Other Voices: Fritz A. Frauchinger

Fritz A. Frauchinger 

Frauchiger is an art historian who has worked for more than thirty-five years in California and Hawaii. Seeing Almaraz on television led Frauchiger to meet the artist and, eventually, to curate two exhibitions of his work.

Carlos Almaraz was one of the most unique people I ever knew. I became aware of him one night in the mid-1970s while watching a Los Angeles public television show. A bearded man in paint-spattered overalls was being interviewed about his artwork. As I listened, the artist’s comments intrigued me. It was Carlos Almaraz being interviewed about an exhibition he had just opened in downtown Los Angeles. I was immediately deter-mined to meet this artist and to find out more about him and his art. At the time I was the director of the ARCO Center for Visual Art, a not-for-profit contemporary art space open to the public in downtown Los Angeles. After our initial meeting and a visit to his studio I was convinced his work was exactly right for a solo exhibition at our center. The eventual exhibition, called Urban Myths: Painting (1982), was a great success by any measure.

In 1986 I was appointed as the new director of the newly forming Contemporary Art Museum in Honolulu. During my tenure there, Carlos and his wife, Elsa Flores Almaraz, bought a second home on the island of Kauai and began visiting regularly. Our schedules were not very compatible so I was able to visit Carlos and Elsa only once, but the visit let me discover how infatuated Carlos had become with Hawaii and the spiritual qualities of the Hawaiians and Kauai in particular. Now there was a whole new aspect to Carlos’s artwork and he and I began planning a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Museum.

Unfortunately by this time Carlos had contracted AIDS and his health was failing. In 1989 we were finally able to mount Carlos Almaraz: Recent Monotypes & Serigraphs, exhibiting his new pastels and paintings reflecting his Hawaii inspiration. Tragically, the very day the exhibition opened to the public, Carlos passed away. His passing affects me still.

 

Return to Other Voices: Reflections on Almaraz's Legacy  

Return to Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz