The Exception to the Rule, 2017
Materials: Acrylic on paper, 30” x 22”.
Location at Summa Health: Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Tower on the Akron Campus (141 N. Forge St.), blue neighborhood, fifth floor, hallway outside patient rooms H5-135 and H5-136.
While still a student, Cleveland native Patricia Zinsmeister Parker discovered that using her left hand, rather than her preferred and trained right hand, helped to free her from traditional approaches, especially realism. This technique also met her need to express herself outside of formal and academic constraints. Her work today ranges from large canvases to works on a more intimate scale and from oils and acrylics to print and drawing media, often combined to achieve the effects of spontaneity and unstudied energy that she prizes. This painting provides an excellent example of those qualities, deliberate rawness and vibrating energy.
Of this piece, one has to wonder: What about this work is the “Exception to the Rule?" Parker usually gives her works titles that function as humorous or editorial comments or as some kind of descriptor: Occasionally she actually inscribes these texts, or parts of them, into the painting. In this case, she has created a work on paper — not small in size — with acrylic paints and mixed media (latex, pencil, collage), materials which she has been using since about 2010. Here the artist builds up the color she uses to create the background (yellows and pinks, that also show up in flowers and fruits on table, underlay the heavier blue and black) and applies paint in a way that makes evident the varying size of brush strokes (corresponding to brushes in a range of sizes). In addition to these, we see finer painted or drawn lines that pick out contours or create figures on the table (cloth). So this is a painting that is, in part, about the process of painting.
The subject is a still life, a type or genre of art in which an artist represents flowers, fruit, inanimate objects, sometimes trophy animals or fish, in a venerable tradition that was popularized by the Dutch in the 17th century but which goes back to deep antiquity. Still lifes give an artist the chance to explore colors, shapes, light, textures and their relationships. Additionally, the objects carefully composed in a still life are associated with specific meanings, which cumulatively evoke the pleasures or simplicities of life, and often its transience. The cut flowers and plucked fruits here are such objects. Perhaps by painting these particular exuberant poppies in their bright blue pitcher, surrounded by fruit, Parker celebrates the fact that art can be long, an exception to the rule of transience, a moment outside of time and its ravages.
Parker holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s of Fine Arts, as well as Master of Arts from Kent State University. Having worked as a fashion illustrator for a department store in Akron and then a designer for American Greetings, she studied independently at Instituto de Allende in Mexico and returned to learn printmaking, at University of Akron, where she also taught for a number of years.
Where you can see more of this artist’s work:
Parker has a record of vigorous solo and group exhibitions of her paintings and prints around Northeast Ohio, New York, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts, as well as at the Xiamen University in southern China and Xian University in central China.These have netted the artist many reviews and awards, including Best in Show in the 1981 May Show. Her website tracks her production, and you will also find her paintings represented in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals, the Akron Art Museum, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the Archives of the Smithsonian Institution of American Art, among many other private and corporate collections. She is a founding member and an archived artist of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in Cleveland.