Title: Artist, Educator
Location: Ventura, California, United States
Mr. Koch has been teaching in Southern California since 1952, and was retained from 1966 to 1998 as an art professor of Ventura College. Before Ventura College, he was put on the map upon receiving the First Prize and Purchase Award for Painting from the Los Angeles County Art Museum in 1959. There were several thousand people applying for this prize. He co-founded an art commune in Ojai, CA where he met and was introduced to many famous people within the arts community, such as Iris Tree. He is the co-founder and a board member at the Studio Channel Islands Art Center on the campus of UC Channel Islands in Camarillo, California. In this venture, he curated 14 major exhibitions to promote the university.
In Mr. Koch’s art career, he has been heavily influenced by nature. Some of his travels and experience, such Mr. Koch 1949 biking trip from Detroit to Gaspe, Canada, a distance of about three thousand miles there and back, have fueled his interest. Around this same time, be began studying art due to his inspiration from nature.
Another formative experience in his career was when his close friend, Kate Hughes, took him and his family to Europe for five and a half months in 1963. Ms. Hughes was a lifelong patron of the arts and philanthropist and remained his close friend throughout his career. This encouraged him to curate 16 major exhibitions and 20 international tours. The tours mostly took place in Europe but he also ventured to Egypt. In addition to the tours, he partook in 25 to 30 independent tours to Europe.
Early in his career, Mr. Koch was an usher for travel and art films at the Detroit Art Institute and later had one of his own films displayed at the institute. Mr. Koch was invited to be the chairman of the American Youth Hospital program at Wayne State University in Detroit. He also earned a BFA at this institution. In his 20s, he took a film workshop at the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned a BFA from Wayne State University in 1951, and was influenced by the drawing classes. Upon his travels to Europe with his family and Kate Hughes, he further immersed himself in the arts. Mr. Koch taught at Santa Barbara Community College Center for Lifelong Learning, and earned an MFA in painting from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Founding the Studio Channel Islands Art Center has been a highlight of his career, as was the invitation to join the Ferris Gallery in 1957, as well as earning the aforementioned First Prize and Purchase Award for Painting from the Los Angeles County Art Museum in 1959. He was also a member of the Ester-Robles Gallery. The gallery took his art, along with the art from two other artists, on tour for two years in the West. Mr. Koch’s work has been exhibited across the country, and he was the subject of one-person shows at Ester-Robles in 1961, 1963, and 1965.
He has been an exhibitor of Creative Photography since 1953, where he has had many exhibitions. In 2019, Mr. Koch’s art students will show in the “Then and Now” exhibition at Studio Channel Islands This show is part of the 20th anniversary celebration for the center. Mr. Koch became a member of the National Watercolor Society in 1955; that same year had a show with his then-wife Irene. He was elected three times to jury the exhibition and won First Purchase Award in 1976 at the National Watercolor Society. Ed Kienholz, a co-founder of the Ferris Gallery, gave Mr. Koch and his first wife Irene, a two-person show at his first gallery, the Now Gallery. In 2018, Mr. Koch received the Medici Award and Lifetime Membership of the LA County Art Museum.
Recently, Mr. Koch sold $12k of art to collectors and was able to provide four artists with travel grants. He sent these artists to Italy and France. In this venture, he was able to provide frequent flyer miles to a wounded Marine and his wife as part of the travel grants. Altogether, he supplied close to 300k frequent flyer miles to the travel grantees. Mr. Koch maintains that his lifelong goal has always been to promote art and help artists. He has focused his teachings on preparing people for a career in art as well as receiving a good education.
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