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A Good Reason to Stage an Exhibition

Contemporary landscapes on exhibit at CCCP

Thursday, June 23, 2011
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Philip Koch Contemporary Landscape Paintings, will be on display at the Victor Stabin Gallery at the CCCP from July 1 through Aug. 14. Koch will be at an opening reception on Friday, July 1 from 7-9 p.m.
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Philip Koch Contemporary Landscape Paintings, will be on display at the Victor Stabin Gallery at the CCCP from July 1 through Aug. 14. Koch will be at an opening reception on Friday, July 1 from 7-9 p.m.
To celebrate the opening of an exhibition of contemporary landscape paintings by Philip Koch, the Carbon County Cultural Project, 268 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe, invites the public to a free opening reception.
The exhibit, Philip Koch Contemporary Landscape Paintings, will be displayed at the Victor Stabin Gallery at the CCCP from July 1 through Aug. 14. The opening reception for the artist is from 7-9 p.m., Friday, July 1.
In addition to having an opportunity to chat with the artist, visitors will see approximately 20 vividly-colored contemporary landscape paintings. Koch, who is a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, describes his work as that of a realist who used to work abstractly.
"I really love his use of color," said Joan Morykin, who brought the exhibit to the CCCP. "I love the way he composes his paintings and his use of color. I find his landscapes to be stunning."
By vivid, the colors of his pallet might be described as bright, saturated and intense.
"We don't experience the world as fuzzy," Koch said. "We run into hard objects and there is a solidity to that experience."
Koch's works are painted in blocks of color with an emphasis on bold dramatic shapes.
"All artists try to invent dramatic shapes and unexpected color. I am interested in doing both," said Koch.
"When we were children, nature seemed huge magical and alive," he said. "Now, my paintings are an invitation for one to go back to that world and explore."
Koch grew up near Rochester, N.Y. in a deep forest along the rocky shore of Lake Ontario where he spent hours exploring nature.
"As a kid, I sensed right away that nature was something of immense power. Year round we'd have strong north winds off the Great Lake raking the beech and birch forest. Winter snows were frequent and deep. It was jaw-dropping in its beauty. All my vivid memories are images of being out in that near-wilderness."
His other hobby was cartooning.
"As a kid of 8, I copied cartoons out of MAD Magazine and it never stopped. I still do silly cartoons of cats for family members."
At the time he started studying sociology at Oberlin College, both his interest in drawing and nature were on the back burner-until he took a class in art history.
"I was in my first semester of Oberlin College and I took a required art history class just to get it out of the way so I could get serious about my major in sociology," Koch said. "To my surprise, the only class that I liked was the art history class."
One painting, in particular, captured his imagination, redirecting him to the life of an artist.
"The very first day of class, my instructor showed a slide of the painting, The Wreck of the Hope, by 10th-century German landscape painter, Caspar David Friedrich. That image of a ship crushed by icebergs grabbed me."
The blue, brow and gray painting of upset ice sheets and strewn wreckage against a barren ice field struck a chord.
"When I saw that painting, it reminded me of some of the best times I had as a kid playing on these mountains of ice," he explained.
Koch paints outdoors, never from photographs.
"Working from direct observation, you get a much more personal expressive quality in the work, and it is more fun," he said. "I think visual art should be in part delightful for the artist and the viewer. If it isn't fun, what are we doing it for?"
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Above is the nice article from the June 23 edition of the local paper for Jim Thorpe, PA, the Times News. Pictured is a photo of me in my studio next to one of my oils, From Day to Night , 36 x 72". The study for this particular oil is actually pretty large for me at 18 x 36" and it will be in the Jim Thorpe show. The bigger version is headed down later next month to the art museum in Newport News, Virginia, the Peninsula Fine Arts Center for their Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch running July 23 - October 2.
Having a solo show at a gallery or a museum provides a chance to step back from the day to day painting routine and look at one's whole creative endeavor from another angle. 

(above, my Unbroken Thread exhibtion reception last June at the Midwest Museum of American Art in Elkhart, Indiana)
First off, you are grouping together a selection of just some of your work. That particular group of say 20 paintings will have a different personality than any other show you'll ever have. The Jim Thorpe exhibit will be mostly oils with a few pastel drawings added in. It will be a very intense and colorful show in a relatively intimae setting. The show later in July down at Peninsula Fine Art Center will be occuring in two galleries, one the museum's largest and will include in a half dozen very large oils and also a host of vine charcoal drawings. It will feel more grand in scale and a little more sober in mood. 
So each show brings out its own overall personality. What I find amazing is how the same painting can look so different to my eyes hanging in the various venues. What's exciting (and so useful) to me is the showing opens a door in my mind's eye to see the work in a different light. It provides a much needed avenue to see the work afresh and learn something new about it. Had my work never left the studio until a collector came and took a piece away, I would have known that departing painting in less depth than had I see it exhibited in someone else's gallery space. 
That's no small thing. For a painter maybe the most severe challenge is to keep a channel open between your work and that mysterious inner place where your most creative side resides. Anything that helps reinforce that connection is golden. My prospecting back in my studio is a whole lot more successful because I exhibit a lot and see my work on display in other other people's spaces.

(Below, Philip Koch at Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA for the opening reception for their Unbroken Thread exhibition, June 2009).


  1. This is a wonderful observation. The revelation of new or different meaning through the shifting of context. I've been thinking a little about this with a video project I work on now and then. Everything changes completely when I shift things around. It does seem to lead me to new understandings. I want to really pay attention to this with my own work in the future.

  2. I had another example thrust in my face of this phenominon at the opening reception for this CCCP on Friday. Out of the 19 paintings and drawings I gave them, the two paintings that received the most attention were pieces I'd exhibited in previous shows. In the earlier exhibits, they were just "one of the crowd" and the special attention went to other of my paintings.

    The funny thing is at the receptionI too liked these two most-noticed paintings the best. There was just something about where they were hanging in the overall space of the show that made them stand out. Neither my wife nor I really understand it.


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