Lifelong passion

The Weekend Edition Press Publications September 2003

What started out as a hobby for Curt Frankenstein as a child is now – more than 70 years later – his life’s work. Frankenstein, 81, is showing his paintings in an exhibition at the Elmhurst Art Museum in the Elmhurst Artists’ Guild Gallery through Friday, Oct. 10. Through the Senior Citizen’s Art Network, to which Frankenstein belongs, a fellow member suggested he have a show at the Elmhurst Art Museum in the Elmhurst Artists’ Guild Gallery. Frankenstein was contacted by the Guild, and plans were made. “We do a lot of shows together; he’s a great gentleman” said Elmhurst Artists’ Guild President Evelyn Ecale Schultz. “He’s been painting for years and does wonderful work. His paintings are large and surreal.”

“The Opening of Heaven” is among the works on display in a new exhibit at the Elmhurst Artists’ Guild. At a glance The art of Curt Frankenstein When: Through Friday, Oct. 10 Where: Elmhurst Artists’ Guild Gallery at the Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 Cottage Hill Ave.,

Frankenstein has dabbled in many aspects of the art field. Although he had no formal training as an artist, the need for a job drove him to paint for a living. “As a child, I just liked to do art. I got some praise for it and encourage meant,” Frankenstein said. “I always had a big desire to paint. I had to make a living, art it’s the only thing I know” Originally from Hanover, Germany, Frankenstein left for Shanghai, China, as a teenager in 1939, as his homeland fell into the grips of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. He spoke no Chinese, but European paintings were popular among the Chinese at that time. Frankenstein had a knack for creating them. “With no other profession, painting was the only thing I could learn and do well. I had to paint to survive,” Frankenstein said. In 1947, he received a scholarship to attend the Academy of Arts in Chicago. So at the age of 25, he came to the United States. “I always wanted to be a painter; it just came about in a strange way. It is a very interesting and challenging profession. I’m still very happy in what I’m doing,” he said. After graduating from the Academy ‘of Arts, Frankenstein worked for a time as an illustrator. He freelanced for various types of companies, including advertising agencies and law schools. He considered his education incomplete, so he attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the evening and on Saturdays. Eventually, he decided to paint from imagination. “I wanted to create imaginative paintings. When you paint a specific subject, there are borders,” Frankenstein said. “I saw a couple painters doing well at imaginative painting – they had an idea first, made a sketch, and then painted a picture. It became real, and it is important to paint very real “The real challenge is to show something that doesn’t exist, but make it look as if it does exist,” he said. “It speaks an unwritten story to the intelligent viewer. I try to say something in a picture.” After years of work, Frankenstein began to accumulate paintings and didn’t know what to do with them. After attending the Old Towne Art Faire in Chicago, he was surprised to learn that there was an audience for his type of art. Then, he began to frequent art fairs around the Midwest, venturing as far as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Kansas City

Frankenstein’s art is displayed in many corporate collections throughout the country, including those owned by West Publishing in St. Paul, Minn.; the Illinois State Museum; and the Union League Club in Chicago. In addition to being a member of the Senior Citizen’s Art Network, Frankenstein is also a member of the American Jewish Art Club and the Wilmette Art Guild. He has received numerous art awards throughout his life, the most recent being “Best of Show” for his painting titled “Black and White” at the Garland of Barrington SAN exhibit. Frankenstein still visits six art fairs each year, mostly in Illinois. His plans for next year include having a one-man show at the Wilmette Public Library and at the Barrington Art Council Gallery.