“A Luminous Journey: The Art of Maria Frank Abrams” is a thought-provoking and wonderful exhibition by a fascinating artist.
Maria Frank Abrams (1924-2013) was born in Hungary and survived the Holocaust, but many of her family members did not. By the end of World War II, she had lost 33 relatives (only one cousin had survived).
According to the Washington Jewish Museum, when she could find pencils and paper at the concentration camp, other women would ask her to draw what they looked like before the war. This time is a major theme in her life and work, as she channeled how she overcome the unthinkable into every piece.
While Abrams drew inspiration from the Northwest landscape, and often represented the beauty of her new home in her paintings, the presence of imagery and memories from her youth, the Holocaust, and Hungary persisted.
In her obituary (Mercer Island Reporter on April, 8, 2013), she was quoted as saying, “The Northwest affects my work very, very much,” and that much of her inspiration came from the “subtle, ever-changing hues of the light over Lake Washington.”
Oil paintings were her preferred medium, but she also used casein, or milk paint. Casein is an ancient type of milk-based, water-soluble paint found even in prehistoric cave paintings. It is known for its lustrous surface and vibrant colors, and so it is no surprise why Frank Abrams was drawn to it for many of her modern landscapes.
She covered her canvases in cool hues and then created the most unique and beautiful landscapes and geometric patterns.
In walking through the museum, it was clear that Abrams’ work resonated with every person in the gallery. The hushed discussions were animated, and many of the patrons were pointing at aspects of individual pieces as they lingered longer than usual in front of several of the canvases.
The color and composition of “Autumn Branches” really drew me in with its complexity, while the charming “Untitled (Self-Portrait with Cats”) was equally detailed, but also made me smile.
We spent a little extra time in front of “Whooping Cranes” and “The Judgment of Paris,” but the stunning colors of “Autumnal Eve” will keep you contemplating it for hours after, and I still can picture it now.
Works by Abrams have been featured at venues across the Pacific Northwest, and soon nationally and internationally. She was honored with a solo retrospective in Budapest, Hungary, in 1992, and a posthumous exhibition of the artist’s works was held in 2015 at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
She was also an expert in composition and design and designed sets and costumes for opera productions.
“A Luminous Journey” runs through July 10. The exhibit features more than 40 of her original works from the Abrams family collection. Three of her pieces are part of the Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection.
Concurrent to the Abrams exhibit are those by Howard Dallas Duell and Sherill Van Cott. The Museum has also created a new selection of featured art from the permanent collection called “Northwest Living: A Heritage of Mid-Century Design.”
Published by the Edmonds Beacon, 4/14/2022. Written by Maria A. Montalvo.
You can find the original article through this link.