Philip Koch, The River, oil on canvas, 20 x 16", 1980
There's always a lot of time spent casting around and considering which pieces to select when preparing for an upcoming exhibition. So it is as I get ready for my show at the Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, NY (Feb. 14 - April 12, 2015).
I ran across these three oils I painted over the span of some 34 years. Anyone who shops at the popular Whole Foods in the Mt. Washington section of Baltimore will likely recognize these scenes. The River, above, is the earliest of this trio. With its olives and sliver greys it shows most clearly my roots in the traditions of America's Hudson River School painters. Today this scene remains almost identical to how it appeared over three decades ago.
Philip Koch, Jones Falls River, oil on panel, 12 x 16", 1985
Not so with this one, Jones Falls River. On the far bank is what is now the parking lot for the bustling Whole Foods grocery. Back then it was a field outside a factory that noisily banged out metal bolts. I remember feeling the low rumbling vibrations in the ground as I stood and painted this on my portable easel. It's quiter now. The plant shut down shortly after I painted it. At least a couple of times a week now my car is parked on that lot, waiting for me to throw my groceries in the back and head home.
Philip Koch, Falls Road Bridge, oil on panel, 8 5/8 x 9 7/8", 2014
Here's the final member, a painting I began in the 90's of a bridge on Falls Road rising over the river, just north of where I did the other two paintings. Recently I went back into it to pare away some distracting elements, allowing the elaborately bending forms of the bridge a bigger role. My color choices have brightened considerably since the first painting at the top of this post.
It's funny as I like nothing better than traveling hundreds of miles to go painting from subjects that speak to me, especially to the mountains and shores of New England. But these subjects, each within a half mile of my home studio, call out with a different but just as poignant a voice.