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Alfred Browning Parker
May 11 - Augustl 25, 2012
Modernist perspective drawings from the studio archives of Miami's maverick architect and the photographer who chronicled his best work
Few architects achieved the profession's highest calling, being lauded by Frank Lloyd Wright. Alfred Parker did. Wright even offered to write the captions for a magazine article showcasing Parker.
Looking at his drawings, it becomes obvious that Alfred Browning Parker also admired Wright but he never slavishly modeled his buildings on Wright's designs. "Channelling" Wright may have been the closest he came to following in the great master's footsteps and that's just as well. Though Parker is considered to be a Miami Modernist, his works aren't so easily categorized into such a narrow slot.
Most of his own drawings and those of his staff as well as his office papers were placed in the University of Florida Libraries. But they show Parker was not only a gifted architect but also a brilliant renderer in his own drawings and a rich source for guidance in the drawings of his staff. Not all architects could draw well but Parker's drawings, whether for selling the idea to the client or for the technical documents aimed at only the contractor's eyes, are among the best works on paper.
ArchiTech Gallery has acquired a few of his and his staff's best drawings from pen & ink on vellum, pencil on paper or pencil on tissue and will be devoting a wall to this great modernist for a show and sale this summer.
In addition, several original photographic prints by the internationally known Ezra Stoller, chronicling some of those buildings in signed prints, will be on view and for sale as well.
Shortly after his death in 2011, Parker's biography, The Architecture of Alfred Browning Parker: Miami's Maverick Modernist was written by architect Randolph C. Henning as a catalogue of Parker's best buildings. Henning will be here at the opening of this small exhibition to sign copies of his new Parker biography.
Alfred Browning Parker: Miami's Maverick Modernist will open at ArchiTech on Friday, May 11th and continue through Saturday, August 25th.
Notes on the Exhibition:
When I had the opportunity to acquire some of the best drawings of Alfred Parker's studio, I jumped at the chance. Parker's work assumed legendary status in the Miami area and this would be the only time his studio's drawings were seen in Chicago.
I later learned that most of the drawings had been placed in the University of Florida Libraries. This would definitely be the last time they were available.
At the same time, some photographs by the great Ezra Stoller of several Parker projects would also be obtainable. This would be a very good pairing of two great artists of architecture.
Also, since the catastrophe of the economic meltdown started to improve, it was possible to put at least a single wall presentation together and expect a few sales.
A new book on Parker's work had just hit print and this was also a good time to invite the biographer, Randolph C. Henning, to the gallery for a book signing at the opening. He was more than happy to attend.
I usually have some commercial success with Frank Lloyd Wright exhibitions but this might be a good time to show the work of an another architect Wright actually liked! He was notorious for dissing some of the greats: Mies, Johnson and others but he seemed to have kind things to say about Parker. Maybe because Parker's work, while not copying Wright in any way seemed to actually get the "Organic" thing.
Parker also got what Wright was all about, even in his later "George Jetson" years when Alfred Parker was at his peak. In any case, Wright even offered to write captions for the 1953 House Beautiful feature of Parker's own spectacular house in Coconut Grove, Florida. Surely, this was the first time Wright offered to do such a thing.
When they met at the house later, Wright feigned a slip on Parker's stairs, saying, "What would it look like if the world's most famous architect tripped and broke his neck on your stairs?"
Wright was, after all, still Frank Lloyd Wright.
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