This is how you build up a community!
A popular New York artist spent more than $65,000 on local art to support artists during the pandemic, Blavity reports.
Guy Stanley Philoche is a New York-based artist who’s had global success, even securing his work in wealthy celebrities’ homes. When the pandemic hit, crippling the arts community, Philoche decided to do what he can to help those struggling, inspired by the challenges a friend was facing after having a child and being laid off.
“I told him, ‘Don’t worry, we’re New Yorkers. We’ve been through 9.11, the blackout, the market crash, we’ve got this.’ But he was scared, so I bought a painting from him to help him get through it. It was such a big deal for him at that moment, and that’s when I realized if he’s panicking like this, other artists are too,” Philoche said.
In March, he took to social media to put out a request for artwork, with the goal of spending about $500 per piece as a way to help local artists. As a result of his proposal, Philoche was flooded with work from artists worldwide, both veteran and new. Since then, he has spent more than $65k supporting artists from Los Angeles to New Zealand, even purchasing artwork from those in prison. The visual art community was hit extremely hard with budget losses across the board from art shows, galleries and festivals, with no end in sight. Many artists make their money at spring auctions, and with those postponed all year, artists have to face several economic challenges.
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Philoche said his focus is providing as much help as possible for necessities, making sure people can pay their rent or buy food or provide for their children. For many of the artists he purchased from, Philoche said the piece he brought was the first they ever sold. Tara Blackwell, one of the artists who sold her work to Philoche, said his help was crucial to her success this year. It gave her immediate funds and recognition, causing other galleries and art buyers to purchase work from her as well.
“His support meant the world to me at a time when things seemed really bleak. Guy’s support and endorsement of my work has led to more interest from other arts patrons. I think what’s really cool about what Guy has done is that he has gotten other collectors to take notice and join in these efforts to support the arts during this challenging time. Hopefully, his positivity continues to be contagious,” Blackwell said.
Philoche’s pieces sell for $100,000 on average, but he wasn’t always there. For more than two decades, he worked his way to the top, learning English from Disney characters as a Haitian American navigating through the world. He said he has never forgotten his humble beginnings and that his struggles in the art industry are all the motivation he needs to help others.
“The art world is my community, and I needed to help my community. 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 forget about the artists in these industries…Throughout those years, I had no one open a door for me. It was me going through the back door, the window, until I found a way in the room by myself. Now that I have a seat at the table and I actually have a voice, I vowed to myself to open that door for other artists,” Philoche said.
This isn’t the first time he’s helped, utilizing a 1:1 ratio in his current career, buying one painting for every one that he sells. He notoriously has angered investors by leaving some of his higher-priced pieces on the side of the road for anyone to pick up. His humility and commitment to art are the foundation for all of his charitable endeavors.
“Art saved my life. I owe a debt that I could never pay. [I vowed that] if I ever became successful, I would support art and become a benefactor. I just wanted to help my community as much as possible, and I saw that people who shared the same love of art became that for me. This was my way of helping out. I couldn’t have done this without the help of other collectors,” Philoche said.
Thank you for all of your incredible work, Guy! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Resident Publications