Born in 1951 in Southern Kentucky, Jim Gary Phillips has worked a variety of odd jobs most of his life – factory, construction, surveying, pipeline, etc. Usually he would be working two or three of these jobs at a time just to make ends meet.
Jim Gary’s first artistic influence came from his grandfather, who spent winters making walking sticks. Later, he was inspired by fellow Kentucky native and well-known woodcarver Minnie Adkins. Soon after meeting Minnie and her husband Garland, he had the opportunity to travel around the Southeast and, almost by accident, stumbled into several artists’ studios and eventually ended up at the Folk Art Center in Morehead, KY. After that visit, Jim Gary realized he felt inspired and began acquiring paint.
His ideas include memories from his childhood, Kentucky musicians, local legends, and religious themes. Often Jim Gary paints on cabinet doors, giving his paintings a faux-framed effect. He likes to say, “I am not an artist, I just paint pictures. I just paint what comes to me and maybe get somebody to this about it.”
Out there in Southern Kentucky, when Jim Gary is inspired, he paints right at his kitchen table. Following the loss of his beloved wife Norma Jean, he has rightly slowed his painting pace, but when he is inspired to tell us another story he will again set at his kitchen table and share with us more stories, dreams, and delights.
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