“From 500 Sketches,” the new work of Frank P. Phillips ’97, will be on display in the Davis Gallery at Houghton House from Friday, Jan. 25 through Friday, March 8. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Jan. 25, from 7 – 9 p.m. in the Davis Gallery.
As an artist, museum curator and a teacher, Phillips is busy. To record his creative thoughts, he keeps small notepads in his pockets all the time; they are in every room of his home (change bowls, his desk, on top of the coffee table, in the bathroom); they are in his car cup holders, and, of course, in the studio. He has ideas for paintings all the time, whether during a faculty meeting, at a stop light, or in between classes. Sketching is the integral catalyst of his process; it allows him to make notes for and on immediate ideas, without cracking open a single jar of paint.
His art exhibit, which displays 500 sketches represents “the beginning” and directly references “the end” works.
“In the process of scribing lines, and carving spaces, and nuancing paint, I’m constantly evaluating how everything fits,” says Phillips. “How do shapes meet up and relate? Does the color make sense? What is the overall organization of these elements? Often, things fall flat and don’t visually work. I look and edit and change. With the layering of marks and paint, the surface builds up to illustrate a history of decisions made and unmade.”
Phillips’ work represents ideas toward an aesthetic settling, but along the way, all movement is revealed in the small nudges and great shifts that take place on the canvas, he says. “My pieces are sincere examples of creative struggle. These adjustments do not so much as connect a linear path, as they chart a personal unpredictable development from point ‘A’ to point ‘B.'”
Professionally creating art for almost 20 years, he is also a member of the art faculty at Episcopal High School, a boarding school in Alexandria, Va., and a director and curator of the Angie Newman Johnson Gallery. There, he has managed the operations of scheduling, artist selection, marketing and installation. He has been involved in all Angie Newman Johnson Gallery shows- those featured include Will Mebane, Rob Evans, and Billy Sullivan-and has curated exhibitions of work by Sam Gilliam, Timothy App, David A. Douglas, Ed McHugh, John C. Menihan and Russell Horvath.
A double major in studio art and English, Phillips graduated with honors from Hobart and later received a MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. At Hobart, Phillips was a decorated member of the men’s varsity soccer team.
Philllips credits the Colleges’ small classes and his close relationships with professors, including Ted Aub, sculptor and professor of art, Phillia Yi, professor of art and architecture, Nicholas Ruth, associate professor of art, and Michael J. Bogin, professor of art and architecture, for laying the foundation for his work. “Each piece has a common thread from my time at HWS,” he says.
The Davis Gallery at Houghton House is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. -5 p.m.; Saturday from 1 – 5 p.m.; the gallery is closed Sundays. The opening reception is free and open to the public.