Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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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