CTV National News: Beauty from the Unexpected

From the streets to the gallery: Homeless artist wants to end stigma

Jill Macyshon | Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca | June 6, 2016

The streets of Winnipeg are Jamie Hogaboam’s studio, gallery, and home. His cardboard sign reads “homeless artist living with mental illness.” Another requests $5 donations for postcard-size paintings.

Chronic depression, severe anxiety, and a gambling addiction — all untreated — have limited his income to what gets dropped in his plastic cup. He says few people notice him, or his art.

Now, with the support of a local studio, Hogaboam is showcasing his work and speaking publicly about the need to erase the stigma attached to mental illness and homelessness.

“I wanted people to recognize (that) I have talent. I’m not just a good-for-nothing lazy person,” he told CTV News.
Roughly 1,400 people are without a home in the city, according to the latest Winnipeg Street Census. One-third has been on the street for five years or longer.

Hogaboam briefly studied computer science at the University of Winnipeg and electronic technology at Red River College before giving up on academics to pursue a music career, and later a diploma in broadcast journalism. None of it stuck. He wound up working as a courier and driving a taxi to keep up with his bills — all the while using art as a creative vent.

After years of unfulfilling minimum wage jobs, gambling away his hard-earned savings, and wearing out his welcome on several couches, Hogoboam spent his first night on the street at age 50. He’s lived in a homeless shelter since 2014.

While he is proud of his newfound prominence in the art community, the embrace of his peers is not enough to help him overcome the mental health issues that have held him back for decades.

“There are a lot of times I just want to go to that bridge and jump off it,” he said.

Ernie Bart of Artbeat Studio says he’s inspired by Hogaboam and “the kind of skill and talent and potential that people who either live on the street, or live rough, or struggle with their mental health have, and how much they have to contribute to the society we live in.”

“I’m a person who’s got abilities, and has hope and dreams,” said Hogaboam.

With a report from CTV Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon