David Park


The following is from Natalie Park Schutz, a daughter of David Park who also credits her sister Helen Park Bigelow:

David Park’s father was Charles Edwards Park, an esteemed Unitarian minister at the First Church in Boston (now called First and Second Church in Boston, and now Unitarian-Universalist) for all David’s life. It is in the Back Bay, where the family lived in a brick row house on Marlborough Street. David had one older sister and two brothers, one older, and one 6 years younger, writer Edwards Park. The family was close knit, with cousins on all sides. Summers were spent at a house in the woods outside of Peterborough, New Hampshire.

David was determined from early childhood to become an artist. Though his parents expected him to follow the family’s New England tradition and achieve a proper education, he was an unhappy and reluctant student while at Loomis prep school, and didn’t attend Yale as did his father and brothers. At the urging of Edith Park Truesdell, the youngest of his father’s five sisters and the only other artist among the Parks, Rev. and Mrs. Park decided to accept her offer of a place to live in California.

So at age 17, without having completed secondary school, David came West. After his one semester at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, he came to Berkeley. While auditing summer session classes at UC he met Gordon Newell, who wanted to become a sculptor. They rented an apartment on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, where both worked in the Ralph Stackpole sculpture yard.

Gordon’s sister Lydia came to visit her brother, and that is how my parents met. They were married when he was only 19, and I was born a year and a half later, when he was 20. My sister Helen followed in 17 months. We are his only children.

David and Lydia settled in Berkeley before my birth, and it was always their home of choice. The five Massachusetts years when he taught at Winsor School in Brookline were an attempt to do the expected and take a proper job as a young husband and father. I am certain that the job offer was arranged by Edith Truesdell. But they had enough, packed us up, and returned to California. As chance would have it, Pearl Harbor happened that year, and therefore David went to work for General Cable Company during the war.

Upon our return, he had no job, and no home. We moved in with Lydia’s parents, who had come to northern California when both their children settled there. (Gordon lived then in Big Sur.) With no money, by lucky chance my parents found a wonderful spacious beautiful house in the Berkeley hills and rented it for a pittance as the house was in a slippage area and had cracks everywhere. We had about 11 wonderful years there, until it became too unsafe. By then my sister had married and I followed suit soon afterwards. Thus David and Lydia, who had moved into an apartment, began their lives as parents of grown children before they were 45 years old.

David was employed by the Art Department at the University of California, although he had no secondary diploma and no college degree. They found a small but lovely home and there they lived until his early death less than a year after his first one-man show opened the Staempfli Gallery in Manhattan.

Thus we will never know what might have become of his place in the art world.