"Laura Coffey" by Philip Ackerman
This is the first in a series of posts leading up to the Saturday March 9 group exhibit of work by members of local art collective The Pharmacy. Philip Ackerman co-founded the group back in 2011, and his distinctive work both in watercolor portraiture and tile mosaic have been touchstones of each Pharmacy group show so far. More than two years on, he does not seem un-proud of what the upstart crew has accomplished.
"Response to our previous exhibitions has been very enthusiastic, they have been very nicely attended," he marvels. "We were shocked, some said as many as six, seven, 800 people came out at one point. It occurs to me that it’s possible that part of the charm is that there is no commercial aspect to the Pharmacy as an institution, which makes it quite unusual and unique."
"Maybe unknowingly in the beginning we filled a niche," he continues. "There may have been a need for a place where people could come and work under one roof." As for the group's potential longevity, Philip doesn't appear concerned. "Members come and go but enrollment continues, artists seem to materialize out of nowhere who have heard of us and want to join. There is a real community aspect, both the larger community and the community of artists who are members of The Pharmacy. I’ve noticed other artists who don’t even participate seem to feel some sense of re-energization, if you will, by the fact that there is an alternative venue, and space, and stuff going on. I think it gives people something to rally around and gives hope, in a way, for the arts in town."
Untitled mosaic (table) by Philip Ackerman
It wasn't until after receiving his Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from UIUC that Ackerman began doing work with tile. “That quickly evolved into tile installation designs which quickly evolved into mosaic-making proper, which I’ve continued to do since." His watercolor portraits began much earlier, as far back as high school. "I call them watercolors but technically they are mixed media, in that I use colored pencils, a little wax-resist method, and pen and ink.On the one hand, my paintings stem from classical drawing traditions where one sits for an artist. I do draw live models, but then paint at my leisure over time without the model present." One unique aspect of Ackerman's portraits are deliberate tell-tale pen and ink lines which often protrude from the boarders of the painted image "I’ve always seen that as a revelation to the viewer of the process," he says.
As for his motivations as an artist, Philip is crystal clear. "I've done it for fun, really, all these years, and don’t see it particularly as a source of revenue," he chuckles. "I do occasionally sell some, you know - a commission every once in a while."
Philip Ackerman's work appears as part of The Pharmacy's 5th group exhibit at 1022 S.Pasfield, this Saturday, March 9 from 6PM-9PM.
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