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Coyote Pretty

Markus Pierson shows off a pack of howling good paintings.

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Markus Pierson credits a 1976 Joni Mitchell song for inspiring the coyote paintings he’s made over the past two decades. Eighteen of the pieces are now on display at Contessa Gallery’s 20 Years of Changing Lives. “There’s an emotional integrity that coyotes offer,” says Pierson. “If they’re heartbroken, you can’t miss it. If they feel something good, they’re not feigning themselves to become something they’re not. It’s cool that something feels so deeply that you’re not going to get anything other than what they are.”

When Pierson started the project 20 years ago, he had just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a potentially deadly ailment that attacks the digestive tract. To cheer him up, Pierson’s friend recommended he listen to Mitchell’s “Coyote.” “You can’t tell if she’s referring to an actual coyote or a man she had nicknamed that,” says Pierson. “But in a crisis situation, where it looks like you’ll lose everything, the song helps you get to that place where nothing weighs you down.”
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