Robert Miles Parker

1939–2012

Robert Miles Parker was an artist and preservationist whose pen-and-ink drawings of urban landscapes displayed a whimsical delight in storefronts, apartment buildings, houses and theaters. His lively Manhattan’s architectural drawings were representational but far from architecturally precise.  His drawings were shown in both private galleries and public places, including the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library and the Museum of the City of New York.

“Upper West Side: New York,” a book of Mr. Parker’s drawings of buildings, street scenes and cityscapes, along with personal commentary, was published by Harry N. Abrams in 1988. Other books include “L.A.,” featuring drawings of Los Angeles, and “Images of American Architecture,” a collection of drawings from around the United States.

Most recently Mr. Parker was known for his drawings of Broadway theaters, both their facades and their interior details, portraying the handsome intricacies of their designs with suggestive loops and squiggles, a kind of controlled capriciousness. They demonstrated the evolution of work that had grown more fanciful over the years. Beginning in the 1980s, making his way through more than 30 Broadway theaters, Mr. Parker made well over 200 drawings, like those of the Shubert on West 44th Street, depicting it as the home of “A Chorus Line,” and the Majestic down the street, where “The Phantom of the Opera” remains a fixture.   

Along with being an artist, Miles founded the Save Our Heritage Organization , known as SOHO, in San Diego, which raised money to reclaim a number of Victorian houses and other neglected buildings in the city. With the County of San Diego, SOHO also created Heritage Park in the city’s Old Town section, where a handful of historic structures, including the Sherman-Gilbert House, were relocated.

(excerpted from The New York Times, April 12, 2012)

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