Jay Senetchko is a founding member of Phantoms in the Front Yard (PITFY). Established in 2010, PITFY is a Vancouver-based figurative artist collective focused on elevating the human figure’s role as muse in the Canadian contemporary art scene. The diverse collective features artists from a broad range of career stages, and takes a unique, collaborative approach to developing and exhibiting figurative work.
Inspired by an offhand comment by a group member about his dog Phantom’s whereabouts, the name captures the essence of the group’s purpose: to address the fact that Modernist and Postmodern schools of thought virtually ignore the importance of figurative work, effectively banishing it to the back yard. With each exhibition, the Phantoms hope to bring figurative work back to its rightful place in the front yard of contemporary art.
With a goal of creating art for all, not just academics and industry veterans, the PITFY collective opens its doors to members from a broad range of career stages. This diversity provides a variety of perspectives and an exciting opportunity for each member. Emerging artists gain insight from experience, and established ones are invigorated with new ideas.
Every PITFY exhibition features work by collective members and two invited guests who have the potential to join the collective full-time. This model adds a truly dynamic element to group relations, with every participant assigned specific duties to help make the show a success.
PITFY exhibition structure enhances this exciting mix even further, with biannual shows in alternative venues independent of any gallery or institutional setting. This format allows complete freedom to determine which work will be shown and how – a truly unique feature of the PITFY collective.
Contrary to group shows curated to reflect a unifying theme, PITFY exhibitions are unified in the artistic process itself. Group members take turns choosing each show’s theme, which other members are free to interpret in their own manner. Subject matter is developed collaboratively in group meetings, resulting in work that is often outside of, and sometimes even contrary to, each member’s normal subject matter and process. This inspires experimentation and new possibilities, often resulting in work that is very diverse in nature, yet unified by a common theme.
PITFY shows take place in unusual settings and are shorter than typical exhibitions, creating excitement around figurative art for all, not just among academics and industry veterans.
As an artist who works thematically, Senetchko finds a good fit for his work within the collective. His participation in the group also allows him to explore mediums outside his normal repertoire, which may be better suited to the expression of certain themes.