KOAN newsletter, June 1998

By Elizabeth Van Etten

Writers use words to develop a sense of place. Artist Steve Fuchs draws upon lines, light, shadows and subtle color to convey his sense of place. He takes us to scenes gone from view, but that still linger in our memory. At other times, he documents the uniqueness of a place that may soon be gone.

His Glen Echo Triptych allows you to wander among the carved animals of the carousel, stopping at times as you did as a child, before you settled upon your favorite. Fans of drive-ins and the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" will enjoy his interpretation of both in one of his more lighthearted works. And the Glen Echo carousel calls out again, this time in winter, as if a deserted child waiting for spring and friends to come over to play.

Architectural interpretation has always been a reoccurring theme for Fuchs. His Riggs bank building shimmers. His Clarendon Triptych shows buildings, the new ones overshadowing the old. Cranes loom in the distance, a sign of things yet to come. Working from historical photos from the turn of the century, Fuchs recreates the Botanic Garden at White House, demolished for the West Wing. The old State Theater will not suffer the same fate, but Fuchs has given us the aged soul before it will be restored. The Palm House with Capitol is a wistful reminder of how easy it is to lose something from our past. I remember visiting the Palm House as a young child, running after the birds among the towering green plants in its magical space.

His technique is an unusual combination of permanent pigments and repeated soakings in water. Each drawing is worked in both wet and dry states. Gradually an image is built up and refined. There is texture here, complex yet subtle. He captures the character and mood of a place. It is as if the subjects were trying to tell their story.

His Self Portrait is the only work in the show with a human subject — and a reminder of his father's Volkswagen shares the scene. It is a scene from a place in Steve Fuchs' heart, a memory of not so long ago.

Elizabeth Van Etten is a television producer who often features the American Art scene in her work.







The Washington Post November 30, 1991

KOAN newsletter
June 1998

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