, exactly what they loathed about their bodies and how they hoped that this process would help them to find something, anything to love about their physical being. This confrontational, not particularly flattering posture was the result of the first woman's frank confrontation of her self loathing. This series was destroyed in the fire of 2003.
36' x 40' oil on shellac on cardboard on Mahogany. In Private Collection.
16" x 20" oil on shellac on cardboard on mahogany
oil on shellac on cardboard
24" x 30" oil on cardboard

Sculpture and Installation

I enjoy playing with simple contradictions in sculpture, in immersive environments which may change the way we see ourselves once we experience a space in an unexpected way. I believe spaces hold the stories we never took the time to write down, they are there for the mining.

35' x various widths. Lead, Rebar. In permanent collection at Art Center, Pasadena. Installed in a birch grove in a clandestine middle of the night operation, the tree is almost invisible until you are right on top of it, even though it is made of metal.
35' x various widths. Lead, Rebar. In permanent collection at Art Center, Pasadena. Installed in a birch grove in a clandestine middle of the night operation, the tree is almost invisible until you are right on top of it, even though it is made of metal. As you walk around the tree, the welded rebar structure is exposed.
8' x 8' inflatable vinyl cube. 2003. This project was initially installed at a crossroads at the Art Center in Pasadena, CA, blocking a stairway, the entrance to the main gallery, the women's restroom, the entrance to the elevator, and the hallway leading to the outside. The cube moves easily on the polished concrete floor, and is labeled with instructions: PUSH. The cube could easily be maneuvered along a 20' section of hallway with about 2' on either side of it in order to clear the entrance to any of the spaces. We set up cameras and filmed the interaction of the public with this "obstacle". In reality, the obstacle was really more the idea of an obstacle, since it could be moved with one finger, like a balloon.

People had interesting reactions to the piece; because folks know they aren't "supposed to touch art" a lot of them snuck by the piece carefully, trying not to touch it. Many walked by angry that the thing was in their way, some people played with it pushing it all around the space, and then a security guard, on his own volition, came down and began to move it for people, clearing a path for them, removing the public's interaction with the piece.

After it's initial exhibition, PUSH was installed in the lower gallery, the only object in the space. I found it to be most effective when installed or reset right up against the door, blocking the entrance.
128' hand milled mahogany, rivets, house paint. Commissioned by the Bozeman Co-Op. 2005
128' hand milled mahogany, rivets, house paint. Commissioned by the Bozeman Co-Op. 2005
128' hand milled mahogany, rivets, house paint. Commissioned by the Bozeman Co-Op. 2005
Steel, sheet metal. . 5' x 3' aprox. 2001
Seven televisions buried in the ground. 2002. Like illuminated stepping stones, they display close up video images of parts of the face, and facial expression.
2001. The specific site: my body. The show: Small gallery at the Art Center, Pasadena. Large Print Photographs of tattooing, video of process of tattooing, detritus of tattooing, needle and napkins used during tattooing process.

The Wife/Mother project: installation view

The Wife/Mother project: installation view

The Wife/Mother project: Installation View

256' x 3/4" hand milled pine and rivets, this sculpture leaps 35' from the bridge of the Art Center Pasadena and cascades another 200+' anchored only by objects found in the area.
256' x 3/4" hand milled pine and rivets, this sculpture leaps 35' from the bridge of the Art Center Pasadena and cascades another 200+' anchored only by objects found in the area.
256' x 3/4" hand milled pine and rivets, this sculpture leaps 35' from the bridge of the Art Center Pasadena and cascades another 200+' anchored only by objects found in the area.

Abstract Work: Painting

8' x 10' blood, shellac, dirt, bugs, raw canvas. 2003, destroyed This painting was part of an exhibition called "Polarity", and the piece was conceived around the concept of seduction/repulsion. I wanted a surface that would pull the viewer in, that they would want to smell, touch and investigate closely because of the seductive nature of it's look and texture.

Upon realizing the piece was literally made of the blood of two pigs and a horse from a slaughterhouse, the repulsion side took care of itself. The interesting part of the process (aside from working with the material which was fascinating) was that most viewers would be seduced again once they overcame their initial squeamishness and come in close for further investigation.

2 Pigs and a Horse - Detail

10' x 10' Rosin tinted with oil paint, layered over raw canvas.
Seven large paintings, the chair from my studio and a writing piece installed at Art Center Pasadena for solo show in 2003.
Solo show at Art Center Pasadena 2003
10' x 10' photogravure on raw canvas with pencil, eraser shavings and shellac. 2003, destroyed. This is a photogravure in two pullings from a photograph of my grandmother , who was born in 1898, and her finishing school class.
Detail - 10' x 10' photogravure on raw canvas with pencil, eraser shavings and shellac. 2003, destroyed. This is a photogravure in two pullings from a photograph of my grandmother , who was born in 1898, and her finishing school class.
4' x 8' 2001 Found sheet metal, house paint on canvas