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A Trip to The Sugared Strawberry Studio

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Dedicated to Katherine Doraella Steverson


'Firstwall' - PGS | Photo Credit:Noah Glynn

Welcome to the Collective

Philip Gabriel Steverson photo by Akili Anderson
PGS | PC: Akili Anderson

You'll live your life better knowing there is an enclave of artists nestled in the heart of Phoenix, in a teal or turquoise building, art painted in murals and standing in sculpture, in a gravel alley off an access road, brimming with furious creation. 


My partner and I pulled up the alley, 99% certain we were driving the wrong way, and saw the perfect parking spot across from artist Philip Gabriel Steverson. A box of berries in his hands, he offered his guests food immediately–his mother would be proud. A gracious host, he led us through the clean and structured halls of the residence/art studio, bespoke murals adorning the walls. He had us take off our shoes before we entered his space–now my mother would be proud, and we were met with the artifacts and progenitors of Silver Sanity


Everything in there was art. 


'Family Array' - PGS | PC: Noah Glynn |

Here’s a few pieces I found: 


  1. A binder, full of found treasure logged methodically and described reverently, tucked under a desk. 

  2. Nailed to the wall, pages and canvas covered in experimental methods, materials, and mock-ups.

  3. A favored relic: Mom’s bible, with her handwritten notes, her highlighter marking favorite verses, mindful lessons, remembered love. 

Where you would normally see a cross, a different kind of religious piece: a memorial for his mother, eulogizing her in his own words. 

“...destined for me to be maturing at this rate or, destined for my mother to pass at 38. Like is that just written? No matter where we're at?”


'At The End of The Day its all Game' - PGS | PC: Noah Glynn

Books I wanted to read were stacked and stored neatly, enticing because of how noticeably well-read and well-loved they were. In this fastidiously clean and interesting space, I was witness to an expanded mind, a man searching the stars as a healing son. 


Back to the Roots

Amidst our talk about his art, inspirations, creations, and philosophy, we were told stories that gave his art new and poignant meaning. If you see a part of a piece (like a dollar bill, basketball netting, or a seemingly random coin) and recognize a meaning behind it, there’s a few bespoke experiences to go along with that. Prominent as soon as we walked in was My Mother Told Me So, lying out with other parts of the Silver Sanity exhibit, highlighting a verse from his mother’s weathered bible. I sat listening to his curiosity run wild as Erykah Badu, The Roots, and Tony Allen played in the background, a curated list and a good one. Reginald Dwayne Betts, I learned, has a method using Roots albums for analyzing musical timing to add rhythm to his words. 

We talked about the feeling of making money from art, how good it can be and how it’s not the point at all. “I was making money selling paintings, but then I was done with those paintings and on to new things. The money was good, don’t get me wrong, but I needed to move on.” 


Feelings from his old home, from childhood into adulthood, coalesced into a desire to make more than just money and amass more in his life than great wealth. “I'm past the process of trying to force work. It doesn't feel right to do that whatsoever anymore. Because I used to be able to crank out a painting. So I cranked out. At my best I created four paintings in three days.” 

Photo Credit: Oscar Madrigal

…seeing homelessness here, because I was on the brink of homelessness when I was in Philadelphia, even was homeless for a little while. I have a lot of empathy for people going through those situations, you know. Just taking advantage of every moment that I can to give back or help is a big thing because I know I would want that if I was still within those spaces or even now, like if I need that help I would like to have it without asking for it. Most times people don’t ask, so you have to just give and do.

 

It’s All About Time & Space

Globetrotting with a group of fellow artists produces art from Amsterdam, London, France– all with Philip’s sober yet irreverent style throughout. A piece may show someone standing out in a crowd, yet unnoticed by the throngs, with a footnote explaining the subject was sweating profusely and needed a break shortly after this picture was taken. It’s a good mix of heady art and self-aware vignettes, artistic enough to make you think and appreciate the art and real enough to not be up its own ass. 


Karma. Is a real thing. And I try to live right. So all of that comes back to me, you know? And just making it a lifestyle to do that, making it a habit to do that, making it second nature to do that. Because I know how I feel when there are people that are not as big as their heads and they're talking down on me. And I wouldn't want to be that person with anyone else.

The Maintenance of Freedom

From the moment I entered his studio, Philip’s presence was clear. The rug under our feet, the couch full of pillows and a wall full of proto-art, experiments, and projects. It’s evident and goes beyond just drawing a line better, using a new type of media, or finding beauty in something seemingly valueless: it’s the desire to be estimated correctly and the struggle to constantly improve. 



“I don't like yes men. So I had somebody come by that was actually going to critique [my work]. And then I was just like, you know what? I'm just going to throw this out. I threw it out and I started going down a different route.” 


Words

Philip’s poems range from irreverent reveries to sobering examinations of his thoughts, feelings, and experiences. What Some May Call A Bodega has autobiographical notes mixed with an adult’s sardonic take on a fractured childhood. On the other side of the spectrum, I Don’t Know How To Write Poetry Anymore, ends with one of my favorite lines of poetry. The regret and grief in and between the lines of R.A.G.E.E. gives a better understanding of both the pain of loss and the depth of feeling he weaves into his words, a message to a loved one, the reader, you.


Markers of Time and Sanity

If you haven’t been to an exhibition, go. If you know his work, I don’t need to tell you to go, I just need to tell you the time and place. Next showing at these exhibitions: 


  • Ties That Bind, Vision Gallery- 10 E Chicago St, Chandler, AZ 85225. Opening Reception: January 19, 6-8 pm 


  • Artists to Work Showcase, Thursday January 25, 2024 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Rio Salado Audubon Center 


  • Curious Minds, Tempe Center for the Arts, Tempe, AZ   Public Reception on May 10, 6-9 p.m.


You can’t spend a better day than going through the mind and footsteps of P.G. Steverson, so go see some work and meet the man behind it. His story is worth listening to, his art is worth thinking about, and it’s all good. See you there.  



 

Feature BIO

Philip Gabriel Steverson photo by Akili Anderson
PGS | PC: Akili Anderson

Philip Gabriel Steverson (b. 2000) is a Phoenix based, interdisciplinary artist from West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He graduated in fall of 2022 with degrees in both Fashion Design and Creative Writing, also becoming acquainted with visual art making during those 4 years. Philip considers his strongest mediums of choice to be a trio of poetry, painting, and design; however, he has honed his adaptability to multiple mediums. During the ideation process, Philip’s medium of choice shifts to best represent the motifs, emotions, and concepts of new projects. Between the residence of trauma and shadow of self-doubt exists a sliver of hope in release from internal ruin and external decay. This hope provides strength to those who face adversity, loss, and confusion at times where becoming a shell of oneself is the only option. Philip Gabriel applies this hope to confront his own hardships, such as the transition of his mother from Earth to the afterlife, to remain afloat in the game of life. The confrontation with his emotions has led him to battle with grief, grace, and acceptance in a time where he adapts to changes in his life that are ostensibly out of his control. That sliver of hope between the ruins is an overarching theme in his life, which takes shape as time spent with loved ones and the creative ideation process for artisan progression and personal growth.



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