A sketch of a circus tent and Ferris wheel at the age of 2, began the artistic life of local artist Pierre Mion, who will be one of 15 talented artists participating in Art in the Garden Festival 2009 on Aug. 15, at El Rancho Pinoso.
Pierre’s fascinating life has had as many turns as the road course of a sports car race, one of many passions that, along with art, have captured his joie de vivre spirit.
Pierre was born in Pennsylvania, but grew up in the Washington D.C. area where his architect/artist father noticed and nurtured his son’s artistic ability.
By the time he was 12, Pierre decided that he wanted to pursue illustration. He went on to attend George Washington University and Corcoran School of Art, both located in D.C. This formal training was interrupted in 1952 by two years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. While serving, he taught commercial art through the Marine Corps Institute, a correspondence course for Corps members.
It was during this time that he also became involved in racing, beginning by street drag racing, and stock car racing in a friend’s rebuilt taxi. He also raced A.M.A. motorcycles. This led to the sports car racing circuit where he was awarded with three regional and two national championships. He was involved in racing for 16 years.
The racing did not keep him from his art. After discharge from the Marines, he took classes at Montgomery College, near D.C., and in 1956 took a job as illustrator at the Creative Arts Studio in Washington, D.C. He soon became the art director and worked as such until 1960 when he began his freelance career. Though he had not yet given up racing, it was clear that he would have to choose between these two demanding activities.
Art won out.
In 1961, Pierre was hired by National Geographic Magazine as a freelance illustrator. His illustrations have appeared in over 65 issues of the magazine spanning 38 years of service.
This experience opened up exciting opportunities to expand his illustration portfolio. He has worked with Jacques Cousteau and Norman Rockwell, was commissioned by NASA, and has designed 12 stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, including the bicentennial stamp of Washington, D.C.
Pierre’s accomplishments in illustration and fine art span a range too wide to enumerate here. His national reputation has led to his work being displayed in public buildings and in many private collections. Truly an artist at heart, he still managed to indulge his urge for excitement by scuba diving and glider piloting.
In 1995, he and his wife took a five -month transcontinental motorcycle trip, during which they became captivated by the history and natural beauty of the West. They purchased land in Pagosa Springs, built a log house and have lived here ever since.
Pierre’s focus is now the fine art that he paints in the studio loft of his home. He has recently been working in watercolor on scenes and characters of the Southwest, including some large views of Monument Valley, and abandoned gold mines of Victor, Colo. He also has a thrilling painting of a tornado descending on the Kansas plains. He is still deciding what to bring to Art in the Garden, and will probably be working on pencil sketches during the event.
The public is invited to meet Pierre Mion, along with 14 other talented artists at Art in the Garden Festival 2009. Come to El Rancho Pinoso, in the upper Blanco Basin on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 3 to 7 p.m.
Tickets are on sale for $30 at the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, the Plaid Pony and the Community United Methodist Church (CUMC). Attendees will enjoy an afternoon of gourmet food and wonderful art and music in a magnificent Archuleta County mountain setting.
Art will be on sale and can be purchased by cash or check. Thirty percent of all art sales will be donated to the CUMC Community Assistance Fund, which aids the needy of Archuleta County, regardless of religious affiliation. Remember to set aside Saturday, Aug. 15, aside to enjoy this unique and worthwhile event.