Walter Strach “Claiming Territory: Two Acres in the Catskills”

Bowery Gallery is pleased to announce an invitational exhibition of works by Walter Strach. The recent paintings by Strach of woods, fields, stone walls and streams are the result of an 18-year intense engagement with his property in up-state NY.  The dates of the exhibit are June 19 – July 7

Since purchasing an old farmstead in Samsonville in the Catskills, Walter Strach has been obsessed with the place. Every day he loads up his car, a Honda Element with an up and down tailgate and a lot of interior room, with boards, paints and brushes and he goes out to paint on the property.  Most of the land is inaccessible by wheel, so he sticks to the driveways, lawns, and rocky ledges.  This may total only an acre or two and he admits that he paints the same things over and over but always…. he finds different solutions.

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Journey to the barn 20×60 2017

Strach started traveling up to the Catskills to paint with friends.   He was painting old barns, gas stations, and food stands long the road. After he bought his homestead he found it most satisfying to just go outside and paint on his land.  One is reminded of something Georgia O’Keefe said about her 38 years paintings at Ghost Ranch in Northern New Mexico: she wanted to live in a place where she was able to walk out her front door and start painting.

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Suebeatty creek 20×27 2017

When looking at Strach’s paintings one sees a clear love of Nature and his patience in discovering her mysteries.  In “Letters to a Young Poet”  Rilke wrote: “Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient…”

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Distraction along the bear path 16×20 2017

Strach paints in all seasons. He says summer is challenging because it is hard to differentiate all the greens that one sees in the landscape. But he says he gets under the trees in with the shadows and from this place he peers deep into the forest.

To this writer the unexpected passages buried in his paintings are astounding. Strach says the most interesting things are the things that you can’t see at first. As an example, he says that there is a bear trail on his property back in behind the trees.  And he sees what he imagines is a pine needle path back in there that can be walked on.  These “paths” enliven the space of his paintings along with the horizontal hanging limbs and the occasional electrical wires.

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At the end of the driveway 27×20 2017

There are many lovely winter paintings in this show.  Strach paints from his house when it snows.  He says he must paint fast because the landscape changes quickly.  Warm weather which often comes the day following a good snowfall means the snow melts fast which is not how it used to be (another example of global warming?)

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Bridge over the Suebeatty in winter 16×20 2016

Talking about his process Strach says the first thing he does is to go outside and just look. He may look for “maybe 15 minutes”. He says he looks for something different in the landscape.  Then when he starts he doesn’t do any preparatory drawings, he begins by putting the paint directly on the paper.  In one hour the painting is set down and he keeps working.

The paintings are tempura on board.  Strach likes this medium, however he says it is hard to get dark colors ( Pearl Paint used to make Prussian Blue but they are no longer around).   Strach mixes his own colors and he never uses black.  This could account for the fact that his shadows are so full of life!

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Sandy’s remnants #5 16×20 2017

When asked about influences Walter tells of studying with Gabriel Laderman at Pratt and Queens College where he got his MFA.  He said Laderman opened up a wider world to his students by sharing his knowledge of things –from Primitive art to the Trecento 14th century Italian art (the Duccios in Sienna).    Laderman was supportive of Strach’s work.

Walter Strach received a French Government grant to study  Corot and Cezanne,  and had the unique privilege of painting in Barbizon and Provence during a year in France.

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Toward upper Samsonville Rd. In winter 16×20 2017

The title for this show, “Claiming Territory” has a double meaning. It is about Strach’s territory in the Catskills:  he is the only one who has ever painted on his land ( the poster for the show includes a Google map with the exact locations of where he set up his easel  to paint).   The title, also, refers to the second generation of Abstract Expressionist painters who wanted to do their own thing, to set themselves apart.

Strach was a member of Bowery gallery for many years and is having his first show in 6 years as an associate member.

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Claiming Territory: Two Acres in the Catskills is not to be missed!

The dates are: June 19 – July 7, 2018.

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www.bowerygallery.org

530 West 25th Street, 4th floor

NY, NY   10001

Gallery hours: Tues-Sat 11-6pm. For more information, call 646-230-6655

**DIANE DRESCHER

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