Following the Art of Parris Ashley

Do you remember that experience of being on the cover of Allegany Magazine? Was it a good one? That was big. It really is the definition of a natural high. It was like finishing a mural, or that moment of Eureka! or falling in love.

What do you remember most about it? Getting my picture taken by Tyler, Karen, and Shane. I’d always been very insecure about my image before that. I’d always felt insecure about looking my best, but appearing on the cover of Allegany Magazine changed all that. I have zero camera fright now. You can’t be afraid of a camera in the modern world.

Did anyone recognize you in public once you were on the cover? Yes, and they still do. My favorite five words are “Hey, aren’t you that guy…?”

What are some things you have been up to since we last caught up with you? Since 2016, I have endeavored to attain mastery of my craft and business, and find the best way to make my art work for me. I’ve created dozens of murals and commissioned works since we last caught up. Some of my favorites include:

The Frostburg Public Pool, cont’d: The bathhouse contains new murals. The walls and stalls of the Girls’ Bathhouse include tropical reefs, octopus hunting for prey among Spider Crab territory and a giant squid. The boys’ side is an arctic playground full of dangerous, sharp toothed barracuda and shark, ice stalactites and jellyfish swarms.

The Beach Club in Frostburg: Come for the drinks, stay for the food, and admire wall to wall outdoor murals, a glassy beach and coral bartop, and many other Parris Ashley original works.

This dinosaur painting I made for Larry Guthrie of LG’s in Frostburg featuring Dracoventor dinosaurs, and a mama Spinosaurus defending her young.

Last year I started a company, Moki, so I could paint murals my way. I paint murals in black, urban areas that need assistance. I’ve found I work better by myself, without distraction. There is a fine line between someone helping you paint and someone interrupting you, so I don’t use artist assistants anymore. I’ve found the best artist assistant is the local homeless guy. He’ll help you clean up, watch your stuff and tell everyone about the mural, and it might just cost you ten bucks and something to drink.

What is something you've been doing that people might be surprised to learn? The fight for black lives has commanded much of my attention and I also volunteer on behalf of children in need. Throughout the summer I produced artwork at a discounted price for political action organizations and also even started my own progressive political action group with friends and colleagues. It's been a busy year, and I don't think it's going to change for me anytime soon. The world can never be the same, again.

Do you still feel a connection to Allegany County? The racial tensions and protests happening lately have actually helped me get to know my neighbors better. With all the political activism comes education about this place, its government and people. Kids complain about their home. Adults work to fix it.

What do you think it takes to be a future Allegany Magazine cover story? Do something worth doing, something that needs to be done. Do it a lot, and learn to do it well, and make sure someone sees you. Anything worth doing requires education.


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