Unbroken Thread Show at College of Southern Maryland

Here are some photographs taken yesterday at the opening reception for the College of Southern Maryland's Hungerford Art Gallery exhibition of the nationally traveling show Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch. It is on display in La Plata, MD through November 15, 2009. Below is Barbara Stephanic, Ph.D., an art historian who teaches at the College before the reception began.

The Gallery, located off the lobby of the College's theater in its Fine Arts Center is modest in size and could only accommodate half of the work originally selected for in the show. Nonetheless, the Gallery has large glass windows that allow visitors excellent lines of sight to take in even the largest works in the show. Normally big oils don't show this well in smaller spaces, so I was delighted with the arrangement. We are showing large oils and small works on paper side by side. Work shows beautifully in Hungerford Gallery's space. In total we had about 50 people come to the opening an artist's talk. Below is a photo of the audience starting to gather.

Here's Philip Koch with Eva Allen, Ph.D, the curator of the Unbroken Thread show and author of the accompanying exhibition catalogue, standing beside the oil The Song of All Days, 36 x 72".

The large blue painting at the left is Equinox, oil on panel, 30 x 45". Two pastel color studies for Equinox hand immediately to the paintings left.

Here at the left of Equinox is Andrew Wodzianski, a studio art instructor at College of Southern Maryland who I first met at the Maryland Institute College of Art where he was in the MFA program. It was a pleasant surprise to talk with his and hear he's still painting away with his own work. Eva Allen the curator is at the right.

Below at left is the oil on canvas Down to the Bay, 36 x 72", a painting I had been working on for several years. I eventually decided on a colorful but mostly empty sky to contrast the very active shapes on the ground. The right is the vertical oil The Birches of Maine, 40 x 32". I grew up in the north woods of upstate New York in a forest of birch, pine and beech trees. Birches are one of those things that always make me drift off into reminiscence. From talking to other northerners, I know I'm not the only one to feel this way.

Below on the right is Ascension, oil on panel, 40 x 32". It is a fantasy painting based on the same place as the other large Cape Cod painting in the show, Down to the Bay. I was thinking of all the wonderful paintings from the Renaissance where various saints ascend to the heavens and wondered what a secular, landscape version of that theme might look like. One of the great pleasures of living I think is to be able to appreciate the always unfolding drama playing out over our heads in the sky. We need to have paintings about that.

Sandwiched between the big oils the small work on paper is a page out of one of my sketchbooks that has several ball point pen thumbnail compositional studies for Ascension. I do a lot of preliminary work on an absolutely tiny scale with ball point in sketchbooks. It helps me a lot. This is the first and only time I've shown one of these publicly.

Two CSM students taking in the exhibit.

At the artist's talk I spoke about some of the ways art is meaningful to me- how looking at art can reacquaint viewers with aspects of themselves they need to get to know better. Art, like music and dance, fills some void within us. Why else would every human society ever known have developed its own visual art tradition. True, its exact purpose is hard to pin down, but behind that mystery lies a very big part of who we really are.

On occasion I have been asked if I worry that "painting is dead." I'd like to answer "It will be fine until the last human dies. Then it will be in real trouble."


  1. Is painting dead? No but I am deeply concerned about Rock and Roll.

  2. The gallery at CSM is wonderful. The lightening was also a plus. However, the artwork of Philip Koch that makes the experience unforgettable! One who was there.


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