A New York City based painter bought $65,000 worth of art to help struggling artists during the pandemic. Guy Stanely Philoche whose own Abstract canvasses can command in excess of $100,000 each—began the one-man crusade in support of his fellow artists. Philoche knows all too well that earning a living as a fine artist is rarely easy in the best of times.
As pandemic restrictions tightened their hold, closing galleries and shutting down regular shows, for many, it became close to impossible. As the ability to afford the basic necessities slowly diminished, art became a luxury not many could afford. That resulted in hundreds of thousands of artists and independent creators were left without an income stream in the midst of the chaos. One of these artists was Philoche’s own friend, who just had a baby and had lost his job because of the pandemic.
“I told him, ‘Don’t worry, we’re New Yorkers. We’ve been through 9/11, the blackout, the market crash, we’ve got this,'” Philoche said. “But he was scared, so I bought a painting from him to help him get through it. It was such a big deal for him at that moment, and that’s when I realized if he’s panicking like this, other artists are too.”
The realization that so many creative people were struggling was the catalyst that spurred him to do what he could to help. “The art world is my community and I needed to help my community,” Philoche said. “People say New York is dead, but it’s far from that. There’s an artist somewhere writing the next greatest album. There’s a kid right now in his studio painting the next Mona Lisa. There’s probably a dancer right now choreographing the next epic ballet. People forgot about the artists in these industries.”
In March, Philoche posted an Instagram shout-out to artists around the world asking them send images of their work. Philoche, 43, has dedicated himself to seeking out artists from around the world who are unable to make ends meet and has so far purchased more than 150 artworks for up to $500 each. Since then, he’s spent in the neighborhood of $65,000 and purchased over 150 unique works of art from both friends and total strangers. His only criteria is that the art speaks to him.
Philoche and his family immigrated to America from Haiti when he was 3 years old. As the middle child of three boys and coming from a family of sports enthusiasts whose passion he didn’t share, Philoche turned to art as his calling. Like many immigrants, he says he learned to speak English by watching TV. He was also inspired at a young age to make drawings of his favorite Disney characters. From those early efforts, his fascination for the art that would one day become his career was born.
It took Piloche decades to achieve success, however, now that he’s arrived, the 43-year-old feels honor-bound to pay his good fortune forward. “Art saved my life,” he said. “I owe it a debt I could never repay, but the only way to really repay it is by buying other art from someone who hasn’t gotten a big break yet. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”