by Barb Paton
Adam Franitza, a significantly soft spoken and reserved man, would never announce the fact that he has spent the majority of his life designing and creating, growing and developing, expressing and healing through art. You would never know he was an artist, unless you were fortunate enough to know someone else who knew him, someone who took the time to tell you this artist’s story. And that person would be me, because I sat down with Mr. Franitza and heard the artist himself tell the story. It goes something like this….
It started in first grade when his mother signed him up for art classes at the Milwaukee Zoo where he experimented by drawing animals. Adam moved to Racine in eighth grade, attended art classes at Jerstad-Agerhom, and began to expand his knowledge. There he learned about and created 2D and 3D paintings, drawings, metals, and clay.
High school’s youthful phase drew his attention to watercolors, the slow process that would only afford a young person’s carefree world, yet he kept himself busy. By the time he graduated from high school, Adam had taken all of the art classes offered, took pre-college classes at MIAD, a prestigious art institution of higher learning in Milwaukee, and volunteered at Wustum Museum of Fine Arts doing summer programs for kids learning to paint.
One of the “cooler projects,” he recalls, involved the use of time-lapsed digital pictures. A professor used several cameras to layer paintings and produce the layers in one final work of art. Adam carefully observed and assisted, as the expert spearheaded the detailed process.
The UW-Milwaukee foundations program integrated all areas of art, for Mr. Franitza, “…a little of everything….” And the “giant sculpture lab” compelled, excited, and inspired him, as professors encouraged and “pushed” him. He was taking senior level courses in his sophomore year. The Foundations program, professors promoting his work, natural talent, and an ability to focus, allowed Mr. Franitza to discover that he excelled in 3D, so he specialized in sculpture.
Senior year approached and a voice came to him, through an advisor, to think in practical terms. The phrase “starving artist” did not resonate with Mr. Franitza, so he began thinking about teaching art classes, when a traumatic incident took him off guard. He returned to his family for support in his recovery and to his watercolors for comfort. He had enjoyed watercolors in high school; he found them to be “…soothing, because it’s a really slow process….” Part of his recovery was in California where he worked at a bookstore. California, where he began to feel better, inspired him and he started pushing the boundaries of what he was taught in watercolors courses.
Today he chooses to work at a faster pace, “looser,” more abstract, pushing the boundaries of his artwork. He uses color and shapes to describe how he’s feeling. It’s “comfortable,” a place that defines what feels right to him as an artist, the whimsical watercolors.
Mr. Franitza plans to stay in the area. He likes First Fridays in Racine and Second Saturdays in Kenosha, because you are “…among other artists and you see what they are up to.” He’d like to see more collaboration among artists and a sharing of ideas, and recommends an “in person,” weekly meeting of artists for breakfast or lunch.
Getting back to the “whimsical watercolors,” I asked if these watercolors might help children in therapy? “Yes,” he says, “very much. I would see these works as therapeutic, but I really feel that I need to show you what I’m doing….” He did show me a self portrait. You may be rekindled with your childhood as you stroll through his works because a typical theme is Alice In Wonderland. Stirring and spurring, captivating and eye catching, Adam Franitza’s showing will be in the very near future at Carolyn’s Coffee Connection, 1351 52nd Street, Kenosha WI. 53140. You will want to be there.