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Personal Stories of Recovery

Novel's works featured at Erie Art Museum

Anytime Frank Novel is spotted around Erie scouting for inspiration for his artwork, so too is his trusty notebook that contains the artist’s sketches, paintings and reflections.

For a 2 ½ month period, however, Frank has parted with one of his cherished notebooks, lending the compilation of his works to the Erie Art Museum for display in their 94th Annual Spring Art Show.

The exhibit, which began in late April and runs until July 9, is a regional competition that celebrates new work by artists residing within 250 miles of Erie. A renowned artist who served as judge selected less than a third of more than 300 of the submissions for inclusion in the exhibit.

One such piece belongs to Frank, the friendly regular of BLOOM Collaborative, whose ink illustrations are unvarnished expressions of the artist who creates them.

Frank uses his art to convey the thoughts he feels he is unable to articulate with words. In fact, using artwork as a form of self-expression has become – well—an art form for Frank, who creates at a frenzied speed detailed ink sketches that share his feelings whether they are happy, sad, lonely or anything else.

“I like it because I can express myself on paper,” he said.

Frank is no stranger to channeling his emotions through his art. An artist since he was at least six years old, Frank, 63, has accumulated many years’ worth of feelings and experiences in the notebooks that sit in his apartment. When there are thoughts running through his head, a notebook is always nearby.

But while he feels most comfortable sketching out his goals, fears and frustrations on a pad, Frank is far from reclusive. Instead, he uses his art as a way to connect with the community, as he’ll stop on a Perry Square park bench, in the Plymouth Tavern, at the Art Museum or Taco Bell. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are reserved for open studio at BLOOM, where he interacts and shares ideas and life with other artists.

Given Frank’s focus on self-expression, it’s no surprise that he tries to incorporate his other passion, music, into much of his artwork. While listening to songs from his favorite bands, Guns N’ Roses and the Beatles, Frank often finds the inspiration he needs to create his own works.

But unlike Paul McCartney and Axl Rose, Frank’s fountain pen is his voice.

 “Like some guys sing the blues on the guitar,” he said. “I’m able to do it when I sketch on a piece of paper.”

Above top: Frank stands with the work featured at the Erie Art Museum. Below: Frank sketches with his notepad at BLOOM Collaborative.

"Stairways helped me to work on recovery, one step at a time." -Ron S

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