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January 27, 2012 > 54 years of art

54 years of art

By Julie Grabowski

In between a grocery store offering sustenance for the body and a fire station providing bodily rescue, an unassuming building on Niles Boulevard that started out as a medical practice now quietly suggests health for the soul. Inside, the life of local artist Ed Frakes blossoms on the walls in the form of irises, portraits, and nature views in an exhibit titled "The First 54 Years."

Frakes spent 22 years teaching in Newark, from fifth and sixth graders and special education classes, to various art classes in watercolor, found art sculpture, and print making. The exhibit came about when some friends urged him to do something special in celebration of his 75th birthday, and suggested a retrospective show of his work. Laurie Manuel and Beth Hoffman, owners of the building called UPTOWN (an "adaptive reuse project in progress" for future community uses), wanted to test the space as a gallery, and opportunity and need met in a friendly handshake.

Around 50 pieces of art are on display, dating from 1960 to the present. A couple of drawings and watercolors are in the mix, but the exhibit is predominately made up of oil paintings. The exhibit opened on January 14, three days before Frakes' birthday, and has since welcomed hundreds of visitors and produced sales.

Having only shown out of his house on art walks, Frakes says putting up the show was really neat, having the opportunity to hang up large things he couldn't at home and see the progression of his work over the years. When asked what he thinks of seeing his art hung all together in one space Frakes replies, "A lot of work."

He says someone once told him that you can tell how your art is going to change by watching the edges of your paintings; things creep in at the sides and alter the work that follows. Frakes says he can see this transformation when viewing his own pieces. "I've come a long way and I've done the work."

Despite the successful venture, don't expect him to stage more exhibits or show up in galleries. "It's been a real learning experience," he says of the process, noting that the marketing aspect takes a lot of time. "It reiterates the fact that I'd rather be painting."

With Frakes' desire being to just keep on painting, this might be the public's last chance to see his work on display. The exhibit ends on Tuesday, January 31 with a unique closing reception. In addition to an open community gathering with some snacks, Frakes has arranged for musicians to be on hand and lead a procession of people carrying the paintings back to his house. An inspired and festive idea, the parade will not be a long one - Frakes only lives a block away.

He says he doesn't know what he should call the closing reception, maybe "The Carrying Home." While that rings a note of closure and finality, Frakes assures, "It's not over, it's just moving." Those interested in his art are welcome to call and set up appointments at his house.

When asked 'What is the importance of art in his life,' Frakes says, "It is my life. I'm very unhappy if I'm not doing art." He says he discovered early on that that connection with art, doing what you're suppose to be doing is what makes you happy.

The exhibit is open daily from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. and manned by the artist himself. For more information, please contact Ed Frakes at (510) 794-1368.

The First 54 Years
Daily, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Closing Reception
Tuesday, January 31
7 p.m.
37275 Niles Blvd., Fremont
(510) 794-1368

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