Photo by © Udo Spreitzenbarth
For the last 20 years, modern artist Guy Stanley Philoche has been wowing international audiences with his impressive paintings and solo shows. As an artist who built his platform through hard work and determination, Philoche knows what it takes to make it in New York City, and he’s dedicated to supporting artists who are honing their craft.
We sat down with Philoche to talk about his journey, the Philoche Collection, and the rEVOLution of artists supporting artists.
Every artist has a journey—what can you tell us about yours? How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always said that art has saved my life, and I owe it a debt I’ll never be able to repay. As an emigrate from Haiti, I turned to art to adjust to a new way of life. I learned the language from watching cartoons, and drawing came naturally to me; it was something I enjoyed.
I was the first in my family to choose this alternative career path, as both of my brothers have stable government jobs. While my parents supported my passion, they made it clear they would not help me financially, and I’d have to pursue this career all on my own. So, I moved out, put myself through art school, sold everything I owned and moved to New York City.
Fast forward to today, I’ve been living in the city as a professional artist for 20 years, and New York has always been good to me. But it’s important to understand that I wasn’t an overnight success; it took years of hard work and determination, and now I have a seat at the table. And by having a seat at the table, I’ve always made sure to support my fellow artists.
Last year, you went above and beyond to support your fellow New York artists, purchasing $150k worth of art. What inspired that altruistic act?
“Sell a painting, buy a painting” has always been a motto of mine and something I’ve stuck with for the past 20 years as an artist. But I really took it to the next level back in February of last year.
I had just come off an amazing, sold-out show with my gallery representation, Cavalier Gallery, and wanted to treat myself to a nice watch, when I received a call from a close friend and fellow artist. He was distraught; he had lost his job due to the coronavirus pandemic and was struggling. He was worried he wouldn’t be able to provide food for his family. I told him I’d meet him at his studio, and I ended up buying two of his pieces. It wasn’t until after I went home that I realized I could use that money for good.
So, in March of 2020, I put out a call-to-action on my Instagram handle to my fellow artists that I was looking to purchase as much artwork as possible. I encouraged all artists, sculptors, illustrators and beyond to DM me their work for me to look at. And before I knew it, my inbox was flooded with DMs from across the globe. I tried to choose pieces I truly loved, which became a part of what I now call the Philoche Collection. What started as a small initiative grew into something bigger and more amazing than I could have ever imagined.
To-date, with the help of my amazing collectors and gallery representation, I’ve been able to purchase over $150,000 (and counting!) worth of art from over 300 artists from different backgrounds across the globe, including Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Kansas City, MO; London, UK; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; New York, NY; Sydney, AU, and more.
I’m working to bring the Philoche Collection public, starting in New York City and moving to other major cities. My hope is for larger, more well-known artists to follow my lead and create a new rEVOLution of artists supporting artists.
You make it a priority to give back and have generously donated both your work and your time to support charities that are important to you. How do you choose charities to align yourself with?
When choosing a charity, I typically focus on those that give back to the art community, as I’ve always been a huge supporter of fellow artists and the community as a whole. Earlier this year, I donated a painting for auction to help benefit Opportunity Early Childhood Education and Family Center, Palm Beach’s oldest grassroots charity; it garnered $10,000.
I’ve also worked with The American Cancer Society’s Pink and Black-Tie Gala, Kids With Cameras with Oscar winner Zana Briski, Global Language Project, The Leukemia Needs Foundation, ARTrageous!, Tibet House and Forgotten Children of Haiti.
Art has the power to educate people about almost anything. If your art was used as a teaching tool, what lesson would you hope to share?
If my art was used as a teaching tool, the lesson would surround hard work and determination. I knew art was my calling, and I did everything in my power to be successful. When I first moved into the city, I rented an apartment that doubled as my studio. I would go out almost every night to network; if I installed a painting in a building, I’d take the elevator up to the penthouse and slide my business card under each door, floor by floor. I did everything I could to get my name out there, and my art recognized, and it paid off. Now, I’m represented by a major gallery, but I wouldn’t be where I am without hard work and tenacity. I think they’re important qualities to have, especially if you’re looking to pursue a career in the arts.
Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your newest series, Remembering Your Innocence/ rEVOLution?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to make people smile and remember happier, more innocent times as children, away from the current fear of death and pain. The Remembering Your Innocence series was painted on masonite board versus canvas as the art stores were shut down. During the same timeframe, the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction across the country. The direction of the paintings changed innocence and social change, resulting in what I call rEVOLution, which are my most recent bodies of work. My hope is for a revolution that leads to love and peace.
Especially in a city like New York, the artist community is ever-expanding. What does the community need to thrive? How can every one of us support up-and-coming artists?
What’s important for everyone to realize is that art is truly important. The arts in general, from dance and theater to paintings and sculpture, are the reason we visit museums and galleries daily. Can you imagine a world with no Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, or the MoMA—they’re part of the reason we travel to see the Louvre, the Tate Museum, or the Art Institute of Chicago.
Donating to artist communities is a great way to show support. There are multiple artist-only living accommodations scattered throughout New York that are always in need of assistance. Whether it’s donating supplies or putting a down payment on their work, that contribution could help them buy food or more art supplies. It’s also important to remember that not all art costs hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. You can find great art for under $100; it’s whatever speaks to you.
Join the rEVOLution—find out more about Guy Stanley Philoche at www.philochestudios.com
This September, 15 artists from the Philoche Collection will come together for an exhibition at RPAC Gallery in Ridgefield, CT. Co-curated by Philoche and Dee Dee Perrone Colabella, owner and director of the RPAC Gallery and RPAC Art Center and Academy, the show will be open to the general public for one month, beginning on Thursday, September 16. For more information, visit www.rpacgallery.com.