Have You Met?
Name: Quang Ho
Hometown: Hue, Vietnam
Resident: Denver, CO
Education: Graduate, Colorado Institute of Art 1985
Profession: Denver’s own “Rock Star” of the Art World, Teacher, Philosopher, Internationally recognized Artist.
Status: Married to Artist Nancy Switzer
Story by: Nancy Koontz
Artist Quang Ho’s life is a story of triumph over tragedies and creating substance and beauty through his art. In 1975, at age, 12, Quang fled Saigon with his mother, four brothers and three sisters, a day before Saigon fell to Communist forces. Penniless, with the help of a local church, the family settled in Denver. Not knowing the English language, Quang and his brave family took on the task of trying to blend in and survive in a new world. But as Quang soon realized, it was a world of freedom and opportunity.
In 1982, when Quang was only 18, his mom died tragically in a car accident, and Quang was left to raise his younger brothers and sisters. Reaching deep within himself, Quang worked hard to develop his artistic talents. Indeed, it didn’t take long for others to realize what a true talent he was, and his career as an artist blossomed.
At only 42, Quang has led an honorable life and can already look back at an impressive list of successes. He is well on his way to becoming one of the finest and renowned visual artists on the scene today.
How do you develop an idea for a painting - what inspires you? An idea for a painting can develop instantly, spontaneously, or it can be something that I work out over a period of years. Painting is much like classical music or literature in the sense that it really requires a lot of understanding about structure: then how does it all go together? It is rarely about the subject matter. I can be inspired by a face, the juxtaposition of two colors, a flash of something out of the corner of my eye, a distant horizon, an intimate corner of a stream, the way two globs of paint interact with each other..., There's no such thing as an "artist's block" or a dull moment - there's just not enough time in a day to explore everything I want to get to.
You are considered one of the top representational artists in the country now. What stands out the most when you think about your journey to get to this point? A lot of hard, fun work. Ironically, the thing that gives my paintings strength is that it is based entirely on the abstract principles. I don't see things representationally...I see the world as shapes, values, colors, textures, and lines...these are all abstract elements. Only when we give names to what we see do they become objects.
How did you come to understand your own artistic rhythm? I’ve had moments where I experienced an understanding that goes beyond words while painting. I believe it has every thing to do with seeing shapes versus actual images. That happens when I separate myself from the process of painting and learn to play with the accidents. Painting must be a surprise because the true artist communicates by transcending him medium.
Which of your paintings was the most challenging one for you, and why? There was a painting called "Eve" in which I wanted a figure outdoors to melt into the landscape. To become one with all the shapes around her. It took me over two years to make it work. To paint it in such a way that the painting feels expressive and at the same time not loose the structure.
When in your life did you realize you had artistic talent? I have always loved drawing since the age of two or three. Didn't know the first thing about painting, in a meaningful way, until the age of 20. I held my first one-man show as sophomore in high school.
What social or charitable event is your favorite? I like all of them. They are all worthwhile - and fun.
What nonprofit organizations are you involved with at this time? I get very involved with the charitable organizations Salon d’ Arts selects to support.
You are a mentor to so many, who was your mentor? An old gypsy named Rene Bruhin. One of the most brilliant minds I have ever encountered. He understood art beyond anyone I have ever met.
Can you share with us one of your favorite childhood memories? The smell of the dirt road, the green fields of rice, the fresh morning dew on the Calla Lilies...when I would go to visit my grandmother’s house in the country.
What is a moment in your life you will never forget? There are so many. The day we left Vietnam - one day before Saigon Fell; the first time I saw snow; the first time I fell in love.
What other hobbies or interests does a talented man such as you have? I love to play golf. It's a very Zen game - requiring both physical ability, but more importantly, mental toughness. I play the guitar and read. There are so many wonderful things to experience in life if we are open and quiet enough to receive them.
What do you consider your proudest achievement? Learning to not take anything seriously.
What artist do you admire the most? William DeKooning, Andrew Wyeth, Richard Diebenkorn, and John Singer Sargent.
What do you see or hope to see for the art world in the future? Much less "B.S." in the contemporary movement. I think it's happening – I don't mean that it should go “representational."
Who is the real Quang Ho? I am still quietly listening for the answer. I have a feeling that if I can define it, I've missed the whole thing. Knowing never requires words.
What is the best advice another artist ever gave you? Rene Bruhin showed me that it was never about the subject that I was trying to render but rather it was about the big picture.
You have now met many celebrities and famous people, as well as many community leaders, can you name one that has stood out? Generally, the ones that stood out to me have been the fun ones who love what they do and are serious about their work.
One of my favorites is Michael Pink. He wrote and directed the ballet production "Dracula" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dam" for the Colorado Ballet. I was also commissioned to paint a painting by Robert Town, the movie screenwriter. I was really amazed by his power of observation and his ability to not waste any words in a conversation.
What is one of your favorite places in the world? The Grand Canyon.
What's in the future for Quang Ho? To explore painting without any boundaries or restrictions as it unfolds.
What is something you would still like to learn to do? Play the guitar with the same intention as painting and to play the piano.
As an artist, what do you hope your legacy will be? That I did the best that I could...that I gave it everything that I am capable of giving it. And that I was as honest as I could have been with my work.
Awards/Recognitions: 1999: Artists’ Choice Award – Artists of America & Northwest Rendezvous of Art. 2000: Best of Show Award – Colorado Governor’s Invitational. 2003: Grand Prize Master Signature, Oil Painters of America in Taos, NM. 2003: Artists’ Choice Award – Northwest Rendezvous, Helena, MT. Art shown at numerous selected exhibitions and featured in many art publications. Clients include: The Prince of Brunei, Adolph Coors Company, Upjohn, Safeway, The Colorado Symphony, and The Chicago Symphony.