To Stephen LaPierre, painting scenes of Haverhill is not that different from painting in Old Town Key West, where his popularity and recognition as an accomplished oil-paint artist is growing.
LaPierre, a 1981 graduate of Haverhill High School, spent the past several years producing more than 200 oil paintings that capture the architecture and culture of modern day Key West, Florida. Sixty-five of those paintings are on exhibit at the prestigious Key West Custom House Museum of Art and History.
He did the same when he was living in Haverhill, capturing images of downtown buildings and illuminated street corners, restaurants and pubs in a way that attracted a big following.
”I’ve always painted niches of what Haverhill was and what it is becoming, and I’m doing the same thing in Key West by painting the modern day architecture and the people,” he said.
LaPierre, 49, a “plein air’’ artist (painting in the fresh air, on site) prefers setting up his easel in front of famous Key West bars like Schooner Wharf, the Green Parrot Bar and Sloppy Joe’s Bar, as well as in front of quaint homes called conch houses. He also paints scenes along the waterfront.
He travels around Old Town pedaling a tricycle loaded with paints, brushes, canvases, an easel and other art supplies. He’s out there on the streets at all hours, and routinely has three paintings going at the same time. When it turns dark, he finds illuminated areas to paint.
”No matter where you stand in Key West, it’s worthy of painting,” he said.
Some of his favorite paintings of Haverhill include a series on the bar area of The Tap Restaurant, plus paintings of Railroad Square and places like Mark’s Deli and the train bridges.
”In Key West, we have all these historic buildings where Hemingway hung out,” he said. “If you can picture Washington Street from Railroad Square to Washington Square, there’s a street called Duval Street, which is over a mile long and is filled with bars, restaurants, cigar shops, T-shirt shops and historic buildings.”