By Judi Huck
“An artist’s job is to make a compelling visual statement.. I often use mundane objects and found objects in this pursuit.” – Frank Gavere, member of Mana’s Originals.
Frank Gavere and the Creative Process
Frank Gavere works in Studio 497 at Mana Contemporary Arts Center.
“Creation is a journey, an of exploration of ideas,” he begins. Frank believes artists have to constantly be bombarded with new ideas. “Imagine a volcano of dancing images – that’s how your ideas should be.” He adds, “If you’re absolutely, positively driven to paint, GREAT, then PAINT. If you’re not driven – go do something else.”
Frank’s process involves knowing where to start. There’s an absolute sequence to things. With airbrush on paper, art making is a linear, additive process. Frank explains that the order of operations is important. Stencil layers must be introduced precisely, to produce the best effects with depth and optical clarity. Unfortunately, in this painting process, there are no corrections or deletions. “It’s permanent,” says Frank. “I do study the works and make notes to improve the next painting session, and every work demands that it needs to be perfect.”
According to Frank, it took some 40 years to master airbrush techniques. Fortunately for him, he started making art at the curious age of 8. “Interesting ideas,” he shares, “run in the family.” Frank comes from a long line of inventors and thinkers; his great uncle was a biologist who studied gall wasps. “I was also collecting insects [as a child], but mine didn’t end up in the Museum of Natural History.” These activities fueled Frank’s fascination with the natural world and his keen observation of detail contributed to developing an acute artistic sense. “I eventually decided to stop collecting them,” Frank said. “Insects are so beautiful, and I can’t kill beauty.”
Frank Gavere’s Acrylics and Stencils
Frank Gavere describes his work as “postmodern, with a dash of modernism, a splash of abstract expression, a pinch of futurism, a nod to constructivism, with a long and lingering kiss of minimalism.” He is perhaps most known for his modular works on paper using an air gun, acrylic paint, and masks. The masks are handmade from materials Frank comes across in his home or around town. A mask is something he uses to modify the spray and can be whatever he can get his hands on and work with.
He advises, “The best stencils are metal, followed by plastic and finally paper.” The pieces below are in a series, Frank usually works that way. To him, a productive art making session lasts about three hours and makes progress on 6-7 works. On a good week he has 5-7 of these studio sessions. And by studio, we refer to Frank’s designated outdoor spraying space – a sizable concrete slab in the middle of his New Jersey backyard. He works there, weather permitting. Fortunately for Frank, Mana is unaffected by weather problems, and he enjoys setting up at his secondary studio, here at our contemporary arts center, as well.
The Freedom of Modular Artwork
In addition to his intensely personal and graphic style, Frank’s art is modular and extremely flexible in how it can combined and displayed. In the spirit of modular, or tile-like works, the image that follows combines two finished pieces arranged on the diagonal.
Always open to reinvention, art is ultimately a means of metamorphosis for Frank. It will be exciting to see how his airbrush and modular art evolves.