Like almost no other event within living memory, the COVID-19 pandemic has painted our world with a very dark brush. While there finally appears to be light at the end of the medical tunnel coming from the scientific quarter, during our most troubling hours, what many people turned to for solace was art.
Whether in the form of visual imagery or music, dance or poetry, the vivid power of art to take us out of the moment and uplift us from despair is a reminder that hope endures.
Unfortunately, as essential as art may be to the soul, with money spread thin between food, rent, and other must-haves during the lockdown, for many former patrons, being able to buy art is no longer part of the equation.
Earning a living as a fine artist is rarely easy in the best of times. As pandemic restrictions tightened their hold, closing galleries and shutting down regular shows, for many, it became close to impossible.
The realization that so many creative people were struggling was the catalyst that spurred NYC-based painter Guy Stanley Philoche—whose own Abstract canvasses can command in excess of $100,000 each—to launch a one-man crusade in support of his fellow artists.
“The art world is my community and I needed to help my community,” Philoche told CNN. “People say New York is dead, but it’s far from that. There’s an artist somewhere writing the next greatest album. There’s a kid right now in his studio painting the next Mona Lisa. There’s probably a dancer right now choreographing the next epic ballet. People forgot about the artists in these industries.”
In March, Philoche posted an Instagram shout-out to artists around the world asking them send images of their work. Since then, he’s spent in the neighborhood of $65,000 and purchased over 150 unique works of art from both friends and total strangers. His only criteria is that the art speaks to him.
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Philoche and his family came to America when he was 3 years old. Like many immigrants, he says he learned to speak English by watching TV.
He was also inspired at a young age to make drawings of his favorite Disney characters. From those early efforts, his fascination for the art that would one day become his career was born.
It took Piloche decades to achieve success, however, now that he’s arrived, the 43-year-old feels honor-bound to pay his good fortune forward. “Art saved my life,” he said. “I owe it a debt I could never repay, but the only way to really repay it is by buying other art from someone who hasn’t gotten a big break yet. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
Vincent Van Gogh once observed, “There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
While Philoche favors the Abstract style for his paintings, the tangible expressions of support he delivers to his fellow artists shine from a perspective that’s stunningly real—and may just well be his true masterpiece.
Feature image: Philoche Studios
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