Artist Phil Schultz is at home in his studio

I’ve seen Phil Schultz’s paintings and sculptures exhibited at Circa Celest, Remingtom May (Gallery B4S) on 6th street, and in juried exhibitions and have written about his work before. His originality and complete devotion to his art became even more clear to me when I visited Schultz’s home and studio in downtown Racine this week. Schultz has been working as an artist in Racine–where he grew up–since the 1970s. Regardless of his chronic medical conditions and economic stresses, Schultz has pushed ahead and keeps going.

His painting are hung along side the work of his friends salon style in the living room and kitchen of his small apartment. Reminiscent of early twentieth-century American artists like Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley and showing the inspiration of Wassily Kandinsy, the paintings are colorful and highly abstract. His paintings appear to present coded narratives that are waiting for interpretation. His homemade frames are the real surprise here. Built from cast off materials–popsicle sticks, bits of carpet, the blades of mini-blinds, and crushed pop cans; you name it, he uses it.  These frames suggest to me the unorthodox methods and materials of outsider artists, but Schultz is university trained–he received a BFA and MA from UW-Milwaukee–and he describes his painting style as “American Academic Mannerist Abstraction.”

His fireplace mantel and living room tables are lined with the artist’s “table top” welded or cast metal sculptures. Schultz does his wax model and plaster mold making in his home studio and welds in his basement. He has developed a highly personal surrealist sculptural style that is darker and more passionate than his painting style. Throughout his apartment are large sketchbooks filled with figurative abstractions that inspire his sculpture.

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Schultz took me upstairs to the attic, a warm and spacious set of rooms, that he uses as a painting studio. Noting the comfortable feeling of the space, he acknowledged, “it’s conducive” and lead me to two smaller adjoining rooms off the central space where a  hotplate is set up to heat wax for his sculpture models. And, just when I thought the tour was ending, Schultz lead me down to his basement workshop where he welds scrap metal on a grated metal table he made himself and has devised a temperature-controlled room where where he coats wax models in silicone to make molds that will eventually be filled with molten metal that will harden into sculptures.

I left Schultz’s studio dreaming of an exhibition where his artwork was shown alongside his  sketchbooks, hotplate, and homemade welding table.

About Patricia Briggs
Patricia Briggs is the director of galleries and curator of exhibitions at Jamestown Community College in Western New York. She writes the blog "Scene Unseen: Viewing Notes" about visual art in her community.

One Response to Artist Phil Schultz is at home in his studio

  1. Sande Kelsey Jensen says:

    Enjoyed this glimpse into another artist’s life.

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