Philip Smallwood


Philip Smallwood has been blending imagination, reality, and social consciousness for more than 20 years, with a steadily increasing level of recognition for his work. Known primarily for his enduring series called “Lifescapes,” Smallwood is a visual storyteller whose narratives embrace “real people living real, honest, imperfect, and totally unrehearsed lives,” that merge color with shadow, focus with juxtaposition, and gravity with irony. As one observer notes, his work is a slice of authenticity filtered through his own values and experiences. “My goal is to have people stop, engage, and muse over the lives I depict, lives that have the same aspirations we all do, but perhaps with a bit more of a challenge,” Smallwood says. Having grown up in Massachusetts, Smallwood studied biology and art at the University of Miami. He began his career as a furniture artisan and soon devoted himself fulltime to art in the late ’90s.


Generally, Smallwood’s subjects are divided between rural families in the South, particularly in and around Charleston, S.C. to which he has a family connection, and those from inner cities in the North, closer to where he now works and resides. His studio is in Northern New Jersey.

“There are some things about modern society that are not so pleasant to dwell upon, and as an artist, it is my job to find those dark places and shed some light on them,” says Smallwood. Three of his most essential influences are Norman Rockwell, best known for the cover illustrations he did for the Saturday Evening Post, living contemporary artist Stephen Scott Young, and his late brother, Fredrick Smallwood, Jr.


Smallwood has been represented at such esteemed artistic venues as the Carol Craven Gallery in Martha’s Vineyard, the Bryant Gallery in New Orleans, Carolina Gallery in Charleston, S.C., and Paul Calendrillo New York. Numerous group exhibitions have included Manhattan’s Studio Museum in Harlem, the Springfield Museum in Springfield, MO, Parrish Museum in Southampton ,NY, the Monmouth Museum in Monmouth, N.J., RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY, and the Lowe Art Museum in Coral Cables, FL. He recently had his first solo exhibition, “Personages,” at the Museum of Art in DeLand, FL. Recognition has included honors from the American Watercolor Society, ‘The Budd and Gretchen Marble Award,’ the Robert Vickrey Memorial Award from the Springfield Art Museum, ‘Best in Show’ at the International Art Expo in Philadelphia, first prize from the New Jersey Watercolor Society, and a special congressional honor from Bergen County, N.J. for his work in its ‘Art of Soul’ exhibition. More recent work has included commissioned portraits, including one for the Duke Ellington Centennial. He is also currently at work on a series of still-life paintings and large-scale landscapes.


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