Thank God for Philip Koplin (& Family)

Posted on Sep 7 by SEASONS Magazine

Artwork by Philip Koplin.

Artwork by Philip Koplin.

ON VIEW SEPTEMBER 7 – OCTOBER 1

In loving memory of one of Santa Barbara’s sweetest curmudgeons, one of its most diligent arts supporters and agitators, and one of the most august artists of the Funk Zone, Sullivan Goss presents a memorial exhibition for Philip Koplin & His Family. An intimate and enveloping installation of Philip Koplin’s assemblages, monotypes, and drawings will be featured in the third gallery of Sullivan Goss, along with works by his wife Virginia McCracken and various personal treasures.

Philip Koplin  was born in Brooklyn, NY on September 21, 1942 – the eldest son of three. In Coney Island where he was raised, he was surrounded by an extended Jewish family just two generations from the Old Country, Belarus. He graduated from Brooklyn Polytechnic with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics. For most of his adult life, he freelanced as an editor of science books and journals. In the early 1980s, he discovered Santa Barbara and, except for a brief experiment with being a Mainer, stayed.

He was a lover of books and words, of art and ephemera – a self-effacing, facetious, and gentle man with unforgettable eyebrows.

Artwork by Philip Koplin.

Artwork by Philip Koplin.

He was a late blooming artist, not starting in earnest until his early forties. Ann Hamilton, then at UCSB., told Koplin that he should just admit that he was making art. He became a passionate assembler, drawer, photographer, arranger, and curator of exhibitions and ephemera. Few knew more about Borscht Belt broadsides, Chinese account books, or the proper patination of American baseballs. In all of his various artistic pursuits, he was a finder of beauty as much as a maker and a lover of texture, history, irony, and the poetic potential of obscurity and obsolescence.

Artwork by Philip Koplin.

Artwork by Philip Koplin.

He was also a late blooming husband, marrying the artist Virginia McCracken at age 56. They enjoyed a very rich and happy union of 19 years. He adored the family that he had inherited somewhat magically, including Amy and Oliver Pihlar and their boys, Atticus and Felix; Ryland and Bianca McCracken and their boys Everett and Forrest. He was an extraordinary grandfather. As we know, he left us suddenly on July 6th, 2017 from an infection in his heart.

Virginia McCracken was born near Pasadena, CA in 1949. She moved to Santa Barbara in 1970. Except for a five year stint in Oregon, she has spent the majority of her life in Santa Barbara. Her lengthy education process eventually earned her BA in psychology from UCSB and an MA from Antioch. For 25 years, she worked as a therapist in private practice and with many local organizations. Art has been a lifelong interest with encouragement from her mother and Aunt. At a young age, a neighbor her family called Hadu introduced her to the myth of Pixies. From this early love grew her abiding love of secret, make believe worlds and all things small. This love is reflected in her idiosyncratic pixie box assemblages, in which small sculpted beings act out inscrutable dramas in fantasy worlds. Virginia McCracken has shown all over Santa Barbara and in galleries across California as well as in Mexico. She is also a part of Green House Studios in the Funk Zone.

In addition to the 1st Thursday public opening for this exhibition, Sullivan Goss will host a secondary reception for friends, family, and well-wishers on Sunday, September 10th from 3-5: p.m.

Come to the opening. Visit, explore, collect! 1st Thursday, September 7, from 5-8 p.m. Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery is located at 111 E. Anapamu St.

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