For the past twenty years Phil Gross had been involved in the art of filmmaking. In 1997 he worked as a cinematographer for a documentary about the northern Californian painter, Gregory Kondos. The more he filmed the artist, the more he wanted to join him…and so he did.
“I know that my experience in filmmaking and theater play a hand in what ultimately ends up on my canvas.” His compositions often contain re-occurring characteristics; low or high angle perspectives, compressed telescopic viewpoints, strong contrast in lighting, and a practice called “contre jour” meaning painting into or “against” the daylight. “My goal is to bring a landscape forward, press it, vertically stretch it, imbue it with saturated colors and drama so that you 'the viewer' feel you are standing in the and surrounded by it rather than viewing it from afar. Its front row orchestra.”
In 2006 Gross was selected to be part of the prestigious “Yosemite Artist in Residence Program”.
“Unlike other painters who choose to eliminate manmade objects from the picture plane, Gross puts in the stuff you always see: images of traffic signs, telephone poles, hale bales, irrigation ditches, railroad tracks and other imprints of human existence are depicted without a trace of any actual people. The effect is similar to Charles Scheeler's paintings earlier in the century, but with more dramatic light and better color. What's left is a lonely, quiet, introspective feel not unlike walking through an empty field at sunset.” Tim White, Sac News and Review 2003
In what seems like a previous lifetime, the late 70's and early 80's, Gross worked as an exploration geologist while dabbling seriously in both ceramics and dance. He directed and choreographed for the high-flying, short-lived Fly-By Night Dance Troupe.