For Immediate Release
December 22, 1999
Contacts: Cathcart, or
Howard and Jane Frank Share Treasures of Future With Possible Futures
COLLEGE PARK, Md. Howard and Jane Frank have been collecting science fiction and fantasy art for nearly 35 years. It started after they papered the walls of their first apartment in Berkeley, Calif. (where Howard was an assistant professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science) with pages torn from popular "fantasy" calendars and colorfully weird and lurid 1950s and 60s science fiction movie posters and lobby cards.
The Franks later discovered science fiction, Star Trek conventions and the original art that often accompanied displays in late 1969 after moving from California to New York. "Many of the most well known illustrators in the field attended the art shows in those days," says Howard Frank, dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and owner of the science fiction art collection. "The artists used the conventions as a means for meeting fans, but more importantly persuade book and magazine art directors to hire them for future assignments."
It was at a typical convention where the Franks came to meet some of the more noted artists and illustrators in the field. Among them, Kelly Freas, Richard Powers and Michael Whelan, each with works in the exhibition Possible Futures: Science Fiction Art From The Frank Collection, open Jan. 27 at the Art Gallery at the University of Maryland.
"We are, to a large extent, art groupies," admits Frank, "we are happy to hang around convention art shows for hours at a time, engaging artists in endlessly fascinating conversations about their technique, careers and imaginations." In addition to befriended artists and admiring their ability to draw, the Franks are more enamored with the ability to invent such spectacular images right out of their imagination, no models possible.
"Through their imagination, concepts and descriptions that formerly usually existed only in words could be translated into wonderful creatures, situations and scenes that had never been seen before," says Frank. "This talent is the special gift of a handful of professional artists who rose to the top of the rarified genre of illustration art."
Several of the most capable illustrators also achieve success in other popular literary genres, including westerns, romances and aviation. Only an accomplished few have the genius to depict narratively, clearly and realistically what otherwise may exist only in the imagination.
Beyond conversations, there were slide shows, panel discussions and after-hours parties hosted by publishers. The Franks found themselves becoming friends with many of the artists, who in turn, offered invitations to their homes and studios. Weekend conversations became not only an opportunity to meet and speak with authors, publishers, editor and art directors of the books they enjoyed, it enabled the couple to meet other fans and build lasting bonds.
"We buy paintings for one reason: because we like them," says Frank of he and his wife Jane's admiration of the art form. "We don't buy them because of who painted them, because of the books or stories they illustrate, or because critics, art experts or other collectors speak of them favorably. So, in one sense, we can explain the acquisition of all our paintings in a simple way. But love can only explain the rationale for collecting, not the process."
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