March 23, 2011
Author - TammyAyertayer@news-press.com
Coyote Artist Returns to SWFL
When Midwestern artist Markus Pierson flies into Fort Myers on Friday, he won´t sit still for long. A weekend exhibit begins that evening at the Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers, and he´ll visit with patrons before leaving Sunday.
Best of all, though, he will personally reconnect with the owner and friends of the Blue Coyote Supper Club, one of his favorite places in Southwest Florida, and perhaps in Florida, or just about anywhere.
Pierson, of Kansas City, Mo., is celebrating 25 years as an artist. Among his most cherished experiences of that long history in a notoriously fickle pursuit is his friendship and burgeoning business partnership with Blue Coyote owner Mitch Schwenke, whom Pierson calls "Schwivel." (Mitch calls Markus "Cletus.")
"The way you last in 25 years of art has very little to do with talent and a whole lot to do with will, perseverance and editing," said Pierson, 50, who met Schwenke during a 2005 show in New York City. Schwenke, a fan of Pierson´s distinctive coyote portraits, commissioned Pierson to create a painting for the Blue Coyote.
The piece, titled "Above All," is posted inside the club, which is located within the Caloosa Yacht & Racquet Club community in south Fort Myers. In Pierson´s characteristic style, it features writing as well: "Above all we enter with a humble heart, thankful for the bountiful journey that brought us here, and the friends that share our destination."
"I had all these pretentions in my head of what a private dining club would look like," Pierson recalled, envisioning "a bunch of snotty people." But "when I got down there, I was knocked right on my butt. I couldn´t believe how great they were ... these people were so polite and attentive, a great group of people.
"My father was a chef and I was raised in the restaurant industry. I know, probably as well as anybody does, how difficult it is to do what he does. Guys that are really gifted at it make it look like falling off a log. Mitch is that kind of guy."
For his part, Schwenke - who displays and sells Pierson´s work at the supper club - rhapsodizes about his pal just as easily.
"A lot of this community has seen (Pierson´s artwork), but we are exclusive so I wanted to show it to the world at Bell Tower," said Schwenke, 50, noting that it will be for sale at the supper club as usual, along with something new: camp shirts, Italian marble coasters and pillows featuring Pierson´s trademark coyote and sold through a separate new partnership between Pierson and Schwenke.
"We have lots of cool things we´re going to do over the next several years. It´s in its infancy. It´s our goal to reach his collectors worldwide," Schwenke said.
Pierson hadn´t planned to become an artist. After graduating from college, he got a high-pressure job as an accountant.
But when he was 25, suffering from Crohn´s disease (an incurable disorder of the digestive system) and hospitalized with three large perforating abscesses in his abdomen, Pierson was supposed to die. The abscesses didn´t violently rupture as feared, but rather fizzled like a leaky balloon, saving his life.
"It just opened a window. ... I quit my job and became a billboard painter," Pierson said.
Enter "Coyote" by Joni Mitchell, Pierson´s favorite song. He listened to it everywhere, decided to draw it and created his first coyote painting for friends marrying out West in the fall of 1986.
By March of 1987, he was in 110 art galleries, thanks to some rapturous word of mouth spurred by his wedding gift.
Famous fans such as Billy Joel and Eric Clapton have helped pass the word.
And whether they´re famous or not, Pierson´s just as big a fan of his fans.
"They are the finest people in the history of the world. They´re just so freakin´ cool," he said.
IF YOU GO
• What: The Blue Coyote Supper Club will be displaying Markus Pierson’s “The Coyote Series” art series at the Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers. Pierson also plans a meet-and-greet Saturday evening at Bell Tower.
• When: Artwork will be on display from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Meet-and-greet begins at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Suite 251 near the fountain of the Bell Tower Shops, U.S. 41 and Daniels Parkway, south Fort Myers. The Blue Coyote Supper Club is located at 9854 Caloosa Yacht & Racquet Club Drive, south Fort Myers, and also features artwork by Pierson for sale (more than 25 pieces, large and small) and the merchandise in the restaurant (which will also be sold through a website, viceroys.net)
• Cost: The Bell Tower exhibit is free; the meet-and-greet will feature wine and cheese and Norman Love desserts and is also free, but donations to the Salvation Army are appreciated.
• Information/reservations: To meet Pierson and hear him speak Saturday evening, RSVP to Mitch or Cory at the Blue Coyote Supper Club at 432-9222. For more information about Pierson’s artwork and merchandise for sale locally, call Mitch to make an appointment, visit the club or bluecoyoteclub.com.
• Born: Feb. 9, 1961 in Grand Ledge, Michigan.
• Family: Wife Sher, also an artist — they’ve been together since 1992; and two dogs: a standard wirehaired dachshund and a miniature bull terrier
• About his art: Prices range from about $500-$600 for prints to around $30,000 for originals.
• How he describes his art: “I have a standard line I like to say at exhibitions: I and my work will not be complicit in your denial of the realities of your life. If you want art that will be, go buy a landscape. It will just sit on your wall and will never ask you anything.”
• Hobbies: Motocross racing (he has a private track)
• Online: markuspiersonart.com and Facebook