Fran Powell: Talented Artist and Passionate Curator

Gray Angel Pair

A little more color and beauty can be found in the Town of Addison thanks to resident Fran Powell. As a talented artist who is passionate about showcasing local art, Powell brought the AddisonArt Program inside the Addison Conference Centre to life last year and she continues to serve as program curator. Next on her busy To-Do list? Showcasing her own artwork beginning Dec. 11!

“As the curator of the AddisonArt program, I was a little reluctant at first to put myself on the schedule of shows—afraid of being criticized as it being somewhat self-serving,” said Powell. “But with the encouragement from friends and Joseph Tautges, Conference Centre administrator, I am having my first one-woman show from Dec. 11 through January 2019. It is somewhat terrifying to be in the line-up of the very talented and professional artists that have so far been part of the program, but I have been working hard and will have 33 paintings and photographs exhibited. The show will include a series of paintings of tropical fish (inspired by photographs by Feodar Pitcairn, which I used with permission), a number of paintings of Ghanaian baskets, sea and lake views, landscapes and some photographs taken in France and Spain.”

Ghanaian Baskets
Powell’s love of art began when she was a child. She got her first real painting lesson at 12-years-old from the mother of a school friend—in fact, Powell’s mother still has the small landscaping painting she did as a result of that lesson! She continued drawing and painting projects through high school, then “life got in the way” according to Powell, and she didn’t find time to do much artwork until retiring from the professional, 60-hour work week a few years ago.
Since retiring, her love of art has increased. She took drawing and painting classes at the School of Arts at Brookhaven Community College, where she bought small and thin canvases not knowing if she would still enjoy it or be any good. “I found that I loved the time and processes involved in creativity,” said Powell. “I love the ability to express myself on canvas and paper; coming up with ideas for images in pencil and paint; and discovering the fun of finding the right thing to photograph and producing images digitally. So the canvases got larger, the selection of paints better and the digital photographs bigger.”
Girl at fountain

In 2016, she first came up with the idea for the AddisonArt Program as a way “to encourage the Town of Addison to improve the look of the walls of the Conference Centre and to encourage support of the local visual arts.” Addison has long been a strong supporter of the community arts, with WaterTower Theatre, Shakespeare in the Park and numerous music performances during festivals and special events, but there hasn’t really been a place for visual arts. Her proposal was accepted by the Town in early 2017 and a gallery-type hanging system was installed on six walls within the Conference Centre, complete with horizontal rails and moveable wires and hooks that don’t damage the walls or building. The first show, which featured Ted Houston, was installed in time for Kaboom! Town in July 2017.

Each artist is carefully selected and is required to fit a few criteria: must be living in North Texas, must not be currently represented by a gallery, the work must be installed on the walls only (no freestanding works at this time), work must be suitable for a corporate and family environment and the artist must commit to having approximately 25 to 35 works in place at the Centre for six to eight weeks. Each artist has the choice of hosting a reception if they wish, which is planned around the meeting schedule of the Conference Centre.
Since Powell has prior experience in running a gallery and in working as arts director for a major real estate company, she volunteered to organize and run the AddisonArt Program. As curator, she sources and meets with potential artists, plans the calendar of shows, and installs each exhibit with the artists. “I try to vary the works,” Powell explained. “A watercolor show may be followed by an abstract exhibit in acrylics; a photography exhibit may be followed by landscapes in oil.”

In addition to Houston, the following artists have had a one-person show as part of the Addison Art Program: Dr. Joseph Mills, Sharon Shero, Bill Snelson, Melanie Brannon, Kirk Sisco, Ginger Shanholt, Jamie Pickerell and Larry Rand, whose work in abstract oil can be seen through Dec. 9. In a Summer 2018 group show called “Flowers,” Barbara Mason, Allan Wood, Janna Tidwell and Harriet Mellow were the featured artists. And in November/December 2017, Powell organized a group show of emerging artists, most of whom were students at the School of the Arts at Brookhaven College.

Angel Fish
“It appears that the community enjoys these shows,” said Powell. “The opportunity for Dallas-area artists to show their work in public is very limited. Addison is providing a venue to show the works of emerging artists and offer the opportunity for art collectors, whether private or corporate, to recognize the talent that sits right on their doorstep. Not all the art available in galleries around town needs to be sourced from major cities. My hope, and one of the primary reasons for the AddisonArt Program, is that local art dealers, interior designers, collectors and corporations begin to identify the talent that is available here. There is such a great opportunity to access outstanding artwork in the immediate area and to support local emerging artists. It would be so gratifying if and when corporate collectors, looking to enhance the walls of their office buildings, would begin to look at our emerging talent to add to their programs.”
Although the 2019/2020 AddisonArt Program has not been completely finalized, there are a few upcoming shows the community can look forward to:
  • Ekansh Tambe from Feb. 1-March 30, 2019: A collection of approximately 60 colored photographs by a 14-year-old artist who has photographed international borders in three major areas of the world.
  • David Farrell from April 1-May 31, 2019: An exhibit by a Dallas architect who produces large canvases in acrylics, covering both realistic as well as abstract subjects.
  • Chuck Carter from June 1-July 29, 2019: A whimsical collection of paintings from a retired art professor.
Other upcoming artists with dates not yet finalized include Bernard Bortnik, painting in acrylic, watercolors and drawings; Sara Lennon, Brookhaven College artist who chooses a variety of subjects to paint on canvas and paper; and Valery Guignon, who works in fabrics.
“I so enjoy meeting artists and encouraging them to get involved in having a show in a very public venue,” said Powell. “I understand that the Conference Centre hosts approximately 70,000 people a year. I find it exciting that these guests will be exposed to good art, whether they like the images or not is immaterial. The art enhances the building. The shows, hopefully, encourage the artists. And if I can get the locals who collect art to recognize the AddisonArt Program as a place to source art, my mission as curator will be fulfilled.”
If you want to apply to be a part of the AddisonArt Program, contact Powell at fran.addisonart@gmail.com.
Thanks to Powell’s hard work, passion and commitment to the arts, the community of Addison has a unique opportunity to see stunning, local pieces of art throughout the year. We can’t wait to see her original artwork next week!

Sydni Ellis grew up in the great state of Texas, where she learned to love chips and salsa and hot weather. She has a master’s degree in Journalism from the University of North Texas, and she currently works in the College Communications, Marketing and Outreach office at Richland College. Some of her passions include writing, traveling and re-reading the Harry Potter Series every chance she gets. In the spirit of spontaneity, Sydni lives her life with a pen in one hand and her video camera in the other; ready to capture the next great story.

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