Alan Gough’s elegant and highly personal odes to southern Ohio will be on view in the museum’s Kricker Gallery from February 15 through May 10. This comprehensive overview of Gough’s 50+ year career includes some 75 paintings and drawings; it will be held in tandem with a smaller exhibition focusing upon Gough’s most recent work, to be shown at Columbus’ Keny Galleries, in April.
Alan Gough, one of Ohio’s foremost painters, has been a full-time artist since 1959, when he returned to his hometown of Chillicothe to establish a studio after attending the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Much of his artistic inspiration is found in the ongoing dynamics of nature in this region, which is reflected in his work. “This area and the changing seasons especially catch my attention. Each day is unique,” Gough said. “Growing up in Ross County and experiencing the seasonal variances, along with contrasting topography, has had an indelible effect upon my work. This region has a quiet, understated beauty, which intrigues me. There is universality about the Ross County area.”
Several of the pieces in the exhibition depict the stark beauty of winter days. “There is a barebones quality to winter that I especially like. In winter, you get a skeletal look at nature,” Gough said. “It’s like a string quarter or trio in that you can hear each individual instrument. In the summer and fall, with the foliage, the area landscape is more like a full orchestra.” Gough’s appreciation of classical music emerges visually in his art. “As with a piece by Bach, Mozart or another great musician, I want there to be a rhythm and a sense of composition. I strive to infuse my work with a feeling of flow, harmony, balance and logical progression,” he noted.
Gough’s artistic reflections of nature have required him to work under inclement conditions in the field to capture the vibrancy of the moment. At other times, he has completed the work in his studio. “Nature does not stand still. The challenge is to keep the image in my mind until I get back to the studio,” he explained. “More than just an image, I want to convey a presence and a feeling of actually being there when people see my artwork so that they can feel the situations and circumstances that occurred at that particular moment.”
Beyond landscapes inspired by nature and this region, the museum exhibition includes portraits, self-portraits and images from other places Gough has lived or visited, such as Chicago, Canada, Florida, Michigan and California. Gough continues to paint in his Chillicothe studio six days a week and still feels inspired by the southern Ohio region. “This is where I choose to reside and to do my work. The inspiration is right here,” he said.