Lending a hand for land

Harvey Cohon often uses concrete patch and hardener along with acrylic in paintings such as ‘Concrete Red Flowers.’
Harvey Cohon often uses concrete patch and hardener along with acrylic in paintings such as ‘Concrete Red Flowers.’ PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

The local Land Conservancy is considering starting an artist host gallery.

Pioneering this new venture is Harvey Cohon, who is showing 43 paintings in acrylic and oil-based pastels to help pump up the non-profit’s coffers.

“Harvey’s going to be our test artist,” said Wende David, membership and development manager.

Cohon’s wife, Kathy, sits on one of the group’s committees.

“She basically volunteered Harvey as a guinea pig,” David said.

Cohon, who said he was happy to help out, will donate 30 percent of sales proceeds to the organization.

The San Luis Obispo resident is showing a wide variety of themes and styles, including plein air paintings that he’s been doing for five years with the San Luis Obispo Art Center’s Thursday Painters.

The artist said his favorite outdoor subject is mountains. “I like the color change,” he said. “But around here, I have lots of favorite places.”

Cohon works on site, then relies on memory and his artistic abilities.

“I never take a photo,” Cohon said. “I just bring it home and play with the light myself.”

Besides outdoor scenes, he is showing work from various series, such as abstracts, animals, insects and dancers. The ballerinas are little vignettes, Cohon said, based on photos he’s found on the Internet. It wasn’t the dancers that he attempted to capture as much as the shapes outside of the figures, he said. He turns the negative space into positive forms in these abstract renderings, a switch from his impressionistic and realistic work.

Cohon continues to spark his love of art by visiting museums and galleries with his wife. He admires the work of Gabriele Munter, who was married to Wassily Kandinsky. “She had a certain spatial arrangement that I liked,” he said. Cohon is also a fan of the Hudson River School of Landscape, “but I don’t get that detailed.”

Cohon has a degree in art, but elected to pursue industrial art. He retired five years ago after a nine-year stint teaching shop at Coast Union High School where he also taught computer graphics and drafting, along with construction and woodworking.

His background came in handy when setting up the current exhibit.

Artists who exhibit at the Land Conservancy office have their work cut out for them, according to David. “It would have to be an engaged artist,” she said, who would hang the show, prepare the tags showing titles and prices, host Art After Dark and other details that a gallery would normally handle.

The organization has another artist lined up for a two-month show following Cohon’s exhibit. “We’re just sort of taking members and donors that we know,” said David, and putting them on a list for future exhibits. “It’s still very new,” she said of the endeavor that the Land Conservancy hopes will benefit the group’s goals as well as local artists.