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March 4, 2003

Drawings depict artist ’ s isolation

From: Hampshire Gazette, MA - 04 Mar 2003

By LARRY PARNASS, Staff Writer Tuesday, March 4, 2003 -- NORTHAMPTON - George Frazetti is a 36-year-old deaf man who uses ballpoint pens to draw likenesses of the people he comes to know - in the different world that comes to him.

Because he cannot hear, and hardly speaks, Frazetti's unschooled drawings carry the poignancy of statements called valiantly across a distance. Even so, they're only dimly heard.

What comes through is that these are special people for Frazetti, all rendered with frank emotion in free-flowing swirls of ink. Their strength lies in the passion Frazetti brings to his quest to represent essence along with likeness.

Frazetti was raised in social isolation and now lives in a community residence in Chicopee. It was a staff member there who brought a file of drawings to Michael Tillyer, founder and curator of the Anchor House of Artists in Northampton.

Tillyer is displaying 30 drawings and pieces of sculpture by Frazetti through Friday at his 518 Pleasant St. gallery.

"He really developed his own formula," Tillyer said of Frazetti's path as an artist. "He's a fully grown adult who's developed his own devices for navigating the world."

Frazetti's best drawings succeed in suggesting personalities. To catch them, he must see through the false quietude people sometimes don when they sit for portraits. What remains alive within them?

Pen in hand, he kept working these portraits, as if trying to get down the electricity that surrounds someone important. In his best attempts, there is brightness and gravity, simplicity and distress.

In one work, he captures the avidness of a child's gaze, mixed with patience and trust. He stills the stately calm of a man with gray hair and the too-coy smile of a gold-haired woman. That yellow sheen struggles to arise through a cloud of inky swirls; the portrait is profoundly unsettled.

Frazetii's rough sculptural pieces, though rich with ideas, are not up to the same level. Perhaps the most interesting is a translucent bottle-shaped piece. Frazetti has wrapped a sock and a photograph of himself with cellophane tape. In that snapshot, he holds another snapshot.

"I don't know if he knows of the concept of the 'message in a bottle,' but that's what it's become," Tillyer said of the piece.

All that tape mutes both the artist and the message - conjuring up another statement shouted across the void.

The Anchor House of Artists gallery is open this week on Thursday and Friday, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. or by appointment by calling 584-4323.

© 2003 Daily Hampshire Gazette