Heinz Emil Salloch
Although this week’s cover artist, Heinz Emil Salloch, passed away in 1985, curator Karen Dorothee Peters has kept his art and legacy alive. While the two never met, they had a curious connection: both individuals lived in Germany (even though Peters was born in the United States); and each had a passion for travel allowing them to pursue their personal and professional journeys through life.
In fact, it was on one such journey that Peters first met Salloch’s son. As her seating partner on an airplane flight, Peters formed an immediate bond with the young man, especially when she learned that his father had emigrated from Germany in 1937 because the Nazi Party did not like that he taught art to Jewish children. Years later that bond was reconstituted, and Peters agreed to manage the artist’s work. Such creations derived from varied countries where coastlines and the sea predominated, including Kiel (Germany), Cuba, Cape Cod, Nova Scotia and Long Island, especially Montauk. His final years were spent in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay town of Chestertown.
Peters, too, appreciated diverse environments when she worked as a Research Consultant in Media Arts and Culture for the Ford Foundation. But her real connection was with Salloch’s art, ranging from his early 1930s subtle images with greyish lighting of boats and local Berlin settings, to his late 1950s expressionistic pieces with bolder contrasts featuring landscapes.
Q: Can you be more specific as to what drew you to Salloch’s work?
A: His art is a wonderful vehicle to discover Long Island; everything he did on the East Coast was most authentic. But I also appreciate his way of looking at environment, his connection with nature; he expresses himself through nature. I like his style, too, his sense of composition, for example. By the way, there are no human beings in his work.
Q: Speaking of style, how can you explain his variety of styles?
A: He was very subtle in his German work. In Northern Europe the light is misty and grey. Having grown up in Germany, I can see why his lighting was like that. When he was studying art in Kiel, Germany, he did more expressionistic art. In his later watercolors in the United States, he is remembering the darker light in Germany; he is still using his old palette. When he came to the U.S., Abstract Expressionism was very popular, but he stuck to his own style, perhaps to cope with the discontinuation and rupture that he was experiencing in his new country.
Q: Salloch’s style was apparent in a show you organized for him in New York this past April.
A: Yes. We had two 1937 works from Havana, Cuba: a fort and a lighthouse. He was using the same language as he would in his Long Island subjects, which were plein air pieces. It was his first impression of his new land; he was trying to find his new environment.
Q: He traveled up and down the coast. What made him settle in Maryland?
A: He married a German woman who was a professor in Maryland, and they moved to Chestertown.
Q: He felt at home because it’s by the water, but was he also uncomfortable because he and his wife were German, and people remember World War II there? I know the residents’ attitude since I am very familiar with that part of the state.
A: His wife was in academia, and that’s a different atmosphere. She was extremely well-liked by her students and colleagues. Salloch was also anti-Nazi; he had to flee Germany because the Nazi Party was suspicious of teachers. He was an art teacher.
Q: What was his remaining life in Chestertown like?
A: He did drawings of the area, and while there, he traveled to New Mexico. But he fell in love with the East Coast. He was always on a journey.
Karen Peters is planning a local show of Salloch’s work in the near future. Email her for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.