Phill Nethercott says two moments inspired him to become a painter.
One was when he was a child, raised along the Snake River in Wilson, near Nethercott Lane, where some of his cousins lived. He thought “a big city was Jackson,” and he once saw a Conrad Schwiering show on the mezzanine of the Wort Hotel.
“I was spellbound,” Nethercott said, remembering how he walked around the paintings, mesmerized by the views of the mountains Schwiering captured.
A few years earlier, Nethercott’s mother had inadvertently instilled in him a love of form. One particularly long winter, during which Nethercott remembered the snow looking “6 feet deep, but I suppose it was 3,” his mother took up painting while her sons were at school.
One day, Nethercott saw her working, looking out the window to paint the backyard.
“I was wow, wow — that is so cool,” Nethercott recalled.
Now 67 years old, Nethercott will show a collection of his realistic landscapes at Legacy Gallery, which will hang until Aug. 18. An opening reception is set to be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday in the gallery. The artist, a 50-or-so year resident of the valley who recently moved to Utah to be closer to some of his five children and 16 grandchildren, will attend the opening.
Nethercott’s experiences with his mother and Schwiering’s work kickstarted what he estimated to be a 47-year career as a painter. He got serious about his craft when he was in college and about 20 years old, though he was a young father at the time and had to take care of his family. He worked wherever he could — construction jobs, mostly — and painted mornings and evenings.
With a laugh, he said painting was something where you “typically don’t create something of worth for 20 years,” so it wasn’t until his 30s or 40s that he began to “come into my own a little bit in my abilities and my craft.”
Coming from a long line of Jackson settlers and residents — his father’s side of the family, the Nethercotts, arrived in the area around 1910, and his mother’s, the Mays, arrived nearly two decades earlier — the artist said there’s something “mystical” about the valley.
“It’s always pulled a lot of people from every aspect of life,” he said.
Now that he’s an established painter who has the luxury of being able to time his travels just right, so he can capture the morning or evening light, Nethercott still tries to convey that feeling.
“The way I feel about my painting is when I see something and it grabs me, it almost grabs me up in my soul,” he said. “It’s the poetry of my soul.”