Goodbye, Peter Pestalozzi

Peter Pestalozzi lived outside Ely, but his art was often seen in the Duluth Art Institute and in local galleries. Peter passed away, and I lost someone who was distant but important to me.

His local paper said that:

Peter Karberg Pestalozzi, 64, passed peacefully in his home in Ely on May 20, 2017, surrounded by family and friends… Peter was known for his creative talent and love of fine woodworking — from photography, building organs, sea kayaks and canoes, cabinetry, and finally his most acclaimed artwork — the design and creation of fine wood furniture.  Peter embarked on his final creative journey last August 2016, with a solo kayak trip around Lake Superior, supported in part by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. He was equipped with his kayak and camera, with intention to capture photographs that would inspire one of a kind furniture designs. His existing designs and pieces can be admired at

Here is what I would add:

Peter always supported others. Content in what made him successful, nationally, internationally, as an artist, he advocated tirelessly for early career rural artists in Minnesota. Proud of his son. Proud of his community.

Outside our common work in arts nonprofits, Peter and I saw each other at art openings. We talked on the phone once in a while, about arts in the region. And one day, he met with me, Catherine Meier, Mindy Granley, Kathy McTavish, and Emily Jayne Brissett to imagine an art installation that I could not get funded. It was so much fun to talk with an animator, a cellist-coder, a sustainability expert, a pianist and a furniture maker about what was possible together.

Remembering that helps me understand why I value Peter so much.

Peter took other people seriously. He sat with friends and strangers to create an idea I treasure. He took me seriously, encouraging me to remember that my work should not stop as an advocate and a consumer of art. When, he would ask, will I make art?

In a world where people run through museums to tick off the famous works they have seen, where people scroll through a hundred Facebook statuses in minuted, where conversations happen in 140 character bursts…

Peter took me, took fellow artists and his family, seriously, with the gift of attention and the gifts of collaboration and encouragement.

Please visit his website to see his work, appreciate it.

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