“Educated Rustic: Painting, Poetry, and Sculpture by Phillip Schultz” at the Kenosha Public Museum through November 27, 2016

Please attend the opening reception for “Educated Rustic: Painting, Poetry, and Sculpture by Phillip Schultz” at the Kenosha Art Museum, Friday October 21 from 6-8pm. As guest curator of the exhibition, I will present an informal gallery talk during this event and Phil Schultz will there to answer questions.

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Phil Schultz is a remarkable man. He grew up in Racine, WI during the 1950s and, like many of us, attended high school and college. His life changed in 1979 when a back injury, and his already diagnosed  paranoid schizophrenia, disabled him.  After having worked in factories in Racine and in the jewelry business in Milwaukee, Schultz now found himself “physically and mentally handicapped and on welfare and eventually Social Security Disability.” These programs kept him alive, but also kept him in poverty.

During his convalescence Schultz, who had studied art in college, took up painting because, as he says, “there wasn’t much else I could do.”  For over twenty years he has lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in a run down house on College Avenue in Racine. Over time, he converted the unheated attic into a painting studio. Here he has produced hundreds of paintings, working with oil on cheap particleboard, and then fitting each into a handmade frame decorated with cut up mini blinds, bits of carpeting, and smashed pop cans collected from the garbage in his back alley. In the musty basement, Schultz set up a welding bench where he forms abstract figures from scraps of steel and builds molds for his cast bronzes.

Schultz is a thinking man, prone to philosophical and poetic contemplation. Since the mid 1980s, he has written one sonnet a day which he files in spiral binders and sometimes shares with friends or presents at local poetry readings. He says that his poems “aren’t any good,” but I disagree. Schultz’s daily efforts to communicate his feelings are a rare record of a life largely shaped by poverty, pain, and despair. In fact, we might not be able to bear to read Schultz’s poetry, if it were not for the joyfulness and compassion articulated in his painting and sculpture.

Patricia Briggs, October 2016

  • Also opening on the same night at KPM is “Monsters, Mutants and Madmen: Science Fiction Movie Posters of the Drive-In Era.”
  • This event is free and open to the public.  Light refreshments will be served.