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Bonnie Gile Phillips
(Salt Lake City, Utah, 1942 - )
Bonnie Phillips is a successful artist, a public and environmental art consultant, and an art dealer. She and her husband Denis own and operate the Phillips Gallery in Salt Lake City. Her award-winning art is displayed in museums, collections, and galleries in Utah as well as in Wyoming, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Virginia, and Ohio.
A 1965 graduate of the University of Utah, Bonnie and Denis opened their gallery, which sold modern and contemporary art as well as art supplies, and framing materials. “More than anyone else, the Phillipses challenged the bounds of Utah taste through their intelligent promotion of less traditional art. While other galleries were attempting to land the most saleable artists for their stable, the Phillips Gallery was the first viable modernist and avant-garde concern in the Utah art market.” (Utah Art and Sculpture p. 200)
Phillips paints Op art, abstract expressionist, and semi-abstract works. She is best know for her watercolors on satin fabric. She loves the freedom to express herself, and states "I'm not restricted to reproduce exactly what I see. My work goes through a distinctive process, an emotional process. The end product is the essence of what inspired me." Phillips explained to one interviewer that she works slowly and waits for inspiration and continues to work until she feels she can't do it anymore. Phillips has created her own style which has been called "a complex and reticular montage often termed geometric impressionism."
While in school, Phillips was taught that less is more. However, she finds simplicity extremely difficult and now she feels "more, more, more," is best. Phillips discovered that Utah people are becoming more confident and comfortable with abstract art; "however," she stated, "it has taken courage and education."
Whole Wheat on Tuna can be classified as Op art because it denies representation and creates optical illusions. Phillips develops her illusion by using watercolor on satin. This is a technique not seen often. It combines stencil, tape, and resist process to give a luminous, rich transparency.
Bonnie Phillips has recently begun to create mixed media artworks using airbrush techniques, painting, drawing, collage and handwriting. According to Lance W. Duffin, of the Salt Lake City Weekly, these works offer an immediate gratification as well as a mental and spiritual challenge. He says Phillips’ works “present an exciting duality, rich in both color and meaning, simultaneously playful and introspective. These works lure the viewer through their energy and beauty, to a moment of quiet contemplation.”
Like many artists, Bonnie Phillips uses her art as a way to search for understanding and meaning. Conversely, she also hopes her art provokes questions in viewers and asks them to search for their own understanding.
Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. (1997) Utah Painting and Sculpture. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith