Indianapolis artist Philip Campbell’s floor-to-ceiling carved mahogany installation offers iMOCA visitors an opportunity to experience “work that people can touch.”
Over a year in the making, Campbell’s solo exhibition, Your Catfish Friend opens at iMOCA’s Murphy Art Center location at 1043 Virginia Avenue. It is a touching return to the facility as Campbell revitalized the former five and dime store building as an arts hub in 1999 before moving on to other pursuits in 2009.
“Campbell had the talent and charisma to have reputable gallery representation in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles but instead he stayed here and opened the Murphy Arts Center. He served other artists and the city,” says Shauta Marsh, former executive director of iMOCA and curator of the exhibit.
Best known for his photo-realistic drawings and paintings, Campbell has also been carving for more than 20 years. The 22.5 by 11.5 foot work made for “Catfish” and consisting of 26 panels is his first installation. It fills the north wall of the middle gallery. The front gallery will feature a plethora or work Campbell used to determine the final installation. It will include studies that determined the type of wood he’d use for carving, color tests and a few paintings also completed during the year it took for him to work on the installation.
In the past, much of Campbell’s work pushed limits in terms of subject matter. “Phil went through a very dark period both personally and in his work, that most artists/people, don’t make it out of,” says Shauta Marsh, curator. “But he has come full circle and iMOCA is very proud to share this new work.”
He sees his more recent work, much of it with wood, as his most personal. “They are from the heart,” says Campbell. “I have become the man I am supposed to be. I have come to appreciate my strengths and accept my weaknesses. I have learned what is important in life. To appreciate life. To understand that all we have is right now.”
Over the last 25 years, Campbell’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States and published and collected around the world. He just finished a stint as an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Fellow.
The exhibit is titled “Your Catfish Friend” after a poem by the same name by beat poet Richard Brautigan. The poem didn’t inspire the piece. However, when the work was finished, Campbell happened upon the poem and felt it embodied it.
All our programs and exhibitions are made possible with support from The Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (Wynn Kramarsky Freedom of Artistic Expression Grant), Buckingham Foundation, The City of Indianapolis,The Christel Dehaan Family Foundation, The Glick Fund, The Efroymson Family Fund, Halstead Architects, The Herbert Simon Family Foundation, KEJ Foundation, the Indianapolis Foundation, The Tracy L. Haddad Foundation, The Netherleigh Fund, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Murphy Arts L.L.C., Penrod Foundation, and Big Car Art + Design