Charles Parks was a well known and much loved sculptor familiar to many in the Brandywine Valley area of Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania. His works grace public buildings and spaces in the region and across the country.
Parks was originally from Virginia, moved to Delaware with his family when he was young, and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
He produced a body of over 500 sculptures, many of them in his studio in Wilmington overlooking the Brandywine River. The sculptures, primarily cast in bronze, range in size from a few inches to monumental public works almost 40 ft high, such as “Our Lady of Peace”, seen above in progress in his studio, outside the studio and in place in Santa Clara, CA (above, second and third from bottom).
I was delighted a few years ago to have the opportunity in my role as a website designer to create a new website for the Charles Parks Studio. In the course of working on the site I had the pleasure of visiting the studio and meeting the artist and his wife, Inge, both completely delightful.
Having grown up in Wilmington, I was of course familiar with Parks’ work; it can be found in many public spaces in the city and the state of Delaware, even more so since 2011, when the Charles Parks Foundation donated a large body of work to the state.
Parks was a steadfast defender of realism and naturalism in sculpture in the midst of the tides of Modernism that swept through the art world in the mid 20th century. His direct and unpretentious evocations of people, nature and fantasy subjects resonated with the public, and carried forward in many ways the traditions of imaginative realism embodied by the Brandywine School of painters and illustrators.
His statue, Boy with Hawk (above, bottom) stands outside the entrance to the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA.
Charles Cropper Parks died last month on October 25, 2012 at the age of 90. (See the Studio’s News and Information page for links to obits and articles.)
There will be a public memorial service tomorrow, Saturday, December 1, 2012 at the Chase Center on the Waterfront in Wilmington, DE.
[Addendum, 2018: the Delaware Division of the Arts has declined to maintain the Charles Parks website, and it is no longer available online.]