by Bellas Erakko
The chipped paint on the hood of the junkyard blue Pontiac looked so real, watercolorist Brenda Beck Fisher asked Frank Elmore, “Can I touch it?” She slid her finger across the silky acrylic painted surface to assure herself he had not actually embedded a paint chip into the almost photographically real painting.
The Alliance Art Gallery invites art lovers to see Elmore’s “Junkyard Series” at its “Second Saturday” reception on May 12, 2018 from 5 until 8:00.
When asked what got him into art, he pauses, tracing a somewhat non-traditional path. “Well, growing up, for me, was about theater”—a choice that led to a thirty-plus year acting career in NYC and LA in commercials, soap operas, plays, and film. “But even as a kid, I always had an interest in 3D images because of comic books.” He used his red-and-blue lens cardboard glasses to read them, and even create his own 3D art. He moved from there to Polaroid images with its squared prints, perfect for high definition 3D imagery.
As his acting career unfolded in NYC, and with plenty of time on his hands and a fascination with Impressionistic city scenes, he explored blending that style with his love of photographic realism. One day, he stood in front of his in-process painting of a Victorian house on a hill, utterly real with its barren bark tree in the foreground, and added an Impressionistic final touch—a blurred canopy of leaves.
Fast forward … Retiring to Hannibal in 2015, and driving one Spring day down country roads with friends, he chanced upon a junkyard of rusted wrecks. Still enamored with 3D imagery, he grabbed his 3D camera and began snapping images of police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, big finned behemoths. He culled eight images from that day, and will be showing the first paintings from the “Junkyard Series” along with the 3D photographs at the May 12 opening reception.
He laughs at the overall arc of his artistic journey. His paintings, exhaustively created, were photographically perfect. He wanted to master the art. In a way, the preciseness and depth of 3D drove his desire for precise images in oil. Then he found himself drawn to Impressionist images of 150 years ago, when photography was being born. Knowing that photo images were blurred by slight movements of the subjects, Elmore wonders if the Impressionist painters were actually influenced by seeing those effects.
His next project, already entitled “The Chase,” comes from a photo he took at the Chicago Art Institute. “I am looking at the girl. The girl is looking at a William Merritt Chase painting. To the left behind her, there is a John Singer Sargent portrait painted by Chase, and finally, to complete the circle, Sargent is looking out at us.” It is, for him, the perfect combination of Impressionism (the paintings) with photographic realism (the girl).
He may have “The Chase” ready for debut at Second Saturday—or, he may still be chasing that perfect expression of what he captured … with his camera.