MFA in Studio Art, 2000
Originally from Indiana, Philip completed his undergraduate studies in Minnesota, where he began painting. He moved to New Orleans after receiving his BA and was later accepted into the graduate program in Studio Art at The University of Texas at Austin. After graduating from UT Austin in 2000, Philip moved to Los Angeles where he co-founded the commercial gallery Cherry and Martin in 2006.
What were you most focused on during your undergraduate education?
As an undergraduate, I mostly focused on the philosophy of mind. I studied Religion at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota with a focus on East Asian religions, specifically Buddhism. It was only in my final year of school that I began painting in earnest, which seemed a direct approach of self-examination and a parallel to what I was investigating in my other studies.
What were you up to before applying to to Studio Art graduate program?
I began painting in earnest during my final year of undergrad. After graduation, I moved first to Vermont and then to New Orleans to work on my portfolio for graduate school. While in New Orleans, I briefly worked the front desk at the New Orleans Museum of Art and then worked as a preparator at Galerie Simone Stern. Working at Simone Stern was an important experience for me and the confidence I developed there (I was asked to stay as a director) later informed my decision to become a gallerist.
What did you take away most from the department?
Conversations with my professors—both in Studio Art and Art History—and with my peers instilled in me a strong appreciation for the terms of painting. The logic and specificity with which these terms were understood and defined continues to inform my exploration of the art object in my gallery shows today.
Describe your transition from a practicing artist to a gallerist.
My wife, who I met while a student in the department, is a much better painter than I am. That was really obvious. While I like making things, and I like talking about the things that other people make, I don't like talking about the things that I make. I knew the gallery business a bit already from New Orleans, and it was really easy to go back into that world. Once I was back in the gallery world, I made a positive, proactive decision to sell other people's art and not to feel obligated to make my own.
What is your mission as a gallery owner?
As a gallerist, the job is about facilitating. Learning how to be a good facilitator is way more challenging than I ever could have imagined.
One of the artists represented by Cherry and Martin, Amanda Ross-Ho, was the Visual Arts Center's Vaulted Gallery Artist-inResidence in spring 2011. How was your experience coming back to UT?
I was happy to facilitate the connection between the VAC and Amanda Ross-Ho. She’s an incredible person and I really admired the commitment she brought to the exhibition at the VAC. It seemed like the students really responded to it. When I left in 2000, the changes to the Art Building, including the VAC, were only first being discussed, and it was quite remarkable to see the new building.
Do you have any advice for current students?
If you want to be an artist, get a studio immediately and start making work as soon as you graduate. Don't delay making that commitment to yourself. By the same token, if you don't want to be an artist, that’s okay too. Just be honest with yourself and move forward.