Never Giving up on Art
story by Lora Sparks
Mouths agape and eyes wide as they soak in the visually stimulating pieces that fill Dixie Leather Works, customers exclaim their love for the smell of the shop. Its 65-year-old owner, assisted by a walker, greets them with a friendly smile. Philip Phillips has been a leather artisan since 1969. His business is located in the Lower Town Arts District, one of Paducah's oldest and most historic neighborhoods. Philip, who describes his style as "old rocker," spends his days creating everything from wallets to pocket-watch holders to handbags. Customers John and Maria Hunt purchase $100 of Philip's work within an hour of walking into the shop. The Texas couple decided to check out Paducah because they heard the town was known for its affinity for the arts. John and Maria express admiration for the business, calling it unique and commenting on Philip's friendly, informative demeanor. Recently, the bone infection osteomyelitis has left Philip disabled in his right leg. He struggles to ignore the pain and to walk, and still finds the determination to dedicate time to his craft. He accepts his failing leg and doesn't let it bring him down. "It hurts me, it disables me, but I'm like a chameleon," Philip says. "I've had to adapt and to change with the times."