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Boys in Progress at DNJ Gallery

October 10, 2009 |  2:00 pm

As the youngest of four children and the only girl, Jona Frank spent a fair amount of her youth forced to sit, and watch her older brothers at hockey games, piano recitals or at church as they served Mass as altar boys. And those observational skills would serve as a stepping stone to a career as a photographer.

Frank’s exhibit at DNJ Gallery, "Boys in Progress" is an homage to those days watching her siblings maneuver and figure out the world. On view are 20 photos of boys ages 8 to 22 taken at different phases of their adolescence, be it a surfer boy, a Boy Scout or a young Mormon proselytizing.

Frank shot some of her subjects a few years apart in this ongoing project focusing on the phases boys go through as they explore their identities.One example, "Simon," was initially shot in 2005 of a 10-year-old boy on a playground with wild blond hair in a Metallica shirt. She revisited him a year later; in "Simon One Year Later" he had clearly grown in size and was still into skating with a "Skate and Destroy" helmet but with less attitude.

Boys seem to follow the Santa Monica-based photographer around. For a time Frank lived down the street from Lincoln Middle School and every day at 3 p.m. hoards of them would walk by her house. Then in 2001 she had a son of her own and would sit in parks watching him play, learn and interact.

"She connects with her subjects, and it’s evident in the photos," said Jennifer Chrzanowski, director at DNJ Gallery in West Hollywood. "They are posed yet candid at the same time because they have that trust."

Her eye captures those last fleeting remnants of innocence, which is evident in Frank’s previous projects; "High School" a photo book of teenagers from 18 suburban high schools across the country and "RIGHT: Portraits From the Evangelical Ivy League."

Jfrank_simon2 (2)

"There’s a definite West Coast vibe in her photos," added Chrzanowski."John Henry" was the result of Frank’s driving one sunny day when she spotted the then 14-year-old on a skateboard with a surfboard under his arm. "Just the way the sun was in his hair was like this ultimate California moment," recalled Frank.

Frank’s California dreams stemmed from growing up in New Jersey sitting in her Hang Ten shorts leafing through Skateboarding magazine. "I had this iconic ideal about California as a child and wanted to capture that in this project."

Frank moved to the West Coast to attend USC where she studied English and earned a masters in film production.

"I am not looking to define one moment in the lives of these boys, I’m looking for a blend, for the textures, the shifts in their interests and obsessions as they progress through childhood," she explained. "My hope is that through these images one reflects on their own experience of once being a young boy or girl."

-- Liesl Bradner

Photo: "Simon: One Year Later," Credit: Jona Frank

Comments () | Archives (7)

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Really, this is retarded. Most of us, not metrosexuals and self absorbed artistes of course, have kids. We got tons of these photos. I ceratinly do, as I coached travel basketball and many lived in my house as I took a dozen years off from art, to come back to a wasteland of emotional sociopaths and narcissists who took over.

Go get a life, and have some kids like the rest of us, the most truly creative act and purposeful responsibility there is.. Nothing different here, actually quite shallow, voyeuristic, not truth.

art collegia delenda est

I think this is a very interesting project of Ms. Frank's. Most of the time exhibits of photographs, paintings, sculptures, etc. focus upon a female character, whether the artist is a man or a woman. Furthermore, I like how this exhibit is open to interpretation rather than trying to state something about growing up. Few of us can really say we grew up just like anyone else we know.

Few artistes can claim to have ever grown up, Neverland the only goal of most. And my kids are a helluva lot cuter.

art collegia delenda est

"...my kids are a helluva lot cuter."

That was spoken like a typical grandparent, Mr. Frazell---one who always thinks his grand babies are cuter than someone else's and that what he has to say is more important (and better) than what anyone else might think. Between you and Billy Wray, it's a wonder anyone else can get a word in wedgewise.

Dont have any grandkids, at least I hope not. My boys are just grownup, or at least young men, 20 and 24. My eldest, a Leiutenant in the Navy, Annapolis grad, about to go to medical school, is 25 on Halloween. Scary thought indeed. But he will get the badge of full adulthood then, no one is a true Man or Woman before 25. And then we get snotnosed brats from art schools who think they can say something, from truly empty heads, upon graduation from their daycare centers. My boys know better.

But considering he is in Guantanmo Bay and adjutant to the commander there, he gets the full manhood award at the earliest poosible date. Most never grow up, right Cate?
the younger, eh, may take a little while longer, but one can always hope. Should be starting PG at UCLA, instead our childhood friend, and his back up, Jerime is. Kids.

And yes, they were both a helluva lot cuter, lil swirls(Obama calls mutts) that they are. Its a LBC thing. Go Jrabbits and Bruins! Far more interesting, and passionate than anorexic metrosexual artistes

art collegia delenda est

I once said something like, "Here's to growing younger every day." Now you seem to paint that as my epithet. It's actually a contradiction because you just won't let me live it down, Mr. Frazell. I apologize if I've ever insulted you or your work (here or elsewhere) in a comment made out of ignorance. I'm attempting to correct that, if you'd let me.

And what is LBC? Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation? or Louisiana Baptist Convention? My bet is on the former.

LOL! The ignorance grows. I never want to be younger, like a Michael Jackson in Neverland, only decadence of a Portrait of Dorian Gray can ever be the outcome. I look to be more mature, and more free in my ways. As there is no freedom without responsibility.

And WW actualy agreed with you on the watercolor guy. I see potential, which is the dreaded P word to us coaches and parents when not fulfilled, He was exactly the same way on the day he died as the first work shown. Did not mature at all. Sorta like Basquiat, another non art school type who showed what theoretically would be an art school level ability, which means immature, but with possibility. But he died also in the ways of immaturity and irresponsbility. His work showed it. And so did his lifestyle. All about himself.

And this is why I look so young, I participate in life. Not a voyeur. And why art these days is so shallow. Thats the market, those with the time and money to buy the hyperinflated crap. I sell, but at realistic prices that also can afford me to continue to work. That all that matters, and keeping the beautiful, talented young wife happy. I am done with the boys, they are men, well, almost.

and again, almost all parents have these very pictures of this article at home, done as well if not better. The art world is desperate to fill its halls of vanity. So much wallspace, so little work to put up in it. Same old Portraits of Dorain Gray over and over and over... These are not about the kids, its about the viewers lost childhoods. Get over it.
Grow up, its really not that bad. Try it, you just might like it.

art collegia delenda est
have a nice day


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