York City artist's latest piece will harness wind power to generate electricity

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Parker James Hooker tends to gravitate toward the eccentric.

Take Uncle Woodrow, for instance. The uncanny, human-shaped man sculpted from plywood sits atop a chair in Hooker’s living room, waving at guests who enter Hooker's York City home.

In his backyard, meanwhile, mannequins stand around flashing their best model poses, while hundreds of old bicycles linked together create a vertical backdrop in the rear of the property.

Artist Parker James Hooker exits his workshop at his home in York City, Thursday, April 6, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

More recently, however, Hooker is inspired to create art that isn’t just for admiring. He’s attempting to harness the power of Mother Nature herself. 

“We have a windmill up on this shack here, and it hasn’t really stopped the whole time; and I’m thinking that is a waste of power,” Hooker said. “I think that wind power and solar is there — so why not use it?”

Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.

After the first flame of inspiration sparks for Hooker, it’s hard to stop the momentum. His first stop: the junkyard. 

The blades of the windmill can be carved out of PVC piping, while old motors to generate power were pulled straight from old cars and machinery. While it may seem like adult Legos, with pieces fitting easily together, the process is quite complicated and tricky to figure out. 

Blades of a windmill made from PVC pipe are shown in the back yard of artist Parker James Hooker in York City, Thursday, April 6, 2023. Hooker plans to make the necessary adjustments to his custom made windmill to enable it to generate enough electricity to power his workshop, at back. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The large windmill, for instance, took Hooker an entire week to create — with more work still on the horizon. 

“I’m trying to make something that not only looks cool but is functional,” Hooker said. “Mentally, creating is a therapy. If I don't watch myself, I can fall back into a funk. And I've never been a funky kind of guy.”

In 2020, Hooker’s daughter Patricia died of a brain tumor. After a four-year battle, her passing simply drained Hooker.

Artist Parker James Hooker talks about the blades, made from a single piece of PVC pipe, used to build a windmill at his home in York City, Thursday, April 6, 2023. Hooker plans to utilize the windmill to produce electricity for his workshop which is on the property. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"Something died in me," Hooker said. "It's really important for me to try to just keep doing something, because in that doing something, I'm still here."

At the time of his daughter's death, Hooker was living at the home of Robin Robinson, a fellow artist and good friend. After Hooker sold his house, Robinson offered him a room while he was recuperating from surgery.

The pair, enamored by all things art, found comfort and solace in each other's company as they coexisted in the eccentric York City home. Art has continued to serve as an outlet for Hooker in his grief.

More:One single mom shares her story: 'I had nothing — but I made it through'

MORE:Rescuing ferrets was what this York County woman was 'supposed to do'

MORE:State police still investigating Red Lion boy's death

Robinson has also been affected by the sheer brutality of caring for a loved one debilitated by a brain tumor. Her sister, Kay, died in 1993 at the age of 29.

Now, the pair happily lives with their small dog Chloe, making art and healing together.

"If it hadn't been for Chloe and Robin in this place ... she's a calmness in the storm that I needed," Hooker said. "I think we both found some peace in our life."