Philip Koch, The Morning II, oil on panel, 18 x 36", 2004
The Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, MA has just concluded their solo show of my work Unbroken Thread that hung from June through most of August in their largest gallery space. One of the highlights of this is they have decided to add this painting to their Permanent Collection. This will be their second Koch as several years ago they collected one of my pastels, Edward Hopper's Road: Triptych.
CCMA's latest addition has a long history. The painting was a re-examination of an oil I had done back in late '80's when I was staying in the little town of Wellfleet on the Cape and painting in the tidal estuaries in the Paine Hollow area. What attracted me were the interlacing streams of the tide moving in and then out of the marsh grasses. Their pattern added some surprise and elegant complexity to what otherwise would have been simply too wide open a space. I did a plein air painting that led to a very large studio painting that included a telephone pole and the black roofs of a cottage. As my palatte became more colorful in the later '90's I went back into the painting and added just a touch more color contrast, but only a touch. Here's that painting-
Philip Koch, The Morning, oil on canvas, 42 x 84", 1999
Before long my imagination began speculating- what did the area looked like before the telephone pole and the houses were added? In fact my fantasy drifted back to a time before the Europeans, and maybe even the Native Americans had arrived. What might it have looked like then?
The newer version couldn't just strip out the man-made features of the original, as they had been painted in concert with the architecture. Without the telephone pole, the painting would have been excessively horizontal, so I spread out the fingers of the tidal streams in the marsh grasses to give a more diagonal feeling. A new distinctive new pattern was invented for the dark thicket that replaced the roofs at the left. And the entire color chord of the painting jumped up to a higher key. There is an architecture to trees, marshes, sand dunes and skies.