Kenneth Rougeau 12 March 2008
Artist, Poet, Wanderer
Kenneth Rougeau couldn’t help becoming the cultured, eclectic, dizzy person he is.
“When people ask where I’m from,” he confides, “I just tell them ‘North America.’”
His life began 32 years ago in Long Beach, California, but a short six months later he was in Galveston, Texas. A year later, Elko, Nevada. He began school in Rock Creek Canyon, Idaho but soon found himself in New Jersey and then New York City. From there he traveled to Kalispell, Montana, resting roughly three years before moving to Anaheim, California. A year later he was dragged kicking and screaming to Orange, Texas & Vinton, Louisiana. The dreaded south held him captive until he was 17, at which point he & a schoolmate fled to Alabama. In the spring of 1993 he was invited by an old family friend to move to Home Valley, Washington. That summer, Ken discovered his favorite place on Earth, the only place he’d ever willingly call home; Portland, Oregon. “It’s where the elves would live,” he explains. Ken’s wandered off several times since, (returning briefly to Manhattan & Texas, visiting Scotland & England, living in Miami, Florida and Cleveland, Ohio for a time) but inevitably returns home to Portland.
“It’s great to be home,” he says. “And this time I’m here to stay!”
Kenneth began writing short stories at the age of 7, a time when most kids were just getting a proper handle on how to read. He won his first short story competition when he was 9 years old, having written a fantasy story about a unicorn who fights off a dragon.At the age of 12, inspired by his mother’s creativity, he began to write poetry. He’s steadily continued the practice for nearly twenty years, but doesn’t have a very large body of work to show for it.
“Most of my writing’s been lost over the years. You see, before laptops, email and incremental backups, we kept information on something we called paper, a flimsy physical storage medium which was entirely too easy to lose. Several notebooks went missing in all the moving I did as a kid. Some journals were stolen, others given away. And there are more than a few,” he says laughing, “that were burnt out of spite! I’ve never been the biggest fan of my own writing.”
Currently, Kenneth is enjoying a great deal of success in the art world. Prints and art trading cards of his work sell worldwide through his Etsy storefront & he’s recently been invited to participate in the Hillsboro First Tuesday Artwalk. His first gallery show is also underway, featuring a series of images created as illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s classic fairy tale, Alice In Wonderland. They are currently on display in the Hollywood district of Portland at Quirks of Art (http://quirks-of-art.com) and can be seen through the end of April.
Kenneth currently resides in SE Portland with his girlfriend, talented artist & clothing designer Charlotte Self, and her 7 year old son, aspiring artist Dylan Self.
What are you up to?
I’m making the terrifying transition from 9-5 cubicle drone to full time self employed artist. Wish me luck!
What are you into?
I live to laugh! Cheezy B-movies, stand up comedy, British sitcoms, you name it. I love to sing too, but no one I know digs karaoke (it’s Japanese for “tone deaf drunk with a microphone” you know). Other than that, I just like to hang out with my friends.
What do you like most about Portland?
The people. I’ve been everywhere & have never met a more diverse group of truly friendly people as I’ve met here in the Pacific NorthWest.
How does it feel to be a successful artist?
(laughing) I wish I knew! It all still feels unreal somehow. I’m taken aback whenever I think about the fact that my artwork is hanging in someone’s dining room or in their child’s nursery.
Where did you get that nasty scar?
(points to his right arm) Oh, this? Funny story. My mom was leading me around on one of her horses when I was two years old. My imaginary friend Colby was riding with me & when he fell off the horse, I leaned down to help him and fell off as well, shattering my arm against a rock. My imagination may have been a little too vivid back then.