Many of the paintings of Brookville-area resident Phillip Erbaugh currently on display at the Anna Bier Gallery in Greenville take you to enticing places that seem familiar, as though you’ve been there before.
And they often seem ready to tell a story, if you’ll just stay for a while and contemplate.
The works are larger than, life like their creator according to Gallery Director Marcia Weidner. “Phil uses big, bold colors on large canvases, but the total effect has an appealing softness about it,” Ms. Weidner stated. “And similarly, he’s a big man who does things in a big way, but he’s a real teddy bear of a person,” she explained.
Phillip started drawing at a very young age, and continued his artistic pursuits throughout his elementary and high school years, in part because that was the only thing he felt he was good at. He didn’t discover that his learning problems were due to dyslexia until he was at Manchester College working on his degree in Art Education, but always understood that, even though he couldn’t write well, he could communicate effectively through his art, a skill the 64-year-old has maintained and honed throughout his life, which includes achieving a degree in Fine Arts from Wright State University.
Realism is defined as a style of art that shows people and things as they are in real life; Phillip says that this defines his style perfectly. “I want my work to represent a sense of now/today,” he says. “Creating a sense of how things are in this present moment is an important aspect of my work,” he concludes. However, his realistic works representing “now” have a universal timeless quality that is not limited to a certain point in time.
Overhead street lights illuminate the evocative scene in “Morning Coffee,” where figures carrying their caffeinated beverage move across a Speedway lot populated by cars, trucks, and SUV’s, their bold colors muted in the dawning light. Somehow both contemporary and nostalgic, the picture not only draws the viewer in but also induces the desire to stay at this spot for a little while.
“Foggy Morning” shows the artist’s backyard, as lavender-hued fog casts its enveloping spell over the simple scene—a chain link fence separating a white shed from stately old trees and charming clumps of flowers—and you sink into that comfortably beguiling place for a little while, rejoicing in its warmth. Many other paintings show Phillip’s surroundings at his home, the hundred-year-old house where he was raised and continues to dwell.
In “Light’s End,” a lone pick-up truck heads down an unseen road bordered by verdant green fields under a deepening blue sky enhanced by rosy-hued clouds at sunset; although this is the view from the artist’s window, it captures a scene reminiscent of sights familiar to residents of rural Darke County. Likewise, in “Long Shadows,” lengthening blue shadows move across a golden field glowing from the light of the setting sun, a field that Phillip says sits right across the road from his home but that could be located in farm country seen daily by many Darke countians.
The friendly Collie and curious cat inhabiting the sagging porch of “Old Farmhouse” add whimsy to a painting documenting the decline of a genteel country home; additionally, Phillip included the faint image of a person looking out the top window “just for the fun of it, to see if people notice.” Such additions bring life and charm to urban scenes as well. “Ackerman Street” documents a friendly sunlit street corner populated by parked cars and trucks as well as a couple walking a dog and a mother carrying an infant as she and an older child enter their white SUV, the shadows cast by sheltering trees offering contrast to the inviting tableau.
Phillip Erbaugh’s alluring work will remain at the Anna Bier Gallery located within Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall through February 25; the Gallery is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. To view the art at other times or to arrange a tour, contact Anna Bier Gallery Director Marcia Weidner at 937-417-3497.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.