Norman Parish: August 26, 1937 - July 8, 2013
Georgetown lost a great friend on Aug. 8.
Norman Parish, Jr. was born Aug. 26, 1937, in the ninth ward of New Orleans, La. He grew up in Chicago and was a 1960 graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago.
In 1967, Parish was one of several artists who contributed to the “Wall of Respect,” a mural on the South Side of Chicago that showed images of African American achievement. (The building on which the mural was painted was razed in 1973.) For 22 years, Parish ran a landmark art gallery in Georgetown, welcoming anyone who ambled over its threshold with a warm smile and jazz playing in the background, often the Miles Davis masterpiece, “Kind of Blue.” When Parish opened his gallery in 1991, it was one of the few black-owned galleries in town. A highly regarded artist in his own right, Parish championed other artists who deserved to be presented and celebrated.
Lucky were those who called him a friend, as were those who could call themselves artists of the Parish Gallery. He was ready with open attention, thoughtful conversation and a firm handshake for all those he met, with a natural kindness and generosity that drew people toward him. He served as a model for the spirit of our local art community, helping break down racial and social barriers throughout his life and career. With his wife and partner Gwen, he ran the Parish Gallery with a grace, warmth and style that kept the neighborhood returning to the doors of his gallery time and again. Such was Parish’s character, enthusiasm and joy that a tight-knit community of artists and admirers formed around him. Many lasting friendships were born among the present company at his gallery openings. A Friday evening at the Parish Gallery was a time to catch up with old friends and admire world-class artwork. And rarely was there a guest among the many in attendance, both young and old, that did not consider Parish a close friend. His following continued to increase until recent months, when the gallery had to slow down due to Parish’s deteriorating health. The Parish Gallery will remain open until further notice, displaying Parish’s landscape paintings that offer a window into the beauty he saw in the world around him.
Norman Parish is survived by his beloved wife Gwen B. Parish. Loving father to Norman Parish III, Kimberly Parish-Perkins and Malcolm Muhammad; step-father of Robyn Burkett, Rhett Reagan, Raedene Reagan, and Rochelle Frazier; son of Vieran Lockett Parish and the late Norman Parish, Sr.; brother of Sedette Ward, Elaine Govan, Joyce Hobbs, Conley Parish and the late Beverly Butler; grandfather to Ashley, Ky, Kree, Auset and Thelonius.
He will be dearly missed.