Hank Pitcher's paintings are grounded in a particular sense of place. He was born in Pasadena, California on July 20, 1949, but his family moved to Isla Vista, near Santa Barbara, when he was two years old. When they came to Isla Vista it was an outpost on the beach, and Goleta was a farm town where kids rode their horses down the avenue to buy candy at the store. He was a football star at San Marcos High School and was recruited by big-name universities. Instead of football, he chose to attend the College of Creative Studies, an alternative program within the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he now teaches painting. He splits his time between painting and surfing, pursuing each with the commitment and energy of a linebacker.
54:45 | Hank Pitcher & Roger Durling
4:10 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer | Released for HANK PITCHER: Primal, 2019
3:13 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer | Released for Hank Pitcher: Look Out, 2017
2:47 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer | Released for Hank Pitcher: The Long View, 2013
3:38 | Narrated by Susan Bush with Hank Pitcher & Frank Goss | Released for Hank Pitcher: Tidal Force, 2011
With such clarity and positivity in short supply, this new volume devoted to the paintings of Hank Pitcher comes as a much-appreciated balm to the spirit. Paging through its 254 richly colorful pages allows one to fathom the range and intensity of Pitcher’s output over a career that stretches without a break from his enrollment at UCSB’s College of Creative Studies in 1967 to the present. Although he’s probably best known for bringing images from surfing into the canon of fine art, this retrospective demonstrates how various his work has been over five decades, and how deeply rooted it is in the unique advantages offered by our region.
Well-known Santa Barbara artist Hank Pitcher likes things simple, whether painting iconic scenes of contemporary California culture and the coastal landscape or describing their back stories.
This message comes across loud and clear in the huge, coffee-table book, titled simply, “Hank Pitcher,” recently published by Sullivan Goss — An American Gallery.
For nearly five decades, Hank Pitcher has painted what he knows best: Santa Barbara and the people who inhabit it. Now his gallery of 20 years, Sullivan Goss–An American Gallery, has produced an impressive monograph (Hank Pitcher, available at Upstairs and Pierre Lafond) packed with vibrant images accompanied by thoughtful essays penned by scholars, colleagues, and friends. It's a well-deserved paean to the artist's oeuvre.
As one of the original students at the College of Creative Studies (CCS), Hank Pitcher (Art '71) was influenced immediately by seminars with visionary scientist Buchminister Fuller and the beginning of a long association with literary critic Marvin Mudrick, the first CCS Provost. Working with distinguished faculty and visitors at CCS is the foundation upon which he has built his own work and on which he credits his success.
One of my first outings when the coronavirus lockdown started to ease was to pick up my long-awaited, signed copy of artist Hank Pitcher’s namesake retrospective at Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery in downtown Santa Barbara.
Given the phantasmagoric nature of today’s visual entertainments, it’s a wonder that an art gallery can hold our attention. Case in point: the meditative spaces at the Sullivan Goss gallery located on narrow Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara. A quiet inner dialogue in the gallery space shuts outside noises and distractions on our selfie lives.
Hank Pitcher’s solo show, “Primal,” now on view in the central of the three exhibition spaces, presents seductively simple pastel-infused figurative landscapes that become objects of our thankful contemplation.
This spring in Santa Barbara, with wildflower-tripping and resplendent natural color palettes on the collective mind, painter Hank Pitcher’s latest exhibition at Sullivan Goss is right on time, and all about place.
"Whatever's going on in the world ends up in your work. I like the idea of painters being witnesses – of showing truth as it is. I like painters being able to develop and discover an image of who we are." This is how Hank Pitcher describes the intention behind his latest work, an exhilerating and career-defining series that's now on view at Sullivan Goss in a show called Primal.
The Sullivan Goss’curatorial forces that be opted not to pussyfoot about or take rhetorical roads less traveled with its current group show, “The Artists of UCSB” with “UCSB” in jumbo font. The gist: all artists aboard are alums of the university, and some are past and current teachers there. The show came about as a response to a gesture from the University to try to mediate the gap between life and culture on campus and in the Santa Barbara community, and was timed to run during the recent all-Gaucho reunion.
“I always wanted to be regional, but I didn’t want to be provincial,” says Hank Pitcher. “I’m interested in the highest level of painting.”
There’s never been someone more relevant, poignant, and representative of modern Santa Barbara than Hank Pitcher.
With downtown Los Angeles seemingly sprouting a new art museum or gallery district every few months, it can be hard to remember that well before L.A. became a hotbed of art making and collecting, Santa Barbara was known as the most artistic city in the state south of San Francisco. With this new exhibit, Sullivan Goss aims to right that skewed impression and teach us to hold our heads up with pride in Santa Barbara’s profound influence on the art of our time.
There are many items of interest, subtle charmers, poetic pranksters and ironically summery breezes to be found in the current Sullivan Gosss group show "CA Cool," celebrating Minimalist-Modernist trends from the Golden State.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE ARTIST'S WORK
Hank's paintings represent a forty year search for an authentic vocabulary to describe life in Southern California. The reductive quality of the flattened shapes and unmodulated colors recall the realism of Edward Hopper. Other paintings, however, are as gestural as the Bay Area Figurative paintings of David Park or Paul Wonner. In his iconic surfboard paintings, one can hear the echo of Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans.
Pitcher painted early on with Paul Wonner, another artist struggling to paint representationally in an avant-garde context. Hank came of age as Pop Art, Minimalism, and Land Art were in ascendancy. Representational painting, especially figurative painting, went underground. Hank followed it all the way to Long Island, where he studied with Paul Georges. His mentor was interested in finding a way out of the mannerism of Abstract Expressionism and the aloofness of Pop art.
In every work, Hank endeavors to compose a picture so that it seems "effortless" or even "obvious." Said the artist, "The challenge and the desire was/is to make a genuine, truthful statement." He can paint shapes hardened by the vivid light of the Central Coast or soft painterly areas that suggest natural change or poetic reverie. Over the years, a distinctive style has taken form. You can tell a Pitcher picture from across the room.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
County of Santa Barbara
Syracuse Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
Industrial Bank of Japan
Bank of America
1949 Born July 20, 1949, Pasadena, California
1971 Graduated UCSB, College of Creative Studies
1971 Met Paul Georges on Long Island and formed lifelong friendship
1971 Lecturer, UCSB, College of Creative Studies
1980 Traded studios with Gregory Botts of Manhattan & attended Figurative Painters Alliance
1985 Married Susan McKaba September 9
1996 Tenured Professor of Art, UCSB
2003 Publication of SURF, book featuring selected paintings from "little" a solo exibition
2017 "HANK PITCHER: LOOK OUT", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2013 "HANK PITCHER: THE LONG VIEW", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2013 "Hank Pitcher: A 40 Year Survey", Weigand Gallery, Notre Dame du Namur University, Belmont, California.
2011 "HANK PITCHER: TIDAL FORCE", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2008 "Hank Pitcher: Montecito Beaches 1978-2008", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2007 "Hank Pitcher: Water Gazing", Ventura College, Ventura, CA.
2008 "The West Coast Ten", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2006 "Hank Pitcher: New Paintings", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2005 "Scenes of American Labor", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2005 "Anima Mundi", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2004-2005 "Face to Face: A Selection of American Portraits", Sullivan Goss, Montecito, CA.
2004 "In Search of America: Art of the American Scene", Sullivan Goss, Montecito, CA.
2004 "The Landscape: Old and New, Now and Then", Sullivan Goss, Montecito, CA.
2004 "Not Just a Pretty Vase: A Comprehensive Exhibition of American Still Life", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2003-2004 "8th Annual Small Images Show", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2003 "little", Sullivan Goss, Montecito, CA.
2003 "BIG", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2002 "Surf Culture", Laguna Beach Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
2001 Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
2001 Terrance Rogers Fine Art, Santa Monica, CA
1998-2001 Downey's, Santa Barbara, CA
1996 Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
1994 Tatistcheff/Rogers Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1992 Tatistcheff Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1991 Cate School, Carpenteria, CA
1989 Tatistcheff Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1987 Jessica Darraby Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1986 Jessica Darraby Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1985 Delphine Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1982 Meredith Niles Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1980 Meghan Williams Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1979 Bowdoin Gallery, Bowdoin, ME
1979 Meghan Williams Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1978 New Media Gallery, Ventura College, Ventura, CA
1978 Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
1977 College of Creative Studies, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA
1975 Anapamu Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1974 Esther Bear Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1974 Bortolotzo Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1973 Orlando Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1970 Esther Bear Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA