A wide variety of his artwork can be found in the Smithsonian Institute, New York City, France, Belgium and esteemed galleries throughout the world.
Acrylic and oil, wood and metal. Carvings and sculptures. Abstract and concrete. Landscapes and nature. Indigenous and adventitious. Drawings and sketches. Illustrations and photos. Letters and books.
All from the hands of Danny Pierce, a nationally renowned painter, sculptor and printmaker who lived in Kent and established a home studio on Summit Avenue for many years. He died in 2014 at the age of 93.
Connoisseurs and enthusiasts marvel at the depth and scope of the versatile artist whose collection of lifetime work is too numerous to fit in one place. But the curators at the Kent Historical Museum found some room to honor the late artist, spreading representative works of his creativity and craftsmanship throughout the hallways and rooms of the two-story Bereiter House, 855 E. Smith St.
The Pierce exhibit, which features an eclectic selection of the artist’s oil paintings, watercolors, gouache, metal engraving, etchings and colored woodcuts, runs through Oct. 5. The gallery is open noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Groups can visit by appointment.
Pierce’s mastery of mediums is impressive and inspirational.
“He definitely delved into stuff we didn’t even know about,” said Stephen Chandler, museum manager, who designed the exhibit with the help of special guest Julia Pierce, the artist’s daughter.
“His variety (of art) just wasn’t something he played with,” said Nancy Simpson, president of the Greater Kent Historical Society. “He was very precise in what he wanted to do and how he did it. And when he was in that mode of what he was creating, you didn’t talk to him. We had different people who have commented on this: ‘We were neighbors (of his Red Door Studio) but we knew when he was working. The blinders were on and he was focused.”
Chandler and Simpson approached Julia Pierce about displaying some of her father’s art, which is on loan to the museum.
The exhibit includes some of Pierce’s grand work, including a self-portrait that greets visitors at the museum. His art – expressive in vivid and bold colors – shines throughout the exhibit.
Pearce was a student, instructor and commercial artist. He served honorably in World War II. After his military service, he taught at universities and continued a successful art career.
He married Julia Rasmussen in 1943, and the couple began to raise a family of four children in 1952.
The Carnegie Foundation invited Pierce in 1959 to be the first artist-in-residence and founding chairperson of the art department at the University of Alaska. In 1964, Pierce was invited to be a guest instructor in printmaking at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He remained in Wisconsin for the remainder of his teaching career, retiring as a professor emeritus in 1984.
The couple returned to Kent. They lived in Julia’s childhood home until their deaths, which were two weeks apart in 2014.
• “Remarkable artist” – Kent Reporter
• “Work graces collections” – Kent Reporter