In 1995, right out of high school D.Pierce Giltner moved to Columbia, S.C. Skateboarding around 5 points, he stumbled upon Ernest Lee, a folk artist that sets up on an empty parking lot, painting and selling his art.
Giltner was so inspired by Ernest's set up and how he made an impact on the public, by creating art.....Giltner had a vision, a goal....
6 years later he moved back to Chester, S.C. moved in an old hunt cabin, and built his first outdoor studio surrounded by 6 acres of woods. His goal was simple, establish his style of art, and to be a successful folk artist. But it took inspiration from other artist, such as Earnest, and musician Tom Hall to start it off. With Tom connecting him with his first art festival in Columbia, Giltner's art career was off to a start.
Spending 3 years in Chester, he did his due diligence by entering festivals and shows throughout the southeast and winning 2 best of shows with the help of his agent, Pat Kabore that represented him for 2 years. "Pat taught me everything I know....and I didn't know anything about art".
In 2008, Giltner and his family moved to the costal town of Bluffton, S.C.
Giltner's vision was to create an atmosphere that inspired the public above and beyond. In the coastal town of Bluffton, S.C. , he created the "Gallery without Walls" his outdoor, open air studio and gallery. For about 6 years it was an iconic place that helped create the unique Bluffton charm, a place that would inspire for years to come.
It was most definitely an iconic set up, making the Bluffton charm, a quaint fishing town with a drinking problem.
"We all had a blast there, so many memories and stories to tell.....the best storie is when Pearl was around 4 and dumped a quart of paint on her head " . Giltner had to make an imperative decision to make ends meet for his family, so after 7 years, he decided to close it down, so did the old Bluffton charm. The secret was out, Bluffton was now a destination. Money was barely generated there due to his lack of presence, and the tourist population quite hasn't been established as it is today. "I've would have made a decent living if I was there today".
About a year after the gallery closed, he got a call from artist, Chase Allen of Iron Fish Gallery on Daufuskie Island.
After nearly a two-year hiatus, artist and craftsman Pierce Giltner has returned, and he is determined to reestablish his name in the Lowcountry art market. With a new solo show set to launch in December and an upcoming move to Daufuskie Island in April, big plans and bigger changes are on the horizon for the artist.
If you don't know Giltner, you might be more familiar with his art. The interior design of May River Excursions in Old Town Bluffton and the directional signs at Moreland Landing and Bluffton Oyster Factory Park are just a few examples.
However, Giltner is probably best known for his Gallery Without Walls that was on Calhoun Street, a literal wall-less, outdoor installation next to The Store where he exhibited his signature creations for more than six years.
Giltner's rustic, earthy style is dipped deep in Southern tradition. He takes reclaimed wood from abandoned tenet housing and shapes it into workable canvases to display his paintings of Blues musicians, tenet farmers, and other subjects.
"I don't have any formal training, so I guess I'm more of a folk artist," said Giltner. "I started out using salvaged wood because I didn't have any canvas to paint on. Now, I'm focusing on different, unique and rare."
Giltner has a background in construction, and had spent the past couple of years working in that field. After leaving it behind in June, he was unsure of what to do and where to go next, though it wasn't long before a new opportunity landed in his lap.
Giltner's next big step will be his jump over to Daufuskie Island, where he will be setting up a new Gallery Without Walls project in April. Giltner has partnered with Chase Allen, Daufuskie island artist and owner of the Iron Fish Gallery & Studio, and will be using his land for the new project.
Allen reached out to Giltner about the team-up, citing their mutual love for reclaimed art.
"His work is all in wood, mine's all in steel. There's a certain antique finish to the birth of our work," said Allen. "I'm attracted to the pieces he's made. He's a talented woodworker."
While this new project acts as the kick-start for Giltner's return, it doesn't come without a price. Giltner will be leaving his family behind in Bluffton to pursue this new challenge, though he ensures there will be plenty of visits in the meantime.
"It's going to be hard, and to be honest, I'm scared to death," Giltner said. "The biggest regrets in life are the risks you don't take, and to me, this is a calculated risk. I want to follow my dream as an artist, and I can't just give up."
To follow Giltner and his work, visit www.rusticinstallations.com.
Sam Posthuma of Bluffton is a freelance writer and production assistant for The Bluffton Sun.
His determination to start a new lifestyle was so intense, it was a calculated risk, a well thought out plan. His house was on the market in Bluffton, and made an offer on a house with 6 acres until it sold as a cash offer.
"I believe in signs, and that was most definitely a sign that it wasn't going to formalize".
Giltner and his family took a well guided tour with a local, and as the Island started to sink in as a reality of a new life, his doubts increased.
To live full time on Daufuskie, you either love it or hate it, there is no, "in-between".
The red flags, the doubts, and bad signs brought the idea to a stop, as well as his art career.
"Daufuskie was a pipe dream"
In 2017, Giltner was determined to establish his gallery and studio.
Years ago, he was commissioned by Robbie Cahill to paint chickens for a country atmosphere restaurant known as, "Cahill's Market."
Giltner was determined not to give up. He built a small shack next to the chicken coop at Cahill's Market. Saturday's and Sundays were the most busiest at the restaurant, as he was open slinging paint from 10-3. It was a great plan, his art covered the walls in the restaurant, with information about the art on each table, directing the customers to walk down and meet the artist.
"Authentic roadside attraction"
Reviewed August 17, 2017
We visited this small art gallery (more like a living artistic installation) after having lunch at Cahill's Market which is right beside Cedarstacker. Located next to a chicken coop and the world's largest boiled peanut (not kidding), the attraction is the artwork of one man, Pierce, who is on site and happy you came by! It was fun to see his outsider art work and talk directly to actual artist about the work on display...original artwork ranges from 20 bucks to 2000. Very talented artist. I will go back here and tell my friends! It's a must see attraction because it's 100% unique and the artwork is amazing. Oh-and Cahill's Market was soooo yummy....the walls were covered with Pierce's artwork too! ~PH
Giltner was happy there, he enjoyed creating and inspiring, but the same problem he had at with the Gallery without Walls, he had at Cahill's, money. He couldn't work full time to support his family and be there at the same time, so his presence started to dwindle and at the tail end of 2019, he closed the doors, again, another failed dream.
"Tom Hall always said, dare to fail, if you don't try, you'll never know".
In January 2019, Giltner was at the beginning of his divorce, hitting completely rock bottom in his career, and life. With the due diligence and determination, he completely turned his life around and began taking his art career to the next level. The material he was using to paint on was not archival proof, a valid requirement for art investors and collectors. Hesitant of painting on canvas, he didn't want to change a niche that started his art career, but had to make the transition in order to move up in the art world.
His good friend, gave him a 48" x 48" piece of canvas to paint on. His painting, "The Struggle of a Champion" was the beginning, his first canvas painting.
"I had to make the transition from painting on derelict tenant house wood and tin to canvas, but I didn't know how".
In the fall of 2019 he was commission from a very prominent art collector through one of the world's biggest interior designers, J.Banks from Hilton Head S.C. He was commisssioned two paintings of the oysterman, 18" x 20" at $4,500.00 each.
"This was it, this was the moment I had been waiting on."
Stunned and scared, though completely confident, he spent 140 hours painting, and learning the oils. Dealing with a prominent collector, the paintings had to be perfect, though not having any formal training in art, his experience with the rules of painting were lacking.
"How the hell was I supposed to know not to use black as a shadow??"
The paintings turned out to be absolutely incredible He captured every detail, the details only local's of the May River would pin pick. The color of the water was a huge aspect, as it changes color through out the year. Giltner spent 8 hours mixing the perfect amount of blue-green to capture the cold winter water, as anyone that is familiar with the river would know if it's just a shade off. The oyster shells was another challenge, as it took twice as longer to paint than any other part of the painting.
After a decade of festivals, solo shows and failed projects, his due diligence in the art world has paid off, and he finally hit his goal...to get paid what his art is worth. In the spring of 2019, his family moved out of his house, and back to their hometown, Chester, S.C. Immediately after, he turned his living room into an atelier as where he resides today and continues to paint. His main focus is one subject, and one subject only, the oysterman.
Artist discussion: The biography of Southern artist D.Pierce Giltner