Brian “Pete” Cosby is something of an anomaly. By day he is a respected attorney with a general practice in West Ocean City. By night — or whenever his schedule allows him free time — the easel and palette emerge, and his home becomes an atelier as he transforms into Pete Cosby, artist extraordinaire.
The dichotomy isn’t so unthinkable when one considers that Cosby has been creating art since he was a little kid in Garrett County, Md. Back in those halcyon days, the wide-eyed boy made pencil sketches of warplanes in desperate dogfights from the launchpad of his imagination.
He got into landscapes later on, in adolescence, when Cosby would mount puerile pilgrimages to Muddy Creek Falls, which, at 60 feet, is the state’s highest free-falling waterfall.
“I wasn’t exactly a world traveler at that point in my life,” joked Cosby from his law office off Rte. 50, “but I nevertheless have fond memories of Muddy Creek Falls. It was a nice piece of natural landscape for a budding young artist.”
In college, Cosby grew even more serious about honing his artistic skill and technique. He scooped up as much acrylic paint as his arms could hold and set about recreating paintings he’d admired by other artists, some of whom were his roommates.
“It was a perfect indoctrination for me,” offered Cosby. “I didn’t have to worry about inspiration, just technique,
so I worked exclusively in acrylics, which were cheap, easy to set up and quick-drying. Besides, I was a pre-engineering major who’d discovered that he stank at math, so other plans needed to be made.”
Those other plans obviously included law school, but what Pete believes was just as pivotal to his future as his J.D. from Seattle University was his decision to change painting materials.
“Talk about a convergence of events,” quipped Cosby, whose lengthening mane of white hair suggests the countenance of some maverick litigator whom Hollywood would cast Jeff Bridges to portray. “I had just recently made the decision to cast acrylic paint aside in favor of oil paint, which is far less limiting than acrylic. But I was still adapting to the differences between the two, so I was struggling with it somewhat, when into my house walks my new neighbor, who summarily said to me: ‘Well, it looks like you know how to draw, but you’ve got a lot to learn about color.’”
The jab was actually good-natured, and the neighbor was local art icon Kirk McBride. Together with Kirk’s wife, celebrated artist Lynne Lockhart, and fellow local art legend Patrick Henry, Cosby was creatively adopted, receiving a better art education than he ever could have hoped for.
“I’ll admit that I did a lot of work on my own to develop myself as a painter,” Cosby said, “but if I ever emerge as a legitimate artist — or perhaps I should say painter — it is unequivocally because of the amazing tutelage of Lynne, Kirk and Pat, whose individual and collective brilliance and generous advice absolutely catapulted me to the next level. They are my mentors, and I am just as proud to say they are my friends.”
To many in our area, Cosby has already emerged not only as a legitimate artist but as one of the best oil painters in the region. His paintings have broken the four-figure threshold on sale, and his work his been proudly displayed in places such as Bishop’s Stock in Snow Hill and the Ocean City Center for the Arts, on 94th St., as well as in many private collections.
Right now, however, a busier-than-ever law practice, combined with some avocational restoration work to both his home and boat, have Cosby using his office as an ersatz art gallery, with no fewer than 15 works on display.
Cosby intends to exhibit again toward the end of the year, when he participates in the artists’ challenge to be sponsored by the Ocean City Public Library in conjunction with the Art League of Ocean City. Last year, a group of local writers created stories based on the artwork of local painters. This year, however, the tables will be turned, and the painters will create art based on the writers’ words.
“Hey, we’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words,” reminded Cosby, “but who’s to say that a word isn’t worth a thousand pictures, as well?”
BRIAN "PETE" COSBY
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