Local artist debuts new exhibition at Grand Bohemian gallery

Press Release from the Kessler Collection:

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 12, 1955, Mitch Kolbe attended schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. In 1973, he moved to New York City to study with Robert Brackman, Robert Schultz, Jack Faraggasso, and John H. Sanden at the Art Students League as a scholarship award student. He also studied privately with Lou Dedonato at the Salmagundi Club. In 1977, Mitch studied photography at Queens College in Charlotte, and enjoyed his first one-man exhibition of paintings at the Robinet Art Gallery there. It was also in 1977 that he first visited and exhibited in Florida, at Tarpon Springs.

His art background and work experience are as varied as any contemporary artist. Since New York, he has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia, and Tarpon Springs, Florida. He has worked as a commercial artist, graphics printer, muralist and sculptor, while pursuing his fine art painting. In Atlanta, he worked on the restoration of the Atlanta Cyclorama. At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he completed a series of realistic murals describing natural Florida. He produced 90 life-size sculpted heads of children from around the world for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, also in Atlanta.

In 1990, Mitch decided to make Tarpon Springs his primary residence and moved into the studio that once belonged to the famous American Landscape Painter, George Inness Jr. For seven years, Mitch’s tight realistic style continued to evolve. His scenic works, which had a classical feel, were starting to mature into a looser impressionistic look, rich in color and immediately appealing. His strongest ties are to the pre-modernist painters who began portraying Florida more than a century ago. This approach is still one of the most powerful in conveying the distinctive qualities of the landscape.

Hotelier Richard Kessler began collection Kolbe’s work and soon commissioned the artist to capture the Florida wetlands and Central Florida in large paintings that would permanently grace the Bohemian Celebration Hotel. Later, Kolbe would paint pastoral and hunting scenes, based on the views from the land his cousins owned in Fairview, NC and where he had spent boyhood summers for the permanent collection of the Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville. The botanical gardens in Birmingham were Kolbe’s next large series, which now adorns the walls and is in the rooms of the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook in Alabama. The soon-to-open Grand Bohemian Greenville will include impressionist autumnal scenes of Kolbe’s.

In October of 2016, Mitch moved to Fairview, NC and paints in the fields and ridges behind his home. The exhibition May 26 at the Grand Bohemian Gallery Asheville will feature the newest original works of Kolbe in an exhibition entitled “Back to the Farm — the North Carolina Collection.”

The exhibit will run from May 26 through June 30.

About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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