Barry Noland & Brian Parker

Partners for fourteen years, Barry Noland and Brian Parker are inspiring people with their individual contributions to the world of art.

Originally from Cairo, Ill., Noland has lived in Nashville since 1980. In 2003, he began pursuing photography as a hobby, and has since blossomed into a winning talent now receiving his first recognition on the national level.

After receiving a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Noland recently participated in an international exhibition of photographic art at the Lyceum Theatre Gallery in San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter. Being selected for the art show was a prestigious honor: entries were submitted by artists from nearly 70 countries.

Organizers contacted Noland after he was selected as a nominee for the Spider Awards, the photography world's equivalent to the Academy Awards. But it's community, not competition, that was foremost in his mind when he arrives in San Diego.

Noland's entry focused on a tree located in East Nashville's Shelby Park that was devoured by a swarm of bagworms. His photographs represent their attack on the tree and its eventual death.

"I look forward to interacting with other photographers that are really serious about their craft," Noland says. "And even hearing something from people with the Art of Photography show about what it was about my piece that made it worthy to be in this crowd."

"My main goal going forward is to make (photography) what I do," he adds. "In addition to getting contacts while I'm out there and meeting people who are notable in the international art community, I hope this gives me some credibiltiy to be able to present myself locally."

Parker, also an Illinois native, is the creator of Parker Designs, a set design and graphic design business. A two-time regional Emmy winner, he's also judged several regional and national Emmy Award competitions.

Parker has produced several successful solo art shows in partnership with the Nashville Jazz Workshop –"Visceral" (2004), "Conundrum" (2006), "Jazz Tableaux" (2008), and "Cityscapes" (2010). “Cityscapes” served as his response to the Nashville flooding last year.

"That show was an accident," Parker admits. After cleaning up minor damage to their East Nashville home, he went on a three-day drawing binge that resulted in an entire body of work.

"By the end of it, I thought, 'There's an art show in all this'," Parker says. "It was a stream of consciousness; it was kind of therapy. I really just started doodling and when I looked at all the images, I realized that subliminally I was telling these weird, surreal stories (about the flood)."

Citing themselves as "fairly independent" people, both men acknowledge the other's influence on their art. As the years have passed, they notice similarities in their respective creations.

"I've realized that Barry's artwork deals with decay, but he makes it permanent with his photographs," Parker says. "My artwork is obsessed with the temporary. I do a lot of floral arranging and things like that. I start to wonder if we are working out comfortable with the death, or if we're trying to make peace with our own deaths."

"There's a theme of decay whether it's in nature or in man-made things," Noland adds. "It's actually finding the beauty in things that go unnoticed."

As they face unique challenges within their fields, the couple rely on their commitment to each other as they seek new avenues for their obvious gifts.

"I don't know that we really influence each other's art," Parker says. "But when I complete something I'm always asking an opinion from Barry about what he thinks of it. With everything I make sure he at least takes a look at it."

"It's mainly about support," Noland says."I'm pretty much directed by outside influences. I don't have a lot of historical perspective, and he gives me that. I think if he hadn't encouraged me from the beginning, this wouldn't have gotten to where it's gotten."

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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