Thursday, January 15, 2009

Documenting Loss & Change

"Places I Can't Return to"

Driving down Main Street in Historic Ellicott City a couple days ago, I took this picture of Kim Parr's studio window at 8358 Main Street. It features a wonderful new painting of historic houses--a streetscape in New Haven, Connecticut.

Change in the studio window prompted me to contact Kim to find out about any other new work created in this significant Winter of 2009, with an impending inauguration in a few days. She told me that she was actively documenting new development in the County, then shared some images with me. This painting is from one of her two new panels (see below).

It is, of course, an all-too familiar tractor-plow in the process of digging up what was once an intact rural landscape, preparatory to the construction of new houses.

It is noted that all proposed work must undergo scrutiny by the County Planning and Zoning and/or the Historic District Commission, depending upon the nature of the project.

The two new panels by Kim Parr comprise one series. Each painting measures 15" x 15" and all views are documented from local sites, wooded lots, and specific projects such as the College Hills Development, Baugher's Development and Tiber River development. Her new series is lyrically titled:

“Goodbye Old Man Snyder’s Woods—Hello, Prancing Deer Court!”

Says Parr, "Witnessing continual loss and change locally, my paintings are elegies to the farms and woods of my neighborhood."

Kim Parr received a BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1984 and an MFA in painting from Yale University in 2001.
Her paintings document the changing American landscape, with a
focus on real estate development, which--to the artist--occurs in a constant, current, surprising and disappointing way.

The ferocity of such local new construction is characterized by the artist:

"It intrudes upon the places we live, in both memory and real time. I understand the importance and necessity of housing and shopping malls, but very often these new additions are ill placed. Poor planning makes them feel incongruous, awkward and imposed upon the landscape. I find this lack of continuity or odd juxtaposition unsettling, curious, funny, and sad. I make paintings about this." The overriding theme of this body of work is the encroachment of man upon nature. My neighborhood and surrounding counties are in the process of changing from farmland and woods to major housing developments and strip malls.

You can visit Kim Parr's Studio by appointment or by chance. e-mail:; telephone: 410-313-9735. Be sure to go to Kim's web site at to see her portfolio. Kim Parr's work will be featured in an exhibition at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, in February, 2009.

Web page content and photos by Kay Weeks. Please be sure to visit Jeremy Kipp Clark's comprehensive web site on Historic Ellicott City at: January 15, 2009

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice article and I love the artist's work!