BROOKLYN, N.Y. — When Sylvia Parker Maier displays her art works at the “Formation” show at the renowned Bernaducci Meisel Gallery in New York City, on Jan. 12, art industry aficionados will get an opportunity to witness her oil paintings, which reflect the culmination of a brilliant career and a young woman’s lifetime passion for the arts — an interest that began as a child in her native Manhattan.
As the sole child of a biracial marriage, her African-American father worked as a professional musician and composer of R&B music, while her mother of Argentine descent was a poet and a classically trained pianist. Though her parents split when she was just 11, they ensured that she was able to pursue her artistic passion by having her study at such famed institutions as the School of Visual Art, The National Academy of Design and the New York Academy.
As a youth, she studied at the acclaimed Art Students League of New York with notable figures such as Ron Sherr and Harvey Dinnerstein. She earned the prestigious Greenshield Award and other merit scholarships during her formative years.
Though she continuously works toward ultimately becoming the proverbial household name — Sylvia Parker Maier is already a recognizable entity among her peers.
As the married mother of two teenage sons, Parker Maier is proud to note that throughout her 25-year career, several of her paintings have been displayed at the Parish Museum in Southampton, New York, and at the cork gallery at Lincoln Center. She’s also presented solo shows at the Forum Gallery in Frankfurt, Germany; in addition to many presentations throughout the U.S. and Europe.
In a recent interview from her residence in Brooklyn, she noted that her influences to pursue art mainly stemmed from her parent’s musical backgrounds.
“It was my mother who insisted on taking me to see such legends as Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne,” she said. “The music validated my artistic approach. As an only child, I was always drawing and that helped shape my style.”
Being fortunate enough to have relatives in Argentina, she spent several childhood summers visiting her grandmother in cities such as Viedma and Buenos Aires.
“I went to church every day with my grandmother,” she reflected with a smile.
Parker Maier’s paintings have recently been displayed on the popular Fox network show “Empire.” Filmmaker Spike Lee is also one of her proponents and has utilized her works. A few years ago, Lee chose 30 of her paintings to appear in a PSA television commercial to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.
Throughout her career, she has worked with the U.S. State Departments’ Art in Embassies Program, in addition to having her paintings displayed and contributed to by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons’ “Art for Life” project.
Other clients include the Mars candy company. Her works have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
Her recent work, “Circle of Mothers,” depicts the images of mothers of slain sons, including Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez; Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah; Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell; Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo; Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham; and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin.
Essence magazine staffers recently visited Parker Maier’s home and is set to publish an article utilizing her artistic work as a backdrop for one of their photo shoots. “It’s certainly an honor,” she remarked.
Parker Maier is currently displaying her works at the renowned Art Basel art fair in Miami, her third time presenting at the prestigious South Beach event. Her piece is titled “Rice and Beans.” Art Basel runs from Dec. 3 through Jan. 7. Previously, she has shown at Miami’s Yeelen Gallery.
“Art Basel is a pretty big deal,” she said. “There’ll be lots of major celebrity parties, and overall, just a good place to network with people in our industry.”
When’s she not painting, Parker Maier spends relaxation time dancing to salsa music, in addition to traveling with her husband/photographer, Andre Maier, and their sons.