Milou Masters the Milieu
by Cate Murway
mi•lieu /milˈyo͞o,milˈyə(r)/noun: environment. surroundings.
One of the nation’s foremost recognized Pop artists, Perry Milou, who was once a fixture on the Rittenhouse Square scene, has set up his studio [the sun floods his studio] in The Grundy Commons in historic Bristol on the Delaware for his self-dubbed ‘FINE POP’.
It is definitely NOT some pristine art space that is uninspired!
“I’m very happy to be here. It’s not a retail space; it’s a private studio. This is it! It’s cool here. It’s different.” He is happily creating his blend of pop culture contemporary art right in 19007.
The walls of this American contemporary artist’s studio depict an eclectic array of underdogs, some who were popularly expected to lose; freedom fighters and icons known to overcome the odds and prevail. Pope Francis has joined the ranks!
Perry Milou has done countless interviews and has appeared on dozens of news programs, including NBC News, CBS News and Philadelphia Magazine.
Pop Art was born in Britain in the mid 1950s, the brain-child of several young subversive artists who shared an optimistic investment in contemporary subject matter.
Bucks County Pop artist Perry’s works celebrate oftentimes very commonplace objects, as well as select people with a distinct style of everyday life, and he elevates his popular culture creations to the level of fine art. His alluringly brilliant, fresh, and glamorous works of innovation in contemporary pop art have been hailed by critics and collectors for over two decades.
The icon of Pop Art, Andy Warhol [born Andrew Warhola; 1928–1987], who captured an authentic American aesthetic in his commercial illustrations, paintings, and his realistic renditions of popular, everyday items very much influenced Perry. But Perry Milou consistently creates his very own empowered works that are big and bright with hints of whimsy and nostalgia, creating what he calls his ‘hybrid style’. He also draws inspiration from Van Gogh’s brushstrokes, pop-artist Lichtenstein, and even Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli.
His incredible diversely talented statements are clearly not just an attempt to replicate any effect left by others. His works are ALWAYS totally and absolutely Milou!
Perry claims he is named for Perry Como. He is the son of the late notorious Philadelphia restaurateur Neil Stein, the trailblazing, jet-setting restaurateur who helped ignite a sleepy Center City dining scene and brought sidewalk dining to Rittenhouse Square. He owned the famous “Mimi Says” and the “Striped Bass”.
His mother, Angel was named for her maternal grandmother. She was a Pennsylvania Ballet prima ballerina dancer/ fashion model/ entertainer/interior designer/ Elizabeth Taylor Look-Alike who answered a Macy, Center City ad and she represented Liz Taylor for her fragrance. She has appeared on the cover of Woman’s World magazine and she acted in the pilots for the “Frankie and Johnny” film that starred Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer.
“My mother's name is Angel. I married a beautiful woman named Angela Nicola [Mastrosimone], who works in the pharmaceutical industry. My father-in law, her dad, is Angelo, and our nanny's name is Angelica. Our daughter is Francesca and our son, Nico was due the very day Pope Francis was to hold Mass in front of more than two million people in Philadelphia.”
His grandfather, Frances DeFrancesco, [one of seven and each played an instrument] was born in 1920. Perry’s grandmother, Rita DeFrancesco was lovingly known as the "The Jewel of 12th Street" in South Philadelphia, due to her beauty, the beauty of her home and the warmth with which all were welcomed. And, “I was born on October 4th, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi.” His father’s name is Ernest.
The Milou family relocated to Washington Crossing, Bucks County from Philadelphia.
He feels his success with his “A Prayer for Peace” artwork was not just luck.
When his wife, Angela first heard the pope was coming, she urged him to start painting.
He had what he described as a "divine artistic intervention" and he had no choice but to go with it.
It came to him so fast. "I'm really convinced it came from my soul spirit."
He painted from multiple photographs. He could not get Pope Francis to visit his studio.
In 2016, this inconceivably talented, forward thinking artist with classic, iconic inspirations created the incredibly spontaneous, non-commissioned portrait of Pope Francis blowing a kiss to the world. His “A Prayer for Peace” had him recognized as the official licensed portrait artist, selected by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and approved by the ‘World Meeting of Families’ for the pontiff’s visit to America, “our city, the home of our country”.
This is the first piece in his “Faces of Francis” paintings.
“It’s the greatest painting, the purest and most spiritual piece I have painted to date in my career. I caught lightening in a bottle with this piece.”
It was seen by millions, including Pope Francis himself when he came to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, themed "Love Is Our Mission" from Friday, Sept. 25th through Sept. 27, 2015.
Perry painted oceans and continents in his “rain” technique to form the background image; continents with people who all are equal. "His message is, we're created equal," Perry has shared.
“The portrait represents the world. I hope this becomes an iconic piece.”
He just had to make more! This widely-publicized and renowned Pope Francis portrait isn't the only work he created in preparation for the Papal visit. His entire vibrant line of all six pieces is called the “Faces of Francis” collection. His papal paintings have become a business!
Perry’s Pope is expressing peace, love and equality by blowing a kiss, a papal air-kiss, not just to Philadelphia, but to the world. His eight-hour miracle work is showcased on t-shirts, mugs and plates, calendars, tote bags and posters and will be sold by the World Meeting of Families with their own merchandise, as he licensed the image. His [deemed “priceless” on his website] 40x30inch oil on linen “A Prayer for Peace” displayed in an ornate frame is for sale for ONE MILLION dollars, with proceeds of $250,000 designated to the Mural Arts Project and he plans to donate the majority to charity.
“A Prayer for Peace” is protected by its antique, 50-pound frame and a cover with an ornate cross embellishment, hand-sewn by a friend's mother.
So, is Perry Milou an artist or a businessman?
"That's a good question," he smiled. "I'm an artist first, but I'm an excellent businessman."
When he was 7 years old, he was selling baseball cards at his school for about a month, until he was stopped by the Principal. “Kids are not supposed to be selling stuff in school.”
He had folded a new cover and replaced it with a hand drawn image of a player.
The businessman in Milou had him looking to other larger markets where more people would be willing to invest in quality artwork at higher price points.
The man who painted the Pope is also a confirmed, genuine Philly sports fan. He is a native of the city.
He is positively Philadelphia. “Philadelphia teams are my teams.”
Hey, inspiration is everywhere! He is always celebrating possibilities.
Perry exudes his patriotism, referring to Philadelphia as the cradle of our nation.
He was commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2007 to paint a portrait of Benjamin Franklin in celebration of this founding father’s 300th birthday.
This lifelong Philly sports fan created masterpieces of NFL football players and teams that whip the city into frenzy, including a 4x5ft canvas of the Eagles 2018 NFL Super Bowl LII win titled “Next Dog Up”, that features Rocky Balboa, a German shepherd inside an Eagles helmet atop the Vince Lombardi trophy, and the iconic cartoon character, Underdog. He moved the Eagles' creative work of art accomplishment within 100 yards to his work of art on a 4' x 5' canvas.
His presentations also include one of rising star QB Carson James Wentz.
The 2001 ’76ers, the 2005 Eagles, the 2008 Phillies, and even Triple Crown contender Smarty Jones snagged his interest. He is often inspired to paint sports heroes, famous freedom fighters and celebrities in his grand, flamboyant panache style. International corporations such as CENTO have even incorporated his stylish work. Perry designed their exclusive pop art Cento San Marzano T-shirt.
Cento was popping up everywhere when Perry worked with NYC Interior Designer Guy Barbarulo.
His art frequently depicts celebrity personalities, and local and nationally significant global icons, heroic types like the Dalai Lama, student and Nobel laureate Malala, Martin Luther King and Rocky Balboa, and the beloved Americana, such as his incredibly striking Lady Liberty and Apache tribe leader, Geronimo.
He feels courage in the African American history story so they are one of a quite diverse group that obviously inspired him. His works always tell a story and he is willing to share that inspiration that has most impactfully touched his creative spirit, with a smile. Always with a smile.
“The story makes the sale.”
His impassioned representational presentations also include celebrities such as Madonna and even Sylvester Stallone. In fact, Milou’s “Balboa Blues”, a portrait of him with his classic kind of falling-apart scarecrow hat, lives in Sylvester Stallone's home.
Perry also created a minimal contemporary passionately compelling pop rendering of music icon PRINCE the morning after his death. The title of the painting is Purple Rain.
In March 2016 at the Borgata Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, he presented Sophia Loren, the Hollywood icon/ Oscar-winning actress who has been gracing the silver screen since 1950, with her portrait, a fantastic piece of his artwork that he created for her.
Some of his most recent works includes a portrait of Lady Gaga, called ‘Caution Gaga.’
Perry’s bold works with ripe colors and tantalizing shapes that seduce the senses hold universal appeal.
“Art is subjective. No set rules or regulations in the Art world.”
In 2007, his Marilyn Monroe series was featured in the “Marilyn in Art” book published by the Cantor Publishing Group.
Every single piece is different! There is magic and spontaneity in creating art.
This most generous gentleman, a Haverford Senior High School alumni and a Fine Arts graduate of The University of Arizona, studied graphic design and illustration. He was the first student to convince the Bachelor of Fine Arts program to include “open studio” as a major in 1990.
He is deeply immersed with using his amazing artistic talents to raise money for many local and regional charities. He creates a one of a kind painting that is auctioned and he often donates part of the proceeds for philanthropic causes such as Philabundance, Chase Utley All-stars, The Cole Hamels Foundation, American Red Cross, Minding your Mind Foundation, Easter Seals, The National Adoption Agency, and the Ronald McDonald Foundation, a current work in progress.
”I am a brain tumor survivor of a non-malignant brain tumor, so I am always ready to give back.”
This was his most serious health scare more than a decade ago when he survived a 10-hour-long surgery to remove the benign pituitary adenoma tumor.
His “Spread Your Love” creations are a series of unique mixings of custom acrylic colors finished with brightly colored polymer paint over hand carved wooden hearts, presented as one-of-a-kind pieces of heART. He literally pours his heart out.
“We all evolved from an equal higher divine source and we need more kindness in the world. We all have a beating heart, but no two hearts are alike.”
He humbly attributes his talents to a higher power, truly divine intervention.
“There is so much turmoil in the world but there’s a tremendous amount of beauty in our world.”
He is very upfront about his spiritual connections.
“I am constantly looking at the sky for color. It is the closest thing to actually watching God paint in the present moment.”
‘The highest form of wisdom is kindness.” The Talmud.
Perry says he is “inspired by life to create bright, bold imagery that affects people. It’s a passion that burns hot inside of me and has since I was a young boy.” Since the time he first took crayon to paper at age five, in the first grade, he liked to draw and color. He drew a marker picture from the Adventures of Huckelberry Finn book. “I knew I was an artist then. I knew that art was my calling, my inner self.”
He is the third of four but none of his siblings are involved in art.
Participate in any sports?
“I ran indoor track because the coach was my Math teacher and I wasn’t very good at math. I liked Art.”
This most illustrious artist saw a dream of his own come true with his eponymous “American Milou's Studio for Children” and his series of independent art workshops ‘PALETTE KIDS, INC.’, in Miami, for children ages five and older. He mentored a new generation of artists when he taught the kids side-by-side about figures, and how to draw them. Kids’ enthusiasm is contagious!
“I love teaching children. Their art is so free, Picasso-like, un-learned painting and drawing.”
His program helped young people to appreciate art.
“I want my work to evoke an aura of beautiful feelings.” His diverse love of many types of art works resonates with power. “I know one of my strengths is my creativity!”
Imagination jump-starts his creativity and his quality artwork is for sale.
Each finished beauty needs a new home and is priced to sell.
“I always remain humble to be a people's artist.”
He accepts commissions for both private and corporate clients and portrait work, as well as continually contributing to his growing roster of charitable organizations around the country.
Meet the artist beyond the canvas.
Perry Milou is planning a Fall Open House at his Grundy Commons studio.
Paint his name in your calendar!
Perry Milou Studio
The Grundy Commons
925 Canal Street, Studio 1-2-1C
Bristol Borough, PA 19007-3931
Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org