Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f739cf0000Arts & More airs Fridays at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.Theme music: "Like A Beginner Again" by Dan Barry of Seas of Jupiter

Something In The Way: Doug Dykehouse's Art Expresses Need To Get Out

Doug Dykehouse next to a print of his painting "Adore to Access"
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

 Doug Dykehouse will be one of about 12 artists at Friday's Kalamazoo Art Hop satellite in the Oakwood neighborhood. His paintings will be on display at Water Street Coffee Joint on Oakland until the end of January.

Dykehouse's painting of Old Dog Tavern, formerly Kraftbrau
Credit Doug Dykehouse
Dykehouse's painting of Old Dog Tavern, formerly Kraftbrau

For Kalamazoo painter Doug Dykehouse there always seems to be something in the way. In his earlier works, many of his paintings have windows, doors, or objects blocking picturesque views.

Take his surrealist painting “Obsession” also known as “Adore to Access.” In it you see a refrigerator with no back filled with food, jewelry, and gadgets.

“It’s a metaphor for all of our possessions and all the things we value and take comfort in,” says Dykehouse. “And just beyond that door, we can access, if we choose, nature. Something really quite wonderful that’s not all busy and plastic.”

One of the main “things in the way” in Dykehouse’s art would probably be technology. While he uses digital elements to make some of his art, it’s clear Dykehouse has a complicated relationship with tech. He says it often distracts him from his work.

In his painting “Nancy Gets Mad” cartoon characters like Iron Man and Mickey Mouse as well as a classic draped nude have mixed reactions to a floppy disk that inserts itself into the landscape.

Dykehouse says he taught commercial art at Van Buren Intermediate School District for several years and also has trouble leaving that out of his art. 

"Eucharist 300" by Doug Dykehouse
"Eucharist 300" by Doug Dykehouse

 “That was the bar that got set ‘Can you make it real.’ So I learned commercial art skills to get over those hurdles because it’s communication. If it doesn’t look real or close, we’ll lose our audience, the customer as it were," Dykehouse explains.

"They wouldn’t be able to recognize—oh that’s a cup or oh that’s an apple. So I’ve been spending time on that it’s kind of crept into my fine art expression.”

Dykehouse says in on painting he started out trying to make an abstract, but then added arms outside the work and ropes around it.

“And it’s kind of like embracing the abstract,” Dykehouse says.

When I visited Dykehouse at his home studio, he said he was just about to go for a walk. Something that, until recently, he says he didn’t feel able to do after his wife died a year and a half ago. Dykehouse says he felt like there was always something keeping him from getting out—whether that was outside or out with friends and family.

“But I want to play. I don’t want to be just on the sidelines,” says Dykehouse. “But that’s a little bit of a risk and it can hurt because it’s not as safe as watching TV or painting all day long. But that’s been a transition period for me, so that’s where I’m at in my painting as well.”

Dykehouse says it’s a work in progress, but he’s slowly removing those things in the way from his life and his art—like in this sketch he did six months ago:

“It looks like a dump, I mean full of junk, but it’s got a path leading through the middle of it. So there’s a guitar and tires, microwaves, toys—objects really from my memory and around my house. And they’re just in a pile and there’s a path leading through that to a horizon with a sun rising.” 

Related Content