Thursday, December 03, 2015


Wood, 2015, oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches

Addison Parks / Recent Paintings  2014-2015

Painting is very often like going through door number three; you just don't know what you'll find. The reason I keep painting, keep going back, keep going through door number three, is that more often than not, something is waiting. I think our ego self declares something along the lines that "I made something happen," but deep down we know we just got lucky, again. We're just fishing, and if we are lucky, we get something on the line.

Trunk, 2015, oil on linen, 24 x 18 inches

I won't lie, these paintings aren't big fish. Then again, I am not big fish fishing. Not these days. After over 50 years of painting large, I am really just interested in anything the sea, or river, or lake, or ocean, will give me. I have taken stabs at making a decent small painting from time to time, but my natural inclination and disposition since I was a boy was to paint larger than life, to feel my brush strokes travel and explore the arc and extent of my reach. Small paintings are compressed. More in the wrist. It is all good.

Love's Spine, 2015, gouache on linen, 16 x 12 inches

Painting is just dreaming with your eyes wide open. Did Diego Rivera say that? Well, I know what he means. The very act of painting has always been a close companion to daydreaming for me. Plain old-fashioned musing. And the paintings in this show are maybe more of that than I have done in some time. I really can't explain them or account for them. I don't even know what to think of them, so I certainly cannot hold it against anyone for feeling the same way.

Hillside, 2015, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches

There is a little Paul Klee at play in Hillside. He can be a mentor for small paintings. Play is vital. The tree-figure form is rather animated. Can be person, place or thing. Animal or vegetable. Its red paint becomes the light in the canvas. I starting using the tree-figure mark in a mural three or four years ago to organize some otherwise random brushstrokes (although its origin is without question totally and absolutely rooted in my wooden sculptures of the last fifteen plus years). These marks from the mural seemed to be literally marking time at first. Four strokes and a cancellation to make the numeral five. Small family of five. Father of four. But then tree. Especially pines. Pines that dot the 360 degrees of woods that surround my studio and home. They jumped from my sculptures and out of my mural and into my paintings last Winter, and lasted through early Spring. Where they go from here I have no idea. How strong they are remains to be seen.

Flap, 2015, gouache and oil on linen, 18 x 24 inches

I am so grateful to Nina Nielsen and John Baker for just giving me this show, but I owe an added debt to Nina for daring me not to paint in a series. She didn't say it so much, not directly anyway, as show me by her fine example.

A number of these paintings are unmoored as a result, just floating around out there, untethered from a group, a series, an alliance, a device, a hook, a common theme. It makes them random. Isolated. Alone. Irreplaceable. Undisplacible. Relatively unique in that they are single.

Becco's Ride, 2015, gouache on linen, 16 x 12 inches

I can like that. It is like swimming way out in the ocean by yourself at night. Scary, but exhilarating and somehow liberating.  These small gouaches and oils are rooted in my experience, and many of them spring from the rather commonplace and strangely familiar. But they make an appearance on the canvas, and I try to do right by them, honor them, give them a good life.

Light Sail, 2015, gouache on linen, 16 x 12 inches

I use color and shape and mark and line and texture and contrast and signs and arrows and metaphor, etc., to give wings and heart and fire and brains to my paintings, to bring them to life, to set their sails to the wind, and cast them out to sea. A painting like Light Sail takes me back. Back to 1960, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, to the morning boat from Venice to Pireaus, to Mykonos, to white light and white stone, to blue sky and blue water, to windmills, to the lions at Delos. I can feel the stiff, salty breeze.

When I see my old paintings, they tell me so much, almost too much, of what I was thinking at that time, where I was, how I was, up or down, in or out, happy, challenged, heartbroken, or on top of the world. They tell me what inspired me, what called me, what drove me; in short, what I cared about. They also tell me what I was struggling with or opposing or ignoring at my peril. I see them and a little voice says, oh, that was what was going on. I feel exposed by them sometimes, or thankful to them for bringing back a happy memory about something or someone from long ago. They are so personal that way. Vessels. Filled with light and dark, yearning and passion, daring and delight, foolishness and anticipation,  rawness and struggle, wonder and sorrow, and the occasional glimpse of the breathtaking, the sublime, if fortune smiles on me. All served up in triumph and celebration.

Cathy's Turn, 2015,  gouache and oil on linen, 16 x 12 inches

Quite often I have to resist the urge of trying to use a painting I like as a stepping stone to another painting, as much as it might tempt me, as much as it might yield. You know, keep painting the same painting until I get it right; mine it until there is no ore left. Instead, sometimes I try just letting one painting tell its story, give what it may, get it right the first time. And then start again. The complete tabula rasa. Back to the bottom of the hill, back to the beginning. A new day! Door number three!

Plot Line, 2015, gouache on linen, 16 x 12 inches

It is worth noting that there are paintings which look outward and paintings which look inward, and some that manage neither and some that achieve both. At times I was all about that painting that looks outwardly. Painting that may aim inward but speaks outwardly. On and off I have gone the other route, speaking inwardly about things both outward and inward. Most of the time this has happened in small paintings, just not all small paintings. Still, it is my hope that my small paintings will set a trap, land a fish, maybe even create a nice fishbowl worthy of a momentary gaze.

Charles Seliger was a painter who spoke inwardly, but about things both large and small. In his last judgment, Michelangelo spoke inwardly and outwardly. A rare feat. Velasquez, yes. Rembrandt, yes.  Pollock could do it. So could de Kooning. So could Klimt. Joan Mitchell. Porfirio DiDonna. Joan Snyder. Milton Resnick certainly made it his end all, be all.

Not of This World(Pine), 2015, oil on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

Outwardly is more common because it is the nature of painting to be an outward expression.

Fall, 2015, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches

Inwardly is different. Think Advent calendar. Think nesting. Eddies. Secrets. Buried treasure. Wormholes. Cupped hands. The beachcomber's prize.

Seventh Samurai, 2015, oil on linen, 24 x 18 inches

Charles Seliger delighted in buried treasures in his paintings. We are meant to mine them. The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery once provided the viewers with magnifying glasses to better guide our way. Resnick's crusty masterpieces of the late 70s and early 80s were rock faces to be scaled by comparison. Bring a pickaxe! Helen Frankenthaler was completely expansive but on the inside. Richard Tuttle is nothing if not inward. It is very difficult to get to his work outwardly, although he spoke about the process as though it were a circle, you could get to one or the other depending on which way you went, maybe ultimately getting to the same place in the end. That would seem almost strangely inevitable and even unavoidable. From ashes to ashes, dust to dust. 

Heaven's Gate, 2015, oil on canvas, 14 x 11 inches

Leon Polk Smith, like Frankenthaler, appears totally outward and yet speaks to what is profoundly and poetically and ineffably inward. 

My Heart is by the Window, 2014, oil on linen, 12 x 9 inches

Forrest Bess's work is completely inward and yet makes a powerful outward impression. It would seem to suggest that yes, there is more than one way to get there. The artist that harnesses both, like a Rothko, and still delivers, sets us down a super highway. Still, in my experience, all roads do indeed lead to Rome(home), and I am so grateful for a lifetime of painting that has helped show me the way, so grateful for all the love and art(fish, large and small) that shined its light on me.


Addison Parks @ Nielsen Gallery @ Bow Street Annex

Recent Paintings of Addison Parks, 2014-2015 this November 2015 thru January 2016     NIELSEN GALLERY

To see the exhibition please visit:

I would like to thank John Baker and Nina Nielsen for putting up this exhibition. For their wild generosity and thoughtfulness. John Baker for his unfailingly concise insight. I would also like to thank my family for being the beating heart of every one of these paintings. Thank you all.

To see more work please visit