Celebrated Local Artist Sally Pierone
Dies at 97
To some she was an artist, to others a spiritual coach, to many a beloved friend; long time Spokane resident Sarah (Sally) Paine Pierone died peacefully in her Pasadena senior living facility of natural causes. She was 97 years old.
Sally was born on February 10, 1921 to Alan and Clara Paine. Her father was a managing partner at the Spokane law firm Paine Hamblen, which carries his name to this day. Her mother Clara, was an active Spokane socialite and prominent member of the Spokane Junior League. She was raised in a historic home on Summit Boulevard that is now part of the Spokane Register of Historic Places. "I had very cheerful, giggly parents who would do anything," she once said. This fun-loving adventuresome nature was an enduring quality for her whole unconventional life. Her maternal grandfather Col. William R. Abercrombie was Sally's favorite and was considered by some to be "Spokane's first soldier" serving as commanding officer of the infantry at Fort Wright.
In her early teens, Sally attended the all-girls Helen Bush Boarding School in Seattle. Upon graduation she went to Madame Chouinard's Art School in Los Angeles and then on to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Sally's art career began to take flight in New York where she spent the next several years. After the end of WWII, Sally received an invitation to go to Europe; which she readily accepted. She spent time in Italy and France and was eventually hired by the American Embassy in Paris as an art director creating booklets and posters promoting the rebuilding of Europe under the Marshall Plan. During her three years overseas, she met and was greatly influenced by a number of Parisian artists including Tom Keogh. Keogh eventually married Sally's friend Theodora Roosevelt, President Theodore Roosevelt's granddaughter. During this time Pierone was also hired by American Humorist, Art Buchwald to illustrate his book Paris After Dark.
Sally's eventual return to Spokane reconnected her with a former admirer Bob Pierone, local business owner of Pierone's Men's Store, a long-time fixture of downtown. The two were married in 1953 in an unconventional dinner party wedding. At Bob's request Sally painted several renaissance period murals for his new store on Riverside and Post. The oil paintings were a tremendous undertaking; one canvas measuring over twenty-five feet in length.
Sally and Bob raised three boys Nick, Peri and Dino. Their family home across from Cliff Park pulsated with rock music most weekday afternoons from Nick's band practicing in the basement. But their marriage proved not to be a happy one and after twenty-three years it ended in divorce. Though amicable the anguish of their separation became a turning point for Sally's life propelling her into a relentless pursuit for inner growth and wholeness. It was the six-week family workshop high in the Sierra Nevada's "that totally changed my life" said Pierone. The workshop was lead by Virginia Satir, a well-known California family therapist.
In her fifties Sally devoured books, attended workshops, practiced meditation, daily journaling & dream analysis. She seized every opportunity across a variety of disciplines in search of inner healing and emotional clarity. The amalgamation of these experiences over time evolved into the creation of her own counseling practice. She created the concept of "The Raft," enlarging upon Satir's personality stereotypes of the Blamer, Super-Reasonable, Placater, and Irrelevant. Nearly every person who sat in Sally's den would learn about "The Raft". "Real maturity is the ability to occupy all these roles" she'd often say. Her Rockwood area home became a bustling center of activity for other like-minded seekers. Some regarded her as the Shirley MacLaine of the South Hill. Her life was chronicled in a book entitled, Sally: The Older Women's Guide to Self Improvement by Judy Laddon. Who later stated, "I see her as a uniquely fulfilled person with a core of strength, wisdom and power."
In her 80s Sally embraced a new form of art therapy based on the teachings of French woman Michelle Cassou, who taught about the spiritual aspects of self-expression through the creative process. Sally attended a workshop at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA with Cassou. Afterward Sally created over 200 quirky irreverent paintings revealing her inner self in a manner few could conceive. She once said, "people's sicknesses are often related to their secrets, so I don't want to have any secrets, I am devoted to becoming clear". She will be most remembered for her frolicking good humor, artistry, generosity, kindness to others and fearless self-expression. On her 80th birthday she said, "I'm tired and ready to go to heaven", seventeen years later she got her wish. She is survived by her sister Harriett Hahn of Winnetka Il, her three sons Nick, Peri and Dino and her six grandchildren. A celebration of Sally's life will be held at the Davenport Hotel in the Pennington Ballroom at 2:00 PM Saturday August 18th, all who knew her are welcomed.
Published by Spokesman-Review on Jul. 8, 2018.