First Friday Roundup: Watercolor paintings from Francese’s travels

San Juan’s fall season by Frank Francese

Florida Keys by Frank Francese

What Frank Francese lacked in Portuguese, he made up for with art.

The watercolor artist, who has taught workshops in Europe as well as North, Central and South America, happened to be at a symposium in Paraty, Brazil, and found ordering dinner at a local restaurant was particularly difficult his first evening there.

So when he got back to his hotel, Francese began sketching: fish, salad, bread, cheese, drink.

“The next day, I returned to the restaurant and handed the paper to the waiters,” Francese later wrote. “My meal appeared quickly, to the delight of myself and the serving staff, no problems after that.”

More than 40 watercolor paintings created during Francese’s travels — likely minus that dinner sketch — and while home in the Grand Valley, as well as some charcoal drawings and a silver-point drawing will be part of the exhibit “Shepherd and Francese: Persistence” that will open with a free First Friday reception from 6:30–9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at The Art Center, 1803 N. Seventh St.

“I have some of his work and I enjoy the vitality of his work,” said Terry Shepherd, director of ceramics at The Art Center, who asked Francese to join him for his annual joint exhibit.

Shepherd will exhibit a number of vessels, many functional.

“People get familiar with my work,” said Shepherd, who has been at The Art Center since 1984. “But hopefully, every year they see something fresh.”

In his work Shepherd tries to take calculated risks with the somewhat unpredictable firing process, and in Francese’s work there is a greater degree of spontaneity, Shepherd said.

“I try to keep my brush four strokes before my mind,” said Francese, who will have more than 100 watercolors painted during his “travels of everywhere” for sale during the First Friday reception.

Also highlighted this First Friday at The Art Center are the exhibits “Form to Fusion: Artability Exhibits” and “Face and Voices: Homeless in America.”

“Form to Fusion” highlights artwork created by the more than 200 students in The Art Center’s Artability outreach program for those with mental and physical challenges.

“Face and Voices” features portraits and photographic sculptures that grew out of photographer Stevan Maxwell’s 2011 exhibit of photos and interviews with homeless individuals in Mesa County. Maxwell will give the artist lecture “Exposing Fringe and Fear” at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at The Art Center in connection with this exhibit.

For information about these exhibits and The Art Center, go to

Here are details on other art events planned in the area:

■ The 437CO Juried Student Show will be featured in a First Friday opening reception from 5–9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Colorado Mesa University’s 437CO Art Gallery, 437 Colorado Ave. The exhibit, on display through Jan. 28, displays student art selected by CMU art and design faculty. Media include ceramics, painting, printmaking, sculpture, animation portfolios, photography and more. There will be a wine and beer cash bar during the reception. Call 248-1833 for information.

■ The First Friday Art Reception at Colorado Canyons Gallery, Framing and Gifts, 623 Main St., will highlight December artists-of-the-month Patricia Eble (bead and fiber artist) and Eddie Kollasch (photography). The reception will be from 5:30–8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, and also will feature national and international poets presenting “The Gift of the Magi: A Winter Evening of Poetry.” Call 314-2054 for information.

■ “Art of the Great American West,” a display of landscapes, wildlife and figurative subject paintings by Bud Markos, will on display through December at The Main Street Gallery, 412 Main St. A First Friday art reception is planned for 5–9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. Markos is a “self-taught artist whose representational oils focus principally on Western topics and historical themes ... an emphasis that reflects his life-long interest in the region and its dynamic past,” a news release said. Call 245-7949 for information.

■ Fine art nature-scape photographer Larry Bennett will host a First Friday art reception from 5:30–8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Aspen Photo Art Gallery, which is next to and part of Main Street Bagels, 559 Main St. There will be several new images on display and for sale, including new images from Colorado National Monument, Palisade and the Grand Valley.

■ Uncanny Valley Art Gallery, 523 1/2 Main St., will host its second Krampus Art Show from 7–11 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, featuring the newest artists to join the co-op as well as new art from long-standing members. There will be live art demos, a “Sexy Krampus Photo Booth” and wine from Stoney Mesa Winery. Call 260-9961 for information. 

■ The Margery Building Studios, also at 523 1/2 Main St., will host a First Friday open art studio from 6–9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2.

■ Impressionz Art Gallery in Cedaredge will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a day of activities from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the gallery, 105 W. Main St. There will be an “Artist Choice” wall, refreshments, hot cider and music. Visitors are encouraged to check out the “funky, artsy, ‘one-of-a-kind’ beautiful ornaments” on the artist tree. Call 399-7577 for information.

■ An artist open studio continues this month from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3–4, 10–11, and Saturday, Dec. 17, at Studio 2138 LLC, 2138 Buffalo Drive. Call 907-602-2311, or go to or for information.

■ The December exhibition at the Veterans Art Center, 307 S. 12th St., is a little different this month. The center will host an ornament contest in which ornaments can be added throughout the month. Voting will take place all December. Go to or call 462-3162 for information.


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