Originally from the Netherlands, oral surgeon Frederick Franck gradually evolved from being a hobby artist in the 1930s to devoting his full time and attention to what he described as a pilgrimage of "seeing". Some of his works testify directly to the horrors of war and violence; others more subtly suggest the beauty and preciousness of all life, our environment, and peaceful living. He described his art as the central spiritual quest of his life, a search for "seeing" in the deepest sense. Some of his works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, all in New York City, and elsewhere around the world. But I cannot imagine that seeing his works in any other setting could equal the inspiration of viewing the pieces on the grounds of his simple former home (now a small museum and bookstore).
These photos, from our memorable time at Pacem in Terris, show one of my favorite sculptures, the plaque about its meaning, and the rushing stream near the restored 18th century watermill Franck and his wife, Claske, lived and worked in for many years. If the photos are not clear, you may click on them for a larger view.
I have just been rereading sections from a book I purchased there, Fingers Pointing Toward the Sacred, a sort of memoir of parts of his lifetime spiritual quest in various cultures, including his account of interviews with Pope John XXIII, the Dalai Lama, Albert Schweitzer, and others. The book contains a number of his moving and evocative spare line drawings of people and places. The activity of losing himself in seeing and drawing formed a kind of meditative practice for him.
This season of renewed hope for "peace on earth" and for the coming New Year seemed an appropriate time to recall this remarkable artist and seeker and to show you one of his works.
Question of the day: Well, more of a thought--in my life's journey I have learned and benefited most from the wisdom of thoughtful, people who do not claim to be wise. I had that feeling of deep learning as we experienced Franck's art and as I read his reflections.