Piece of Work: Abe Pieciak

It wasn’t trash, it was a Trash Lobster!

At thirty-four, Abe Pieciak is already on his second successful, creative career. Back in 2003, he left the seventy-hour work-week of a high-end restaurant chef, a life he describes now as so stressful it felt like prison. He segued into the life he lives today, at his studio and home in Aquinnah making art. There, he says, he feels like “it’s the top of the world.

“When I first started I made, like, $100 a week, but I just kept going and didn’t stop,” he says. “I started with watercolor paintings. But I think the more stuff you have, and the different mediums, the better it is for everyone else and yourself. I’ve gotten jobs making cabinetry out of driftwood. I pretty much walk the beaches of the Island and get inspired by looking at the ground. Sometimes one little stick on the beach will turn into something like the eight-by-eight mahi-mahi piece I’m working on now.”

Beach detritus, it turns out, is particularly inspirational. “Basically, I fish a lot and walk the beaches and I’m always picking up trash and putting it in my backpack. And then I thought, ‘I should make something,’ so my first piece was a striped bass.”

The eight-and-a-half by four-and-a-half-foot Trash Lobster, shown here, is mostly from the Menemsha Hills shoreline and was kindled by the lobster traps that wash ashore. “A lot of people look at the stuff on the beach and just see a bottle of French’s mustard, but if you get a bunch of it you can make the not-so-beautiful stuff beautiful. Once I got that idea, I just went on a mission.”

It turns out that the creative and lifestyle change that Pieciak found in the Aquinnah shoreline was both a life changer and saver. “I just feel like people’s brains were meant to create stuff,” he says.

You can find Pieciak’s pieces at his studio or online at