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Mount Aviat maintenance man adds art to his tools

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Dialog reporter

 

Bruce Parlier’s work has benefited Mount Aviat and Oblate Sisters, who helped him in time of need

 

CHILDS, Md. — The atmosphere around Mount Aviat Academy has been made cheerier thanks to the talents of Elkton artist Bruce Parlier, who also happens to be the school’s part-time maintenance man.

Parlier, 57, has been working in art since he was a kid in Claymont, Del. He specializes in wall murals, having done them on buildings, a lot of restaurants and on the inside and outside walls of people’s homes. He likes to do religious images and donates pieces of his work each year to the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, who operate Mount Aviat, for their auction and Christmas bazaar.

The sisters remembered Parlier’s work for them when he was in need. Several years ago, the economy went south, and he was going through some personal trials. The Oblates brought him aboard at the school to work part-time.

“They kind of took me under their wing. That’s what they do. They help people out,” he said. “I’m growing spiritually as well.”

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Bruce Parlier poses with students from Mount Aviat in front of the story book mural he created in the hallway at the school. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Being hired at Mount Aviat was a gift, he said.

“I was going through some tough times emotionally. I did lose my daughter and my parents in the same year. The school and the sisters set good examples, helping you find the Lord.”

Oblate Sister John Elizabeth Callaghan, the principal, said Parlier sets a good example as well.

“Bruce is a kind, gentle person who arrives with a smile as the school day is ending,” she said. “He greets everyone, big and small, and is always willing to assist with anything that needs to be done even when he has things he needs to get done.”

Some of his work is on the wall outside the school library. One mural illustrates various story books, with a little of Parlier’s imagination built in. Another shows Christ flanked by two angels; he likes religious art.

“Just being there working inspired me to do that one,” Parlier said. “That’s what I meant by growing spiritually. Just being in the environment at Mount Aviat inspired me to do those paintings.

“That’s the way I look at it. I’m working for the Lord. He’s working through me.”

Sister John Elizabeth said Mount Aviat’s students “witness first-hand that it is important to develop the gifts God gives. They also see that faith can be expressed in many ways, especially in art.”

She also noted that the mural representing the variety of children’s literature features the faces of three Mount Aviat students as literary figures. The children followed the progress of that work closely.

Parlier used to draw and scribble as a young boy in school, and he got in trouble for drawing on walls, but now, he noted, he gets paid for it. The need to paint or draw drives him.

Most of his business is generated by word of mouth. He gets requests from individuals and businesses, and he does a lot of nautical scenes and golf courses. An Italian restaurant in Pennsylvania commissioned a wall mural of Venice.

“It’s a difficult business to stay in. You have to move around sometimes,” he said.

He has a daughter who lives in St. Louis and four grandchildren. “Grandkids drop into your life when you least expect it, but it’s the most beautiful gift you could have.”

Parlier would like to do portraits of them and other members of his family.

“I hope I live long enough to paint everybody, all of my relatives.”

 

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