Press release from Emily Nowels:
During the last weekend in September, Asheville-based artist, Philip DeAngelo and his wife, Tina DeAngelo, traveled to Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown Virginia for the United States Border Collie Handlers’ Association (USBCHA) National Sheepdog Finals. Philip DeAngelo is an official USBCHA National Finals sponsor and gifted a piece of his artwork to the winning trainers, Scott Glen and Joni Teitjen, respectively named National Champions in the Open and Nursery categories. While this is the first year Philip DeAngelo has been a sponsor of the USBCHA Finals, he and his wife Tina DeAngelo are far from newcomers to the sheepherding world.
Phil DeAngelo’s studio, located in Asheville’s growing River Arts District, is filled with natural light, landscape paintings, and Border Collies. Their dogs, Jess, Jetty, Bryn, and Stout are often the first to greet studio visitors.
Phil and Tina DeAngelo adopted their first Border Collie, aptly named Oreo, some 27 years ago. At the time, they were unfamiliar with sheepherding and its rich community. Then they attended a stable tour in Middleburg, Virginia, where they had the opportunity to watch a sheepherding demonstration led by the famous handler, Ethel Conrad.
“I guess it’s like finding out your kid can sing or play the banjo,” Tina DeAngelo said. “They have this amazing talent, and all of a sudden, I was just obsessed with my dog doing it. Which, of course, led to another dog.”
Nine other dogs to be precise.
Tina DeAngelo began regularly attending herding workshops and entering their dogs in competitions, and Phil often accompanied his wife.
“I played more of a support role, but I liked it,” Phil DeAngelo said. “All of the people were phenomenally nice and laid back. It was a fun group to fall in with.”
The couple became immersed in the sheepherding world. So much so that in 2000, they bought a 25 acre farm in New Jersey. There they bred their own sheep and learned the ins and outs of running a farm, mending fences, and shearing sheep.
And then in 2007 they discovered Asheville. The DeAngelos sold their farm and downsized to a home in the mountains with their five dogs. For awhile Tina continued to attend workshops, but eventually she stopped entering competitions, choosing to enjoy them instead as a spectator accompanied by her loyal and loving companions.
At the same time, Phil DeAngelo’s work began to evolve to reflect his new environment. Instead of the seascapes he had painted while they lived in New Jersey, he began painting simple landscapes. His art became a practice in stripping down a scene to it’s defining elements – an isolated tree, a harvest moon above the fields, a small home nestled amongst rolling hills, or sheep out to graze.
“Da Vinci once said, ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’ The last 10 years of my life have been spent searching for and exploring the concept of simplicity,” Phil DeAnglo said. “Every view in my paintings I can see from my deck. I started focusing more on color and texture and simple subject matter, and then the sheep naturally fell into that.”
Phil DeAngleo’s new style became popular among the sheepdog community. They appreciated the rural components and simplicity in his paintings. And of course, the sheep.
Amanda Milliken, one of North American’s top sheepdog handlers, owns a DeAngelo original.
“Sheep always dress up a vista. They are calming, but lively. Bringing them to your front pasture during a dinner party is a bit like an extra bouquet of gorgeous flowers. Phil has captured the notion of sheep in a vista, that completely aligns with the notions of a sheep dog handler. “ Milken said. “[My painting by Phil] is pastoral and whimsical and never fails to draw a smile from my sheepdog pals.”
As a thank you to the community that was so enthusiastically supporting him, Phil DeAngelo began regularly donating his artwork to sheepdog related fundraisers, and eventually decided to sponsor the USBCHA Finals – an event he plans to continue supporting for years to come.
“Attending the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals was the highlight of our Fall,” Philip DeAngelo said. “It showcased the best herding dogs and handlers in North America and we were proud to be a sponsor of this event. We are so thankful that the sheep herding community is so supportive of our artwork.”