Fred Franzen

Fred Franzen at his daughter Karen’s studio

I think I must know how Steve Martin felt when he thought he had “discovered” Lawren Harris. “0h,” and then a laugh at oneself.

My “discovery” is Fred Franzen, described by Donald Brackett in a beautifully written foreward to a 1997 Chistopher Cutts Gallery catalogue as “a mature artist who is in the arena for the long run”.

Fred asked to see a photo of our Franzen “in context”, so …

I wish that Brackett’s whole write-up could be found on the web. It is insightful and reflective of the author’s deeply felt response to Franzen’s painting. I feel that response, too.

Anyway, I am happy to have read a borrowed copy of the 1997 catalogue of Franzen’s one-man show that year. It’s true that I am a late arrival in my appreciation, but at least my eye was good enough to recognize the quality of Fred Franzen’s vision when I finally became aware of it.

Serendipitous connections

In conversation with Fred yesterday, I was delighted to learn that we were both admirers of Harold Town and Barker Fairley, too. Our friends John and Ruth Colombo both sat for Barker Fairley portraits and have them in their home. When Fred mentioned that he had met Frederick Varley, I thought I should tie this all together with a portrait of Barker Fairley by F.H.Varley.

Portrait of Barker Fairley by F.H. Varley. 

Varley was a founding member of Canada’s Group of Seven. (Fred and I weren’t too sure when we were speaking.) Here is a famous photo of Group of Seven members. with non-member (but supporter) Fairley at the table (with the pipe). Come to think of it, isn’t that Lawren Harris, third from the left? This is where I came in, with Steve Martin.

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