Tom Parish

Art for Businesses


Tom Parish’s style has been influenced by traditional vedutisti but instead of clinging to the concept of absolute as found in the works of Canaletto, Bellotto, and Guardi, he recreated how he sees Venice. Instead of the place being an embodiment of light and grace as in some cases of Art for Businesses, he tried to portray it as one that’s well-fitting for the 21st century.

Tom Parish refused to romanticize his subject matter and in his effort to present reality as it is, he painted his subjects in the point of view of a fact finder. He wanted people to see what he saw when he saw it, hence the realistic portrayal of events.

It was twenty-five years from today when Tom Parish started visiting his most beloved Venetian city in Italy. He did this once a year and every time he went, he took photos. And every time he came back to Detroit, he immediately his vision of the said ancient and lovely city.

It was in 1933 when Parish was gifted to this world. It was during this time when art galleries in Chicago were filled with paintings of the Old World romance, culture, and of Venice. Then again, even if this was the case back then, you can’t expect to see the magnificent palazzi and the gondolas’ being depicted in artworks along with the city’s sun-drenched bodies of water.

Is Tom Parish Style Similar to Other Artists of His Time?

Unlike artists of his time, Parish’s depiction of his subject matter is focused more on the gritty and realistic modern day ambiance. Some critics would say that his work is slightly off-kilter considering the fact that the pictures he painted were almost sinking and almost devoid of the vertical and true line reminiscent of the old Venetian architecture.

His paintings are usually very large, measuring around six by eight feet. The spaces are also very deep, making the viewer deeply immersed and drawn into the occasionally dark and always putrefying watery and illusive world, instead of being kept comfortable and dry in a safe distance.

These paintings can be seen in the Gruen Galleries’ second floor, along with other huge Tom Parish paintings. With these magnificent creations hanging on the walls of the structure, any visitor would feel like he’s looking graciously on these grand Venetian canals. By merely looking at these grand masterpieces, they could feel the outboard motors’ gasoline fumes and the area’s dampness. There are no people in the pictures, no gondolas either, giving way for a more personal and private vision following the surrealist cityscapes Tom Parish painted way back in the early 1980s.

To Tom and his followers, art is made for art’s sake and not mere Art for Businesses.

You can’t find the Gentile Bellini’s civic pride in Tom Parish’s paintings. You won’t find Singer Sargent’s social vignettes, JMW Turner’s romantic drama, Guardi’s urban life, or Canaletto’s great architectural vistas. Instead, you will be introduced to a sharp and creative sense of place and time, along with some strong and piercing metaphor for getting older and lonely but with grace and dignity.