Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Road Trip: The Frazetta Art Museum

This past weekend I completed a quest long in the making with two good friends. For many years the three of us wanted to visit the Frazetta Art Museum in East Stroudsburg, PA. Being Pennsylvania residents this seemed like a no-brainer. However, busy family life often has a way of placing road trips like this on the back burner. Fortunately, we were finally able to coordinate our trip and it was well worth the wait. But before I discuss our visit to the museum it may be best to talk about its namesake.

Frank Frazetta (1928 - 2010) is a legend. I can think of no other fantasy artist in recent history that is more iconic and influential. Anyone who is a fantasy paperback reader from the 1960s on should instantly recognize his amazing work. My favorite piece, Princess of Mars from the Edgar rice Burroughs novel, hangs proudly in my office. My buddy Ike tells a great story of how he found two Conan novels in his Easter basket as a child (coolest Mom ever award?). It was that unique imagery that instantly hooked him to the genre.

Frazetta’s work had its own vibe of fantastical beasts, diabolic sorcerers, curvaceous women, savage warriors, and vivid colors. Interestingly Frazetta, both handsome and muscular, almost appeared to be one of his characters. His amazing illustrations would go on to both grace and influence music and cinema projects. When it comes to role-playing games, more often than not, my mind’s eye definitely was influenced by Frazetta. Especially when you are not using a pseudo medieval backdrop for you campaign world. When looking for inspiration for a brutal realm of sword and sorcery, I can think of no better place then Frazetta.

It was for all these reasons my friends and I wanted to visit the Frazetta Art Museum. The museum resides on the original 67 acres of Mr. Frazetta's private estate, in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. Inside is a wonderful gallery of original works and several item collections from Frazetta’s personal life.

My friends and I left early since we had a little less than two hours of driving to get there. The weather was beautiful, we had some old school metal playing, and the trek felt like a teenage road trip of yore. Just finding the museum however was part of the quest, as there were no signs or indicators once we got close. Our GPS ended in the middle of a tree line, so we found a place to turn around and alas, it was actually the driveway entrance to the property! A narrow, winding path lead us under canopy of trees whose tops were lost above us. Then suddenly a red capped building, complete with iron gates and statues came into view. We had arrived at the Frazetta museum!

We were a tad early and needed to stretch our legs so we decided to walk the property a bit. A large pond extended away from the museum, complete with a small dock. All around majestic trees almost seemed to wall the property in. It was obvious that Frank Frazetta was in part a private man, and the estate around us reflected it. Soon someone appeared in the distance and waved us toward the museum. We would later learn this was Frank Frazetta Jr. after he greeted all three of us inside.

I’ll be honest, I was not sure what to expect when I passed through the iron gates and double wooden doors. I originally envisioned a much more cavernous space. That being said, I would categorize the interior as large, and you need a good hour to take it all in. We perused some of the art for a bit and then Lori Frazetta arrived and gave us a fantastic tour of the collection. Not only was she incredibly personable, but Lori really was a wellspring of information. Learning the history of the various pieces displayed really added to the enjoyment factor of our visit.

Below are some pictures that were taken with permission of Frank Frazetta Jr. and Lori Frazetta. I explained to them I was a blogger and wanted to help the museum get more exposure. You will notice all my shots were taken with a wide view. I did this intentionally since I don’t want to ruin the experience of visiting for anyone. Besides, a close up photo of any of the pieces would do them no justice. You really need to visit the museum and see the wonderful work of Frank Frazetta for yourself.

Frank Jr. and Lori Frazetta were gracious hosts and very passionate about the museum. I could definitely sense their joy in telling stories about the life of Frank Frazetta and sharing his fantastic work. They have several plans to hopefully expand the museum in the future which I would love to see come to fruition.

If I could pick one thing to improve it would be the inclusion of description plaques. It would be nice to see the name of the painting and when it was created.  During our visit there were several pieces I had never seen before. While this was exciting, I instantly wanted to know more about them without having to keep asking questions. Obviously this is a minor point, but one that may also help when there are several visitors at once.

If you live in the Tri-state area, or happen to be visiting, I encourage you to explore the Frazetta Art Museum. In terms of bucket list items this should be one any fantasy art fan should include. Places like this are magical and the continued support of fans is very important. Please re-share this post so other Frazetta fans potentially unaware of the museum can learn about it. For additional information about The Frazetta Art Museum please use the following links:

Frazetta Art Museum

Frazetta Art Museum Facebook

Frazetta Fans Facebook