I'm so excited about the new Pioneer Art Gallery downtown, even if it is only there for six months. I went to the Phil Hellsten reception last weekend to see just what kind of art he does. I'm sure people see Phil walking around Danville - he's always walking, walking, walking and very pleasant to say hello to.
From the time we opened the Danville Weekly, people told us, "Do a story on Phil." Well, we did, in the issue of Feb. 10, 2006, when we explored his artistic endeavors and his persona as "Starman."
Phil's art at the Pioneer Gallery is portraits done in acrylics using 12 steps of a gray scale. In layman's terms (my terms), it's a bunch of little squares of while, gray and black that look like a bunch of little squares. Then, when you relax your mind, they meld into a portrait. The huge painting of the Governator was immediately clear. But Marilyn just wasn't coming together, although I saw the letters spelling out "Marilyn Monroe." Then I looked into the mirror hung across the room for just that purpose and voila! there was Marilyn.
This week we ran a photo of Phil with his portraits behind him and, interestingly, the camera lens seemed to put them into focus, although it kept the elusive image of St. Jude intact. You have to check these out for yourself.
While I was at the gallery, which is run by the Alamo Danville Artists' Society, landscape artist Stephen Sanfilippo gave me a tour. This was great - it helped me focus on each work of art as he explained the artist's medium and specialty. Stephen paints in oils, always "en plein air," and his style is realist/impressionist.
Stephen told me it was Phil's idea to approach developer Brad Blake so ask for use of the building as a gallery, with studios. Pardon the overused expression, but what a win-win situation. I am so excited about this gallery. The members did all the work themselves in just a few days after Brad gave them the OK.
It's located in the old Times building near to Faz. Check it out.