On Saturday May 27 The Paul Parker Utica Trust, a collection of 20 oil paintings and over 120 sketches of pre Urban renewal Utica, will be returned to public access and rental at the Oneida Lake Arts and Heritage Center for the Season Kick-off: Memorial Weekend June 27-28, 2023 Saturday & Sunday along with many other Arts & Music events.
Paul Parker 1905-1987, was a professor of Fine Arts and Art History at Hamilton College for 22 years, retiring as head of the department in 1970. While living in the area he was drawn to the relevance of the City of Utica as a subject of his fine skills as an artist. His first paintings of Utica were in 1952 and continued to 1968 as he captured the city over the years as its architectural elements began to decline, fade and eventually disappear as a result of Urban renewal.
With the urging of his attorney, Stephen Lockwood, Parker had the inclination to put the collection into a Trust to benefit those local artists “whose talent exceeds their means.” Over the years, Parker’s chosen Trustee, Cassandra Harris-Lockwood, has produced numerous stage productions including A Raisin in the Sun, The Wonderful Wizard of Was and For Colored Girls. These were the City’s first stage productions produced independently by the Black community.
It is the income from the rental of the paintings to wealthy patrons of the arts and businesses that will continue to create the means to support the Arts.
The Trust has also sponsored the work of independent artists, most notably Onondaga Snipe clan member Clint Shenandoah, who was the first PPUT Fellow. Discovered as a high school senior, the Trust assisted Shenandoah throughout the pursuit of his degree in Fine Arts as a college student. Today Shenandoah continues as a visual artist as well as Chaplain for all Native Americans held in NYSDOC. Shenandoah brings Native American artists and interests to the Sylvan Beach venue.
“I’m so grateful for the Paul Parker Utica Trust,” said Chaplain Clint Shenandoah, “and Casandra Harris-Lockwood for the opportunity and the funding provided me to pursue my studies for my two year degree in Fine Arts at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, then with BFA in Painting from Syracuse University Visual Performing Arts. I look forward to carrying on the mission of PPUT and the discovery of young talented artists.”
Years ago there was a water disaster where the paintings were held and the collection was safely boxed and put up. The emergence of the Oneida Lake Arts and Heritage Center presented an opportunity for the Trustee to represent the collection to the public and restore rental operations for the continued support of area artists.
According to Harris-Lockwood, “Al Carbone caught me at the Fitness Mill offices one day and asked me if I had any ideas on how to help out at the OLAHC. I had been trying to figure out how to get the Trust paintings back in circulation for people to enjoy, back out there making money for the Arts. I was very close to begging Munson to schedule a show for an exhibit relaunch when I connected with Linda Verni Williams who is the OLAHC Director. Everything just clicked between the two of us, my mission, her mission, gallery space and the paintings. The PPUT collection now has a permanent home at the OLAHC.”
“I am excited for the Center to benefit from such a wonderful collection of art. I am so excited to be able to offer it to a wider audience, especially our summer residents through our rental program. I was so thrilled to see that in one of these incredible paintings Paul Parker had actually depicted the area where my father’s restaurant Verni’s was located so many years ago! Whether you know old Utica or not, these scenes are so beautifully painted with the architecture, the buildings and the vintage cars, they are of interest to so many people. The collection is a treasure,’ said Verni Williams.
Harris-Lockwood went on to say, “This joining of the region’s artist at a central venue in the heart of Vacationland of Sylvan Beach is a first. The Paul Parker Utica Trust brings downtown Utica to Sylvan Beach. Sylvan Beach welcomes Utica in the Art Center. Native American artists and Black artists will be a recognized part of and included in the mainstream economy of this regional Mecca of Summer fun, food, entertainment and now the Arts. The work of the OLAHC will be a boost to the overall economy and a welcomed cultural accomplishment for our region. Thank you Paul.”