Guy Stanley Philoche on Museum Hopping, Being a Beach Bum, and Loving New York

The artist's latest collection, "NY I Love You," debuts at Art Miami this month

Guy Stanley Philoche

Courtesy of Guy Stanley Philoche

We're dedicating our November features to arts and culture. With cultural institutions around the world in full swing, we've never been more excited to explore the world's beautiful librariesnewest museums, and exciting exhibitions. Read on for inspiring stories on the artist collaborations that are redefining travel gear, the complicated relationship between cities and spontaneous arthow the world's most historic sites maintain their beauty, and an interview with mixed media artist Guy Stanley Philoche.

Mixed media artist Guy Stanley Philoche has been riding high on a wave of art world buzz for his heavily textured, abstract paintings, boasting A-listers like George Clooney and Uma Thurman as fans and collectors. The Haitian-born Philoche—who now calls New York City home—has also made headlines for his community activism, purchasing over 150 artworks from artists who were struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, and even giving away one of his paintings, valued at $110,000, for free on a street corner in East Harlem. "I don't believe that art is just for the rich and the elite," said Philoche. "Everyone should have access to art."

On the eve of his newest collection, "NY I Still Love You," unveiling at this month's Art Miami, Philoche spoke with TripSavvy about the ways his adopted hometown of New York City inspires his work, his favorite museums around the world, and his love of Home Depot.

What first inspired you to pursue art?

My love of art really started by going to museums in high school. That's when I realized this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I like to say I had my Oprah "A ha!" moment when I went to the MoMA for the first time. I was like, "Oh my god, this is what I want to do."

What are your go-to museums outside of New York? Are there any places that you prioritize when you travel?

Every time I travel, the first thing I always do is check out a museum. I love the Tate, the Louvre, the Rubell Museum in Miami. And out in Los Angeles, I love the MoCA.

Are there destinations around the world that you love visiting for inspiration?

I'm definitely a beach bum, so I love the islands. There's nothing like going down to Tulum and smoking a cigar and drinking some mojitos and decompressing. I also love going to Paris and reconnecting with my roots there. And I travel to Palm Beach and Nantucket a lot for work, which I love.

You're based in New York City. What are some places in the city that inspire you?

Everything inspires me in New York City. I live in Harlem, and I feel like the soul of the city really pumps through Harlem. I get inspiration from just walking down the street, from looking at a billboard or a graffiti tag that someone tagged over on the subway. Even just the people are inspiring.

Guy Stanley Philoche 2

Courtesy of Guy Stanley Philoche

Your new collection, which is debuting later this month, is titled "NY I Still Love You." I imagine New York was major inspiration for it.

It's basically my love letter to New York City. If you left New York, it will make you say, "God, I really miss the city." If you're still here, you'll be like, "Yes, this is why I love this city." Let's face it, living in New York City is like being in an abusive relationship. This new series captures all the good, the bad, and the ugly, but ultimately, why New York City is one of the greatest cities in the world.

How have you maintained your creative energy over the past 18 months?

Well, when the pandemic happened, I spent most of it in three spots: my apartment, my studio, and Home Depot. [Laughs] All the art stores were completely shut down, and I couldn't get canvas or anything, so I spent a lot of time going to Home Depot, buying house paint, buying brushes, buying masonite board. At that time, all of my inspiration came from working out outside, painting in my studio, and going to Home Depot.

Do you feel that being unable to go anywhere for so long has impacted artists' inspiration?

No, not necessarily. I think the creativity that's going to be coming out in the next year or so is going to be mind-blowing. There's a kid right now who was cooped up in his apartment for the past year and a half who's painting the next Mona Lisa. There's a woman who was laid off who's probably writing the most epic novel. A lot of people weren't seeing each other for a long time—there was no FOMO. So many people had an amazing opportunity to really practice their craft.

You've spoken a lot about wanting to make art as accessible. How does that philosophy translate into your work?

I create pieces that I call "art for the people," and they're affordable because I truly believe everyone should have access to art. Last year I made a piece, a $110,000 painting, and I wrapped it up and left it on the street. I told everyone, "Hey, if you want this painting, come and take it." The kid who grabbed the piece messaged me a month later, saying, "I'm a big fan of your work. Thank you so much; I really love this piece. But would you mind if I sell it?" I was like, "You can do whatever you want." He went and sold it for $80,000, and I'm happy for him. I don't know his finances. $80,000 is a lot of money, and I'm glad he did what he needed to do. It was a blessing. I'm glad I got to make that happen. That's what it's all about for me.