Q & A with legendary artist Frank Arnold

What does The Messengers collection mean to you? 

It’s been a lifelong project. I’ve been doing those abstract figurative images since I was in college in art school. I go to my deeper mind and they appear. I feel like I don’t paint myself… it’s channeled somehow and something is given to me. It’s hard to answer the question. I was classically trained so I can paint anything but I feel like there is a calling for those. 

What do you hope people will glean from attending your exhibit?

If you really see my artwork you’ll see yourself and from there you may see life itself. 

It’s as if a message is being delivered to you personally. People come into the gallery in Cabo and break down and cry. [The first time it happened] I thought it was happenstance but it happens every week. They are seeing their life or something about their life and I’m very honored to have that happen and I’m humbled by it. I dont think it’s because I did the best artwork in the world, it’s a message to them. It’s the biggest part for me.

What’s your favorite piece in this collection?

I dont have that. I have ones that speak to me but I dont have a favorite. I like them for different reasons like a parent with children. You try to see the beauty in all of them. Some speak to me more than others. 

You’ve heard of Ayahuasca?  When the COVID hit we all thought we were going to die immediately. I always wanted to do that. In Mexico it’s a thing they do with the shamans and you go to the beach. And I did that. It was deeply moving to me. It’s not a party drug, it’s something you do to find a spiritual connection and you connect with the earth and see it better and it taught me acceptance. People asked if my work would change but it stayed the same. It’s about the message more than the artwork. When you get past that you see it as a viewer.

All of them are different…like different people.  I don’t start with ‘oh I’m going to paint a pretty blue painting’. I say ‘I have all the colors I’m going to do whatever comes to me’. Obviously, the colors come together but that’s kind of your surface mind making sure everything looks good. I don’t try to say I like anything more than the other ones. I can’t do that anymore. When I was younger I could have probably told you ‘oh I like that one,’ but I can’t do that now. I like different styles of music too when you look at it and see it for what it is, it’s all pretty good. When I was young I liked modern stuff, and then I started looking at baroque stuff and I found something in that too. 

And so, why I tried ayahuasca [is because]…if we’re all going to die I wanted to experience a different deeper experience. 

How has COVID changed your work?

I raced cars professionally at a high level when I was young. Racing cars and artwork are kind of the same, it’s a single focus with taking big risks. With COVID I work alone a lot. I wasn’t bothered too much by it, I think everyone disappeared because everybody didn’t understand it as much as they do now. I would just go to the beach and go paint. I was used to being isolated. I didn’t mind it. I wasn’t afraid of it or terrified that I was going to get it.

I did do a painting… this painting it’s unbelievable. After I did the ayahuasca I did the painting and there were little spots in the painting floating off. I almost wept over my own painting because it felt like thousands of souls leaving a body. It was one of those paintings I wasn’t super in love with, but the message was extremely powerful. The only other time that happened was when I did a 9-11 painting and it was a similar experience. Both paintings had empathy in them. It’s your first raw instinct as a human being when you’re born and put in a nursery [and you cry]. The other babies cry for that baby and it’s the first experience with empathy a human has or should have.

If you get to the core issue it’s really about empathy. I don’t try to judge the paintings.

What are you excited about right now?

I haven’t been to Florida since I was a young kid so coming to Florida is cool even though I have to leave Cabo. I’ve been in California but with the fires and the air quality, it’s like you’re at the end of days. I’m looking forward to the clean air and happy faces. I’m looking forward to the new season… to see people happy again. It’s really fun to see that. I have art openings every week in Cabo. I have 500 people at least come every Friday and it’s fun to see them smile and all happy and they’re all on their vacation. So if you come to an art gallery on your vacation you must really like art.

Why is it important for you to make yourself accessible when people come into your studio/ gallery?

When I was a little kid, I was self-sufficient. I was selling newspapers in front of the liquor store Saturday and Sunday. People would come up, rub my head and say ‘Hi’ to me, they felt like family. I kept doing that… so I decided to have a gallery. I think it’s that 8. People go through the bedroom into the studio, they walk through the gallery. I have a sculpture garden across the street. I live there. It’s all about doing that and meeting people and I think it comes from not having a family and really appreciating the people you meet. And clients… you sell someone a painting, you feel like you’re in their family, you’re in their home, it’s really beautiful.