“The Magical Realism of Alyce Frank”, by Joseph Dispenza
The Prescott Campus library is celebrating women in the arts for the month of September on our rolling cart which is located in the library “living room” area, just to the left of the front entrance, where the current periodicals are kept. One of the reasons it’s nice to highlight women who have participated in all forms of arts is that for centuries only the men who gained recognition in painting, music, sculpture, etc., were written about and exhibited. We know now that women were also active in these activities from early times and continue to be at the present time.
We have a nice collection of books/AV featuring women in various arts throughout the library, and a few of them are displayed for your attention on the rolling cart. One of the contemporary women artists I discovered during my search for examples is a New Mexico painter named Alyce Frank.
“The Magical Realism of Alyce Frank” was written by Joseph Dispenza and it is illustrated with page after page of her creative interpretations of the landscape around her home in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico. It is a delightful peek into the life of an imaginative and spiritual woman who is largely self-taught – through her lifetime research into painters she admired and respected.
The book has some insightful commentary by Mr. Dispenza which you will enjoy reading as you leaf through the pages to examine her paintings. An example of his commentary is included here:
“Alyce Frank’s paintings, with their strong alchemical thrust, are the counterpart on canvas of magical realism in literature. They begin with a straight-on, representational vision of the world, then render that vision through emotional, psychological and spiritual filters to produce scenes and portraits of tremendous force…. It is as if the real world is merely the raw material for creating a whole spellbound, and very personal, universe.”
Frank was born in 1932 in Louisiana, received an undergraduate degree in the liberal arts at age 18 from the University of Chicago, married Larry Frank in 1953, and lived in southern California until they moved to New Mexico in 1961. She and her husband worked on educational films that he produced for years, which she credits with helping her to cultivate a sense of composition. She didn’t begin to paint until their three children grew old enough to spare her the time to work at it. Frank and her husband collected the folk-art santos of the region which also became an inspiration to her in her work. She is a plein-air painter, which means she paints outside in all the gorgeous seasons around her home. Her working mode is to travel with her painting partner, Barbara Zaring, (herself an accomplished painter) to a location they choose together, working from the tailgate of Frank’s vehicle, which is their portable studio. Frank’s canvases are usually large, she uses oil paint, and she likes to cover the canvases with red at the beginning which she then covers with her composition. She gets the start – the inspiration – outside, and then brings the paintings inside her studio to complete.
Check out this delightful, colorful book soon! You won’t be sorry.