Southcoast Today Art Beat: Artist profile by Don Wilkinson

Golden Light, 2019 by Peter Dickison

In the name of full disclosure, Tiverton painter Peter Dickison and I have known each other for many years, since September of 1979 to be exact, when we were both freshman at the Swain School of Design, itself long since absorbed into the University of Massachusetts system.

We were roommates in New Bedford and after graduation, in Brooklyn. He was attending the Parsons School of Design in lower Manhattan and I was working in a high-end screen printing shop on Park Avenue.

We have eaten countless meals together, drank even more beers, confided in each other and helped each other through rough times. We knew each other’s parents, siblings and girlfriends. We’ve seen each other at our best and our worst.

So why was this such a difficult profile to initiate? I felt foolish asking questions that I already knew the answers to, and I think he was flattered to be asked, but a bit on edge. The intimacy of friendship is double-edged. But we trudged along, and to my great pleasure, new things were revealed.

And with that said and just for this time, I ‘m going to break with the usual protocol and put aside the use of the last name. He’s just Peter.

Peter was raised in Newport, the youngest of three boys. He spoke of taking private art classes but not having much exposure to “capital-A” art, art history or museums. And then one holiday season, he received a jigsaw puzzle reproduction of Van Gogh’s “The Harvest. He was captivated by it.

When he was eighteen, he visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw Van Gogh’s “Cypresses.”

He noted, “ At that moment…it was like seeing the face of a god. I cannot overstate the impact that the painting had on me: seeing his hand, the texture…every twist and turning stroke of paint, the ridges and hollows. Painting hooked me deeply that day. It’s pulled me ever since and it’s all I have ever wanted to do. I am as captive to it as a fish pulled out of water.” more at Southcoast Today