Husband and wife Frank and Joanne Licsko show different views of the world as featured artists at Vina Robles Gallery.
“I feel that realism is a calling,” said Joanne, and as a wife and mother, her reality pertained to the home.
Although Frank was involved with raising the children, his scope was broader, having the freedom to just paint and philosophize. “Art is the language of love, of bliss, of inspiration,” he said.
After they got together in Canada in 1970, Frank, who was basically self-taught except for a correspondence course, talked Joanne out of attending art school. “He said, ‘I’ll teach you,’ ” Joanne recalled.
Her husband gave her just one assignment: a pencil drawing. After two hours, Joanne thought she was finished, but under Frank’s tutelage, it took six weeks to complete. “It was an experience in seeing,” she said, her most important lesson.
Joanne explored using paint and was exhibiting by the early 1970s. When juggling child rearing and art became a strain, she put aside her brushes. But her newfound freedom when the two kids left home had a hitch.
“I had such a shift in my own identity, I didn’t know what I wanted to paint,” Joanne said, realizing she was no longer the fertile goddess. “I was looking for something deeper, and it wasn’t showing itself to me.”
After a long struggle, she eventually had her breakthrough, and she hasn’t looked back.
Frank has gone through his own changes over the years, exploring various subjects and styles.
“I’m a realist, usually,” he said. “As a child, I really wanted to know what things looked like. I really examined the world.”
In spite of his success, with the Emperor of Japan and Hillary Clinton among his collectors, he felt his paintings were too much like photographs. Frank recently switched from realistic oils to acrylic abstracts, although he will never forsake oils entirely, loving their sublime quality.
“I think I’ve earned the right to do the abstracts, because I can do the others,” he said. “It’s one of the languages of the human mind, emotional content with insight.”
And Frank is ready for another transition. “I think I’m in a completely new period of my art.” He seeks a grand epic theme, worthy of museums, quintessential American art, “representing my creative force in the world.”
The man who once considered becoming a nuclear physicist recently celebrated 50 years of making a living with art. It has allowed him to support himself and family while contributing something positive to the world. “I didn’t have to make nuclear bombs.”
Having escaped the Hungarian Revolution as a child, Frank praises America for giving him the freedom to pursue his passions.
“Equality is like a brick being identical to another brick,” he said of the communism of his Budapest homeland. “It was like living in a cement block.”
In 2004 the Licskos moved from Carmel to the countryside between San Miguel and Paso Robles.