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Biography: Part One

FRANKLIN ROSS DRAKE (1929-2001): by an old friend and occasional accomplice

DAVID SELLIN

In a career spanning the second half of the twentieth century the art and life of Franklin Drake are inseparable. They can be generally measured by decades, in bursts of activity in Philadelphia and its rural environs and Woodstock, N.Y., and Manhattan, punctuated by excursions (courtesy of the U.S. Army) to Korea and Japan, and through Europe (supported by awards won in competition), summers in Ogunquit, Maine, and on the road to Texas. His whole life was a work in progress and, like his art, subject to periodic revision and improvement, and always an adventure. For an orderly chronicle of that life see the appended curriculum vitae.

There is also a gallery of works selected from a prolific production to illustrate the character, progress, and development of his art. His student years in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the nearby Barnes Foundation provided him the tools and the imagination to use them expressively thereafter. There is an underlying discipline evident in even the most experimental of his work, a control of seeming accident, boundaries to contain random encounters. Visit the gallery as you would a retrospective exhibition selected and grouped by a curator for quality and clarity, works divided into groups according to time, place, and medium, with rationale and particulars provided in accompanying text. Examine individual works for best reward.

His projects on a broader scale often resulted in nothing concrete remaining, being purely conceptual or in the realm of the happening, temporary installation, or the victim of vandalism, demolition, accident, or bureaucratic intervention. All of this Bud took with boundless good nature as he pursued his grail, or whale, accepting the world as it is. In this he had the unwavering support of his irrepressible wife Ruth, who went along with whatever, as long as it did not impinge on her workaday turf on Wall Street. The public life of the artist, commonly known as Bud, may seem random and undisciplined, but in New York and Woodstock nonconformity is accepted as a norm and he blended easily with the crowd.

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