Although some artists seek exposure by illegally plastering their works on the sides of buildings and in public places; numerous area businesses have lined up to commission Paul Parpard to hang his art up outside their stores.
An artist and designer by trade, he is an accomplished painter sculptor and carver, having created intricate handmade signs for most of the shops in Cazenovia as well as many in Manlius and Fayetteville.
Most recently, Parpard was hired to create a 25-foot-long, 8-foot-tall mural for Joey’s Classic Italian Restaurant, located at 6594 Thompson Road in East Syracuse.
“I’m fortunate to have been blessed with strong hand skills. Painting, sculpting and carving have always come easily to me,” Parpard said. “Originally Joey wanted a scenic Tuscan landscape. As we discussed it further, he wanted to add characteristics from different regions of Italy. It turned into an assemblance of five different themes, which was difficult, but really neat to put together.”
Parpard began work on the piece by sketching out objects on a three-foot long piece of luan wood. After using acrylic paint to create the scene, the piece was sent to Syracuse Blueprint, where it was scanned. The digital image was then printed on the 25-foot sheet of vinyl and installed on an exterior wall at the Italian restaurant near Carrier Circle. Putting the finishing touches on the mural last week, Parpard added detail to some areas of the print and painted over the bolts used to secure the piece.
While he has created many pieces that are cherished by art enthusiasts and collectors, many of Parpard’s pieces are kept outside, unprotected by the elements.
A walk down Albany Street in Cazenovia is like an outdoor gallery of Parpard’s extensive career. The exhibition begins on Route 20; he designed and constructed the village’s recognizable welcome sign as well as the town’s seal outside the Gothic Cottage. His carefully carved mahogany signs hang from such area businesses as The Key, Cazenovia Jewelry, Stone’s Throw, Gallery of CNY and the Greater Cazenovia Chamber of Commerce, among others.
In the surrounding areas, Parpard constructed the sign for the Sherwood Inn and Gallery 54 in Skaneateles, as well as Papa Gallo Mexican Restaurant, Craftsman Inn in Fayetteville. He is currently in the process of finishing a new sign for the White House, also in Fayetteville.
He confessed to losing count of all the businesses that display his signs, as they have increased exponentially in recent years.
“I try to make each piece a work of art, rather than just a sign,” Parpard said. “My clients are my greatest asset. It’s always an enjoyable experience because I’m asked to work for restaurants, banks, universities, churches and private residences. It’s very rewarding.”
Born in New York City, he spent much of his childhood in Rhinebeck. Although he was always attracted to drawing, Parpard said a trip to Europe with his mother when he was in eighth grade was one of the first times he encountered artwork by renowned artists.
He attended Syracuse University as an undergraduate studying advertising and graphic communication design, later earning a Master of Fine Arts.
Parpard also taught at Syracuse University for many years, instructing students in typography, drawing, visual communications, graphic design and advertising design. He was asked to design the 100th anniversary logo for the Syracuse football team.
After briefly working in finances and at American Greeting Cards as an artist, Parpard decided to move to Cazenovia, construct a home-studio, and focus more of his time on art. It was a fateful trip to Nantucket, Mass., that taught him how to utilize 23-karat gold leaf in his signs.
Since that expedition, Parpard has been commissioned to create signs for numerous businesses and residences outside Central New York. Much of his recognizable work can also be found in both North and South Carolina, as well as Washington, D.C.
Parpard admits to acquiring a full work-load, a daunting task for just one man with a chisel, and has begun to seek an apprentice or assistant interested learning more about the craft and graphic design.
Those wishing to learn more, can contact Paul Parpard Studios at 655-4333 or by appointment at 4722 Syracuse Road in Cazenovia.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or email@example.com.