Montana artist’s new book unique
By Christine Meyers,
Gazette Entertainment Editor
Published December 03, 2002
LIVINGSTON – Artist Parks Reece combines wit and humor with a fine ability to draw.
And the man can write, not always an attribute of the talented painter.
The result is “Call of the Wild: The Art of Parks Reece,” a new book that would proudly grace the coffee table of anyone with a Montana connection.
Love of nature shows in every page of the 124-page treasure, endorsed by many of the writers and artists of the Livingston area, all pals of the 48-year old writer.
Reece, a native North Carolinian, began painting and drawing as a lad in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He was encouraged by his mother, Gwyn Finley Reece, a nationally known painter.
He studied in Costa Rica and earned his degree at the San Francisco Art Institute before settling in Park County and opening his art gallery.
His son, Myers, a college graduate, honors the family’s artistic tradition as a poet, playwright and writer.
As Reece says, “Truly great writers work best when unencumbered by hair on their heads.” (Or, one presumes, a ledger of accounts receivable in the studio.)
The book is, first, beautifully composed, with each painting giving way to the next in elegant, whimsical fashion.
The charming Chip ‘n Dale Dancers – chipmunks, of course – set the tone for a family of hummingbirds being conducted by “The One Who Learned The Words” (the old joke: you know why hummingbirds hum?)
An elk fishes with his antlers, a groundhog flaunts the shadow myth and a grand Kodiak bear dreams of pie – make that fish – in the sky.
Coyotes howl and birds “crowmance” in Reece’s artful and imaginative world. Here too, colors exist in lovely comfort with one another – warm tones, resonant blues, rusts and reds and plenty of white for the negative space that sets off the delightful sketches and painting.
One of my favorite, “Everybody Loves Shakespeare,” shows a bear court jester performing for a mountain lion queen while moose, elk, antelope, rabbits, turtles, and magpies sit mesmerized in the moonlight. A lone mouse perches above the action front and center, and a dinosaur frames a crane.
It’s symbolic of Reece’s perception of life: That we’re all in it together and that it should be enjoyed for it ends far too quickly.
Reece’s titles are pithy and insightful. They sometimes have an edge. “After the Oil Spill” puts speckled salmon in speckled but deadly waters.
“One Night New the Nuclear Plant” looks like “A Peaceable Kingdom” until you notice the animals glowing with radiation.
Even when he’s foreboding, his art has irony.
“Noah Shark” put the critters of the ark on a great white. “The Human Race” puts a unique spin on
the carpe diem theory.
And “Fire Two!” equips a lake trout with torpedoes, aimed at a fly fisherman in mid-cast.
Friends of the artist supplied prose and even sonnets to accompany this unique book. You’ll recognize Greg Keeler and others. Some of Reece’s mother’s lovely finger paintings pay homage to her and the obvious influence her creativity had on Parks.
And son Myers writes an affectionate ode to his dad, remembering to pick up roadkill – to bring home and study, naturally. “Bringing up Daddy” is a love letter.
It’s clear that Montana inspires Reece. Let’s hope he has an unlimited supply of whatever else he uses.
From “Poultrygeist” to “Chocolate Moouse” and “The Rat Race” to “Montana Ballet,” these artful insights will leave you nodding, chuckling and wanting more.