Marilyn Frasca is a marvel. If there was ever such a thing as a must-see show, it’s Frasca’s show of some 56 drawings at Childhood’s End Gallery. This exhibition is the result of a lifetime, so far, of making, studying and teaching art. Her drawing style reminds me of Albrecht Dürer and other early Renaissance artists, but her style is a much more eclectic than that. We see in her drawings evidence she hasn’t so much been influenced by but rather learned from a range of artists from Dürer to Picasso.
A word about her singular technique: She starts off with monoprints, fields of textural marks with no recognizable images. She employs different drawing media and her own fertile imagination to create animal and human figures suggested by the textural marks. These animals and people find themselves in natural environments and situations that suggest but never fully tell stories. Many seem to be spiritual in context, or are about conflict and family and love. She treats both the animals and her human subjects with empathy and tenderness. Her human figures are often of ambiguous gender, both specific and universal.
There’s a surrealistic quality to many of her drawings, and a lot of twisted humor. Three examples: a drawing of a woman with a chicken on her head, another of a woman holding an intense conversation with a rabbit, and a picture of a man and woman talking — in which the man appears to have trees growing under the skin of his face.
“Finding Eve” is one of the most astounding drawings of many in this show. It’s the largest piece in the show and one of the simplest. Depicted is a standing nude, Eve, leaning against a tree limb. She’s dropping the apple, which begs the question: What would’ve happened in the Garden of Eden story if she did? The drawing is in black and white except for the apple, which is green and so realistic it could be a photo collaged into the drawing. In fact, it’s impossible to tell whether it is a collaged photo or painted apple. In this drawing, Frasca employs a myriad of compositional, technical devices from pentimenti (especially in Eve’s hands) to contrapposto to long, lyrical contour lines that smoothly change darkness and width. The figure is Picasso-esque, in that Eve’s body reminds me of the boy’s body in Picasso’s “Boy Leading a Horse.” Her face is like that of the women in many paintings from Picasso’s classical periods.
If I had time and space, I’d love to analyze each drawing in the show. I’ll mention only two more as examples. “Body and Soul” displays a contemplative, sad-looking angel and a woman holding a coal-black rabbit. There’s a fascinating interplay of outside and inside with a window and a reflection in a mirror. “Here in My Hands” depicts a sculptor holding the bust he’s made. He stands between two windows, thereby creating a similar interplay of outside and inside as in “Body and Soul.” We see in his expression and the position of his hands that he isn’t just holding the head of the sculpture but lovingly caressing it, as any artist should love their work — and as Frasca clearly loves hers.
Her fantastic imagination, empathy with her subject matter and accomplished drawing skill make for an amazing show.
(This review appears courtesy of The Weekly Volcano.)
What: drawings by Marilyn Frasca
Where: Childhood’s End Gallery,
222 Fourth Ave. W, Olympia
When: Oct. 6 – Nov. 12;
artist’s talk 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15
How much: free
Learn more: 360-943-3724 | Childhood’s End Gallery