I was born Mitchell Taylor Gillette, April 16th, 1956, in Springfield, Vermont. As a child I showed a propensity for drawing, and with encouragement from my parents, a cartoonist great-uncle, and various teachers, I stuck with it, taking lessons at the local art center and making my first oil paintings. In 1974 I moved to Philadelphia to attend the Philadelphia College of Art (now The University of the Arts) and began to study illustration. However, my painterly leanings proved too strong a pull and after two years I left commercial art behind and transferred across the city to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in pursuance of their highly academic program to become a figure painter.
After schooling I showed my work extensively in Philadelphia at various venues, but especially Studio Diaboliques, my first gallery association, Nexus Foundation for Today’s Art, a non-profit co-op where I was a member for several years, and The Snyderman Gallery, which last represented me. Besides painting, I have created sculpture, installation, and performance works, including live tableaux of my own paintings. I formed a collaborative group with choreographer Anne-Marie Mulgrew and composer Claude White to produce a dance production based on my work Tales of the Buffoon which premiered at The Painted Bride Art Center. We were then chosen by producer Glenn Holsten to adapt the piece to a video short for public television station WHYY as part of a Pew Charitable Trust funded program of collaborations. The video, in which the dancers danced in my drawings using special green-screen effects, later aired nationally and went on, as part of the series, to win a local Emmy. The composer, choreographer, and I continued to work together to create stage works which were performed in Philadelphia and elsewhere, including DIA Art Foundation in New York City.
In addition to fine arts, I created the branding for the Philadelphia optical shops known as Modern Eye, designing the décor and look of the businesses including their web presence, advertising campaigns, and window installations, all of which have helped bring Modern Eye to award-winning national attention in the industry and prompted inclusion in the fashion-branding textbook, Brand/Story by Joseph Hancock.
For the past eleven years I have been at work on a 300 page graphic novel, also entitled Tales of the Buffoon.
I live and work in South Philadelphia and Villas by the Bay, New Jersey, with my partner of 26 years, Chris, and two or three dogs at a time.
photo: Chris Anastasiou
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