I first met Brian Pier last year at the Door County Maritime Museum Classic and Wooden Boat Festival. He won the event with an outstanding painting and I was impressed with his work. I lost track of Brian but we both sold our work at this year’s maritime museum event and talked afterwards. I again thought his painting was good and we set up a time for this Q & A.
Brian has The Pier Gallery located in his partner’s business, Forever Grateful Resale in Egg Harbor. The address is 4633 Market Street and the phone number is 920.868.2253.
This interview was done in the morning sitting in the shade on the porch of the business. Brian’s work is unique and wonderful to look at. We discussed how his work should be categorized or labeled but never came to a definite decision. The work is striking and I urge the readers to go to his website brianpierfineart.com or stop at his gallery.
Randy Rasmussen (RR): Brian, how did you first hear about Door County?
Brian Pier (BP): My partner, Bonnie Mirkiewicz, has been coming to Door County for 22 years. She told me what a wonderfully serene place it was and when I came I thought the same thing.
RR: Coming from southeast Wisconsin, what were your first impressions when you came to Door County?
BP: I loved it. I found the vibrancy of the art community to be outstanding and a wonderful selection of sites to paint. The quietness and serenity of Door County is outstanding.
RR: What is your art background?
BP: Growing up I loved to draw. As a young man I dabbled in painting essentially doing average work. I always felt I could do better.
RR: When did you get serious about painting?
BP: I think it was about seven years ago. I was working in construction all over the United States. I was on an extended layoff and I began painting every day. I studied [Paul] Cézanne and other great masters trying to understand how they worked. I used images of their paintings to understand color and composition. This I think gave me the groundwork for my paintings.
RR: I know you told me after two years positive things began happening to your painting career.
BP: That’s right. I had my first exhibit in Manhattan in the Chelsea art district. The gallery found my work on my website and I had a show. It was an invaluable experience.
RR: Then what happened?
BP: Florence, Italy. Again they found my work on the internet and I had my work exhibited at a gallery in Italy for a year.
RR: When did you start selling your work?
BP: Bonnie and I met when she was opening a shop and gallery in Kenosha, Wis. in 2013. I felt my work was good enough to sell and Bonnie was kind enough to give me a place. My first year I sold 30 paintings and I was ecstatic. I have since become a successful painter.
RR: What do you enjoy painting in Door County?
BP: I don’t like painting the usual subjects. I try to find scenes that move me emotionally. Quiet water scenes or people looking in shop windows are some of my favorites. I won the American Art Award last year with a painting of the Monterey Harbor in California.
RR: How do you describe your work?
BP: I just paint but others say it is impressionistic.
RR: And finally, what do you think is essential in putting together a good painting?
BP: All paintings should start with a good drawing. The drawing must show an acceptable composition. Then I think the artist should visualize what pigments he needs to make the piece come alive. At this stage back off and then start painting.
RR: How do you know when the painting is finished?
BP: When I sign it, it’s finished.
RR: Thank you Brian.