While Dennis Pearson is known in the art world as a noted painter, print maker, leaded glass artist and sculptor who works in abstraction concentrating on nature forms, he is known best to children and adults alike as the creator of the make-believe abstract animals he has lovingly dubbed, Beasties. Generating from his boyhood doodling and cartooning, Beasties are playful, gleeful, brightly colored fiberglass animal sculptures, equally at home in museums, offices, living rooms and gardens.
Born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1939, Dennis Pearson graduated from Madison West High School and attended Milwaukee’s Layton School of Art. There he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, focused on painting and printmaking. He was a scholarship recipient to the Ox Bow Summer School of Painting in Saugatuck Michigan 1961-62. As a student, he won first prize for painting in the Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors competition. He continued his education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Find Arts and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. While attending college, he supported himself through his painting. He taught Stained Glass at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1981. He has exhibited his paintings and stained glass in both solo and group shows.
In spite of his works and recognition in other areas, the animal image he created in his boyhood continued to fascinate him. He made many drawings of his unique animals, experimenting with the shape in different mediums including oil and water color paintings. Eventually, he created a 3D papier-mâché sculpture. With the help of his brother who owned a shop to repair Corvette cars with fiberglass, he covered his papier-mâché sculpture in fiberglass. And the Beastie was born. Introduced first in Milwaukee, the Beastie has made its way across America and can now be found in public venues in Belgium, Israel, New Zealand and Mexico.
© 12/6/2007 Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, Wisconsin 6/3/2010