Fran Williams Portrait of a Black Woman
A wonderful antique tile panel by Fran Williams dating to the the 1950's of a dancer in a red leotard and toe shoes. I love William's glazes and how she applied them to the surface of the tiles. Note the frothy green bands of color around the figure and her use of wispy lines of white around her head and the touches of red at her hair.
The tiles measure 3 inches square and are mounted on masonite. Overall size is 16" x 12". The back has a taped partial newspaper clipping that says "Murals to Grace New Apartments. Ceramist-mural artist Fran Williams has been commissioned by a real estate development firm to create four marble murals to be placed on the walls of two new South West area apartment houses. Miss Williams, who is known throughout the country for her murals, has been commissioned by Mark XX Investment Corp. to create the murals for the walls of the East Bird and West Bird "twin apartment buildings" now nearing completion at 6150 and 6250 Bird Rd...."
The condition is very good with some signs of age to the masonite board.
Years ago I purchased my first panel signed "Fran". I didn't know who Fran was, but I knew she did quality work. About a year or so ago I finally found out I was right. There was an exhibition of Mid-Century Miami at the Bass Museum of Art that included Fran Williams' work. It seemed Fran was quite important in the period of time that defined Miami as a mid century mecca for style and architecture.
Fran Williams was born in 1916 in San Francisco, California. Ms. Wagner studied in Oakland at the California School of Arts and Crafts, in San Francisco at Rudolph Schaefer School of Design, in Miami with Byron G. Newton of Miami Art School, at the University of Miami with Lee Dickens, and in Eugen Massin's Studio. Additionally, she studied sculpture with Al Vrana and wood block with Larry and Carol Summers. She held memberships with the Florida Craftsmen, Artist's Equity, Miami Art Center and the American Craftsmen's Council.
Among her awards are included presentations from Lowe Gallery, Blue Dome, Miami Art League, Ceramic Annual, Design Derby, Tampa State Fair, Florida Craftsmen and Florida Federation of Art. In Florida she had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Pinellas Park, Roque Galery II in Coral Gables, Martello Towers in Key West, the Art Center, Miami Beach, and Artists Unlimited in Key West, and in the Sisti Gallery, Buffalo, New York. Her work was included group shows at The Gallery, Ft. Lauderdale, the Norton Gallery in West Palm Beach, and the Syracuse National Ceramic Award Exhibition.
Fran Williams public commissions include: Joaquin Bacardi Home, Santiago de Cuba Clubhouse, Biscayne Kennel Club, 6 panels, Miami Florida. VIP Room, PAA Clipper Club, Miami International Airport. Ivory Tower, Saxony Hotel, Miami Beach. Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Perrine. Presolite Manufacturing Corporation, Arkansas. Bacardi Pavilion Bar, San Juan, Puerto Rico. First Federal Savings and Loan Association, Key West, Florida Ryder Penthouse Coconut Grove Bank Building, Miami, Florida First National Bank of Pampano Beach, Florida. PAA Administration Building, Miami, Florida. Courthouse Substations, Plantation Key and Marathon Key Justice Building, Key West, Florida. Transportation Consultants, Inc, Washington DC. Jose' Marti Office Building, Miami, Florida. Furnco Construction Company, Buffalo, New York. Ferre' Florida Corporation, 100 Biscayne Tower, Miami, Florida. Weathertite, Miami, Florida. National Airlines Mural, Rockefeller Center Ticket Office, New York, New York. Thanks to the Lynden Gallery for this information.