Chuck Parr has a sense of humor about his magnificent obsessions. "My friends joke that I'm a hoarder," he says, describing a museum-like home overflowing with vintage lamps and other mid-20th-century artifacts. "But I'm a hoarder with great stuff."
Some of Parr's greatest stuff will be on display at Crosstown Arts this week when the vintage collector/dealer opens "Pin-Up," a retrospective exhibit and sale of pinup art from the 1890s through the 1980s.
Parr was 18 years old when he started going to flea markets and junk stores. His mother, a Texas beauty queen, watched as her son collected two-tiered lampshades and vintage fashion and teased him for being an old woman who died in the '50s and was reborn in 1961. He thinks growing up with a glamorous mother is one of the things that attracted him to pinup art.
"The art of the pinup has always been really cool to me," Parr says. "I bought my first car — a 1982 Chevy van — when I was 35 years old with the money I made selling three original Earl Morans that I bought at the Pulaski Flea Market in Pulaski, Tennessee, for $35 apiece. A week later, I sold them to a collector in Florida for $3,500." Moran's a superstar among pinup artists. His best-known model was Marilyn Monroe, who often credited the painter with improving on nature.
"There will be lots of Marilyn in the show," Parr says. "I've been collecting her forever."
In addition to all the antique glamor shots and calendar girls, Parr will exhibit album covers and Look, Life, and Playboy magazines from the '60s to the '80s. "Almost everything has a story," he says. "I've got a picture of Jean Harlow that I bought from a friend of mine who was a stripper in the 1960s. She went by the name 7-foot Suzanne."