September 17 through October 17, 2021
By CORI HUTCHINSON, September 2021
Beginning September 17, group exhibition BYND LMTS opens to the public at RPAC Gallery in Ridgefield, Connecticut featuring works by Larry Stewart, Roddy Wildeman, Robert Peterson, Ronnie Rob, Leigh Brooklyn, Ani and Andrew Abakumovs, Heather Haynes, Gregg Emery, Will Woodrow, Fernando DaSilva, Michael Shannon, Gregory Saint Amand, Alissa Cahillane, Daniel Wade Barrett, Charles Gulbrandsen, and Meredith Mulhearn. Co-curated by artist Guy Stanley Philoche and gallerist Dee Dee Perrone Colabella, the show features an impressive roster of artists selected from The Philoche Collection, Philoche’s private collection purchased from undersung artists during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as several works by Philoche himself. Philoche’s praxis of acquiring and promoting work by other artists for each of his own works sold nobly pays it forward, forwarding the success of not only of the artists he collects, but the value of his collection on the whole. To borrow Philoche’s phrasing in our featured conversation, this upcoming exhibition aspires to give underrepresented artists a seat at the table. Another goal of the event is to celebrate Ridgefield as a fresh hub for visual arts and culture, as Colabella explains below. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
CORI HUTCHINSON: Please begin by telling me and our readers about yourselves and how this collecting practice evolved into an exhibition.
DEE DEE PERRONE COLABELLA: I own a gallery in Ridgefield, Connecticut called RPAC Gallery and our mission there is to support local artists, not only in showing and finding collectors, but also in marketing and growing the business of doing art. I think this is what attracted Guy and I because our missions are very similar. I am also opening up a new location come January under a different name, D. Colabella Fine Art, and that’s really the collaboration portion. D. Colabella Fine Art Gallery is collaborating with Guy Stanley Philoche, who will have an exhibition at RPAC Gallery in September. Myself and Guy both agree that it’s important to save a seat at the table for these artists. which he’ll explain later; opening doors for them is very important and that is what we are doing.
GUY STANLEY PHILOCHE: I’ve been collecting art for over 20 years. It’s always been my philosophy: every time I sell a painting, I buy a painting. Last year, just before the pandemic happened, I had just finished a sold-out show at Cavalier Gallery in New York City and I really wanted to do something nice for myself and buy a $20,000 Rolex watch. I’m at the Rolex store, I’m trying it on, and then the pandemic started happening. The city started to shut down, galleries shut down, Art Basel got cancelled, and a lot of my friends started calling me, emailing me. Later, I’m in my studio working and this voice started whispering, “You need to do something. You need to help.” And the voice got louder, louder, and louder. I grabbed my phone, and I did a video introducing myself on Instagram, saying, “New York City’s been really good to me, now it’s time to return the favor. I’m looking to buy as much art as possible.” I hit send, and that’s when things changed completely. The video went viral. It started off with me just considering spending $20,000 on this watch, now $250,000 later, 350 pieces of artwork, The Philoche Collection was born.
Fast forward, I’m still buying art. When people come to my apartment, they say that I live in a museum. Also, too, I felt that I needed to do more. It wasn’t just about buying the art. There are a lot of talented artists out there who just haven’t gotten their big break. I sat down and met Dee Dee, and we had the same mission. Now, some of these artists are actually having their first show ever. It’s exciting. One thing you need to understand about me is that I’ve been in New York for 20 something years. No one opened doors for me. I had to open windows and climb through the back door just to be in the room. Now that I have a name represented by a well-known gallery, I actually have a seat at the table and I realize there is plenty of room here at this table. I’ve made it my mission to open as many doors as possible to artists by teaming up with amazing people like Dee Dee and other galleries.
DEE DEE PERRONE COLABELLA: And I will have to say that, in this curating space, Guy would send over artists that he was really excited about. These artists are amazing, different in so many ways from each other. They’re fresh. They’re very talented. I am super excited to be representing them for this show and co-curating it with Guy because the artwork that we’re bringing in is phenomenal.
GUY STANLEY PHILOCHE: It’s from all around the world too, not just New York.
CORI HUTCHINSON: And is that global nature related at all to the title of the exhibition, BYND LMTS?
DEE DEE PERRONE COLABELLA: Exactly. RPAC Gallery, up until now, has been focused on a resident artist bringing in other local artists so this is really going beyond our limits of Ridgefield, beyond our limits of New York, beyond our limits of imagination, talent, everything.
CORI HUTCHINSON: On a more local level, is it personally significant that the exhibition is taking place in Connecticut?
GUY STANLEY PHILOCHE: My parents are from Haiti and I grew up in Connecticut. It means a lot that I can come back to Connecticut after being in New York and open some doors back home.
DEE DEE PERRONE COLABELLA: For me, Ridgefield has been my hometown since I moved up here from Texas, but, more than that, Ridgefield has gotten designated as the first cultural district in Connecticut. Our visual arts are really taking off and we’re becoming quite the destination for this. This is the perfect time for this show.
CORI HUTCHINSON: What are your goals as co-curators?
DEE DEE PERRONE COLABELLA: For me, it is to introduce these artists to a wide base of collectors. We’ve extended our invitation list past Ridgefield to the local surrounding communities and we’re really wanting to introduce the excitement of the show, the fresh talent, and really build recognition in this area and widen their collector base.
GUY STANLEY PHILOCHE: For me, it’s trying to bring New York City to Ridgefield. And, also, it’s about giving these young artists some exposure, some of whom are showing for the first time.
CORI HUTCHINSON: Guy, are you showing work in this exhibition? Do you have any upcoming events to plug?
GUY STANLEY PHILOCHE: I’ll have a couple pieces there hanging as well. I have another show coming up in September at Cavalier Gallery. I also have a TED Talk in Palm Beach. From there, I’m getting ready for Art Basel Miami.
CORI HUTCHINSON: Are you still open to being approached by artists and collectors? If so, what is the best avenue for that?
GUY STANLEY PHILOCHE: If you’re an artist and you want to send me some stuff, just DM me (@guystanleyphiloche). I always respond and, if I like it, I’ll hit you up and, if I really like it, I’ll introduce you to Dee Dee and I’ll send your work over to the gallery.
DEE DEE PERRONE COLABELLA: For me, with collectors, especially, one of the things that I like to talk about is how you don’t have to start at a $50,000 painting to be a collector. The minute you buy an original piece, you are starting a collection. Guy’s collection goes to show that. He spent a quarter or a fifth of what that collection is now worth. It’s gone up in value incrementally. As collectors find artists that they love, the biggest thing is to buy what you love and then help promote that artist through your social circles. I like to work with collectors, even starting ones, to educate them, help them find the artist that they love, and really guide them on starting something that they can enjoy, but also will retain and grow in value. Collectors can always reach out to me to find those artists who we’re both supporting and learn about them.
GUY STANLEY PHILOCHE: It’s so funny, too, because I’ve been collecting art for over 20 years, but throughout the pandemic, I literally collected over 300 pieces of art in one year. The first thing you need to understand is that art is not just for the rich and the elite. It’s for everybody. I’m a prime example. Yes, I did spend over $250,000 worth of art, which is fine, but you need to understand that I wasn’t buying $10,000 paintings. I was literally buying pieces worth no more than $1,000 because I really wanted to help as many people as possible. We just got this collection I’ve put together appraised at 1.5 million dollars, which is amazing and shocking at the same time. Start small. Go to your local gallery, art school, or coffee shop. Support that artist, promote them, talk to them. That’s one thing that myself and Dee Dee really want to encourage young collectors to start doing. The more you support and promote that artist, your investments will go up in value.
CORI HUTCHINSON: Guy, you mention that you live with your art collection? What are your plans to shepherd so many works?
GUY STANLEY PHILOCHE: Not the full collection. I have a lot of wall space, but not that much. I do live with a good chunk of it. My home is basically a museum, which I love. I love waking up and seeing everything. This is just a small step into the bigger picture. I’m working with several other museums in LA and Chicago, where they’re looking to actually host the collection, which I’m super excited about, but it has to happen here in New York first before it travels. WM
Cori Hutchinson is a poet, watercolorist, and library assistant living in Brooklyn.view all articles from this author