While many industries are battling to stay afloat during the global pandemic, the art world in particular has taken a brutal hit.
Not only has the closure of galleries impacted artists unable to showcase their work, but social distancing means they are cancelling events, workshops, and tuition. In addition to this, collectors are also limiting how much they invest into new work projects or people.
However, one painter is determined to help those struggling, by purchasing pieces from rising stars who have not yet made a name for themselves.
Guy Stanley Philoche says he was inspired to help as he credits art with saving his own life and wants to repay that debt by buying art from people who haven’t had their big break yet.
Speaking about his mission, Philoche said that he has splashed out a whopping $65,000 (£48k) so far after initially helping one of his friends and fellow artists who had just had a baby.
Philoche said: “I told him, ‘Don’t worry, we’re New Yorkers. We’ve been through 9/11, the blackout, the market crash, we’ve got this.
“But he was scared, so I bought a painting from him to help him get through it.
“It was such a big deal for him at that moment, and that’s when I realised if he’s panicking like this, other artists are too.”
So, Philoche – whose own pieces sell for up to $120k (£89k) – sought to buy more work and now has a proud collection of more than 150 artworks purchased for up to $500 (£370) each.
Chatting to CNN, he added: “The art world is my community and I needed to help my community.
“So many people have reached out to me, telling me the piece I bought was the first art they ever sold. It meant a lot to me.
“I want to help as many artists as possible, to make sure they are able to buy groceries, or pay their rent, or get their kids diapers or formula.”
Philoche said that having been a struggling artist himself when he moved from Connecticut to the Big Apple two decades ago, he knows what it is like to start from scratch.
So much so that he began by hustling and sliding business cards under apartment doors and networking in art galleries in the hopes of meeting interested collectors.
He concluded: “Fast-forward twenty years, I’m in the game. But throughout those years, I had no one open a door for me. It was me going through the back door, the window, until I found a way in the room by myself.
“Now that I have a seat at the table and I actually have a voice, I vowed to myself to open that door for other artists.”
Loyal to his word, the 43-year-old now lives by the motto of ‘sell a painting, buy a painting’ and every time someone buys one of his pieces, he does the same for another artist.