One New York City artist is supporting struggling peers during the COVID pandemic by purchasing over $70,000 worth of art nationwide.
Black artist Guy Stanley Philoche currently lives in a modest studio apartment in Harlem, but it could double as a remarkable art gallery — boasting tens of thousands of dollars in artwork dressing its walls.
For this New York City creative, this massive collection started as a random act of kindness. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Philoche noticed the growing strains building for fellow hustling artists, particularly in his neighborhood.
But one phone call made the troubles seem more urgent. One of his close friends had called Philoche in desperation. As an artist, restaurant worker and father-to-be, the friend asked Philoche for help.
“I just never heard that panic in his voice before. This thing was real. I told him that I’m coming over, and I’ll buy two paintings from him,” Philoche said in a recent interview with NBC New York.
After seeing what his friend was going through, Philoche knew he had to do something more. He started with supporting his neighbors within his Harlem studio building, buying favorite pieces up for sale. Soon after, he took to Instagram and reached out to complete strangers. From there, he said, “that’s when Pandora’s Box just exploded.”
So far, Philoche has spent over $70,000 of his own money obtaining pieces across the country – and he’s not stopping anytime soon. With nearly 200 paintings, he is housing parts of the collection within his apartment, art studio and storage unit.
For Philoche, it’s not just about buying pieces of art during the pandemic. It’s about spreading the message of a brighter future, as well as looking out for his peers in the art community.
“I want to make sure people have food on the table and a roof over their head, but the main thing, too, is that I want people to dream again, to have hope and to feel confident about their work,” said Philoche.
To him, none of this would be possible without the representation from his own personal collectors and Cavalier Gallery.
Philoche has come a long way within the art industry and is continuing to make greater moves looking forward. Originally emigrating from Haiti, he faced additional challenges that some artists would never go through.
“I never had doors open for me. I was always the one crawling through the window, finding the back door, an alley way. But once I was in the room, people started to take notice and now, I actually have a seat at the table,” he shared.
Thinking back on his career up until present day, he expressed some key advice for aspiring young artists wishing to succeed in the Big Apple.
"Don't let anyone tell you that you can't make a living with your art. Being an artist and you are very important right now — the world needs artists. Dream big. You are entitled to dream big and go for it. If this something you truly want to do, you must ask yourself, 'What are you willing to sacrifice?'," Philoche shared.
To check out Philoche's current work and previous art series, click here.