Frank Pierobello has always been serious about his painting, but he’s never looked at himself as a serious painter.

“I’ve always just done it; for 50 years I’ve done it,” says Pierobello, 76, a legendary figure in the Portland art scene. “It’s always been about a good time, and I’ve never thought too much about it. Whenever anybody starts talking about money …”

The sentence goes unfinished, and Pierobello waves his hands in disgust.

“I do it for myself. I never meant for it to become a business,” he says.

Pierobello has spent his life in Portland. For 25 years, he has owned Morrill’s Corner Pub on Forest Avenue, and it is for that business enterprise that he is best known. The bar is a popular local hangout in the Morrill’s Corner neighborhood, and is fully stocked night after night with a parade of regulars.

Pierobello hangs his paintings on the walls around the bar. Many of the oil-on-canvas paintings are scenes from around Portland, including Portland Harbor, Willard Beach and Deering Oaks.

He also paints a lot of portraits, and for many years, Pierobello earned a reputation for his credible copies of paintings by famous painters.

Beginning Wednesday, Mayo Street Arts will feature Pierobello’s paintings and drawings along with those by his good friend, Martha Briana. The two met 25 years ago at a life-drawing class, and have remained friends.

The exhibition is titled “At Frank’s Place.” There’s a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 3, and the show will remain on view through Oct. 20.

“I used to stop at that bar, and really loved the paintings,” said Blainor McGough, executive director at Mayo Street Arts. “Years later, I heard of Frank through Martha. She was telling me about this guy in her drawing class.”

McGough liked Pierobello the moment she met him. She and Briana are sailing buddies, and one afternoon Pierobello joined the women for a sail around Casco Bay.

“He did a great painting of Martha’s boat, and then tore it up. He didn’t like it. But I thought it was a great painting,” McGough said.

She’s also a big fan of Briana’s and considers her a Renaissance woman. Briana has worked as a deckhand, cab driver, waitress and vintage tool salesman. She owns a wooden boat “and can tie any knot you need,” McGough said.

In addition to her drawings, Briana also works as a potter and printmaker.

McGough said she decided to show the work of both artists together because they are friends and have a history of working together, but also because “they are both so passionate about the pursuit of art. They are opposite in so many ways, but also really good friends. They are characters, and they love to joke around and talk about art.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]


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