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"Kozak family home now on a postage stamp"
Kozak family home now on a postage stamp.
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Photo credit Beverly Cramp.
"Steve Kozak (left) and his brother, Jim, pose on the steps of their childhood home"
Steve Kozak (left) and his brother, Jim, pose on the steps of their childhood home now on a Canadian stamp thanks to Vancouver photographer Jim Breukelman.
Family’s former home now on postage stamp
By Beverly Cramp
Few people – except, perhaps, the offspring of American presidents – can say their childhood home is featured on a postage stamp. So Steve Kozak was thrilled to discover the modest house his parents built in 1940 on Vancouver’s east side is part of a series Canada Post released this year to honour the work of Canadian photographers.
The stamp shows an image by Vancouver’s Jim Breukelman, who documented the house in 1989 as part of his series, Hot Properties. The National Gallery of Canada bought the piece in 2011 for its permanent collection and Canada Post also chose it, along with images by Gabor Szilasi, Rodney Graham and other photographers.
Kozak lived in the house from age three – he was born in the mining town where his father, Stefan, then worked – until he married in 1958. Kozak’s dad died in 1979, but his mother, Pauline, or Bubs, as she was known to her grandchildren, lived in the house until she was 91, finally moving into an apartment in 2002.
“It was a very happy home with tons of great memories for the whole family,” says Kozak. “The whole family is thrilled about learning of this photo and stamp, and Bubs would have been ecstatic.”
Breukelman, who started the photography program at the Vancouver School of Art, now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, had the idea for the series while on sabbatical. He was driving through an industrial area of San Antonio, Texas, when he stumbled on an incongruous sight: a cottage with a picket fence and a lush garden of tropical and ornamental plants. “It was an absolute gem,” Breukelman notes in a statement posted on the National Gallery’s website. The owner, an older woman named Lilly, let him take photos. “During the trip home, I kept thinking about how, even though she lived in the middle of industrial ugliness, Lilly had managed to not only express herself through her home, but she had created a world for herself and her family that was an antidote to the surrounding bleakness.”
Back home in Vancouver, Breukelman began to notice similar gems. He was drawn to the Kozaks’ house because it had an immaculate lawn and the front steps and covered entrance reminded him of a stage. Today, despite Vancouver’s rapid growth, the house looks much the same, and is home to another young family.