ROSE FRANTZEN was born, raised and returned to Maquoketa, Iowa. The rural lifestyle and landscape are a constant source of inspiration for her paintings. She attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Palette & Chisel Academy in Chicago and the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut. After extensive traveling, she returned to Maquoketa and purchased the old city hall with her parents, renovating the building and creating a large gallery with extensive studio space.
Painted from 2005 to 2006, Frantzen’s Portrait of Maquoketa began as a project to document the people of her hometown and developed into 180 portraits which were then exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Over the course of one year she painted anyone in Maquoketa who wished to sit for her, leading to a unique collection of portraits that speaks to that time and place.
Her portraits encompass all people - from babies to the elderly, from the gas store clerk to the town mayor – and it is her desire to make portraiture accessible to all, both sitters and viewers. In 2012-2013, she completed her vision for Portrait of Maquoketa by painting a 315-square-foot landscape view of the town on 34 vertical panels that hold the portraits on the other side.
She has continued to paint Iowans even as she has gained more success, including the remarkable dual portrait of George Washington Carver and Henry Wallace (Do you Know What’s Inside This Flower? George Washington Carver Mentors a Young Henry A. Wallace) commissioned in 2015 by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University with support from Marcia and Jim Borel, Class of 1978. This painting depicts the young Henry Wallace in a moment of absolute concentration as he is in the midst of a lesson about plants from George Washington Carver.
It is Frantzen’s love of Iowa and her democratic documentation of the people of Iowa that has led to her success. Her work is in public, corporate and private collections nationally and internationally. She most recently placed in the top five of the Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition. Frantzen is a frequent demonstrator, guest lecturer and panelist discussing art and the artist’s life in the 21st century at museums and national art conventions. Her paintings have been featured in numerous national and international art magazines and journals, and she has been a frequent faculty member at the Portrait Society of America’s Annual Conference, demonstrating portrait painting.
On portrait painting: “How can you not be fascinated by a process that affirms the absolute uniqueness of each individual, yet depends on the engagement of our shared humanity?”
Rose Frantzen’s lifelike and radiant examination of humans and our world bring together a long tradition of oil painting and portraiture with the skill and forward thinking of a 21st century artist.
Director and Chief Curator of University Museums, Lynette Pohlman: Through the eyes and heart of an artist, Rose is able to capture the essence of a person. With the precision of a researcher, Rose explores a person’s background. As researcher and artist, she has captivated Iowa State’s people, and created an enduring aesthetic legacy.