NYC painter who spent $250K to support other artists during COVID shows their work in Ridgefield

Guy Stanley Philoche was in a Rolex store studying a $20,000 watch he had long wanted. Fresh off a sold-out gallery show of his paintings, he had more than earned the watch as a reward for years of hard work. This was in early March 2020 as the covid-19 pandemic was starting to get serious, and something stopped him that day.

“A voice in my head just kept saying ‘Hey man, now is not the time.’ The galleries were shutting down in New York City and here I am trying to buy this $20,000 watch when all my friends and colleagues were having a tough time,” he said.

The voice in his head got louder and louder, so the next day as he sat in his art studio in New York City, he wrote an Instagram post that changed his life. In a nutshell, he introduced himself as an artist and wanted art to buy. So instead of a Rolex, he started buying art from fellow artists in New York that he knew and from total strangers who messaged him. He had a modest budget at first of spending $500-$1,000 per artwork and hoped to spend about $20,000 total. Assisted by collectors who were fans of his art, he far surpassed his goal.

“I opened Pandora’s Box and $250,000 later, over 300 pieces of artwork from over 300 artists from around the world later, the Philoche collection started,” he said. His efforts have not gone unnoticed and he has been written up in national outlets like People and CNN and appeared on Tamron Hall’s and Kelly Clarkson’s TV shows as well as Good Morning America.

In the first major showing of his collection, about 30-50 works will be on view for a month starting Sept. 17 at Ridgefield’s RPAC Gallery at 410 Main Street. The exhibition is titled “Beyond Limits” as it goes beyond the gallery’s normal regional focus, and it pushes the boundaries of art.

“I am just glad I have a platform — this small little platform — that people care about what I have to say or care about what I’m doing and just use it to open doors for other people,” he said. “I have bought art from artists who had never sold anything and that right there was such a big deal for them not just because I bought a piece of artwork from them, but I also encouraged them to dream big.”

RPAC Gallery director Dee Dee Perrone Colabella and Guy Stanley Philoche. 

RPAC Gallery director Dee Dee Perrone Colabella and Guy Stanley Philoche. 

Dee Dee Perrone Colabella/ Contributed photo

RPAC Gallery director Dee Dee Perrone Colabella immediately felt a kindred spirit in Philoche when the two met and he proposed curating a show of his collection to give artists a platform. An artist herself, she knows the struggles artists face.

“One of the reasons I think we were such a good fit and why we hit it off so well was because our missions were so similar. One reason why I opened up a gallery and have it structured the way I do is because I know it’s very difficult to even get into a gallery — to get one piece in or to get into a juried show, let alone be part of a group show that has this much power and press behind it,” she said. “It’s really a unique opportunity for the artists and I’m so excited for them.”

Philoche says no one opened doors for him into the art world and he fought hard to earn a seat at the table through back doors, so he is kicking doors wide open for other artists.

He is still buying and said he follows one simple rule: “I buy what I love.”

His collection fills every inch of wall space in his home, sculptures line the floors and a storage area he maintains is full. “I just really truly love art. My taste is all over the place,” he said. “My collection is so diverse from abstract paintings to sculpture to black and white photography, and I even have inmates DM’ing me asking me to buy their prison art.”

“Art saved my life and it breaks my heart when I hear that schools are cutting their budget and the first thing that gets cut is the art department ... so when you have the opportunity to open doors for people, you have to do it,” he added.

Philoche modestly shrugs off a reporter’s question about all the national press he has gotten. “It’s not about me really,” he said. “I am very blessed that I have had this amazing career, but at the same time I am more excited about finding these new talents.”

For more information about the RPAC Gallery, visit rpacgallery.com.