She reinvented herself as an artist. Now she’s helping to revitalize Croton Falls.


Libby Parker at Lift Trucks Gallery in Croton Falls. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

There’s an image printed on a shirt at Lift Trucks Gallery in Croton Falls that depicts an aloof-looking woman peering over her shoulder while a cigarette dangles from her mouth. The text near the image reads, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.”

The artwork, inspired by vintage flash tattoo art from the 1920’s-1940’s that was considered seedy at the time, was often painted onto the limbs of sailors, outcasts and criminals. Today, Libby Parker, owner of Lift Trucks, uses the imagery to anchor a limited-edition collection of apparel under her Lift Trucks label, designed to empower and inspire people from all walks of life. She partnered with fellow artist and Croton Falls resident Tom Christopher to source the art from Christopher’s collection.

“Our designs combine original vintage flash with a message which we hope will inspire and unite us today,” reads the Lift Trucks brand story.

Lift Trucks tees adorn the walls at the Lift Trucks Gallery in Croton Falls. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

This is not the first time Parker has developed a visually unique apparel line inspired by original artwork. She previously spent 25 years in the neckwear business, and was responsible for the popular Jerry Garcia line of ties in the 1990’s. “That was my claim to fame,” Parker said.

A selection of vintage neckties at Lift Trucks Gallery in Croton Falls. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)s

Thirty years ago, Parker attended a gallery show in SoHo featuring the artwork of Jerry Garcia. She spotted a print of a fish and remarked that it would be interesting on a necktie. A few months later she called the gallery organizer and asked if she thought Garcia would consider putting his art on neckties. Parker was told no but encouraged to send a letter with her proposal just in case.

A couple nights later the gallery organizer called Parker back and told her that Jerry’s ‘yes train’ was coming to town the next day, referring to the day each year when Garcia would sit down with his lawyer and say yes or no to the various proposals for products and licensing that he received each year.

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“I sat down at the typewriter, wrote the letter, and faxed it off,” Parker recalled. “And then I got a phone call. Jerry had said yes!” From there, Parker went on to launch a line that would completely transform neckwear. She recalled studying passengers on the Metro-North as she rode between Westchester and Manhattan and calculating that roughly one out of every three men were wearing a J. Garcia tie.

“We really turned the industry on its ear,” Parker said.

Three decades later, Parker has her sights set on a new transformation—of both the Lift Trucks Gallery space in Croton Falls and Croton Falls itself. “Now I’m a gallerist, a brander, a little bit of a manufacturer,” she said. In addition to her signature Lift Trucks tees, Parker also makes bandanas and pre-tied headscarves under her Love Lakeside label and is working to curate a unique selection of goods made by local artisans.

Libby Parker sells a line of bandanas and accessories under her Love Lakeside label. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

After a memorable and unpredictable career making a name for herself all over the United States, Parker feels like these days she’s exactly where she needs to be. “It’s fun to revisit a world where people do wave across the street and know you by name,” she said. “The post office is the water cooler of Croton Falls. You hear what’s going on, who died. Then I walk into Frank’s to get the best ice cream in Westchester. It’s just lovely.”

Libby Parker's Lift Trucks Gallery features artisan-made goods from local artists. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

Earlier this year Parker collaborated with Railyard Arts Studio to organize the first North Salem Arts Festival in June, an event that brought in 1,500 people and was by all accounts a big success. “We got great feedback,” Parker said of the event. “There are vibes of [Croton Falls] really being an artists’ colony. We want to bring people in and let them know there are interesting things to do here.”

Parker attributes much of the success of the festival to the spirit of collaboration she encountered from North Salem Town Board members. “It puts a kick in your step when you get support,” she said. “Instead of hitting brick walls, we were given entrances. It was really helpful and gratifying.”

Parker and her fellow Crotons Falls artists are hoping to build on that support and their initial success as they plan a second festival. The group is eyeing October to capitalize on apple picking season and gift-giving time.

“[The Town Board] was thrilled with the results of the festival and they couldn’t be happier than to have the reputation of Croton Falls being an artist colony and creative area of North Salem,” Parker said. “We will continue to collaborate and take that reputation forward.”

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