Naples artist Phil Fisher, known for his brilliant, sun-washed colors and depictions of Naples, is the star artist of Leland, Mich., this summer as featured artist of its prestigious wine and food festival last month.
With that honor comes a one-man show of watercolors and oils of the Leland area’s scenes. The show, which opened Wednesday and runs through Aug. 10 at Leland’s Main Street Gallery, will exhibit recent views of Northern Michigan scenery, painted with his cheerful color palette, well-known to Neapolitan art lovers.
As featured artist of the Leland Wine and Food Festival, a June celebration showcasing wines from 17 area vineyards, Fisher created the festival’s official poster, “Fishtown.” It depicts Leland’s historic waterfront district of rustic shanties and docks, a scene reminiscent of Crayton Cove, where Fisher’s studio is located. Fisher’s “Fishtown” image was also etched on the wine glasses used during the event.
During the festival, Fisher demonstrated his plein air technique by painting in the midst of the area’s Centennial Iris Farm.
Fisher’s art is already known in Leland, where it has been sold at the Main Street Gallery for years. Leland Wine and Food Festival arts chairwoman, Kate Vilter, said one of his works was a natural for the poster this year.
“He’s done some pretty iconic images, and when we choose the poster art we look for something very reminiscent of the town or the Leland area,” Vilter said. “His view from the dam of Leland River heading toward Lake Michigan is a classic scene.”
Fisher, a Toledo, Ohio, native, says his introduction to Leland actually came from Naples. A friend in Naples owned a home in Leland and invited Fisher and his wife, artist Natalie Guess, to visit. The friend showed Fisher’s work to the Main Street Gallery, which wanted to add it to his inventory. Fisher has been visiting since then to capture a climate similar to the one he grew up in.
“Leland is a really nice little place. There are a lot of different places to paint,” he said. “I’ve been going up there for four or five years now.”
All his work in Leland is plein air painting, he said.
Fisher’s art narratives call his works his “emotional connection” with the light Fisher experiences in these very different areas.
Fisher has been a professional artist for 40 years. He paints in his and his wife’s gallery at Crayton Cove, the Old Naples waterfront community at the east end of Broad Avenue. Fisher and his wife own the Guess-Fisher Gallery there.
Fisher’s list of commissions include several large oils for the Collier County Museum, and book illustrations and images for prints to raise funds for a multitude of art and wildlife organizations, including Endangered Species Research Foundation Inc., which funds the ARK 2000 project for the PAWS animal rescue organization in Galt, Calif.
— Contributor Beth Preddy and Daily News staff