About Phil Gallagher

Posted on October 14th, 2013

Phil Gallagher, one of the most imaginative and prolific artists in Plumas County will be exhibiting his multi-faceted talents at Main Street Artists Gallery during the month of October.  In a display of fascinating work ranging from oil landscapes, watercolor petroglyphs, mixed media machines, wire sculptures as well as a composite piece combining several mediums, Phil presents a sampling of his versatile styles and boundless creativity. 
Phil's introduction to art came at an early age - he loved to draw as a child and pursued that
interest, encouraged by his mother, grandmother and two sisters who raised him after the 
death of his father at age 7.  He credits this female environment (which he fondly calls the
"House of Estrogen") with forming his artistic aesthetic.  Later, in his senior year at a private 
school in Phoenix, he had the opportunity to go further into exploring different art mediums. 
A school trip to Taliesin exposed him to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright  which had a profound
effect and inspired his desire to become a designer-builder as a means of supporting himself
and later his family.
Upon moving to Quincy and enrolling in Feather River College in the 1970's, Phil credits his
art teacher and mentor, the esteemed Marv Schmidt, with guiding his development.  He took
all of Marv's classes, some more than once, learning about color, composition, painting and
drawing.  Phil says that seeing Marv's art slides from his extensive travels made art history
come alive and inspired his experimentation with different styles.  
In the current show, Phil's landscapes harken back to his origins as an artist in the 70's when
he produced beautifully lyrical scenes of his surroundings.  Today, these have morphed into vibrant, sometimes startling depictions of nature designed to pull the viewer into the scene and experience it more viscerally.
The Hawaiiana series of abstracted petroglyphs represents Phil's continued fascination with
the symbolism and primitive beauty of these ancient art forms found in the caves and
on rock formations on the Big Island of Hawaii which he has spent many years studying
and incorporating into his work, bringing them into the context of modern art.  Like the symbols themselves, these watercolors are timeless and serve to forge a connection for the viewer between the simplicity of man's origins and the complexity of modern life.
Veering into a new direction in the last two years, Phil has created 23 mixed media pieces depicting Porsche engines, a personal fascination stemming from his love of this automobile.  The engines appear to him as the "throbbing heart of the car" and he has created a visual language to convey their beauty and complexity, particularly the circular fan which is the focus of each painting.  These works have caught the attention of Porsche dealers and owners and landed him several articles in Porsche trade publications.  The current show at MSA includes an iconic rendering of the 917 turbocharged flat-12 Can-Am engine on a larger-than-life scale and in glorious color.
Also in the mix in this show are a few examples of wire sculpture from his series of mostly animal forms which came about after Phil found an abandoned spool of wound aluminum and decided to experiment with it.  The result has been a charming and highly popular group of sculptures of horses, elephants, frogs, dogs, and dragonflies, some life-size, some larger than life, suitable for outdoor display.  The current show includes an abstracted female torso as well as a piece consisting of aluminum and black plastic overlaid on a watercolor mounted on Masonite.
Viewed in total, Phil's pieces displayed in this show represent some of the most innovative 
work to be found outside of a "Big City" art environment.  
The opening for this show was Friday, October 4 at the Main Street Artists Gallery.

 Also on display in October is the work of guest artists Linda Blum and Harry Reeve with a variety of current work to be shown in MSA's "tiny room".

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