Sunday, August 25, 2013

Colby College Museum of Art


I'm just back from a wonderful trip up to Maine to paint and attend my opening for Isalos Fine Art's current show Inside Edward Hopper's World: Paintings by Philip Koch (through Sept. 2 in Stonington, ME). One of the other highlights of the trip was my chance to visit the newly expanded Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville. It received a big new gift of the Lunder Collection is now the largest art museum in Maine. It's worth a trip to see.

Diana Tuite, who has just joined the Colby Museum as its new Katz Curator was kind enough to take time out of her schedule (she was right in the middle of moving to new home in Waterville) to come meet me and chat for awhile. Diana was one of the people who organized the important exhibition Edward Hopper's Maine at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the most extensive look ever taken at Hopper's long involvement with Maine as a subject for his work.

Here's a few of my favorites from the Colby Museum.

First, a charcoal and graphite drawing by Maine's foremost artist, Winslow Homer titled Woman Looking Out to Sea from 1881-2. We don't often get to see drawings by Homer and they give us almost a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what made him so remarkable a painter.


In the drawing Homer is experimenting with changing the viewer's focus away from the expected. Charcoal is a perfect medium for Homer to move his dark and light tones around until he arrived at just the best composition. I love the two white accents in the center of the drawing- the white cloud right in back of the fisher woman with the upraised arm, and the tiny white spot between her apron and the huge stone block just to her right.  Homer knew that his figures would only come fully to life if he activated the spaces around them. He does it so beautifully here. 

Here's a stunningly sensitive Sanford Gifford (American 1823-1880) oil, Twilight in the Adirondacks from 1864.

Two of my all time favorite painters are Edward Hopper (American 1882-1967) and Rockwell Kent (American 1882-1971).
They were classmates at the New York School of Art and each went on to stellar careers. Kent today is less well known as he was blacklisted for his leftist views. He is well worth looking at.

Here's Kent's oil Tugboat on the Hudson from 1904.

And Kent's large oil Headlands and Sea from 1910 on Monhegan Island. Both Hopper and Kent spent considerable time on Monhegan when young and both were fascinated by the rougher Eastern side of the island where the more massive rocky cliffs provide an extra measure of drama. I can personally attest to the fact these two guys were wild men as you have to carry your painting equipment over long and sometime difficult paths to reach these views. I did it in my 50's and realized afresh how vigorous they were.

Colby has another Maine coast view by the far more genteel painter Fairfield Porter (Am. 1907-1975), North Point No. 1, from 1972. Where Hopper and Kent's early coastal paintings were all about muscle and action, Porter shows us a more quieter side of the ocean. I think the subtle color gradation in the water is just perfect here- transitioning from cooler blue grays in the background to warmer grays up front. Porter is reminding us there can be a powerful expressive feeling in restraint and delicacy just as much as in more bravura brushwork of early Kent and early Hopper.

Edward Hopper's watercolor House with Big Pine from 1935, an unsentimental view of a house in Eastham, MA on Cape Cod, just down the road from his studio in S. Truro that is the subject of my own current exhibit in Stonington.

And Colby's elegant William Paxton (Am. 1869-1941) oil The Open Book from 1922. I love the echo of the curves of the woman's arms and neckline repeated in the foreground chair's arm.

Here's a few more photos from my exhibit in Stonington of my paintings of Hopper's studio. Below is the Isalos Fine Art's front window in the early morning sun. Hanging on the wall is my vine charcoal Edward Hopper's Beach, Looking North (see below).

The gallery at night. Hanging at the left Truro Studio Door, a pastel done in Hopper's painting room looking out at Cape Cod Bay, and to its right my oil painted in Hopper's studio bedroom, Hopper Bedroom and Bench. (see below)

Isalos also has two of my Maine coastal oils up in the exhibit, Monhegan Dawn, Ochre and below it From Day to Night, a painting of the Penobscot Bay.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Photos of Isalos Fine Art exhibit in Stonington, Maine

Here's the view of Isalos Fine Art's new exhibition of my paintings of Edward Hopper's studio in S. Truro, Massachusetts and of his boyhood home in Nyack, New York. The show's opening reception was crowded and enthusiastic. I got some new collectors and had fun talking with a lot of new people about my work, how Hopper was my greatest teacher, and about Hopper's critical relationship with his surroundings where he lived and painted.

You can view all the work in the exhibit on the Isalos website.

Following is the feature article by Bob Keyes in the statewide Sunday Telegram that ran on 8/11 filling the better part of the front page of the paper's weekly culture section Audience.

And continuing on page three. You can read the article here.

Here is a view of the exhibit with my vine charcoal drawing Hopper's Beach, Looking North. It was drawn on location just below Hopper's Truro studio where he used to swim alone in Cape Cod Bay. The giant sand dune was something he looked at daily. 

Below at the left is my oil Edward Hopper's Parlor, Nyack, painted in the living room of his boyhood home with its signature oversized French doors. Hopper ofen painted windows a little larger than they were.  I believe this stems from his growing up experiencing the light flooding through these windows. You can see them for yourself by visiting his home, now the Edward Hopper House Art Center. 

The bulletin board outside Isalos Fine Art in addition to posting my show also featured a poster for Stonington Opera House's presentation of the Hopper-inspired dance & video piece Voyeur by the highly respected Bridgman/Packer Dance company. I attended their extremely impressive show on its opening night on Aug. 15. 

Also on the above board is the poster advertising Hopper Round Stonington, a celebration by the Stonington Opera House of the Hopper events in the town. One of which was the 8/13 staging by the Opera House of having its volunteers hold Hopper-inspired poses alongside the architecture of Stonington. Here's two of the stagings I particularly like:

This is Michael Daugherty, one of the owners of Isalos Fine Art.

While I was up in Maine I took advantage of the remarkable topography (and some perfect weather) to do a new series of drawings out with my portable easel. Here's a vine charcoal from Stonington's Sand Beach.

The show at Isalos runs through Sept. 2, 2013.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Article on my Paintings in Fine Art Today by Allison Malafronte

Allison Malafronte wrote a wonderful background article yesterday about my upcoming show of Hopper-themed interiors in the online newsletter Fine Art Today that is published by Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. Allison was for years the Senior Editor at American Artist magazine before taking up the reins at Fine Art Today. The show is titled Inside Edward Hopper's World: Paintings by Philip Koch and will be at Isalos Fine Art in Stonington, Maine.

She makes interesting points in her introduction:

Edward Hopper has been having a major posthumous moment in recent months, with his current "Hopper Drawing" exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art garnering rave reviews, a life-size re-creation of his 1939 "New York Movie" painting taking center stage at Laguna Beach's famous Pageant of the Masters, and several of his works selling well above their estimated value at important auctions. It's not surprising that so many continue to value and honor Hopper's contributions to culture, as he is indisputably one of the most influential American artists in history. Although several artists working today cite Hopper as a major inspiration, few have had the kind of private access to his personal world as the painter Philip Koch.

You can read her entire article here.

Isalos Fine Art opens the exhibition Tues. August 13 and will have a free public reception Friday, Aug. 16 from 5 -7 p.m.  The show runs through Sept. 2.   

Sun in an Empty Room: Orange, oil on panel, 12 x 16", 2013, one of the paintings included in the Inside Edward Hopper's World: Paintings by Philip Koch

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Exhibition Catalogue for Inside Edward Hopper's World

Isalos Fine Art up in Stonington, Maine is opening a new show next week, Inside Edward Hopper's World: Paintings by Philip Koch. Michael Daugherty, who runs Isalos, wrote in the press release for the show about how the paintings document a little known side of the famous American realist painter Hopper: 

During 14 residencies, as well as time spent in the Nyack, New York house where Hopper lived until he was 30, Koch has inhabited the spaces in which Hopper lived. As Koch painted these spaces, he felt that he found clues to the inner life of the man, and expressed them in his own work. The paintings, pastels and charcoal drawings in this show are a small selection of many interiors and landscapes Koch has created over the years.

You can download the catalogue that reproduces all 16 paintings to be included in the upcoming show free from a link on the gallery's website. 

Here's a selection of some of the pages from the catalogue:

Edward Hopper's birthplace in Nyack, New York, where he lived until he was nearly 30. It is now the Edward Hopper House Art Center (below). Visit and you'll come away with a deeper understanding of Hopper's work and life ( highly recommended!).

My oil Sun in an Empty Room III, painted on location in the room Hopper was born in and that served as his bedroom for several decades.

My oil Edward Hopper's Parlor, Nyack  on the right. 

Sun in an Empty Room II, another oil I painted in Hopper's Nyack bedroom. At right that's me walking back up the hill from the beach below Hopper's Cape Cod studio in S. Truro, MA.

I did a vine charcoal drawing of Hopper's bedroomSun in an Empty Room II before I tackled it in oil.

Edward Hopper's Bedroom, Nyack,  oil on panel, a painting I did including the view of the distant Hudson River glimpsed out of one of the three windows in Hopper's bedroom in Nyack.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Nuts and Bolts

Sun in an Empty Room II, vine charcoal, 7 x 14", 2012 (drawn on location in Edward Hopper's boyhood bedroom in Nyack, NY)

Vine charcoal is a medium known for its delicacy. But that fragility is something of a problem when it comes to moving such drawings. Until they're safely framed under glass you must handle them as if you're walking on eggshells. The drawing above is in one of these crates below...

...along with 15 other paintings, pastels, and vine charcoal drawings look like when they're waiting to be picked up by the FedEx guy for their trip up for my solo exhibit at Isalos Fine Art in Stonington, Maine. None of the work for this upcoming show (Aug. 13 - Sept. 2, 2013) is particularly large, but since a half dozen of the pieces are works on paper framed under glass, they had to be wrapped generously in bubble wrap. The packaged pieces on paper like this get bulky pretty quickly. I'm determined to have the pieces arrive safely without a scratch.  

Here's another of the drawings in the crates above, May 15, 1967, vine charcoal, 7 x 14". The title refers to the day Edward Hopper died. I drew the piece on location on a cold and blowing Fall day looking back up from the beach at Hopper's simple studio and perhaps that cast a more somber tone over my mind as I considered what to name the drawing.

Isalos Fine Art issued a good press release for the exhibit, Inside Edward Hopper's World: Paintings by Philip Koch that you can see on their website. It includes a link to a page showing all the pieces that will hang in the show.