Parke Meek, founder and owner of Jadis on Main Street, passed away on January 4 at St. John’s Hospital of natural causes. He was 86.
Jadis has been a Santa Monica must-see stop on Main Street for over 30 years. The store sells movie props and unusual technologies. Meek sold his curiosities to collectors and movie companies but he often opened the store to the public for the price of one dollar, to allow visitors the enjoyment of seeing the wacky gadgets and colorful props. Most recently, for the holidays, Meek decorated Jadis’ front window display, a replica of the robot Maria (from the classic Fritz Lang film Metropolis) as a space-age Santa Claus.
According to a close friend, Mel Bloch, Meek was born in Indiana. He fought in World War II, landing at Guadalcanal with the first division USMC. Despite having had only a sixth grade education, he became a designer for Charles and Ray Eames’ Eames Office. He got the job because the firm was impressed by his “tricking out” a classic car. He worked for Eames for 25 years and also worked with Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller, among others.
“He was the “go to” guy for any unsolvable problem in any design project,” Bloch recalls. “Parke had a love and understanding of design and physics which were only surpassed by his love for, and knowledge of, people.
“At Eames he worked on all their designs, installations, and films. He was, as far as can be determined, the only man ever allowed to add to a Frank Lloyd Wright design.”
Eventually, Meek decided to create a store using his own collection of unique movie props and gadgets. Jadis is partnered with the store next to it, Paris 1900, the antique clothing shop owned and operated by Meek’s life partner Susan Lieberman. The intricate wood carvings that trim the front window of Paris 1900 were done by Meek as a gift to Lieberman.
Meek is survived by his beloved partner Lieberman, his son Cole Meek, daughter-in-law Debbie, grandsons Tyler and Dylan, Cousins Casey, Jeff, Clarke and William Parke Gettinger, and many family members and friends. His design efforts can be seen at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, Le Louvre, The British Museum and the Smithsonian Institute.
Bloch sums up Meek’s life with the following:
“Despite his giant shadow across the face of contemporary design, Parke was as down to earth as is humanly possible. He was self-effacing and modest to the point that few who met him ever knew what an intellectual heavyweight he was. Parke Meek was among the rarest of men, in that he told the plain truth, did not suffer fools, yet had not a single enemy. He was convinced that people talk too much and listen too little, yet was warm, approachable, and absolutely loved by any and all he met.
“When asked how he was doing, until his last breath, his answer never changed: “Fantastic”
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