Gallery Artists > Phil Epp Biography :

Phil Epp (b. 1946)  Artworks >>

"Born in Henderson, Nebraska, on August 28, 1946, Phil Epp became an artist, graduated from Bethel College in 1972, and taught art in the Newton public school system for 30 years, retiring in May 2003. In the evolution of his art practice, his paintings have become widely known; his work is now available in galleries in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico; Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; and Tubac, Arizona; and in municipal settings with several recent large-scale, sculptural, collaborative public art projects." "Phil Epp noted that he researched Kansas art history and became more influenced by the realists later in his career, and thus identifies them in this interview as influences in the last few years of his work. His earlier influences include a wide range of artists, including the minimalists* and color field* artists who developed as dimensions of abstract expressionism*. For example, the color fields of Mark Rothko paintings offer a precedent for the abstract quality of landscape and giant color field of the sky in Phil Epp's paintings. Phil cited two contemporary artists who have been important influences: Richard Serra (minimalist American sculptor) and James Turrell (minimalist, American, Quaker installation* artist). Turrell's work shares a focus in what he describes as "skyscapes" with Phil Epp's compositions; his work on the geography and sky space of Roden Crater can be viewed online. In addition, Robert Regier continues to be an influential colleague." After graduating from Bethel College in 1972, " I went looking for a job as a teacher and stayed with that for 30 some years. Yes, I was always an art teacher. Then, a lot of times the question came up, should I get my master's? I always kind of balked. First of all, I didn't want to. I didn't want to go to school. I didn't want to spend the time or money or energy. Now, this being my first year of retirement, I've thought oftentimes that people plan only for their careers, but they don't plan beyond their careers. So I'm really kind of glad I didn't get my master's. That energy went into art. Working on art took the energy that I had. . . . I didn't bring my work into the classroom for years. When the work started selling, I also became worried about conflict of interest. For instance, what if I did a painting demonstration in class, and then later sold it? I thought I could get in trouble with it some way or another, so I kept them pretty separate." "I'm on the side of public art, plain and simple. I think it's important. I think that a lot of people can get some use out of it. A lot of it [its value] isn't immediate. Down the road, people will see it as pretty neat.---Also did cloud motif city direction signs for Newton Attractions. And mural above Scrapbook Gallery that is a train pulled by the Santa Fe Chief going across the panoramic landscape and public art project in Olathe, Kansas, Reflective Spaces at the R.R. Osborn Plaza. Large scale vertical slabs of land dominated by blue sky with white clouds. I didn't want to make a flat surface, in a three-dimensional park, like a billboard with pictures on it. Sitting in a meeting, I had an idea to separate these things in this way. It will be more of a landscape, an Olathe landscape . . . The thing that makes it interesting to me is that the pieces bisect the landscape at angles; they aren't going to be flat. Light will hit them different ways at different times, with stones and sky and stuff in between the images. With the base it will be 17-18 feet tall." Source

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