HANK PITCHER (b. 1949) is a graduate of UCSB’s College of Creative Studies, where he was influenced by intellectuals like Marvin Mudrick, Buckminster Fuller, and Harold Rosenberg. Bay Area Figurative Painter Paul Wonner was also an early and important influence. Subsequently, Pitcher went to the Hamptons to learn more about their surfing culture. While there, he met a number of artists in what might be termed “the post-abstract figurative school” – artists like Fairfield Porter and Paul Georges. This made Hank a special bridge between two coastal camps of artists looking to forge a new aesthetics in representational painting.
In 1975 he was appointed head of the College of Creative Studies Art Program, and in the two decades that followed he helped create one of the best undergraduate painting programs in the country. He brought in Georges, Jane Freilicher, Rackstraw Downes, and Alfred Leslie to visit from the East Coast, and convinced Charles Garabedian, John McCracken, and Tom Wudl to teach there regularly.
This strikingly diverse group of artists and teachers had been recruited by Hank Pitcher because they shared his commitment to authenticity in art, to formal rigor and beauty. At times Hank was the only teacher remaining in the UC system that still taught figure drawing to his students. The university gave him access to the artworld at large, but Santa Barbara provided a critical distance from fleeting trends that came and went from the contemporary art scene. It also provided a perfect space to make a lifelong study of the world around him from iconic surfboard portraits, to the changing environment of his favorite vistas around Point Conception.
41:09 | Lecture given by Hank Pitcher | Rockwood Women's Club, April 21, 2021
5:24 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer and Hank Pitcher | Released for HANK PITCHER: Just Now, 2021
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
4:57 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer | Released for Ahead in the Clouds, December 2018
4:36 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer | Released for The Art of Santa Barbara: 1875-2016 Part 2, November 2016
4:40 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer | Released for CA COOL: what's so cool about california?, July 2015
Once a longtime backdrop to a part Coast Village Road shopping history, a Hank Pitcher canvas has been rediscovered, 30 years after it was hidden from the public. Out of sight, out of mind, this Pitcher work was thought lost.
Mr. Zog's Sex Wax is one of the most iconic surfboard wax brands in surfing's history. Here's how it got its unusual name.
Mr. Zog's Sex Wax is a surf company founded in 1972 by Frederick Charles Herzog III and his chemist partner Nate Skinner.
Herzog III was born in 1945 and grew up in Tustin, Oregon, ten miles northeast of Newport Beach and 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles, California.
Many local residents divide their time between Santa Barbara and their second homes in other cities strewn across the continent. As summer turns to fall, they begin to think about returning to the warmer weather and slower pace of life that Santa Barbara offers.
“California on My Mind,” the current exhibition at Sullivan Goss: An American Gallery, calls them to do just that.
Historic and contemporary paintings, drawings and prints by artists from Southern California highlight the region’s history and mythology.
Early morning, late summer, three painters scout for a coastal painting view. Several locations are considered. One of the painters, Hank Pitcher, chimes in with a smile: “I don’t care where it is so long as there’s water in it.” To beat the sunrise, they choose a pasture close by occupied by several large bulls.
Water indeed. As a swimmer needs a pool, Hank Pitcher needs an ocean, as evidenced by recent paintings on view at Sullivan Goss Gallery.
SUN KISSED SURFBOARDS AND SURFS-UP SUNRISES define and illuminate the California dream which is embodied in the paintings of Hank Pitcher, now on display at Sullivan Goss. In at least his eleventh solo exhibit at the gallery, Pitcher focuses on the sense of "just now," perhaps a feeling many of us have experienced as time warped during a year of quiet and isolation brought on by social distancing.
Santa Barbara and its environs offer a visual treasure trove of hidden gems. Small spaces of secret beauties, coves of elegance and broad vistas of graceful nature can be found by an inquisitive eye. One man has set these sights onto canvas with great expression. A lifelong resident, painter Hank Pitcher is a true product of his environment. His visual efforts are eloquent in the progression of art history and Plein Air painting.
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.
On View at Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery through February 2, 2014
Southern California has always been a place for innovation. Yet the bright lights of Hollywood have often obscured the full range of the region’s artistic output. Now, more than a decade into the 21st century, art historians are turning their gaze back to the mid 20th to establish the significant role that Los Angeles artists played in the rise of modernism.
Currently on view at Sullivan Goss are more than 25 works by some of the key players in the L.A. art world from 1940 to the 1980s. Another 16 works will arrive at the gallery in early September.
Tidal Forces, the new show of paintings by Hank Pitcher at Sullivan Goss (7 E. Anapamu St.), offers 30 or so recent images of the Central Coast. Some, like the 2010 “Two Figures and a Wave” or “Beach Volleyball, 7-10” from the same year, seem anecdotal, while others, such as the various pictures of the Gaviota Coast from winter and spring of 2011, appear primarily concerned with the contrasts and echoes of larger earth forms. What knits these disparate approaches together? There’s Pitcher’s skill and sensibility, to be sure—composition and the feel of the brush are in exquisite balance throughout—but there’s also a larger aesthetic context, something that literary critic and historian Paul Fussell dubbed the “American Shore Ode” back in 1962, that’s worth considering, especially as it allows one to make connections between poetry and painting that are too often left vague and obscure.
People often view Santa Barbara as paradise, the California dream — palm-framed vistas, glistening surf, the golden Santa Ynez Mountains, beauty as stunning and transcendent as a rainbow.
“Almost everyone who has been to Santa Barbara understands that there’s something special about it — the quality of light, the Mediterranean climate, the biodiversity, the lifestyle,” says artist Hank Pitcher, who is also a teacher and a surfer. His iconic portraits of surfboards, today’s tribal shields, symbolize California beach culture.
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 (Surfers, 1977-78)
County of Santa Barbara
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (Santa Barbara Plate, n.d.)
Syracuse Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York (The Curator, the Artist, and His Buddies, Tijuana Bar, 1970)
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
2021 HANK PITCHER: Just Now, Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
2019 HANK PITCHER: Primal, Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
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