Parker’s dark paradise

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My daughter Oona is a budding art collector. As a young 24 year old she’s got a taste for the surreal and the cartoony, and her apartment is wallpapered with prints by people like Ben Woodward, Andrew Jeffrey Wright and others. She’s also big into movies and anime and has movie posters all around and it all seems to work. Oona’s biggest purchase so far is a tangled woodland scene by Paul Santoleri, a print from a Spector Red Dot sale that is her pride and joy, with an Escher-like puzzle quality all done with a nature motif. (Santoleri has work up now til the end of July at Projects Gallery in Northern Liberties (that’s Hyder Gallery’s new name). Check out the link for images.)

Last week Oona had us over for dinner and showed us a new work, a hand-made poster whose central image is a big ape. The piece is by her friend Dave Parker. The ballpoint pen production, which must have been 24″ by 36″ was made over the course of many months, with Parker working on it while he was visiting friends and socializing. It has references to their entire social circle, all in symbols coded so the insiders know what’s what but nobody really “portrayed” in out and out portraiture. It’s teen notebook art but ambitious and extremely well done and I didn’t have my camera with me. Darn. (top image is a detail of a Parker self portrait and right is a work in progress. Parker said he’s still thinking about working on that red sky in the background.)

I wanted to see more of Parker’s art so Oona and Parker came to the studio one day last week. Parker had a large black leather portfolio with him that he said used to be his dad’s, I believe. I thought that was sweet.

The artist said he took some courses at Kutztown University but didn’t get a degree. He’s been taught some, but mostly he draws in a style reminiscent of ’60s-era posters with the trip factor high. The young artist has talent and drive but like most of us he hasn’t got a clue about marketing his art. He’s been giving it away. (image is detail from a poster he made for his friends, the band Complex. He showed me a bunch of posters he made free for the band when they played at places like the Khyber and the TLA. Parker’s also in a band but I failed to ask the name or whether and where they play.)

Parker’s work is all hand drawn, no Photoshop involvement. The materials he uses are watercolor, graphite, gouache and “Pro white” (a kind of better, easier to handle White Out pen, he said). He works the pieces over long periods of time and showed me several things that had been started a while ago and would be finished some day.

I think Parker’s sense of play is great and that the his over-the-top everything and the kitchen sink world, full of mystery and a fascination with the dark side is in tune with today. I hope he can get a grip and start selling some work because it’s good; he’s serious; and he’s hard-working.
(here’s a piece called “Octopus’s Garden.” He’s giving it to his nephew.)

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