'The Progress Enterprise' by Robert Hirtle, March 2012
'Architourist', [front page] The Globe and Mail, August 2009

Design New England, [cover] July/August 2008

"World's Greenest Homes" on HGTV, aired October 2008

"W5: Toronto's Worst Landlord" on CTV, aired April 26th, 2008

Kinski: 'Down Below it's Chaos'(2007) [album cover] Sub Pop Records. 

"Cityline: Home Day" on CityTV, aired January 12, 2006

"First Place", House & Home, May 2005

Art World News, March 2005

Raw Vision Magazine, Garde-Rail Gallery, Winter/Spring 2005

Seattle Weekly, Garde-Rail Gallery, December 2004

Raw Vision Magazine, Yard Dog Gallery, Winter 2004

Canadian House & Home Magazine, October 2004

NPR Seattle: 94.9 KUOW, "The Beat" September 2004

The Nashville Scene, December 2003

The Nashville Rage, December 2003

Architectural Digest, Judith Racht Gallery, June 2003

Fast Forward, Canadian Art Magazine, KMART Projects, May 2003

'Insects' [book cover] by Iain Deans, 2004, Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd.

Lola Magazine, Shotgun Reviews, "Dovercourt & Africville" October 2002

Lola Magazine, Shotgun Reviews, "Houses" September 2001

The Herald-Palladium (Michigan), "Outsiders Outside" August 30th, 2001

Enroute Magazine, photo spread featuring "Houses" April 2001

Lola Magazine, Shotgun Reviews, "Land & Sea" October 2001

Eye Magazine, Review "Pissing in The Corners" April 2000

Eye Magazine, Review "Mixed Bag" November 1999


 By Dave LeBlanc, ['The Architourist'] August 7th 2009

Jennifer Harrison always wanted to be an architect: "I remember being 7 and getting angry because when they built new houses they didn't make them to look like old houses, or when they did, they didn't do a very good job of it."

First attracted to "old signs and urban decay," Gordon Leverton soon turned his attention toward houses: "As long as they speak to me than I'm more than willing to listen."

Garbage day holds a special place in Karin Rabuka's heart: "I would wait for Tuesdays at 8 a.m. and I would do portraits of people's homes and what they had outside."

Meet the House Painters. No, not the kind wielding sloppy stepladders, but those who comb city laneways, suburban streets, parking lots and parkettes for artistic inspiration of a residential nature, then incubate those images until they're coaxed from paint-spattered hands onto the white canvas.

Ms. Harrison, a resident of Toronto's Junction neighbourhood, prepares her canvas by applying a thick acrylic polymer - with a consistency similar to cake frosting or drywall compound - then quickly carves her subjects into it before it dries. Next, a brown undercoat is applied over the entire image, then, finally, the various oils are applied in stages.

Choosing to focus solely on the architectural features of houses, the 37-year-old omits most human artifacts - drapery, shrubbery and automobiles - and replaces that authenticity by using "the really classic Toronto colours" she finds during scouting missions.

"When I'm walking and I see stuff like a pine green and it's faded into that florescent bluey-green colour ... and then there's that red when [the homeowner] tried to match the brick colour, those are really inspiring, fantastic colours ... so if I can find a really good tone then I'll take a big piece [of chipped paint] and put it in my pocket," Ms. Harrison says.

Back in the studio, she matches these samples using more than 500 tubes of oil. These "tones" are so bright and cheery, folks at the annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in Nathan Phillips Square usually assume her paintings depict the jumbled and colourful homes of Newfoundland rather than those of the Junction.

Although most of his subjects are plucked from his native Hamilton, Mr. Leverton has recently been snapping pictures of the Junction's back alleys with his camera phone. "You can tell more about a person by looking in their backyard than their front yard," the pastel artist chuckles.

Indeed, whether they depict Steeltown or Hogtown, most of his creamy, smooth works present tightly edited views - a section of roof traced by eavestrough, a wonky back porch, a garage door or an angled shadow on a blank wall - that celebrate the forgotten and mundane pieces of domestic life.

While the 42-year-old's use of light and shadow leans toward American realist legend Edward Hopper, Mr. Leverton's unconventional "macro view" forces foreground and background to become indistinguishable, which creates abstraction.

"I love to play with those spatial planes, so if it's a green house that runs into a blue house, I'm more interested in the overall shapes and the lines and how they run into each other," he says.

A few years ago, the self-taught artist created a series called Favelas based on houses in Hamilton's gritty north end because their ramshackle nature reminded him of Brazilian slums.

"These makeshift houses that just sort of go up hills, they're somewhat dubiously legal," he says. "People need places to live and they find these creative ways to make their dwellings."

While Ms. Rabuka has not travelled as far as South America, she has moved around enough in her 34 years to understand that inspiration can be found in both the dignified homes of her former north Toronto neighbourhood, and in the moments just before garbage pickup when she lived in Waterloo, Ont.

"I don't try to edit out what I notice, I just love to paint humanity and if there's a sofa on the side of the road then I'll paint that in," she says.

Even an apparent lack of humanity is fit for Ms. Rabuka's brush. While living in Ajax, Ont. (just before her current move to the Ottawa countryside), she marvelled at the "mystery" of her surroundings.

"People don't tend to reflect who they are in subdivisions as much, they cover over personalities and everything does tend to look so similar," she says.

Bright colours, bold outlines and a childlike two-dimensionality give her homes, whether stately or suburban, an unexpected vibrancy, which in turn emphasizes "the importance of the mundane," she says. Simple circles around light sources or sky stripes to replace gentle gradations of colour may look naive, but they subversively "bring a new awareness to the viewer of what is around them."

Squares of canvas, sheets of paper: In the hands of the House Painters, they become windows onto the wonders of our residential world.


Designer's Block, February 2008 "Daylight in Painting"

"... Take a close look at these paintings by Jennifer Harrison. See how by using raised paint effects and clever shadows she has created daylight in her work. It looks for all the world that they have been photographed in bright sunlight. Clever!"

Apartment Therapy, February 2008 "What You Can See from Bed"

When creating a relaxing, restful bedroom it's important to consider what exactly you can see from your bed. Does it allow you to relax, to daydream? Is there clutter? Is there a painting that you hate?

"I see the side of a bookcase (looking to change that), a cool round mirror made from an antique metal mesh sifter and a great painting by Jennifer Harrison. The painting is the newest edition and it changes with the day's light - it's making me ridiculously happy." ~ renee c.f.

All Carbon, February 2007 "My New Painting"

"The Outsider Art Fair has become an annual tradition for me. I love Outsider and Folk Art because it's art in its rawest form -- forms of expression by people that have had no formal training but yet feel compelled to express themselves creatively. (For more on Outsider Art:"

"Some years, I'll come across something that has my name written all over it. The previous year, it was a painting on war. This year, I picked up a small drawing by Alexandra Huber, but what spoke to me was a painting by Jennifer Harrison."

more »

Pen in Hand, January 2007

"Yours is the second piece of art about houses that has really captured me. I saw a painting in a gallery in Austin by a painter named Jennifer Harrison that I really liked. Photos don't do the paintings justice which are of an interesting size and richly textured, but you can see them at"

The Stranger, February 2006 "Mini Artwalk"

"A bunch of good art shows opened last night. We're going to review Lauren Grossman at Howard House and Matt Sellars at Platform in next week's issue, so I won't go into those here. But there's also Keith Tilford at James Harris, Matisse and Louise Bourgeois at Greg Kucera, and Jennifer Harrison at Garde Rail Gallery. I'll start with Harrison, and since I didn't see that show yet, I can't say much, except that in reproduction, the paintings - all of houses crowded up against one another - look likable." ~ Jen Graves

"Community Buzz" Daily Dolan Geiman, December 2006

Northern Houses at Yard Dog Gallery: See new works by Toronto artist Jennifer Harrison at her solo exhibition open at Yard Dog (Austin) Saturday December 2.

Husi (, July 2005, "Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition"

"The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is a yearly event I try to check out every year. I'm not sure how long it's been going on, but it's become quite a popular event. For a lot of artists who participate, these three days may be more lucrative than the rest of the year. Competition gets tougher every year though, so there's no guarantee an artist will get in, even if they're a regular."

"Pretty awesome weekend. Great weather and art. A few comments, links on some of the work that caught my eye at this year's show. Jennifer Harrison - thick, nearly sculptural paintings of row houses and buildings - almost like paintings made of cake icing. Can be rather hypnotic looking at a lot of her stuff all at once."


CTV's W-FIVE : Toronto's Worst Landlord, part II, April  26th, 2008

The Whole Picture: "...Toronto Community Housing Corporation is Canada's biggest landlord and some say it's also the biggest slum owner. Some tenants of the approximately 60,000 units owned by the City of Toronto are complaining about crumbling walls, leaking roofs and cockroach infestations."
watch clip »

KINSKI: 'Down Below it's Chaos' (SP741 Sub Pop Records, Fall 2007) Released on vinyl and compact disc. Four limited edition cover color variations were printed for pre-release orders.

"Down Below It's Chaos is Kinski's 3rd full-length for Sub Pop. With the notable inclusion of 3 songs with subdued yet urgent vocals courtesy of Chris Martin, the new record is a kaleidoscopic mix of Kinski's expansive, over-driven power and intricate beauty. With majestically fuzzed-out guitar tones, spare and pounding rhythms, and swirling sonic textures, Down Below It's Chaos sums up Kinski's past and propels them into the ozone." 

Reviews and MP3's »

KUOW Seattle, 'The Beat" (art reviews by Gary Faigin) September 2004
At 2:30pm - Gary Faigin | Art Reviews First Thursday in Pioneer Square this month marked the debut of the Toshiro Kaplan Building, a newly renovated warehouse that has already added energy to the downtown arts scene. This large, ambitious project includes artist live-work spaces, artists' studios and ground-floor storefronts reserved for art-related businesses. Four galleries have opened in the street-level spaces: three have chosen to move in elsewhere and one is making its debut. Gary Faigin recently visited this newly minted gallery row and brings us his review.

"Easily the most accessible gallery on the block is Garde-Rail Gallery, a folk art gallery moved here from Columbia City. I've never been quite clear on what qualifies art as folk, outsider or primitive, but the bright cheerful pieces here lining the walls have a charm that tends to make one forget about terms and classifications. Particularly attractive are the thick-as-custard oil-paintings of Toronto street-scapes by Jennifer Harrison..."
(originally aired 09.24.04; segment begins at 33:33/59:58) Listen »

Fall 2004 [cover] 'INSECTS' by Iain Deans, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd.

Focusing an eye to unexpected subjects and vivid, often startling settings - from Jerry Lee Lewis's charred piano, Newfoundland's Signal Hill, Paul Verlaine's bottled siblings to a void waiting at the end of the ocean - Iain Deans shows the virtuosity that makes him one of Canada's best and most intriguing young poets.

Publisher's website »

Architectural Digest (page 56) by Margaret McCurry, June 2003

'Lakeside Attractions: Margaret McCurry Uncovers Hidden Gems in Michigan's Harbor Country'"... A mile and a half from Lakeside, in the town of Harbert, the Judith Racht Gallery occupies a former two-room schoolhouse. In the basement she shows quilts and old toys but she focuses on outsider and contemporary art, which is displayed on the main floor. "Outsider Art is made by people without formal training," Racht explains. One such artist is Canadian Jennifer Harrison. "She paints many images of houses, perhaps because at one time she was homeless," Racht says. Among her favourite artists is William Zuehlke, whose wire and enamel installation American Dream - The Series, 2002 consists of 221 almost identical houses hung on a wall."

'Fast Forward' ~ Canadian Art Magazine (page 56) May 2003

'Jennifer Harrison's 'Towns' at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects, June 6th - 29th 2003. Opening Reception: Friday, June 6th from 7-10pm

"This is a continuation of Jennifer's "house as icon" series. Jennifer uses houses the way other artists use the human figure; devoid of cars, trees and people, her houses and their colours become the only subject.
In her latest work she attempts to paint as many houses on one canvas as possible and then determines the effect on the "personal space" and composition of the individual buildings."

Herald Palladiun, by Charles McKelvy, H-P, Correspondent, August 2001

WORKS of self-taught painter of Toronto will be displayed during the Outsiders Outside Art Fair at the Judith Racht Gallery in Harbert this weekend.

Looking in on the Outsiders; Racht Gallery fair highlights artists outside of the mainstream

Folk art by visionary artists will be on display at the Outsiders Outside Art Fair this weekend at the Judith Racht Gallery in Harbert. Gallery owner Judith Racht said recently that she decided to keep the fair going the day after last year's Labor Day event ended. "I've really been working on it since last September, and people started calling me in April to ask when it would be this year so they could plan their vacations around it," she said, "so it's official - it's going to be right here and around the gallery with and opening night preview on Friday, Aug 31 and continuing the next two days." Racht, who launched the popular event seven years ago, said she is hoping for cool, dry weather this year. "No matter what weekend I've picked for the fair, it always seems to be hot and muggy, even last year wen we moved it to Labor Day weekend," she said, "But the weather doesn't seem to keep people away, and we'll be here with a wonderful assortment of outsider art and live entertainment by Garth Taylor and his Paten Medicine Jug Band no matter what the weather is."

Artists will display work "outside the traditions of mainstream art" including 5' long paintings of freighters and container ships on plywood by self-taught artist Jennifer Harrison. This year's participating galleries include Harvey Art & Antiques of Evanston, Ill, Angela Usrey of Chattanooga, the Pardee Collection from Iowa and Tom D. from Grand Rapids. Admission is $5 and a portion of the admission will be donated to the Berrien County Cancer Foundation and the Stenn Fund for Ovarian Cancer. The Judith Racht Gallery is located just south of Red Arrow Highway at 13707 Prairie Road. For more information, call (616) 469-1080.

Lola Magazine, 'Shotgun Reviews' Summer 2001

"Houses", 1080BUS, 1080 Queen St. W June 1 - 24 2001

Jennifer Harrison photographs older houses around her dovercourt neighbourhood, then reconstructs them into paintings. She transforms them into icons of solidity and assurance. Their geometric shapes are combined with her strong painterly treatment treatment of broad planes of colour and an absence of any brick or board detail. Her paintings look as comfortable as worn shoes - likeable, even lovable, like people you've known all your life.

For those of us who grew up in this neighbourhood Harrison provides a new and welcoming perception on familiar places.  ~ John Norris.