Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · He Works Hard for the Money
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He Works Hard for the Money

Al Parker - May 26th, 2014  

Northport painter and gallery owner Pier Wright is part social butterfly, part hermit, depending on the season.

“[For seven days a week in] the summer and fall I have an art gallery representing about a dozen artists as well as myself,” he said. “It’s a very social time for me as well as an opportunity to save money like a squirrel.”

The rest of the time the painter is a creative hermit, creating oils on canvas or acrylics on plastics.

“In winter, I prefer a routine in which each day is nearly the same,” he said about his days, which generally include yoga, meditation, cross country skiing, and work.

“Jim Harrison described writing as working in a coal mine,” he said. “Similarly this routine allows an opportunity for intense, mostly pleasant, and sometimes brutal focus.”


I got out of college and traveled west with a backpack full of books, wanting to be a writer. I traveled to San Francisco and on up to Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle…[I worked at] a crappy job and each day I would come back, sit on the steps of that place and do a watercolor of the same mountain.

One of the Tetons was right there. I knew they were bad paintings, but I loved making them. When I ended up in Florida about a year later, I started taking classes at the community college where I met a teacher who talked me into quitting my day job and going back to school full time. So I enrolled in the art program at the University of South Florida in Tampa.


Most artists make very little money. It’s not something you go into to get rich. There are those whose work is hugely successful in their lifetime, but it’s a very, very, very small number. I’ve known several incredibly talented artists who gave up their practice in order to find a more reliable source of income so that they could take care of families and also themselves.

Nevertheless, I believe any artist you talk to who has somehow managed to keep practicing their art will tell you what an enriching way this is to engage with the world and how incredibly lucky they are.


Anyone who I have helped along their way. Young or not-so-young artists who I have in any way encouraged.


I worked as a waiter on a riverboat, the Mississippi Queen out of New Orleans. I wasn’t very good. One line cook was so angry with me he came at me with a knife. I jumped ship and went back to New Orleans.


There’s always Guston and Morandi and Giotto, painters’ painters. Among the living there are so many: Amy Sillman, Dona Nelson, Brice Marden. And I am blessed with many friends who are amazing painters.


I was asked what kind of person becomes an artist and my short answer would be that if I, who had no art background, can become an artist, then anyone can.

Artists really do come from all walks of life, from all economic backgrounds. But to succeed, a person needs to be willing to work very hard and question everything. People look at a big colorful painting and say, ‘That must have been fun to make.’ But it’s not. It’s hard work. It’s a piece of yourself made visible.

A person must be content spending huge chunks of time alone and somehow be self-motivated and deeply driven. As Baudelaire said, ‘To be an artist is to be willing to fail like no one has failed before.’ I highly recommend it.


All summer at Wright Gallery in Northport. My work is here, along with about a dozen other artists - some local, some from around the country and a few from other countries, like Germany, England, Netherlands and Israel.

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