But the story behind this show is really one of three generations of women embarking on life changes with and away from one another.Frohmader “knocks on the door of 60,” she says, as she looks forward to a new life balancing art and work. Marks will graduate college after years of struggling to find her calling. But featured in the artwork is 4-year-old Anna, Marks’ daughter, who will, by necessity, embark on this adventure with her mother and grandmother.
“We’re very different in our abilities. It’s kind of interesting because it’s easy for people to kind of lump artists all in one category,” Frohmader said. “But there are things that I would not have a clue as to how to do, that she does.”
The obvious differences are in their chosen media. Frohmader paints in oil and acrylics, while Marks focuses on photography. And their subjects differ, but there are similarities that may not be readily apparent, even to them.
“I never get tired of painting flowers and faces,” Frohmader acknowledged, because of their shapes and their colors.
Marks chooses architectural elements and her preschooler for similar reasons. She says her work is darker than her mother’s. The dramatic play of light on the structures and the shapes of the buildings catch her eye. At the same time, she beautifully chronicles her daughter’s exploration of the world.
“She is my muse with her little 4-year-old self,” Marks laughed.
Both follow the shapes that attract them, and the subjects that best bear those out. But knowing their histories connects their work into almost one body of evidence that bears testimony to their lives.
Frohmader didn’t actually start painting until Marks was in middle school.
“As I was raising a family, there wasn’t a lot of time for extracurricular activities,” she said. At the same time, she often mulled over the choices she made in life, tossing around the possibilities of returning to school or tweaking her career path. She worked as a teacher and then as the volunteer coordinator at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Yet a calling she couldn’t identify haunted her until she began painting. The call was answered.
“Even though she was a wife and a mother with a full-time job, she still found time to make art and knew what her passion was,” Marks said.
“I love that that came across to her that I love that and that it was my passion, even though I really couldn’t acknowledge that to myself until I was through with all of my responsibilities,” Frohmader said. “But now I really feel like I have this brand new life ahead of me where my kids and my grandchildren will be part of my life, but I will also have my art as my focus.”
Although Marks is younger, she has followed her own path to discovering her passion.
“Most times I feel like I’ve lived 1,800 lives all rolled into one. I’ve had a hell of a good time, though. I can say that. And I’ve learned a lot,” she said.
She jumped around to different colleges, completing the Historic Preservation program at the Savannah College of Art and Design, but also doing time at Georgia Southern and Augusta State University. She lived in Auburn for a while, but didn’t attend school. She married and divorced and returned to ASU to finish her art degree.
“Because I’ve floated around school-wise and did things like take time off and traveled a lot,” she mused, “I was a more mature student in some ways. I learned a lot more about myself than most 22-year-olds who go in for a business degree.”
Their collage of complementary experiences continues as they embark on new professional pursuits — Frohmader as a Spanish translator and Marks as a new graduate.
One woman followed a winding highway to seek out her passion. Another broke all the speed barriers to get there. In the end, however, they wound up in much the same place.
Opening Reception for Brush & Lens: Barbara Frohmader & Virginia Marks
Sacred Heart Cultural Center
Friday, May 9