Obituary of Frank E. Spring
December 2, 2022
The artist Frank Spring died peacefully in his Chelsea loft on December 2, 2022, three weeks shy of his 74th birthday, following a courageous cancer struggle.
Francis Edwin Spring, Jr., was born December 21, 1948, in Boston, MA, and spent his formative years in Pittsburgh, PA. A high school exchange trip to Chile opened his eyes to travel and the beauty of myriad cultures, the start of a lifelong process of seeking and discovery. Frank graduated from The Ohio State University in 1969 with a psychology degree, minoring in theater and urban planning. Yearning for broader possibilities, Frank landed in New York, where he met early career recognition, earning a national design award during a brief stint at Scholastic Books.
In 1974, Frank bought a one-way ticket on a cargo ship to seek his professional growth in London. As part of Roundel Productions, Frank managed industrial theater productions that won him praise both for his grand visions and his technical inventiveness in pulling them off.
With the encouragement of mutual friends, Frank met Malcolm Hoare, who became his partner in both life and business. Frank’s business acumen and creative energy meshed perfectly with Malcolm’s artistic vision, and together they founded Interlink Productions, which for fifteen years developed audio-visual and multimedia projects for some of the world’s top artistic, scientific, and industrial organizations. Their clients included Jacques Cousteau, Luciano Pavarotti, and Margot Fonteyn, and their work won many of the top awards in their field, including CINE Golden Eagle Awards, Mercury Awards, and Cindy Awards, along with medals from several international film festivals.
Throughout this period of his life, Frank traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and Central America, collecting antiquities and fabrics and other mementos of these cultures that so inspired him. He became an amateur scholar of film, music, and art, though with his eye and intelligence, he was rarely casual about these art forms. Hours could be spent joyfully debating his favorites — Hitchcock and Kubrick, Sondheim and Frida, the Beatles and Bette Davis — and few could challenge his knowledge.
After Malcom’s death in 1994, Frank moved away from video production. He focused increasingly on philanthropy (he was one of the founding patrons of Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS) and — crucially — returned to painting, a childhood love that he had set aside for most of his life.
The style he developed over the years was bold and fanciful, inspired by geometries and symbols from the many cultures he encountered in his travels, along with his Catholic upbringing. Creatures both real and imaginary populate Frank’s paintings, sometimes serving as avatars for the big ideas with which he wrestled, sometimes existing merely to bring a smile to the viewer — a bit of artistic whimsy in the complex and colorful worlds he designed. He regularly complicated the surfaces on which he painted, adding dust or rocks or fabric; representations of light are omnipresent. (The catalog of his work can be found at frankspring.com.)
Art defined so much of Frank’s existence, from his travels and studies to his professional work, but the paintbrush also became a tool for understanding himself and his place in the world. “Art is the one place where I don’t feel phony and where I am not playing a game,” he wrote in 2019, “but simply following my instincts and need for self-expression. Here, no one can touch me. Here, I journey unfettered through my inner landscape, grown larger as the years have passed. In this oasis, I am free of all the people I believe I need to ‘save.’ Art is where I save my Self.”
Yet ultimately, what he sought and treasured most — both in art and in life — was connection; he found nothing more beautiful than people. He was a devoted son, brother, and uncle, watchful during his mother’s elderly years and supportive of younger family members who pursed careers in finance and the arts. His attention to socio-political issues of the day made for many hours of engaging discussion with his sisters.
Frank was also renowned for engaging strangers on the street in long conversations, learning names and life stories, and — more often than not — leaving his new acquaintances with a business card, a book, or a story. He was a vociferous champion of the talents around him; few friends or family members would survive a conversation with Frank without encouragement to share their brilliance with the world, and — more often than not — his encouragement was followed up with professional connections, financial support, and promotional emails sent to his extensive mailing list.
This cheerleading extended to the numerous organizations that Frank worked with in the last two decades of his life — in particular, El Taller Latino Americano, T. Schreiber Studio, and the Laura Flanders Show. His formal role with these non-profits was in the financial realm, but for each of these communities, he quickly became far more: an impassioned advocate, a generous patron, a jubilant friend, and a meaningful counselor. He saw the people at these organizations as he saw his family and friends: as they could be, the greatest version of themselves. And so people were better around him; inspired; connected.
Indeed, in this latter phase of his life, through the practice of his art and ongoing spiritual study, Frank became more able to see himself and others, to understand the sources of his own serenity, to increase his capacity for forgiveness and connection.
Frank is survived by his partner Tom Herman of New York, NY; his sisters Janet Zamecnik (Ed) of South Park, PA, Jackie Grecco (Craig) of Freedom, PA, and Jude Gallagher (Brian) of Louisville, KY; many nieces and nephews; and a tremendous number of friends, admirers, and used-to-be-strangers who will long remember the power of connecting with this man-on-the-street, this champion, this benefactor, this artist.
A memorial service will be planned for early 2023. In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to T. Schreiber Studios, the Laura Flanders Show, or El Taller Latino Americano.
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