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Jill Parr 1948-2012
Jill Parr Cornvention 2010 22 x 28 inches
It's been said — with scant exaggeration — that if not one painting of Vincent Van Gogh had been handed down to us, still he would be famous for his letters. Such ardent spirit, humility, & struggle to grasp the truth, would be rare in any line of work. Among great painters, whose quotidian utterance typically forms an unbroken flow of backbiting & picayune yelps, it's as if a lion should turn vegetarian.
Now this particular enterprise, & not only in our time (but more so, as the prevailing folly soaks into it), has come to resemble a sport where the score-count bears as little relation to the play, as prayers to the weather. Fans with stronger stomachs, not quitting in disgust at the end of their green-time, learn another measure. What matters is the quality of attention — or, to use a word almost foreign in its present remoteness, what matters is grace.
No one had more of it than Jill.
Jill Parr Surrender 1991 23.5 x 29.5 inches
Snow White in Disney's tale goes everywhere followed by a living train of assorted birds, small animals, & sparkly benevolent winds; a person whose life-experience more closely accords to one of the minor or backward dwarfs (call me "Gnarly"), might well imagine this a state of ideal felicity, free from friction or impediment. Alas, the fairy tale knows better. This is not a world where virtue goes unpunished.
I will only say, for the purposes of this narrative, that it was one of the many pleasures of knowing Jill across the spindrift years, to watch as she discovered, ever more subtly & effectively, how to turn a wild talent for loving into a controlled & meaningful vocation to teach. Every life she touched she changed, & changed irrevocably. Not only did she make you feel uniquely important, for that hour: she showed you why. And it forced you to see the rest of your accidental or complacent dodges differently, after that. You stood a little straighter, spoke more deliberately.
Jill Parr What Do I Put Down Under Religion? 1985 28 x 47 inches
In her drawing, painting & sculpture, which manifold vicissitudes left less & less leisure for, but never quite eclipsed, there was nothing so extravagant that did not bear a touch of the didactic, nor so intensely personal, that failed to carry some broader relevance. She grounded her surrealism in knowledge of the mysteries. I think in part that she took up yoga, & later taught it, out of a need to share this knowledge beyond the necessary reticence of art. There was always something crucial left unsaid in her work, something fascinating & troublesome, like a really spectacular storm-sunset, that seemed to be about to break into chords.
I hear them now.
Jill Parr The Two Bears, Dale & Jill, with Raven the Wonder Dog circa 2009 9.5 x 11.5 inches
Her last completed painting, "Cornvention," [top of page] remains on view at the Ellis County Art Association Fine Arts Museum in Waxahachie, along with a smattering of other works.