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An extraordinary show and two important lessons for your own practice

Save the date for the opening of Fran Beallor’s extraordinary show titled

Self: 2020 Hindsight, 366 Portraits

At El Barrio's Artspace PS 109 215 E. 99th Street New York, NY 10029

Opening reception Friday, September 9, 6-9

Exhibition dates: Wednesday, September 7 - Saturday, October 1, 2022 Show open daily: 10am - 7pm

For the fourth time, Fran Beallor has set herself the challenge of making a self portrait every day for one year. She even chose leap year to add an additional day. Each image is 5x7 inches in pencil on a 9x12 inch toned paper.

Fran has written a fascinating account of the project which you can read at but I want to tell you about two elements that stand out for me, that have resonance for all artists, actually anyone who embarks on a creative project.

First, discipline. Chuck Close said, "Amateurs wait for inspiration, the rest of us just show up and get to work…All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.” Fran shows up everyday to the work and she’s been richly rewarded. Her understanding of Chuck Close’s words is visceral.

I don’t know who said this originally but I like to repeat it: “The Muse doesn’t come every day but woe unto you if she comes and you’re not there.”

I wrote this on Sunday morning, then I went to church and the Scripture lesson for the day was Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 13,Verse 2;

“Do not to forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels unaware.” Synchronicity!

pencil drawing of a woman in scarves

And then I heard Keith Richards telling Terry Gross how he came to write Satisfaction. He said, “Sparks of ideas come to you and you’re lucky enough to grab them.”

pencil drawing of a woman in a cell phone

The second element is the strict limitations Fran set for herself. Each image is only 5x7 inches, but she’s created worlds within that space. You know how resistance training builds muscles? The results of Fran’s pushing against the boundaries of that small window are evocative, surprising, moving and sometimes hilarious.

pencil drawing of a woman laughing

In the midst of writing this I went to MOMA to see the Red Studio and also saw Jacob Lawrence’s "The Great Migration." Fran’s narrative of a year marked by Black Lives Matter, the Me Too Movement and a global pandemic is reminiscent of the way Lawrence packed a powerful narrative into a series of small paintings.

Covid! A woman contemplating the Covid molecule

I know, I know, it’s not about me, but I’m in one of those pictures! If you go to see the show and you find me and let me know, I’ll send you a gift. But you don’t need any incentive besides the joy of this beautiful show.

I’ll see you there!

pencil drawing of a woman dancing on a winter street

September 02, 2022

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