By Emma Castleberry
On Saturday, February 15, from 2–5 p.m., Grovewood Gallery will host an opening reception for Life Along the Blue Ridge, an exhibition of landscape oil paintings by Asheville native Bryan Koontz. The exhibition will run through April 5 and Koontz will demonstrate his painting techniques at the gallery from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, February 21 and 22.
Koontz’s ancestry on both sides of the family stems back to the earliest settlers of this region. This heritage plays an important role in his work. “I like to capture old barns and structures, the mountain views that were enjoyed by my family years ago, and the historic buildings that dot our towns and cities,” says Koontz. “They mean a great deal to me. This heritage has been slipping away from our region in recent years. Perhaps, through my work, some of it might be preserved.”
A grandmother fostered Koontz’s love of painting, which began when he was very young. He generally starts his paintings en plein air and finishes them in the studio. “If the weather holds and the conditions stay the same and I have the time scheduled, I will paint on location for several days, coming back to the same spot at the same time each day,” he says. “I work on trying to capture as much of the vista in one sitting as possible, but it is difficult to do so and do it well.” While Koontz works in a variety of media, he prefers oil paints, saying they are simultaneously challenging and forgiving. “I feel that I can achieve a greater sense of depth and realism through oils,” he says. “I feel that it creates a higher state of beauty than the other media.”
For Life Along the Blue Ridge, Koontz has selected and worked on paintings of this region that are important to him personally, with a specific focus on higher elevations and long-range vistas. “My hope is it would give the viewer a taste of joy and hope, a respite as they travel on through their life’s journey,” he says. “I realize this is a lofty goal, but it is the real source and substance of my work.”