Abbie Parmele

Rensselaer (N.Y.) Republican, Friday, Oct. 19, 2007

Landscape exhibit

From staff reports

Rensselaer, N.Y. -- The Smallest Little Art Gallery in Town is featuring the "Hay Bale Series" of artist Abbie Parmele from now until the end of October.

The "Hay Bale Series" are painted scenes from fields near Rensselaer. Parmele captures the landscapes with her camera and then paints from the photographs.

"There is just something about the shapes of the hay bales and the way the sun reflects off them creating interesting colors," said Parmele about her chosen subjects. "What can I say? I am inspired by nature."

Most of the "Hay Bale Series" includes warm summer colors in contrast with a vibrant blue skyscape. Parmele has one winter hay bale on display. "One winter a blanket of snow was draped over a hay bale," said Parmele. "Which helped reflect a cold wintry feeling within my painting." Parmele also stepped outside the lines of her usual colors for this series and painted using an unusual color scheme.

A painting out of Parmele’s "Hay Bale Series" received a high honor. Parmele piece was chosen as Best of Show for the Annual Juried Heartland Artists Regional Art Exhibit 2007. “In a juried art exhibit an artist submits their artwork,” said Parmele. In this specific exhibit approximately 500 pieces from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio were submitted to a judge, Thelma Rohrer from Manchester College Art Department. One hundred of the paintings, drawings etc. were accepted as part of the exhibit, but only one piece was chosen as the Best of Show: That piece was Parmele’s. The Heartland Artists Gallery is hosting its 19th annual Juried Art Exhibit from Oct. 7-27.

Biography: Parmele grew up in rural Iowa and came to Indiana to attend the Fort Wayne Art Institute, where she graduated as a fine arts major. She did further study at Indiana University- Fort Wayne. Before marrying and putting down roots in Indiana, she was a flight attendant with American Airlines. Her skyscape series is drawn from that part of her background. Her work has also been exhibited at Indiana University -- Bloomington, the Columbia Club in Indianapolis, the Wells Gallery, Lafayette, the Gainer Bank, Merrillville, and the Crown Point Public Library.

[Her son Logan has been commissioned an ensign.]

Lafayette-West Lafayette (Ind.) Journal and Courier, Dec. 12, 2002

Artist shares visions of scenes above the clouds

By Tim Brouk, Journal and Courier

Before her early retirement, area artist Abbie Parmele often had her head in the clouds.

She was a flight attendant for American Airlines for more than 10 years, and when she wasn't working, an airplane was still her home as she often traveled across America or overseas for frequent vacations.

All the daily views of life above the clouds inspired her to a series of cloudscapes that are the star of her first solo show in Greater Lafayette at the West Lafayette branch of Lafayette Savings Bank, W. 1020 Sagamore Parkway. [Note: This show has since closed -- JW]

"Being a flight attendant really inspired a lot of these paintings," Parmele said. "Viewing the sky from a different perspective as you look down on to the clouds is inspiring. There are so many beautiful sights." (Photo by Tom Leininger, Journal and Courier)

Parmele's exhibition also includes hand-painted ornaments and mixed media collages.

The clouds series is a mix of realistic scenes and abstract ones under the subgroup "Ethereal Series."

With Flight 423, Parmele started the airborne paintings after a freaky occurrence while working a flight. Violent storm clouds quickly formed around the plane. The clouds turned into surreal purples and pinks as lightning shot out of them. Straight ahead, a patch of bright blue sky shown like an oasis in the sky.

"The captain called us onto the flight deck and said 'You have to see this,' " Parmele remembered. "We were in the middle of a storm, and it was so purple. I toned down the color in the piece because if I would have painted it the real colors people would go 'Nah, that's not right.' ... We only had two minutes to get through that opening, and once we did, it was a beautiful blue sky on the other side."

"Sunrise at Thirty-Thousand Feet" was rendered from a photograph as Parmele's plane ascended out of Indianapolis. Another plane soars in the distance amongst the rolling blue and white clouds. Her soft sable brush gets quite a work out in her cloudscapes.

"It's a very soft, fine-haired brush, and you just have to get the flow of the clouds in your brushstrokes," Parmele said.

The ethereal series of oil paintings has large geometric shapes, mostly cubes, forming in the clouds. Most of which have openings cut into them that show bright skies ahead like her scene in Flight 423.

"To me, the cube reflects a moment in time, one's personal things that go on in their lives," Parmele said. "The darker, shaded side to it is the harder times, but there's always an opening through those which is the blue sky."

Parmele has a cube opening up to show a pyramid and smaller cube floating to each other in the abstract skyscape "Namasti" (The Place Where Meets Your Spirit). The scene is highlighted in green.

"Different colors started forming so instead of quitting I went with the colors to see where they'd take me," Parmele said. "I then introduced the pyramid and the cube back here being someone's times in their life meeting another person's, the pyramid."

"Infinity Interrupted" glows with yellow -- a rare color for Parmele to use dominantly -- and shows four cubes emerging along the infinite horizon. The warm glow suggests a heavenly feel.

Parmele also painted her travels closer to Earth capturing building details and landscapes. An old building in San Diego ("Old Town, San Diego") and an old neighborhood in Dublin, Ireland ("Doors and Windows in Dublin, Ireland"), fit snugly in thin strips of horizontal canvas. The unframed "Doors and Windows" extends to the one-inch wide sides of the canvas. She also experienced the rural marshes of Ireland in Killarney, Ireland during a bone-chilling November day. Using cool colors, the background behind a tree and two brightly painted green and blue boats is barely visible. A thick blanket of mist surrounded Parmele as a spooky, gnarled tree hung over the docked boats.

A few paintings in the show were done a little closer to home, in her Rensselaer [Jasper County, Ind.] backyard. Parmele's rural home is surrounded by cornfields as her husband, Paul, is a district sales manager for Golden Harvest Seed. Her Corn Studies I and III show the Indiana export still in their husks, and Parmele takes great detail in the curves, texture and shadows of the green leaves.

Much of Parmele's most recent work has consisted of a series of small collages made from found objects, torn paper and creatively cut mat board. "It's very minimal artwork as for design," Parmele said. "It's very, clean, very pure, very crisp, very simple."

"Half Moon Rising" shows the changing of the seasons with birch leaves and green, red, yellow and purple paper while "Ode to the Washer" has mechanical parts centering a metal washer. A torn piece of fibrous, hand made paper serves as a back ground and gives a hint of nature in the metallic piece.

Parmele's frosted glass ornaments hang on a Christmas tree in the bank's lobby. Each ornament is individually painted, and she takes commissions of buildings or scenes to paint. Some familiar sights on the small orbs include Purdue University's clock tower, fountain and the old Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco building in Rensselaer. An ornament with a rendering of the Jasper County Courthouse is featured on the Indiana governor's mansion tree every year.

"I've been commissioned to paint people's houses or new homesteads on ornaments. They make a nice gift to give someone," Parmele said.

Parmele hopes this show is a springboard into the Greater Lafayette art scene. She has years of experience in Indianapolis and Jasper County galleries.

Tippecanoe Arts Federation office administrator Sarah Tacker helped set up Parmele's show and believes the exhibit will get Parmele more exposure in this county.

"This show gives people an opportunity to see what is going on in the region, not just in Lafayette," Tacker said. "We have some excellent artists who are almost hidden away."

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