Fine art

Collector of friends

‘Patron and Painter’ exhibit features works collected by Alyce Frank

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Any visitor to Taos inquiring about Alyce Frank (known to her close friends as “Lycee”) found her to be just a phone call away. She’d arrange to meet a visitor at the bottom of the road where she lives and they’d then be taken for a visit to her studio. She would often take these visitors out plein air painting; absolute strangers who just wanted to meet her became lifelong friends. This was typical of her. Many have noted her kindness and the generosity of her time.

In addition to being an artist herself, Frank also collected art from the many artists she counted as friends. Now, Taoseños will have an opportunity to see selections from this collection in a show titled “Patron and Painter: Alyce Frank Collects Taos,” an exhibit of 30 paintings selected from Frank’s collection of art by her friends and colleagues.

The exhibit is slated to open with a reception Friday (June 16), 5-7 p.m., at Taos Town Hall, 400 Camino de la Placita. Admission is free and the community is invited.

The show as curated by fine art appraiser and art consultant Judith Kendall, whom Tempo readers will know as the former director of Fenix Gallery, a Taos staple in the arts community for 20 years.

“There was a desire to explore and connect with nature. Through plein air, she was able to fulfill that desire,” Kendall said. “She wasn’t teaching per se; she’d just go out to paint plein air with people. Alyce felt it was the highest compliment for others to emulate her look and technique. People would visit Fenix Gallery and see these amazing landscapes and places she’d paint. I’d send them out to these locations all over Taos. Often, they’d return to purchase the painting of the place they’d just seen.”

Frank was married to collector and historian Larry Frank, who died at age 80 in 2006.

Here’s what a few of the artists who are included in the exhibit had to say about their friend and patron:

• Barbara Zaring – “Alyce Frank is a dear friend and colleague. We painted the landscape together twice a week for 25 years, traveling throughout the Southwest and to both coasts. Our adventures culminated in museum shows at the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colorado; and the Harwood Museum here in Taos.”

• Teruko Wilde – “When Alyce purchased my painting, it was enormously uplifting and encouraging to me. To be associated with Alyce is to enjoy her intelligence, compassion and support.”

• Suzanne Wiggin – “Alyce was a big influence on me over the last 40 years as mentor, colleague and friend. In my 20s, after college, Alyce let me join her painting plein air all over the valley, up in Colorado and in Arizona. She has such a contagious joie de vivre. In art, her boldness to tackle any subject and her fearlessness with color is inspiring. Her openness to all the diversity and cultural influences of Taos Valley contributed to form my view of the abundance we have here in Taos. I feel blessed to have her as part of my life.”

• Marcia Oliver – “Alyce was a dear friend for many years. I met Alyce and Larry through our mutual friend, Kristina Wilson. At that time, Alyce had her three young children at home and it was such fun to go there as well as take excursions together. I recall one in particular when we drove to Pilar to see petroglyphs along the riverbank. I enjoyed watching Alyce’s work develop over the 50 years and our pingpong games in her studio. It amazed me how we might discuss something on her canvas and she would immediately pick up a tube of oil paint and go right to work to ‘correct’ something, becoming completely present to the task.

“Alyce had grown up in the South, like myself, but went off to the University of Chicago, I think, at age 15 or 16. In 1978, when she and Barbara Zaring were meeting regularly to work outside, Alyce invited me to join them. I’ve sometimes wondered if or how that might have influenced my work – if I’d joined instead of relocating to Colorado briefly. I miss my neighbor, Alyce, who is nearby, down the Hondo Road. We did trade art. In fact, Alyce was a generous ‘patron.’ She selected thoughtfully and well. I really treasured her friendship.”

In an October 1993 article for the University of Chicago Magazine, Frank stated, “Within 20 miles from my house, I can paint high mountain scenery, the snow line, the tree line where it is bare; I can paint the gorge of the Rio Grande, high desert and rock canyons. There are also orchards and farmland because of the irrigated valleys that the Spanish have developed. And then, we have this beautiful light. I think some day I won’t be able to go out. It’s physically difficult for me now.”

“Legends and Stories,” the 2017 Taos tourism marketing theme, is apt for this exhibit, which began as a conversation between Paul Figueroa, president of the board of the Taos Fall Arts Council; Kendall, who curated this exhibition; and members of the Frank family during the 2016 Taos Fall Arts Festival, when Frank was named recipient of the Charles Strong Distinguished Life Achievement Award.

A “brown bag” informal walk-through of the exhibit with Kendall is planned Wednesday (June 21) at noon. For more information about the work in this exhibit, see judithkendall.com.

This exhibit is presented by the Taos Arts Council as part of its program for Art in Public Spaces, supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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