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Celebrated Musician And Artist Phil 'Free Art' Dies

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 10, 2015 4:26PM

Page from the Free Art! zine, via the Phil Free Art Facebook page

5 Magazine is reporting that Phil Pelipada, better known to many in the Chicago arts scene as Phil Free Art, has passed away. In my experience he was an intensely positive human being, and his upbeat DJ sets and exuberant pieces of art were externalized examples of the genuinely good person behind those efforts.

He came up in the scene that included Medusa's and Limelight, and it's obvious that the audio, visual and community aesthetic of that time never left his mind. Pelipada started DJing around that time as well, and the freedom of the late '80s scene led to his never feeling stylistically confined.

Phil Pelipada, photo via the Phil Free Art Facebook page
In his own bio, Pelipada summarized his approach to music:

As I have very little musical boundaries, I was able to enjoy music on my own terms. Music was good to me as long as I thought it moved me. House/Techno/Disco…whatever. It was an ever evolving musical growth that lead to my love to hardcore: both gabber and happy hardcore. All along while in the '90′ pushing the hardcore, I also dabbled in drum & bass/jungle which has lead me to many gigs where I played what has become “classic” drum & bass/jungle. However due to a break-in, I no longer have those cuts as well as many of classic early '90s rave track. I will not use MP3s.

This attitude bled into his approach to art, introduced to most through his Free Art! zine of the early '90s. His style was heavily influenced by both anime and graffiti artists, and imbued with a playfulness that translated his genuine and energetic presence through simple lines on a page or screen.

Phil Free Art would often draw friends, gifting them with images that explored a vibrance the subjects often didn't see in their own mirror. His images were often based on simple lines, and his gift was in what those lines conveyed beyond their simple construction.

As Phil's family told 5 Magazine, a mass will be held Friday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Skokie (8116 Niles Center Rd.), followed by the wake at Haben Funeral Home at 8057 Niles Center Road in Skokie from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.