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People Profile - Local Artists

Name: Terry and Cheri Pyles
Years in Ketchikan: 30+
Occupation: Artist, Gallery Owner, Crafter (Beading)

Terry and Cheri represent dozens of artists and crafters who live in Ketchikan.  Terry’s a true “Renaissance Artist.“ His paintings evoke the landscape, wildlife and beauty of Southeast Alaska, but he’s also a gifted sculptor, stained glass artist; and has been known to bead with the encouragement of wife Cheri, an avid beader and jewelry designer, when she’s not managing their gallery, The Point.

pyles_sm.jpgQ: What brought you to Ketchikan?

A: Terry: I came straight from Whidbey Island, WA after graduating from high school to take a summer job with a local resort in 1977.

A: Cheri: I came up as the first Federal Express courier in Ketchikan in 1988.

Q: When did you decide to make Ketchikan your home?

A: Terry: When I got off the airplane! There was no jet way, and I could smell clean air and the forest.  It hit me like a bomb and it was all over from there.  I went back for a year of college, but was back the next year.

A: Cheri: My job gave me the chance to get to know everybody.  I met Terry two years later, and we were married in 1990.

Q: How did you get started as artists?

A: Terry: I guess you could say it’s a natural gift. My parents gave me an easel when I was 3.  My grandmother was an artist and gave me my first oil paints at 6.  All I remember doing as a kid is drawing. In Ketchikan, I opened a commercial art studio in the late 70’s painting signs and creating logos; after that business closed I entered six paintings in the Ketchikan Arts and Crafts Guild’s show, sold all six and decided I might be able to make a living at it. I was fortunate to receive two year’s worth of commissions right off, and then it was all over – I was a commercial artist.

A: Cheri: I’ve always been a crafter – mostly needlework- needle and thread, needle and beads.  I discovered beads in April 1990 and they sort of became my life. I started by collecting trade beads, then got interested in seed beads and began designing jewelry. I “retired” from Fed Ex, and began managing a local art gallery which we later purchased and expanded to the present Dockside Gallery. Terry is very disciplined – gets up early and works 10 to 12 hours a day in his studio at our home. I bead several hours each evening.

Q: How does Ketchikan’s place in the art world compare with other towns that are well known for their artist population?

A: Cheri: I think we have more of a variety of artists than anywhere on earth.  Every facet of the arts, from visual to performing arts is represented.  Painters, sculptors, print makers, artists who create from found objects…Ketchikan is extremely well rounded.

A: Terry: One of the things that really appeals to me is that it’s such a great environment for inspiration. On a good (weather) day I can go out and be inspired; on a bad day I’ll hole up and really get to work. The slow pace of the town helps me focus on my work. Most Alaskans tend to be multi-faceted; you don’t have the services here like down south, you tend to be self sufficient. Therefore creative thinking is a must. Maybe that’s why we have more artists here.