Rose Frantzen is a truly quintessential artist, personifying all that is unique and extraordinary about what it means to be a painter. Working primarily in oil, she specializes in figurative works, landscapes, still lifes, and thematic projects. We are very proud to be hosting a masterclass workshop with Rose Frantzen, which will take place in Provence, July 15-23, 2024.

Portrait of Maquoketa

After studying at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, with Richard Schmid at the Palette and Chisel Academy, and then with the late Deane G. Keller at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Frantzen returned to her hometown of Maquoketa, Iowa, making it the center and study of her artistic endeavor.

One landmark project undertaken by Frantzen is entitled Portrait of Maquoketa, which focuses exclusively on the citizens of the town. The project consists of 180 individual 12” X 12” oil portraits, painted over the course of a year from a Main Street storefront, of anyone in the town who wished to pose for her.  This is how she describes the project on her web site, “I wanted to paint my neighbors and fellow Maquoketans without any selection or choice on my part, attempting to capture a direct portrayal of the people around me. Together, we could democratize portraiture, allowing anyone to be painted just by showing up and participating.

From 2009-2010, Portrait of Maquoketa was shown for eight months at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.


Iowa Figge Art

An expanded version of the project was shown in 2012-2013 at Davenport, Iowas Figge Art Museum. To complete her full vision for this exhibit, Frantzen painted a 315-square-foot landscape view of the town, which was broken up into 34 vertical panels. Seen from one end of the installation, the panels comprise what one would see if they were standing in the hills outside of Maquoteka. The 180 portraits of the townspeople are mounted on the reverse of the panels. Fritzen’s husband, Chuck Morris, assisted with mapping and engineering the landscape so that the panels coalesce from one point of view.

John Frantzen, the artists brother, composed audio compositions to accompany the exhibit. The compositions include voices of the portrait subjects combined with the landscapes natural sounds.

Ultimately Portrait of Maquoketa was purchased by the Figge Art Museum, which alternately shows the installation in the museum, and tours it to other locations.

In the Face of Illusion

Another intriguing project undertaken by Frantzen is entitled In the Face of Illusion. This exhibit consists of portraits and figures that are integrated with optical illusions. Of the exhibit, Rose is quoted on her web site as asking, “Can we trust ourselves so much? Optical illusions remain persistent, even when we rationally know that we are seeing things incorrectly. If misperception happens with simple lines and shapes, why wouldn’t this also occur when we encounter something as complex as another human being or maybe even ourselves?”

Frantzen’s other work has been widely exhibited at the Denver Historical Museum, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and she is a multi-award winner with the Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition. In addition to showing her art at the Figge Art Museum, Franzen’s work is included in the permanent collections at the Brunnier Art Museum and the Dubuque Museum of Art.

Frantzen’s paintings have also been pictured in international art magazines. Franzen frequently conducts art demonstrations, guest lectures, and participates in art discussion panels.

In addition to their other work, Frantzen and her husband, Chuck Morris, operate the non-profit Maquoketa Art Experience on Main Street in Maquoketa. The Art Experience offers exhibitions of regional art, art classes, and a creativity café.

Check out more blogs about art workshops, tips and hacks for artists traveling in France and Scotland.

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