“A Day In The Life” with Artist and Writer, Michael Kluckner

Few writers are skilled artists and few artists have a gift for words. Michael Kluckner is one of the few. He is also a respected historian and continues on his website to invite residents of British Columbia to contribute their own reminiscences and photographs to a growing body of information about the people of this province, a project he began with the book Vanishing British Columbia.

After graduating from university, Michael Kluckner supported himself by submitting cartoons to local newspapers and taking on commercial art commissions. It was only in his thirties that he turned to writing and illustrating books. His biggest early success was Vanishing Vancouver in 1990, a love letter to his hometown that documented much of its history with watercolours and lamented the loss of many of its fine old buildings.

Looking for new forms of expression, he uses Sumi-e brush-and-ink drawings as book illustrations, and oil paintings, while his books have ranged from stories about farm life, travel reminiscences, and more recently graphic novels. The newest of these, The Rooming House, is a combination of words, images and a soundtrack of rock & roll classics. “If a movie can have a soundtrack, why not a book?”, he says.

In addition to this busy life, Michael has found time to volunteer in support of his interests, particularly heritage preservation, and has chaired both Heritage Canada and the Vancouver Heritage Commission. He is currently president of the Vancouver Historical Society.

Asked for a comment about his life, he says, “I’m glad I didn’t become an architect.”

Written by Christine Allen

Michael Kluckner
Encounter with an art critic in the Australian Outback, 2009
On the back stairs, heading for my vegetable garden.
Michael Kluckner
Sumi-e painting in the Fraser Canyon in 2020.
New book, 2022!
A mirror shot with my beloved Christine.
Launching a book containing travel artwork during Covid.
Delivering an oil painting to a gallery in Seattle, 2018.
Michael Kluckner
With a student in Percé, Québec, during a course I taught at the Université Laval’s summer school in 2011.
Michael Kluckner
A seminar on Zoom with McGill history students who studied my graphic novel “Toshiko” on the Japanese-Canadian experience during the Second World War – it has been part of the curriculum of a third-year Canadian history course for the past 5 years.

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Which ’hood are you in?

I live in Grandview near Commercial Drive in Vancouver in a 1911 house.

What do you do?

I’ve been an author-artist (plus sheep farmer from 1993 to 2005) since the 1970s.

What are you currently working on?

I’m searching for gnarled, dying arbutus trees in picturesque locations to paint in Japanese ink as a metaphor for my precarious existence on this challenged planet.

Where can we find your work?

Independent bookstores, my website and in a show that opened on June 2nd at Petley Jones Gallery, 2245 Granville Street, Vancouver.