Phil Vanderlei was born and raised in Bakersfield. His grandfather, Mayor of Bakersfield for several terms, was a blacksmith, and Phil learned metal working and welding techniques while working in his grandfather’s shop. Phil began his art career working directly with the metal, welding sculptures in a variety of styles. During the later 60′s and throughout the 70′s he was commissioned to create several large sculptures for various banks. He also designed pieces for movies sets, most notably Rod Serling’s series “Night Gallery”.
During the 80′s, in order to enhance the detail and quality of his work, Phil began sculpting in clay and wax. Nature is the inspiration for his wildlife and sea life series and he has created and produced many pieces that were sold in numerous art galleries throughout the United States. Beginning in the 90′s the sculptures have been sold extensively on cruise ships, including the Princess Cruise lines and Carnival Cruise Lines.
For years Phil traveled throughout the southwestern United Statess, and a desire to capture the scenery and romance of the “Old West” took hold. He began painting in oils. His style and expertise progressed quickly and his focus turned to figural representations of Native Americans and early Hispanic peoples of the southwest. His scenes depict authentic early weaponry and associated accoutrements, using many guns, hats, holsters and clothing he bass collected for many years.
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