Guy Stanely Philoche figured out that art was his thing from a young age.
Born in Haiti, Philoche’s family came to the United States and settled in Connecticut when he was a child. Philoche often found himself up in his room drawing while he was growing up.
“I was this weird awkward kid and was trying to find my place in the world. I realized that I would always stay in my room and doodle, draw comic books, and watch cartoons and draw the cartoons I see,” Philoche recalled. “That was my way to learn the language and find my place in the world. I found that I was really good at copying whatever I saw and it was my little escape.”
For Philoche, it really sunk in that he wanted to do art for a living when he first started going to museums in New York City.
“I would say my big ‘Aha!’ moment would be when I was taken to a museum and saw the masterpieces — the Monets, the Van Goghs, the Pollocks, and everything like that,” said Philoche. “When I got done with school, I sold everything I had of value in Connecticut. New York is the art capital of the world, I came here and hit the ground pavement.”
Through trial and error and many classes over the years, Philoche established himself as a mixed medium artist, dabbling in oil paints, acrylic paints, spray paints, and sculpting (“I like to get my hands dirty,” said Philoche). Once he was in New York, Philoche was able to draw on inspiration all around him to create some of his work.
“It’s New York City. You walk outside your door and you get inspiration,” said Philoche. “You jump on the subway, you get inspiration. From times square with all the neon lights and billboards to Chelsea with all of the amazing art galleries to Midtown and Park Avenue with all of the amazing shops there — you get inspiration all over the place.”
Even amid the pandemic, Philoche sees that despite what others may say, New York City is not dead — and once the city is close to something that we may consider normal, we will see a boom in creativity that we couldn’t see during the lockdown.
“Right now there’s probably a kid writing the next epic novel. There’s a dancer right now practicing in her kitchen who’s going to be the next protege for a ballerina. There’s a woman in her studio right now painting the next Mona Lisa,” said Philoche. “So New York is not dead, it’s just resetting itself. The cost of living got really expensive., rents are where they should have been all this time. Once the city opens up and things are back to somewhat normal, there’s going to be a burst of talent and energy that has been cooped up, and people are going to be excited to see and hear and experience.”
Philoche has gained notoriety for his art and has drawn crowds with his series such as his Untitled Series, Game Series, No Comment Series and Come Fly With Me series. He is represented by Cavalier Galleries and currently has works on display in their galleries in Greenwich, CT and Palm Beach, FL, as well as at The Rennie Luxury Condo building in Harlem.
Though each series holds a place in Philoche’s heart, his Untitled Series holds a special place because it allowed him to be an artist.
“My Untitled Series is the one that put me on the map,” said Philoche. “That was the series that allowed me to move to New York and thrive in New York as well.”
Outside of his own work, Philoche has given his time and work to benefit charities over the years such as The American Cancer Society’s Pink and Black Tie Gala, My Language Project The Leukemia Needs Foundation, Kids With Cameras, Tibet House and ARTrageous! Philoche has also spent years collecting art from other artists in an effort to support others in the field.
“Art saved my life. I think that growing up, everyone has a journey where they come to a fork in the road. You gotta go left or right. Especially when you have parents who are Haitian, education is very important, so you have to be a doctor, a lawyer, have some government job with a pension,” said Philoche. “Obviously I did not go that route at all. At the same time, when it was my journey to leave home and take that path, there was a fork in the road. I could go left and get caught up in bulls–t or go take right and pursue my dreams. I took that path and it wasn’t an easy path for sure. Being an artist is something I don’t recommend to my worst enemies. But if you work hard and stay focused and stay on the path, and keep eye on the prize, things work out.”
Philoche made a commitment when he started doing art 20 years ago that every time he would sell a painting, he would buy a painting. When it comes to picking out art to buy, which he has dubbed the Philoche Collection, Philoche keeps it simple: he buys what he likes. To-date, with the help of his collectors, Philoche has purchased over $65,000 worth of artwork from over 150 artists across the globe.
For Philoche, purchasing art from other artists, particularly ones that are struggling before or during the pandemic, is important because he’s been where they have been, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“Honestly, it’s not about the money, it’s about giving them that confidence. I remember how it was to be a struggling artist. I had a show in Chelsea and I was broke and had to schlep artwork, I couldn’t afford a U-Haul and just had to rent a dolly, wrap up five paintings and drag it on the subway and drag it to a gallery — those days and those memories never go away,” said Philoche. “Me purchasing all this art is letting them know that listen, the world needs you. The world needs your artwork. You are special, you have something to say. You have something to give the world. Here is a total stranger who saw your work, loved it, and bought it, but I’m not just a stranger, I’m also an artist, a colleague, one of your peers. It’s the philosophy of artists supporting artists, I think that’s important.”
As for what’s happening in the future, he has some new art in the works and is also preparing for the world to be able to see the work he has collected over the years.
“Just keep an eye out for the new stuff I’m working on. I’m working on some cool new paintings, but also I have something amazing up my sleeve about the Philoche collection,” said Philoches. “Let’s just say that the Philoche collection soon will be open to the public and people will get to see the pieces of artworks throughout the years and throughout the pandemic.”