Friday, December 16, 2016


Addison Parks, 2005, wood and paint

Sculpture was my first love, but let's face it, sculpture doesn't travel well, and we travelled all the time. Painting would have to do. So painting it was, all through school, art school, and my career as an artist. I only took one class, introduction to sculpture, my freshman year in college. It was really called 3D. I have never shown any sculpture professionally outside of my own installations. When it comes to sculpture I am untrained, untutored, and unproven. Outsider.

Addison Parks, 2002, wood and paint

But I still love it. And over the last twenty years I have turned to it for great pleasure, excitement, and inspiration. Whenever I write about art, great art, great inspiration, the first thing that jumps to mind is always one sculpture. The Winged Victory of Samothrace. First saw it at the age of seven. And then of course the Lions at Delos later that summer made a huge impression. And then of course anything Michelangelo. Or Bernini.

Addison Parks, 2000, wood and paint

But before all of that there was the giant terra-cotta head my sculptor mother was furiously piecing together in my parents bedroom in Shaker Heights. And then there was every afternoon hanging around the studio of Nino Franchina on Via Margutta in Rome circa 1963. Sculpture was always capturing my attention and I was always making it and leaving it behind.

Addison Parks, 1986, oil, encaustic, mixed media
Sculpture creeping into painting more than painted sculpture.

Stupid, but it was when someone smashed one of my terra-cotta sculptures opening a window that something finally went click. That was it. No more. I must have been 12 at the time. Painting it would have to be. And of course I loved painting anyway, the color, the sense of gesture, and always the physicality of it. Not just the texture. The actual substance of paint. The sculpture of paint.

Addison Parks, 1985, oil, encaustic, mixed media on canvas

So when it comes to sculpture I am a pure vessel. Pure love. Pure intent. Pure experience. Pure joy. There is a lot to be said for that. I always try to achieve that place in painting, but it is almost impossible. Damaged goods. Too much schooling. Too much mentoring. Too much tutoring. Too much criticism. Too much careerism. Too much expectation. Too much promise.

Addison Parks, 2006, wood and paint

There is none of that when I make sculpture. I am free. I have even seen people get truly excited by my sculpture, until they found out that it was mine, and then they put their excitement away. No cred. No blessings from any institution, any gallery, or anyone. But in that brief moment I would see a wow in their expression. Not hmmmm. No chin scratching. Just wow!

Addison Parks, 2010, mixed media, found wood and paint

Mostly what I make these days I do in my wood shop on Spring Hill in Lincoln. On the Cape, in Truro I made small ones with a glue gun on the kitchen counter. But usually the shop. The same tools and materials I use for carpentry and construction. Everything found or from the lumber yard or hardware store. I like the feel of wood. I can't help it. Tried stone and metal but wood feels good. Plus I like the way it takes paint.

Addison Parks in Truro, 2002, wood and paint

Whenever I feel particularly blocked, in need of a shot in the arm, it has been sculpture that saves me. Some pieces of wood, glue, a nail gun, a little paint, and I am off to the races.

Addison Parks, 2010, found wood and paint

It has always been true that if I could just make a good painting, then all was right with the world. Funny thing is, all I have ever had to do was make a sculpture, period. Good never entered into it. Judgment never entered into it. Just joy. Pure joy.

Addison Parks, 2007, wood and paint

Addison Parks
Spring Hill
December 2016

Addison Parks, December 2016, Spring Hill

Addison Parks, 2010, found wood 

Addison Parks, 2009, found wood and paint

Addison Parks, 2007, wood and paint

Addison Parks, 2006, mixed media, found wood and paint

These pieces I did out in Truro in the summer of 2002-2003. The simplicity of them appealed to me. 2x4s and dowels and paint. Reminded me a the tie makers challenge. How to make as many interesting striped ties with just three colors.

Kindling and paint. 2006

Wood shims, glue gun and paint. 2006

Addison Parks, 1985, oil, encaustic, mixed media on board
These pieces were all considered dream images. A swirl of life on another plane. Love and art.
The sculpture just keeps climbing into the paintings. Not quite feeling permission yet to just make sculpture. Sculptors are a whole other kettle of fish. A whole other tribe. I tribe I don't belong to. 

Addison Parks, 1985, oil, encaustic, mixed media on burlap and cardboard

Addison Parks, 1985, oil, encaustic, mixed media on canvas
Part of this whole Dreaming of Trees series that flowered in Providence.

This piece was companion to the works on paper with house paints I had mixed in the paint store. 1987. Providence, Rhode Island. Wood scraps from the lumberyard. Always a favorite source of inspiration.  I was also teaching at RISD at the time. Classes in painting designed to free up the students. Water based paints on paper. Move fast.

I started these pieces on the Cape in 2006. Pieces of wood from the lumber yard used as shims. A glue gun and some paint and some fun.

In the summer of 2009 in Truro it was time to clean up some of my wood pile. Old stretchers. Nail gun. Paint.

2010 in Truro. Old chairs with glue and a nail gun and more fun.

This motif shows up over and over for me. Tree. Figure. 2010 Truro. The stripe paintings in 1998 became the tree figure paintings in 2015.

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