Photos from the Paul Parker Utica Trust Available at For The Good, Inc.
By Jess Szabo | Arts Writer
Artists’ workspaces are always pictured as colorful and inspirational. While we do not all fit that expectation, most of us do all we can to make the place where we create and practice our art as comfortable and productive as we can.
When we’re working our second jobs and day jobs, workplaces today can be rather stark and even a bit cold. Decorating trends favor a lot of white, gray, and black. There is little color, and when it is seen, it is usually in the form of traditional “lobby furniture” and “office furniture.”
This type of furniture and decor is of course easy to find, more affordable than filling the space with more comfortable furniture intended for a home, and much more durable. Still, it does little to help customers, clients, potential employees, or collaborators feel welcome or remember the business.
Many public places add works of art to their lobbies, offices, or meeting rooms to generate pleasant feelings in their customers, and make their businesses stand out among the many similarly furnished and decorated places around town. This has been shown to be an effective tactic. Looking at art can cause similar reactions in the brain to falling in love, or looking at someone you love. Reduced stress, improved memory, and greater feelings of empathy have also been noted in studies that examine the impact of viewing works of art.
One way local business owners and managers can use the visual arts to make their workspaces inviting and memorable is to lease one or more paintings from the Paul Parker Utica Trust.
Paul Parker was a painter, Hamilton College professor, and chair of the Hamilton College Art department for twenty-two years, from 1948 until his retirement in 1970. He was born in LaGrange, Illinois in 1905.
Parker held degrees from the University of Illinois, and the University of Chicago. Before moving to Utica, he served as the Head of the Art Department for the University of South Dakota (1937-1939), Director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (1940-1945) and the Director of the Des Moines Art Center (1945-1948).
During the 1950s and 1960s, Parker sketched and painted scenes of pre-Urban renewal Utica. When he retired, Parker set twenty-two of his paintings aside to form this permanent collection.
Each painting in the trust is an original, framed oil painting featuring scenes that will feel familiar to many who grew up in Utica, during these decades, and welcoming to those who moved here after the time reflected in the work. When shown prints from the collection, long-time residents immediately begin sharing memories of Utica’s past, while newer arrivals are typically moved to ask questions about their new hometown.
“Parking Lot,” painted in 1956, features a row of five distinctive 1950s cars sure to bring back memories of first driver’s licenses and first vehicles. “Barber Shop,” created in 1952, instantly brings to mind the days when men of all ages gathered in these places for both grooming and socializing. “Encounter,” from 1952, is a street scene in which a group of people meets up on the sidewalk.
“Seat Cover Installed,” a painting done in 1955, contrasts a crisp, clear ad for seat covers painted on the side of a building with the collection’s signature soft, muted tones. Other paintings are named after the specific Utica location portrayed in them, such as “North Genessee Street” (1952), “Park Avenue” (1956), “Encounter on Bleecker Street” (1956), and “Terminal Hotel” (1953).
The color palette for most of the works tends toward warm shades of rust, reds, greens, and teals, with soft blue-gray skies.
Business owners and managers can lease the works for $250 per month, per painting. They must agree to lease them for at least three months. Businesses of all sizes and types are welcome to display the paintings, but rentals are limited to public places. The paintings may not be hung in private homes.
Workplaces that choose three or more paintings for extended periods of time will be asked to pay for insurance on the paintings. But there are no other costs. Representatives from the Paul Parker Utica Trust will transport the paintings of your choice to your place of business and hang them for you.
Whether your business is in the arts or not, choosing a painting from the Paul Parker Utica Trust supports your fellow Utica artists. All funds raised through the leasing of these paintings are used to support Utica artists.
“The Trust was a sponsor of the play ‘The Wizard of Was,” Trustee Cassandra Harris-Lockwood noted, referring to a play she wrote, directed, and produced locally. “The Trust also sponsored Utica artist Clint Shenendoah for his entire career.”
The Paul Parker Utica Trust is based out of the local nonprofit organization “For the Good, Inc.” Detailed information about leasing the paintings is available by calling the organization directly at 315-797-2417. Those who prefer to communicate in writing may email For the Good at Forthegoodinc@gmail.com.
Don’t miss out on this special, unique to Utica opportunity to beautify your workspace, boost your business’s reputation, and support your fellow local artists.