FRANKLYN LIEGEL MEMORIAL EXHIBIT
Sunday, September 8th, 2013
- Joseph Piansentin - Hei Myung Hyun - Kaoru Mansour - Robert Walker - Ramone Muñoz - m. Rheuban - Julienne Johnson
LA Artcore wishes to honor the life and work of Franklyn Liegel with a special exhibit for an arist and educator who had an unforgettable impact on the lives of many artists. Join with friends for a day of memories and paying respect to a committed, energetic member of the Los Angeles art world.
IN LOVING MEMORY...
I first met Franklyn on an Artcore exchange trip to Japan many years ago. When we were introduced at the opening show in Fukuoka, he asked if we could set aside some time so we could discuss my work. This was a rather unusual request, but one I was happy to oblige. We often have good friends who come to our exhibitions and who are always 100% supportive of our work and, as artists, we are appreciative of their insight, however, Franklyn was the only friend I have ever had that would come to a show and then go home and write a formal critique of my work and send it to me. I’ve saved these correspondences from him as his observations were extraordinarily perceptive and helpful and such a generous gift to give an artist.
I had always loved the eccentricity of his work and when I got to know him, I realized how unique both the artist and his work really were. Franklyn was an artists' artist; the true artist for whom there was no separation between the artist and the work. He is greatly missed and irreplaceable!
When I look at the work of my friend Franklyn Liegel, I enjoy that I am not looking at a picture, but rather, having the experience of a journey where around each bend awaits another discovery, and where anticipation grows with deeper exploration. Possessing a very physical presence of material and saturation of visual stimuli, Franklyn’s work avoids the feel of an assembling and achieves more a cohesion of organic evolution. Materials aren’t manipulated for the sake of illusion, but rather, their unique attributes are embraced through an incredible playfulness and invention.
Franklyn would completely immerse himself in the process of creating, and through the genius of his instinct, forge his own path.
Franklyn was a profoundly gifted artist, effective teacher, and one of my closest friends. We had a number of exhibitions together, we occasionally traveled together, and without a doubt, he was the most welcomed visitor at my studio.
I first met Franklyn in 1979 when I was invited to share a loft space with him and another artist named Dennis Hilger. The second floor loft was located on the southeast corner of 5th and Wall street on what is still refered to as "Skid Row.” The building was called the Hotel Deluxe, a funny name for something that was anything but deluxe. Franklyn had one of four large separated studio spaces, and he placed a very high value on privacy. It was a dark room with little natural light which he seemed very comfortable in. On weekends we all worked into the wee hours of the morning and would gather to discuss the work we were doing before going to bed. Franklyn and the other artist, Dennis Hilger, had gone to school together, in the midwest as I recall, and had also studied art in Los Angeles. They had a bit of a rivalry and would have occasional periods in which they would not speak. The 30+ years I knew Franklyn were marked by an uncanny consistency in Franklyn’s demeanor, personality and creative output. From the first day I met him, he seemed to exist in two realities, the real world and the reality of his work which he seemed to produce in a dimension most of us were not privy to, a secret world of bits and pieces of found objects and material for which Franklyn had very specific applications. I suspected that he was near-sighted and he tended to work close to his art surfaces like a bird endlessly constructing one nest after another, and yet, he also had an overall vision for every piece in its totality. He reminded me of Paul Klee, not so much in the appearance of his work but in his eccentric interaction with people and the world. I never felt that Franklyn was very comfortable with people, and yet, as a teacher he would blossom into the most supportive and encouraging individual one could imagine. When he was giving advice to help another artist grow, he was very extroverted and had remarkable pedagogical skills, however, when friends would inquire about his work or personal life, Franklyn would almost immediately move into his private world which was off-limits to most, if not all. There was a very interesting duality to Franklin, mildly schizophrenic, which made him one of the most interesting artists I have ever known in Los Angeles. He was a true eccentric without any phoniness. Entering one of Franklyn’s studios in later years was like entering the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a circus-like dream world filled with oddities and countless dream-like art constructions in various states of completion. During my last visit to his studio I noticed a strange small mobile room, much like an enclosed wagon one sees at carnivals, complete with wheels. I asked him what the mobile room was for and he said he slept inside it and it was also used as a closet. A small door was open on the side and I could not help but peek into the mysterious dark place where Franklyn spent his nights. A moment later Franklyn closed the door to his private cocoon. I was allowed a quick peek, but that was all.
A remarkable artist, a very private individual, a generious and supportive teacher and a friend who will always remain a bit of a mystery to me. Perhaps more than a bit. An immensely gifted artists and a unique, irreplaceable soul we will all miss.
Franklyn Liegel's student, Art Center College of Art
Franklyn, what a guy, what an instructor, what an artist, and what a mentor ! Franklyn is one of the dearest, sweetest, imp-like artists one could ever know. He had a genius of personality, of energy and of talent with a little dash of bad boy thrown in. He sometimes reminded me of the Mickey Roarke of the art world which is a compliment. Franklyn was just raw talent and charm and intelligence all thrown together. This combination created alchemy, a Medieval subject he liked. He transformed a classroom into a magical place of inspiration and creativity. ..his own personal alchemy. He endorsed and espoused the best and brought it out of you. He emphasized originality, quirkishness, mateials, and academics as well as that our work be archival.
He always said " This is your legacy; treat your work with pride and care." He would say, "This is what you will leave behind." He always encouraged the best in his students, both in process and the actual work of art itself. Little did I know his own personal legacy would be cut short. His piercing dark eyes, his plaid shirt, his summer Hawaiian shirt, his witty humor, and his sheer brilliance are all missed. His art is a testament to his life. He generously shared the contrasting academic rigors of the art world from Kurt Schwitter, to the medieval use of terra verde, gold leafing, washi, and Yes glue of today; painstakingly demonstrating many different art techniques.
Had he lived longer, I am sure he would be amongst the giants of the contemporary art world, yet I believe his own personal legacy will live on through his art and lastly through his students. Usually, he arrived at class with armloads of materials to work with and that impish grin.
At the end of class "Franklyn the Calm" would often come over to me and ask anxiously, "Did I do well; was I ok?" I would say you did great, Franklyn. That is the truth and sums up a life cut way too short. "You did great, Franklyn, you did great."
Managing Director, Public Programs and Director, Art Center at Night
Art Center College of Design
I had the great pleasure of working with Franklyn at Art Center College of Design for nearly 13 years. He had a tremendous impact as an artist, teacher and as a mentor to so many Art Center at Night students. At end of every term, he stop by the office with some of his students' work to show me, or more often, he would walk into the office with one of his students, CD of their artwork in-hand, so that I could meet the student in-person. He was always so proud of the accomplishments of his students and he was always excited to show their work.
I am pleased to say that I was one of those students - I took Franklyn's "Collage and Assemblage" class at Art Center at Night. But Franklyn was more than just an instructor in the program I manage - he was also my friend and mentor. Although my work is primarily photographic in nature, Franklyn didn't hold that against me and in fact, his teachings helped me explore ways to visualize "collages" when taking pictures. My series "reflected spaces" was influenced in part by what I learned from Franklyn. When I showed him some of the early photos from that series, I will always remember how much Franklyn was excited about the work - as excited or even more so than as I was!
I knew Franklyn for about 12 years, first at Otis College of Art and Design continuing education classes and then by attending his workshops. His unique ability as a teacher to zero in on each artist's individual methods of working, style and his vision of how to help further our art made his twice a year workshops something special. The greater portion us were repeat customers. When Franklyn spent art time with you he was 100% present. In fact, during the week or two of the workshops he typically wouldn't check his email or his phone messages, staying focused on the event at hand. In this compartmentalization he retained a genius level of memory for what you had shown him or talked about with him, sometimes years after.
During the lunch breaks he'd often slip away to recharge alone, but one time he and I walked to a street nearby that was lined with huge, California White Oaks. The weather was perfect, and as we walked under the dappled shade we spoke of all manner of things, cabbages and kings and always always art art art. We sometimes "snuck away" to have lunch together at a local spot, or a beverage after. The last few years of workshops each of us would pick a day and bring a lunch for Franklyn, because we noticed he often just ate his handful of almonds. It's a testament to how much we all respected and cared for him that we did this. I made him a bento box once, which he throughly delighted in.. all those compartments. I look at that box now with the sadness that I can never fill it again for him.
Many call him their mentor. The notes I took during these encounters will serve me well for years to come. I can still hear him say, when I expressed a moment of doubt about my art making, "Never say that Mara! You are a true artist." He furthered our art by setting us up for discovery, never by simply telling. Sometimes, even by confusing.
When Franklyn called on the phone, which was not often but when he did the conversations could go on for an hour. Once we met at LACMA and toured the cool and quiet floors of the ancient arts, had a snack and then sat to watch a film about Derrida in the Bing theater. Through all this, and I was not unique in these occasional visits, he was the total gentleman. He was that intriguing mixture of being totally himself, honest and fallible yet fiercely protective of his privacy. What he told me, I always kept in strictest confidence, as he liked. To those of us who had these widely scattered private times they are cherished memories.
His interests were wide and he often would loan out art books. In return, we loved to bring him things of interest, I lent or gave him innumerable books, dvd's and small art gifts. He was a mischief maker, and delighted in a pun or quirky discovery. As we delighted in his embodiment of the same.
In loving memory of Franklyn.
Franklyn's last exhibit at Andrew Shire Gallery
This is the Franklyn's quote that I still think when I'm making my work.
In the process of working on the pieces, a quote Franklyn once said to me ran through my thoughts: "Don't lose your intensity until you are really really sure the work is done."
I was a student of Franklyn’s. It was necessary to understand that he loved art and loved teaching art. I was prepared to accept his criticism, whether positive or negative, understanding that his goal was to make me the confident artist he knew I wanted to be.
During the many workshops, he would be presenting or critiquing other’s artwork and would turn to me and ask, “Marge, what do you think, Marge?” I continue to be teased by my fellow artists to this day. And he really loved blue masking tape!
This show was to be a two person show, mine and Franklyn’s. He had a solo show set but wanted me to show with him. Honored is too mild a word for how I felt when he asked me to be a part of it. So I will be showing with him, just not how I thought it would be. We would have had such a great time doing it together, a really good time.
Franklyn was a dear friend, not only my mentor and I miss him every day!
Franklyn told me that my artwork was important to the world. More importantly, he empowered me to proclaim it. While I am not certain he really believed that, like a child I wanted to trust him; and he was convincing enough to keep me from destroying a canvas that day in class. Although I cut it to shreds later.
Franklyn taught me that my work was sacred. A part of me! "And if you don't believe that Julienne", he told me, "neither will anyone else".
Our very last conversation was about my upcoming exhibition in Doha (March 2012) and my upcoming art book that Peter Frank was about to edit. "You can trust Peter", he promised. Like a good student - I did, knowing that Franklyn usually didn't trust anyone. The book, Ashes For Beauty, edited by Frank, was dedicated to Franklyn as was my 2012 solo exhibition.
When I heard of Franklyn's passing, I was up at Big Bear Mountain at a winter, women's retreat. I skipped out of the lodge for a couple minutes to return an artist friend's call. "Julienne, I want you to sit down", my friend said softly. "Okay, I'm sitting.......shivering here in my cold car", I told her. After she delivered the sad news, I sat - still, for a very long time, mesmerized through wet lashes, by how quickly the powdery snowflakes melted as they fell so softly against the windshield.
Reception: Sunday, September 8th, 2013
Exhibit on View September 4 - 29, 2013
LA Artcore Union Center: 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Best parking directly across the street.
Hei Myung Hyun