The artwork of Phyllis Anderson is the product of a long life with many experiences. As a student at the University of Texas in the late 1970s, conceptual work was the focus. Her work at that time was text-based, an interest that continues to manifest itself in pieces with text or calligraphic marks. Winning a Ford Foundation competition in1981 sent her to Europe for a month, broadening her visual vocabulary. Upon graduation, she participated in juried shows in Dallas, Austin, and Houston, as well as a 3-man show in Austin.
This early success was encouraging, and Phyllis and her musician husband moved to New York. The 1980s art world was lively, with galleries popping up every month in the East Village. Phyllis focused on developing her own vision, and by the time her first child was born in 1986, her work had solidified into a series of large still life subjects painted on a thick, scarred ground with layers of dark glazes.
During the New York years, she worked for an art consultant who handled high quality work including art by Joan Mitchell & Dubuffet. She herself began to acquire a modest collection, beginning with a Malcolm Morley print.
After the birth of a second child, she gave away the big paintings as the family moved to ever smaller apartments, and eventually stopped painting for 15 years. In 2004, now living outside Philadelphia, a small inheritance enabled her to set up a studio. Since that time, she has painted steadily, selling work out of a home studio and doing commissions for friends. She joined the co-op Twenty-Two Gallery in Philadelphia in 2015, and was accepted as an associate member of the Noyes museum in 2016. She has participated in numerous juried shows in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and her work is in personal collections in New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Virginia, Denver, and Seattle.
I have been painting for nearly three decades, exploring process and outcome, meaning and metaphor. I approach my work like a lab experiment, a set of steps to see what will happen. My painting process usually begins with a thick underpainting using a carefully chosen color (a color of influence!) which is left intentionally visible at the edges. Often, scribbled lines are incised into the paint, bringing a sense of movement and energy, and adding to the artwork’s history. The painting is developed further with calligraphic marks and color. Sometimes, glazes are applied, which randomly accentuate or even obscure events in the painting.
Like many of us, I am drawn to wilderness areas and the elemental power of mountains, where we can experience a regeneration of the spirit. For the last ten years, I’ve been dividing my time between Colorado and a town outside of Philadelphia. My current series of paintings, ‘high country variations,’ focuses on the wild places I have come to know. The landscape tradition has long embraced a range of artistic interpretations, and I explore expressionist, visionary and abstract portrayals to express personal emotions, scenes of joy, foreboding, or devastation. Some works are place-specific, while others are less identifiable or are a variation on a previous painting.
The focus on painterly mark-making creates its own energy, a dance of color across the surface. It shatters the subjective image, perhaps disallowing a grandiose, sublime version of the western landscape. Instead, these pieces describe a hyper-kinetic, erratic landscape, more suited to our age of anxiety, while embracing the enduring rhythm and vibrancy of the high country.
Recent Work, Twenty-Two Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2018 Fall Annual, Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ
Gateway to the Rockies, Aurora Artists Guild, Aurora, CO
Artists Equity Juried Member Show, Cheltenham Arts Center, Cheltenham, PA
Dear Fleisher, Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA
The Earth Speaks, Barron Arts Center, Woodbridge, NJ
Kind of Blue, ArtSpace/Heavy Bubble, Philadelphia, PA
Transforming Jazz – A Visual Journey, City Hall, Philadelphia, PA
Looking Forward, DaVinci Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
Associate Artist Show, Noyes Museum Atlantic City, NJ
Art Connections 13, George Segal Gallery, Montclair, NJ
20/20, Studio Montclair, Montclair, NJ
Connotations, DaVinci Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
Ellarslie Open 34, Ellarslie Museum, Trenton, NJ
Red, 3rd Street Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Winter Wonders, Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NJ
Awards and Honors
Ford Foundation artist travel grant
(Italy, Germany, France, England)
Associate Artist, Noyes Museum, Hammonton, NJ
DaVinci Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA), Philadelphia, PA
Twenty-Two Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
TriState Artists Equity
University of Texas, Austin, TX
Art Students League, New York, NY