Artist Rose Frantzen in “Portraiture Now: Communities”

Portraiture Now: Communities” closes Monday, July 5. The exhibition features works by Rose Frantzen, Jim Torok, and Rebecca Westcott.

The exhibition gallery with Rose Frantzen's portraits

Born and raised in Maquoketa, Iowa, Rose Frantzen studied representational painting at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Connecticut, and with painter Richard Schmid in Chicago. Frantzen traveled extensively before returning to Maquoketa, where she paints and teaches.

In 2005 Franzten received a grant from the Iowa Arts Council to support her idea to paint a representative, but self-selected, group of citizens of Maquoketa. She rented a storefront on Main Street, hung posters, gave an interview to the local radio station, and began to paint anyone who lived in the town who was willing to sit for the four or five hours required to complete one of her paintings.

Two of Rose Frantzen's portraits side-by-side: a teenage boy and elderly woman
A selection taken from the 180 portraits of the citizens of Maquoketa, Iowa, created in 2005-6. All portraits belong to the collection of the artist, © Rose Frantzen.

For Frantzen, this was an opportunity to give back to her community and democratize portraiture. As she states, to be her subject for the Portrait of Maquoketa, “You are worthy because you are here, in this town, in this time.” The resulting 180 paintings were created in 2005 and 2006. Frantzen’s work updates the alla prima technique, direct, wet-into-wet painting that requires enormous skill and stamina on the part of the artist.