Sullivan Goss
AN AMERICAN GALLERY
Celebrating 27 Years of 19th, 20th and 21st Century American Art
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HANK PITCHER

(b. 1949)

CALIFORNIA'S PAINTER: A REDUCTIVIST, GESTURAL VISION OF HOME

by Tim Schiffer and Frank Goss

Every culture has its spokesperson; for California's beach and surf community, that artist is Hank Pitcher. Over his nearly four decade long career, Hank has developed and refined his painterly vocabulary for describing life in Southern California.




Table Of Contents

I. BIOGRAPHY

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.

II. 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.



MY SURFBOARD
2000
68" x 36"
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Pitcher's surfboard paintings are the symbol of California beach culture...strong, definite, positive and euphoric statements about life in California. The surfboard's power as totem is seen in its power to convey identity: surfer, Californian, Hank Pitcher. All are identifiable from this symbolic representation.

Hank Pitcher is the voice of California culture. At the beach, in the surf, approaching the foothills, in the mountains, on the spit of Point Conception, in the crags of Big Sur, at a beach campfire in Santa Barbara, Pitcher paints the icons of California's culture.



THREE MEN FISHING AT REFUGIO
2001
33" x 55.25"
Oil on canvas
Private collection

In Three Men Fishing at Refugio the incoming waves, the afternoon shadows of the palms, the curve of the beach and the bold square of the cliff complete a subtle abstract design. At the center of it all, with their pot bellies and bad haircuts, three fisherman tell dirty jokes and tend their lines, enjoying an afternoon at the beach with a simple, transcendent joy. Pitcher's painting captures the moment like a snapshot, informed by the lessons of a hundred other paintings and infused with the memories of a thousand other afternoons.



DAIRY FARM
1998
Oil on canvas
Private collection

A lesson in "simplicity" and a major work by the artist, Dairy Farm is composed of basic, clear, apparently effortlessly composed elements. The fence, the farm house, the truck, the hills, and the clouds are all stylized, clear representations of a classic California farm. But the clarity and austerity of the painting create an illusion of innocence which is the construct of a painting whose actual complexity can be read on many levels.



LAKE CACHUMA, RANCHO SAN MARCOS
1997
24" x 48"
Oil on canvas
Private collection

This painting of the vista of slough and marshland near Lake Cachuma, twenty-five miles north of Santa Barbara, demonstrates Pitcher's ability to reduce the landscape while handling a large and complex subject. Even the trees and scrubs are drawn as abstract tiny icons--no individual branches or leaves or structure--just dashes of paint.



2300 GARDEN STREET
2003
22.5" x 68"
Oil on board
Exhibited: Historic Landmark Show, 2005
Private Collection


LARGER MORROW UMBRELLA OVER MIRAMAR COVE
2008
18" x 50"
Oil on canvas over board
Private Collection


REVELERS, NEW YEAR'S EVE
2006
8" x 16"
Oil on canvas
Exhibited: Hank Pitcher: Montecito Beaches 1978-2008, 2008
Private Collection

This painting shows the artist's virtuosity at spontaneous, gestural figure painting. There is a whimsical quality to the juxtaposition of a long-haired gentleman with a flute of chamgpagne and a typical Californian celebrating a high holiday in his best beach shirt. It was the cover for the artist's 2008 exhibit at Sullivan Goss.

III. PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY



PHOTOGRAPH OF THE ARTIST WITH SURFBOARD, 2006

This image was first published in Art + Auction Magazine. It was taken in preparation for the artist's 2006 exhibit, "Hank Pitcher: New Paintings."



PHOTOGRAPH OF THE ARTIST WITH SURFBOARD, 2008

This image was first published in Santa Barbara Seasons magazine. It was taken in preparation for the artist's 2008 exhibit, "Hank Pitcher: Montecito Beaches 1978-2008." The painting behind the artist is The Coral Casino from 1986.

IV. CHRONOLOGY

  • 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
  • V. COLLECTIONS

  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art
  • County of Santa Barbara
  • Syracuse Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
  • Northern Trust
  • Industrial Bank of Japan
  • Bank of America
  • Citicorp
  • Mobil Oil
  • Gainey Vineyards
  • VI. EXHIBITIONS

  • 1970 Esther Bear Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1973 Orlando Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1974 Bortolotzo Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1974 Esther Bear Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1975 Anapamu Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1977 College of Creative Studies, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1978 Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1978 New Media Gallery, Ventura College, Ventura, CA
  • 1979 Meghan Williams Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1979 Bowdoin Gallery, Bowdoin, ME
  • 1980 Meghan Williams Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1982 Meredith Niles Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1985 Delphine Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1986 Jessica Darraby Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1987 Jessica Darraby Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1989 Tatistcheff Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1991 Cate School, Carpenteria, CA
  • 1992 Tatistcheff Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1994 Tatistcheff/Rogers Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1996 Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1998-2001 Downey's, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2001 Terrance Rogers Fine Art, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2001 Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2002 "Surf Culture", Laguna Beach Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
  • 2003 "BIG", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2003 "little", Sullivan Goss, Montecito, CA.
  • 2003-2004 "8th Annual Small Images Show", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2004 "Not Just a Pretty Vase: A Comprehensive Exhibition of American Still Life", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2004 "The Landscape: Old and New, Now and Then", Sullivan Goss, Montecito, CA.
  • 2004 "In Search of America: Art of the American Scene", Sullivan Goss, Montecito, CA.
  • 2004-2005 "Face to Face: A Selection of American Portraits", Sullivan Goss, Montecito, CA.
  • 2005 "Anima Mundi", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2005 "Scenes of American Labor", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2006 "Hank Pitcher: New Paintings", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2007 "Hank Pitcher: Water Gazing", Ventura College, Ventura, CA.
  • 2008 "The West Coast Ten", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2008 "Hank Pitcher: Montecito Beaches 1978-2008", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2011 "HANK PITCHER: TIDAL FORCE", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2013 "Hank Pitcher: A 40 Year Survey", Weigand Gallery, Notre Dame du Namur University, Belmont, California.
  • 2013 "HANK PITCHER: THE LONG VIEW", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • VII. PUBLICATIONS

    1. 1. Gangelhoff, Bonnie. "Lure of the Pacific". Southwest Art Volume 34, Number 4, September 2004. Page 110-113.
    2. 2. Colburn, Bolton. Hank Pitcher: SURF
    3. 3. Sullivan Goss, Ltd.; Santa Barbara, 2003.
    4. 4. Lucie-Smith, Edward. Flora: Gardens and Plants in Art and Literature.
    5. 5. Watson-Gupthill; New York, 2001.
    6. 6. Schiffer, Tim. Hank Pitcher: Recent Paintings 2001.
    7. 7. Sullivan Goss, Ltd.; Santa Barbara, 2001.
    8. 8. Pitcher, Hank. Hank Pitcher: Montecito Beaches 1978-2008; Santa Barbara, 2008.

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