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Showing posts from November, 2010

My Family on the Hudson River

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What the heck are these musicians doing on my art blog?
For anyone who spends time over Thanksgiving with relatives they don't often see, this holiday is fascinating. We went up to the Hudson River Valley just north of New York City to spend a few days with my wife Alice's nieces and their families. The arts run deep through this family.
On Saturday night we went to party honoring our nieces' dad, Dave Herman, on his 75th birthday. Dave from the '60's up to the '90's was the leading rock DJ on the radio in New York. On the left is Buddy Booker, the husband of our niece Melissa, playing with Melissa's brother Rich Lerner on the right. (Buddy sports impressive dreads that unfortunately don't show in this photo). I don't get to see live music all that often and listening to these two play I was knocked over at how talented my relatives are. Buddy and Rich are both professional musicians.
Watching live music up close you realize some similarities betwe…

One of these 3 images is not by Philip Koch. Can you tell which?

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OK, you're sharper than I'd suspected. Yes that's Warhol at the top- a silk-screened Brillo box from 1964. Two years later I became an art major at Oberlin College in Ohio. Warhol was big with some of my art professors. Personally I never found his deadpan response to the world all that interesting. He was extolled as holding the mirror up to America's culture of mass media and advertising imagery. The idea was that by presenting us images like a box of Brillo soad pads as art he would force us to see ourselves in a new light.
The thing was what with TV and Newsweek magazine, we were already up to our gills with such imagery. Bringing it into the art museum too didn't seem to me to change that fact. I've always thought an artist not only showed us what they were painting, but also revealed how they felt about it. With Warhol, you never knew. It always seemed he was playing coy with us.
Fortunately the tree of art has many branches. Warhol sits out on one big li…

Guessing Where that Painting Was Painted

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Here's a painting I shipped north yesterday to Edgewater Gallery in Vermont for their Featured Artist show for December (Dec. 1- 31). There's a public reception Saturday Dec. 4 from 5 - 7 p.m. Any readers of this blog are especially welcome to come by and say hello. This one is Trees at Lake Conroe, oil on canvas, 42 x 28".
Inevitably when people really respond to one of my paintings at an opening reception they come up to me a little excited and announce they know exactly the spot where the piece was painted. I'm always temped to tell them "You're right." Because in a real sense they are.
Let me explain. A painting is a little like a springy trampoline for one's imagination and memory. In all of us both those capacities tend to get rusty and need to get provoked back into action. That's where the art part comes in. If my painting is really well painted it is saying something important to the viewer using the unique language of shapes and color c…

Dressing for Success with Winslow Homer!

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The longer I paint the more my eye focuses on how great painters presented their ideas rather than what they painted. Here are three wonderful paintings where the great 19th century American Winslow Homer gives our eyes some delightful fashion tips (OK, I'm kidding about the fashion tips part, but he does show us how inventive he can be in his paintings. Images courtesy Art Renewal Center). Let's take a look at what Homer can do with arranging his costumes to pump up the expressive volume.
At the top is Homer's watercolor Early Evening. The two women at the right have the spiffiest aprons. Both women stand totally erect, and without their aprons blowing off to the left, they'd look like two telephone poles. Almost undoubtedly the diagonal sweep of the aprons was something Homer consciously inserted into his scene, knowing it would breath life into his women. It's a note of visual surprise. Without it, these two women wouldn't draw our attention the way they do.
B…

Quick tour of new Koch exhibit in Baltimore

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Viewers often ask me about where a particular painting was done or what I was thinking about when I made it. A new show of my work and that of an abstract landscapist, Emily Demsky, opened in Baltimore yesterday at the JLP Gallery at Green Spring Station in Lutherville. It runs through Jan. 7, 2011.
This Thursday night, November 11, there's an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. If you're in the area please come by and say hello.
I thought it would be fun to give a quick tour of my oils in the show.



This is Late Winter Sun, Roland Park. It's of a lovely older neighborhood at the north end of Baltimore. I painted this from life on a series of frigid January days.
I'm standing in a shadow that runs across the whole foreground. While it was colder standing there, I liked that shadowed spot as it placed some cooler blues and violets in the front of the painting to contrast the warm colors in the distance. While I was working on this painting the front door of the house opened…

New Book on a Rediscovered Painter

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Isn't this an amazing bustling composition!
It's by a painter known today by very few, but at the beginning of the 20th century the artist was widely considered one of the country's most promising rising stars. The above oil painting is Shoe Shop by Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones (from the Permanent Collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia). An art critic writing in the New York Times reviewing a 1907 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) exhibition exclaimed Jones was "knocking at the door" and added that a work by her teacher, the legendary William Merritt Chase looked "tame and stilted by comparison with the jubilant performance of Miss Jones." (How that line must have burned good old Chase).
I found that juicy review in the new book by an old friend of mine, Barbara Lehman Smith, who I met, of all places, in a step aerobics class at my gym some years ago. We're both still kicking, which goes to prove exercise is good …