New York-based artist Guy Stanley Philoche vowed to buy a piece of art for every painting he sold. This vow has saved many artists during the pandemic.
The pandemic has been rough on all of us. However, it has been particularly tough on artists, who have been completely overlooked in government relief measures. Guy Stanley Philoche, an artist himself, is particularly aware of that. Therefore, he decided to do what he could to help out his fellow artists. He has so far spent more than $65,000 purchasing artwork from artists who have been struggling during the public health crisis, CNN reports. He has bought 150 pieces of art sourced from artists across the world, each worth about $500 each. As per Cavalier Galleries, his own artwork sells for up to $120,000 per piece.
"The art world is my community and I needed to help my community," Philoche, who is based in New York City, said in an interview with the news outlet. "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." As the pandemic got worse, people lost their jobs owing to strict lockdown measures. This meant they could no longer afford basic necessities such as food and rent. Thus, art became a luxury that not many folks could splurge on. Artists and other independent creators were deeply impacted by this.
Philoche's own friend, who just had a baby and had lost his job because of the pandemic, is one of those artists. He shared, "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." The artist put out a call for artists who were feeling the effects of the pandemic on Instagram. He asked them to message him on the social media platform with their work. Soon, artists across the world began reaching out to him.
"So many people have reached out to me, telling me the piece I bought was the first art they ever sold," Philoche stated. "It meant a lot to me. I want to help as many artists as possible, to make sure they are able to buy groceries, or pay their rent, or get their kids diapers or formula." This initiative was important to the artist, because, according to him, art saved his life. He moved to the United States from Haiti with his family when he was only three years old. He did not speak the language or have anything to his name. He explained, "I learned the language by watching cartoons and reading comics, and found my voice by drawing Disney characters. It's how it all started."
"Fast forward twenty years, I'm in the game," Philoche continued. "But 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." When he moved to New York City from Connecticut twenty years ago, he dedicated himself to his artwork and would slide business cards under apartment doors and hop from one art gallery to another in the hopes of meeting collectors interested in his work. Philoche affirmed, "Art saved my life. 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."