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After a three year hiatus in the studio and traveling abroad, HANK PITCHER is ready with a new exhibition of paintings. LOOK OUT. Many of these new paintings were conceived in his studio that looks out towards the ocean. As he has for the past four plus decades as a professional exhibiting artist, Hank continues to look out for the next resonant image, the next set of formal relationships, the next set of waves to surf.

The exhibition also makes reference to a couple of particular days that Pitcher was painting out at Coal Oil Point. Said the artist, “Last spring I saw a blue belly Lizard doing push-ups to attract females. He did not see the Great White Egret stalking him.” While the blue belly was looking out for a mate, the Egret was looking for a meal. Hank was looking out at the whole scene unfold. While the beach and surfing are associated with leisure, scenes of mythic drama regularly unfold there at the edge of the continent. Perhaps that is why artists like Winslow Homer were so fascinated by the sea.

In addition to a triumvirate of surfboards shaped by Wayne Rich and Bob Duncan, Hank will also exhibit a suite of landscapes of the Central Coast. Some seem to imply a narrative, as the Egret and Blue Belly Lizard paintings do. Others remain suggestive, if more formal. Paintings of a lone man and a lone woman down on the beach hint at the possibility of romance with the addition of a spray of bright yellow encelia blooms on the cliffside.


A more overt paean to romance exists in the painting Will You Marry Me? Created while Hank was in residency in England, Will You Marry Me? depicts an English garden in full flower. According to the artist, “‘Will You Marry Me?’ was carved on a swing in the tall Oak tree behind the roses. The view looked out to The Downs. This is where German bombers flew overhead on their way to London. The world’s first radar station was built on those hills to look out for those bombers. Painting in that beautiful garden this past summer, I could almost hear the droning of the planes’ engines.”

The search for the mythic in the everyday is as big a part Hank’s work as his formal Realist style. Every year, he paints the Winter Solstice – often painting at Point Conception, which is the site of so much Chumash lore. The Ancient Greeks celebrated the Winter Solstice with a festival for Poseidon, the sea god. Even the cyclops interludes in this new exhibition – taking its form here as a large botanical painting of the Aeonium Cyclops.

Hank Pitcher has been exhibiting for forty-seven years. He currently lectures at UCSB’s College of Creative Studies, where he has served since 1971. Early on, he befriended Paul Wonner and later Paul Georges on the east coast, making him an unlikely bridge between two distinctive post-abstraction figurative styles. A coffee table book commemorating his achievements as a painter is currently under development .


3:13 | Jeremy Tessmer

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