Parkerâ€™s collection includes work by N.C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell, but he didnâ€™t start out buying work by well known artists. â€śThe media coverage of big name artists is not representative of the overall picture,â€ť he believes. â€śWhen it comes to early 20th Century and 19th Century American and Continental paintings, this is a buyers market. Stay away from the name brand artists. Buy art you love.â€ť
Parker began collecting art in 1961 with a focus on representational paintings. He bought the work of commercial illustrators like Amos Sewell (1901-1983) and painters like A.B. Frost (1851-1928). He also acquired paintings by Adrian Verhoeven-Ball (1824-1882), James Gale Tyler (1855-1931), and Belisario Gioja (1829-1906) -- not blue chip artists but certainly reputable painters.
According to an August 7, 2011 article in the New Jersey Star Ledger, Parker searched for mid-level paintings in barns, galleries, and auction houses and would offer much less than the asking price. If he was outbid or his offer refused, he looked elsewhere. In earlier years, he never spent more than $1500 on a single year on artwork, but over time he sold less important work to afford major paintings. For example, in 1995 he bought a Norman Rockwell painting for $18,500 and sold it a year later for $55,000. â€śI paid off my mortgage with that,â€ť Parker says proudly.
Before Parker purchased a work of art, he did extensive research during his days off from work. He visited galleries and auction houses, read art books and magazines, and bought exhibition catalogs. Once he saw paintings he could afford that were â€śa must!,â€ť he negotiated a price of left a bid. Today that kind of research is easier to conduct because of the internet. Parker advises potential collectors to visit gallery and artistsâ€™ websites, as well as websites like Ask Art. com and ArtNet.com that provide auction statistics on thousands of artists.
Now 84 years old, Parker is more interested in selling parts of his collection than in adding to it, but the market has been so weak he hasnâ€™t sold anything in the past three years. However, he says the real enjoyment was in the hunt for undervalued paintings and in looking at them on display in his Floral Park, New Jersey home. â€śI think the market will turn around in a few years,â€ť he says. â€śI hope to still be around.â€ť