My friend, Bob Hymen, introduced me to the Fleisher Art Memorial in the mid 60s, where I began sculpting the figure from life and making plastercasts. When my first sculpture teacher, Frank Chinnici, passed away, I was hired as the casting specialist at Fleisher. After 3 fellow sculptors mentioned the Johnson Atelier as a good place to study, I became an apprentice there in 1979.
In 1982, with a few more years of casting and sculptural experience under my belt, I started Phillips Casting as a decorative molding restoration business with my first wife, Susan Burpee.. We created and cast moldings and sculptures in plaster, plastics, cement and later, bronze.
In the mid 80s, Walter Earlbacher invited me to run the foundry at PCA, now the University of the Arts. I am currently a Master Lecturer at the University.
From 1985 on, along with lecturing at UARTS, I concentrated in restoring public and private sculptures in a variety of materials, as well as creating a steady trickle of my own art work. Beginning in 2012, while still teaching one day a week and doing some restoration work, I am now devoting the rest of my time to creating my own art.
I am interested in poetry, photography, and sculpture. My principal goal throughout is the realization of the human. I am inspired by the brilliant expressiveness of Shakespeare and the present Dali Lama's concern for human values. My goal translates in my poetry to being short bursts of poems collected in two self published books: Sleeping By The Ocean, and The Connoisseur of Lucky Pennies. My photography... a wide range of portrait, street, and general interest stuff from a knock about life. And my sculpture... wild, informed, plodding-estatic meditations in silicon bronze, aluminum, ductile iron, clay, plaster, and plastics made any which way I could.
Besides studio practice or goofing off, I am usually studying history or meditation. "Portrait of A Yogi", a closely observed figure sculpture of a neighbor who happened to be a Yoga instructor who could sit in the full lotus posture while meditating, began as my interest in the best posture for meditation. (Check out: "The Bad Lama's Guide To Meditation). My "Portrait of A Yogi" itself morphed into an installation showing the creation of a bronze, an aluminum, and a ductile iron sculpture of this figure, starting from the clay figure supported by a wire armature, to a rubber mold, to a sprued wax, to a burned out ceramic shell, and then to the three casts in various stages of completion.
At the suggestion of a friend, I have been working on color, getting less "serious"... especially for my sculpture. Another critical concern for all my art is spontaneity...based on years of study and practice of the different forms. This is what Delacroix referred to as "the joy of the sketch". This is also what Homer Johnson is talking about when he says: "If it don't have that swing, it don't mean a thing." Other concerns for my art are not letting it get overblown, but at the same time making sure to play it as it comes. And making sure my art doesn't fall over and injure somebody.
There is only now/ Only eggplants and teabags/ Flavoring the Holy Holy.
I have also taken up re-imagining my artistic and meditation practices in each others terms. In taking a photo now, other than being a witness or taking notes, I am more interested in portraying or comprehending my alignment with the subject, rather than in capturing or collecting it. Early human's closely observed renderings of animals also suggest this sense of spiritual alignment and love, rather than domination, or collecting. For a more in depth discussion of these issues, read my emerging essay, After... On Photography, appearing in the Photography section of this website.
I am also working towards understanding my creations as offerings as well as objects or products. Clearly, making money for restoring sculpture and teaching is a lot different than making money creating and selling my own sculpture... At least for me it is. Certainly I am not the only artist who has or is still struggling with this situation.