Thoughts on My Upcoming Show in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Philip Koch, Banner,  oil on panel, 24 x 18", 2011

The Carbon County Cultural Project (CCCP)  in Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania will be opening a new solo show: Philip Koch: Contemporary Landscapes at the beginning of July.  Above is one of the new oils I'll be including. The CCCP beautifully illuminated what my painting is about in their press release for the exhibit by pairing a short quote from a prominent writer and poet with something I'd written myself. I was quite moved by their juxtaposition. Here's that part of the release:

"Our children no longer learn to read from the great Book of Nature from their own direct experience or how to interact creatively with the seasonal transformations of our planet. They seldom learn where their water comes from or where it goes. We no longer coordinate our human celebration with the great liturgy of the heavens."  -Wendell Berry

"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 there in that near wilderness."  - Philip Koch

My painting above is based on a lot of those vivid memories, some from Cape Cod, but others from my boyhood home on the south shore of Lake Ontario. In particular my imagination is pulled back to the way the trees stood up against the sky, rattling their leaves in the prevailing wind. When the sun shone on that shimmering foliage it felt as if Nature had wrapped herself around you and was holding on tight. Nothing I've seen since has impressed me as deeply as those trees against the sky. In them the seed of hundreds of my paintings was born.

Being a member myself, I've a soft spot for the big tribe of humankind. We're a likeable group in many ways- restless, inventive, and always able to surprise one. But we're also a forgetful lot. Paintings can  help us re-set our internal compasses, reminding us of who we really are, where we came from, and how our lives will forever be played out in Nature's vast web.

The exhibit at CCCP runs from July 1 - August 14, 2011. There will be an opening reception Friday, July 1 from 7 - 9 p.m. The CCCP is located at 268 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229


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