Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rochester Artist has Blissful Exhibit

The Shoe Factory Art Co-op, a gallery in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts, announces their March art exhibit, “Follow Your Bliss”.  The show will feature a retrospective, as well as current work, of award winning fine artist and illustrator Phil Bliss.  The exhibit will consist of landscapes, illustrations, and imaginative paintings of varying sizes done in oil, acrylic, watercolor, and gouache.  The display of over 20 years of work will reveal the talent, skill, and amazing versatility of this Rochester artist.  The Shoe Factory Art Co-op is proud to have Phil Bliss as a member and to present his first solo show.
Ever since he can remember, Phil Bliss has been creating art.  Following in the footsteps of his artist father, Harry, and two older brothers, Tom and Jim, his whole family was always actively doing artwork.  When his younger sister Ann came along, she did art as well.  Phil’s mom, Elvira, who passed away 10 years ago, was not a visual artist but expressed herself creatively through playing the piano and singing in the church choir.  “I never knew any different”, Bliss says. “My Dad is an award winning fine art painter, commercial artist, and art teacher.  We all did art.”  Many of Phil’s relatives from the Rochester area are award winning artists and art teachers as well.
Growing up in the suburbs, Phil graduated from Pittsford Sutherland High School with an art scholarship in 1975.  He went on to study art at Vesper George School of Art in Boston and won a scholarship award there.  He graduated with a BFA in 1978 and then became an illustrator, building his reputation and clientele.  By the 90’s he was making a good living as a commercial artist, sharing a house in Rochester with his brother Jim, also an illustrator.  Phil’s jobs came from around the country, with a majority of the work coming from New York City and Los Angeles.  His illustrations could be seen on the pages of books and magazines, book covers, advertisements, and commercial packaging.  Notable clients have included Time Magazine, Reader’s Digest, AT&T, American Airlines, and Citibank, among many others. 
But Phil’s success as a commercial artist started to change.  “9/11 happened and nothing seemed the same after that”, Bliss says. “I just wasn’t getting as many jobs any more.  Things have been on a decline ever since.”  Phil’s brother Jim has suffered similar circumstances.  Phil blames his lack of work on the economy and advancements in technology.  Not only have artists learned a new art medium through graphic design programs, but the internet has opened up competition from artists all over the world.  “Art directors are inundated and overwhelmed”, says Bliss.  “You can’t get an appointment anymore to show your portfolio.  The competition is fierce.”  Bliss, 55, now lives in a small studio apartment on Park Ave. with his cat Izzy and does his artwork there.  His illustration jobs have dwindled.  He has not kept up with technology, but is learning how to market himself on the internet.
Nevertheless, this has not stopped Phil from being productive or prevented his talent from being recognized.  He recently received Merit Awards for each of two illustrations accepted into the current American Illustration Annual book.  Two other illustrations have been accepted into the latest Society of Illustrators Annual book (a publication Bliss has been featured in many times in past years), and two more of his illustrations have been accepted into the latest 3 x 3 Illustration Annual book.
Locally, as a fine artist, Phil has won numerous awards from Rochester Art Club, of which he has been a long time member.  He has won many landscape painting awards, including best of show, from Genesee Valley Plein Air Painters of which he is a member.  His work has been accepted into many of the Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibitions at the Memorial Art Gallery and the annual invitational at Oxford gallery.  He received an award at the annual regional exhibition at the Arnot Museum in Elmira.
Many of these same awards and similar accomplishments in art have been achieved by other members of the Bliss clan.  Phil’s 88 year old father, Harry Bliss, is still actively painting with as much enthusiasm and timeless talent as ever, despite some health problems.  He shows his work in as many art shows as he can.  Many of Phil’s siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family are creating art in some form or another and are each uniquely gifted in their own way, producing a legacy of eternal, artistic Bliss.
“Follow Your Bliss” opens with an artist’s reception on First Friday, March 2nd from 5-9pm and runs through Wednesday, March 28th.  Artwork is available for purchase.  The Shoe Factory Art Co-op is a member of the Regional Gallery Director’s Forum and will participate in their “Thaw” gallery theme by having a whole wall of Phil Bliss’s winter “thaw” landscapes on display at his show.
Artists’ Reception:  First Friday, March 2nd from 5-9pm
Show Duration:  March 2nd thru 28th
Exhibit hours:  First Friday, March 2nd from 5-9pm, Saturday March 3rd from 11-5pm, Saturday, March 10th from 12-4pm, and Wednesdays 12-5pm thru Feb. 28
Location:  The Shoe Factory Art Co-op, 250 N. Goodman St., Studio 212 (second floor), Rochester, NY 14607
Show Admission:  Free  
Contact:  Director, Beth Brown
Phone: (585)732-0036

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