“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.


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.



Phillip Schultz: One End of Forever

I’ve been following the work of Racine artist Phil Schultz ever since I saw his “The Wish to Change” in Kate Remington’s wonderful gallery about three years ago. This arc welded steel tabletop sculpture presents a scrawny horseback rider standing dangerously upright, stepping off the back of his mount as he attempts to walk in the opposite direction his horse is going.  Like much of Schultz’s sculptures “The Wish to Change” has a primitivist outsider  angst-ridden sensibility.  Made from small bits of scrap steel joined together, its entire surface is decorated with raised metal droplets that both hold the piece together and demarcate an obsessive linear pattern.  Later I encountered a small exhibition of Schultz’s more light-hearted colorful non-representational paintings, each with hand-crafted frame made of cast off materials which prompted me to write a blog post and prompted Schultz to invite me for a tour of his studio.

Schultz’s home and studio are remarkable. For the past thirty years he has lived in a small subsidized one bedroom apartment where he’s produced a vast body of artwork which has remained largely hidden from public view.  There are sculptures everywhere–on the mantel, tucked behind chairs, sitting on the floor, pushed under tables. The walls of his living spaces are filled with his paintings, each with its uniquely patterned frame.  Over the years Schultz managed to expand into the attic of house where he rents, making it a painting studio and frame building workshop. He’s taken over parts of the dank basement for his welding and silicon mold making.

Schultz is also a  writer.  He has written several plays, a paper on linear perspective and optics, and nearly 15 thousand sonnets.  Aside from his commitment to his art practice, Schultz has been on a quest or the last twenty years to design and advocate for safer more accessible and affordable automobiles. He refers to this as his “Urban Vehicle” work.  he has made a series of part engineering/part fantasy designs and has taped a four-part cable access video program devoted to this ongoing project.

The day I first visited Schultz’s home I began to dream of an exhibition that would capture both the rich variety of Schultz’s work and the character of his life, his home and studio. I’m happy to announce that this exhibition “Phillip Schultz: One End of Forever” is on view at UW-Parkside Gallery September 4 – November 8, 2013.

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UW-Parkside Foundation Gallery is located in the Rita Tallent Picken Center for Art and Humanities on the UW-Parkside campus in Kenosha Wisconsin.

Artist’s Reception: October 16, 4:30 – 6:30 pm

Curator’s talk: October 16, 1:00pm.