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Frey is featured artist at Edgewater Gallery

“Painting is an expression of our interior life mixed with our response to a perceived world, played out on the surface,” explained Maine-based oil painter Philip Frey.  The visual space in Frey’s paintings is both peaceful and inviting. The viewer can sense his enjoyment in both the process and the product.
After first connecting visually with his surroundings, Frey then creates a gestural sketch of the environment. Using a neutral tone, such as sienna, he begins to “draw with paint,” observing both the positive and negative shapes that emerge. When painting, Frey uses only three or four colors. This limited pallet helps him stretch his knowledge of color through improvisation. The neutral tones in the palette are balanced with the use of pure colors such as Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Red. The brighter the colors have breathing room and a chance to shine next to the mellow hues.
Frey’s paintings are meant to invite you into a space and to encourage you to explore the collection of shapes and colors. By the artist’s strategic design, the viewer is drawn in by a focal point, then he may pause, reflect, and move on. The artist avoids the ordinary by seeking and creating unusual colors, shapes and elements that transition the viewer’s eye around the entire canvas.
PHILIP FREY IN his studio.
 
“Doorways and passageways are symbolic of moving through life: moving through our confusion, suffering, darkness and into the light of clarity and ease. I think my work is symbolic of our experience of life; we move through tight spots and open spots, through doorways of experience,” he said.
Frey’s art teacher Ken Mike at Ellsworth High School fostered this theory and awareness of life. Mike let Frey borrow a copy of a book called “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki after Frey left high school. This book planted the seeds for a life-long interest and quest for mindfulness and happiness, which has brought Frey to India and Nepal three times to attend Buddhist seminars. Frey seeks to share with the viewer the sense of peace and clarity he gains from painting and through his meditations.
Frey was also influenced by Alan Bray, a renowned Maine artist, with whom he worked at the Maine Summer Arts Program in 1985. This program took place on the campus of The Baxter School for the Deaf on Mackworth Island in Falmouth, Maine. Frey was also inspired by several professors at both The Columbus College of Art and Design where Frey was a student from 1986-1988 and Syracuse University where he received his BFA in painting in 1990. Both schools challenged his ideas of what art could be and gave him a solid classical training in drawing, painting, design, color theory, art history and philosophy.
During school, Frey studied and learned from the work of artists like Matisse and Picasso, both of whom were influenced by Cezanne, the “father of modern art.”
“The influence of seeing their work and development, when I was studying in art school, continues to this day,” Frey said. “For me, it’s about the surface, spatial relationships, time and movement. In that way, I humbly feel a part of Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse’s lineage.” After graduating, Frey got curious. He tried out a mohawk haircut for a few weeks, backpacked across England and Scotland — on foot and hitchhiking when he could. Frey learned to be resourceful in his travels, like when he traded a mural of London in exchange for lodging at Blackfriars in Edinburgh, Scotland. Along with other discoveries, Frey learned of the plentiful number of sheep in the Isle of Skye, the strength of a single malt whiskey, and of a 5,000-year-old prehistoric village called Skara Brae where the Vikings introduced the art of graffiti. These experiences expanded Frey’s intellect and his cultural views.
Frey paints to create a space that will leave his viewer feeling the serenity and solitude that he felt in the process of painting it. See for yourself, his oil paintings are on display at Edgewater Gallery at the Falls as a part of the “Old Friends, New Faces” exhibit on view through the month of August. He will also be holding a workshop on “Dynamic Still Life Painting” this weekend, but sorry registration for this $295 class closed on the 13th. For more info call the gallery at (802) 458-0098.

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