Pieces of a sunken barge in San Diego harbor, weathered shingles, a toy soldier, tiny squares of linoleum, old rulers and printer’s blocks are among the items that John F. Parker uses to make art. He combs flea markets, salvage yards and auctions, carefully plucking individual items from among crates and mounds of possibility. His exhibition opened recently at the White River Gallery in South Royalton VT; an opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, October 21 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Generations, one of the artist’s favorite pieces
Thirty-two of his works are on display and show his love of sculpture and form. Known as “assemblage art,” these pieces are three-dimensional collages using found objects. Each component is used as Parker finds it, and most show some age. The patina, which might mean faded and worn paint, scratched surfaces and splintered edges, is authentic and left untouched.
Parker lives in Chelsea VT and is a retired carpenter and custom home builder who loved making things, like birdhouses, as a child. While the majority of the art in this exhibition is relatively new, one vintage piece from 1975 appears just inside the gallery door. Some of the works are abstract while others are more narrative. A few pieces have a stilled kinetic energy. They do not actually move, but look as if they might. In End of the Line, for example, (featured photo, above), one finds oneself looking and then looking back, certain that those two elevated wooden balls will, maybe at this precise moment, slide their way toward the bottom.
10:07 A Train to Chicago
They are intricate, each holding a viewer’s gaze for a while. Sometimes the components are obvious; occasionally upon closer inspection, they surprise. They might seem just a testament to simple Yankee frugality that makes art out of what would otherwise be discarded, but there is more. The viewer can appreciate that each component has a history, even if that history is not known or knowable. And now the object is reborn and lives in a new context. These works offer a sweet response to a modern penchant for disposability.
The exhibition runs until December 31. The White River Gallery is located just off the South Royalton Green near the corner of Chelsea and South Windsor Streets.
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Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge