A Man Named Pearl

Showing at the MFA October 2008

You may have heard of Pearl Fryar. He’s the self-taught topiary artist at the center of the award-winning documentary produced and directed by Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson, now showing at the Museum of Fine Arts.

According to Fryar's Topiary Garden website, twenty years or so ago Pearl Fryar received a three-minute pruning lesson at a local nursery in South Carolina that changed the direction of his life. During off hours away from the can factory where he worked, he began, at nearly fifty years old, to transform his three-acre yard into a topiary garden. He hoped to win a yard-of-the-month award from the Bishopville Iris Club. He did far more. The Garden Conservancy reports that his garden is now known internationally for its fanciful creations that include, at minimum, 35 species shaped into roughly 500 abstractions.

In The Boston Globe review of the documentary, Wesley Morris writes, “Galloway and Pierson smartly pull back a bit to give a sense of Bishopville, a still-segregated town. Fryar seems all the more remarkable for not allowing racism to prohibit his success.” Fryar has become a local hero and inspiration for many. Don’t miss your chance to learn his story and see his art. There are three more showings of the film at the MFA after tonight’s.  Buy the DVD from Amazon.