Medicine Hat News
– Local artist Allen Jensen had major community effect
An artist who loomed large in the community passed away on Boxing Day.
Allan Jensen, was 79 having been born on Sept. 18, 1941 in Drumheller, the youngest of four children who began a teaching career in Munson, Alta.
In Medicine Hat he developed new art courses at Crescent Heights High School and Medicine Hat High.
Local artist Evelyn Kleis got to know Jensen in 1969 when they were colleagues at Crescent Heights School and were members of the Medicine Hat Community Art Club.
“Allan was a major part of the Club until recently and at the same time, he was curating and mounting exhibitions in the Cultural Centre Gallery,” said Kleis noting how much he encouraged other artists.
Harvey Fix, who appreciated Jensen’s pottery instruction 40 years ago, remembers him as a driving force.
“With the COVID pandemic I lost my drive to make my usual sculptured pieces and vessels,” said Fix. “When Allan passed it was like he tapped me on the shoulder and challenged me again. I am back in my studio after over a year’s absence. We will all miss his encouragement.”
Kleis accompanied Jensen on educational tours he arranged including one to Egypt in 1981 and then Japan, Greece and China but it is a trip with him to Calgary for an art show that lingers.
“We were cruising along in Allan’s orange ‘69 Camaro Rally Sport, with Janice Joplin belting out ‘Me and Bobby Magee’,” said Kleis.
Jensen’s works of art have been exhibited throughout the province and he curated more than 200 shows. He promoted the Western way of life, was a member of the Western Heritage Association, Medicine Hat Historical Society and the Stockman’s Memorial Foundation. He served on the Medicine Hat Art Club board of directors for 14 years and served two terms as president.
Two years ago, January 2019, the News interviewed Jensen about a show-and-tell event he had arranged through the Historical Society for people to share local stories and artifacts.
In 2017 he was promoting Alberta Culture Days with potters, weavers and visual artists.
“Here in Medicine Hat, we’re a bit of a distance from any other major centre so we have had to develop our own culture,” Jensen told the News at the time.
In recognition of his work promoting the arts and local history he received the Medicine Hat Civic Recognition award in 1984 and the Governor General’s Commemorative Medal for his “significant contribution to Canada, community and fellow Canadians.”
“I will miss Allan’s playful sense of humour, keen interest in many things, cheerful help with exhibitions, respect for people and life. He was a dignified man,” said Kleis.
A celebration of his life will be held when COVID restrictions are eased or lifted.