Born and raised in the eclectic and diverse neighborhood of East Atlanta, GA Francie Klopotic has had an interest and passion for the arts, including writing and portraiture, since her childhood. After suffering from the trauma of an absent father, the young Francie took solace in her coping mechanism: art. The transformative and healing aspects of creating are not unknown to this talented artist and can be seen in her many works.
The first of many portraits Francie can remember drawing, was that of Michael Nesmith, a member of The Monkees; a popular musical TV show that aired in the 60s.
“I sat down with a pencil, some paper, and a Monkees album cover. A few hours later my first attempt at portraiture was staring me in the face. It was rough, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed the process so much that I began making art in earnest, drawing as often as I could. I found solace in the creation of artwork”
In 2018, after a two-decade art hiatus, Francie decided to try her hand at portraiture again. She was rusty, but with time was able to produce a full body of work. She began painting with acrylics, and after fostering some attention on social media, she was able to sell many of her portraits and secure her very own solo-exhibition at 4P Studios, titled Phantasmagoria in September 2020.
Why portraits? Francie finds beauty in the human face and feeding this strong need to have her subjects being seen as she perceives them. Her vivid, glowing, character-driven works show the vibrance of her subject’s personality and spirit, much of this stemming from Francie’s own struggles with feeling unseen as a child.
“Through my experience at a young age, I understand that it is not uncommon to feel this way. There are so many people who feel that they are invisible. That they are not “seen.” This is why most of my portraits are of forward-facing people who appear to be staring into the viewer’s eyes. I want my subjects to be acknowledged and their presence deeply felt. We all deserve to be noticed for who we are, and I strive to make that apparent in my work.”
Many of her works are of known celebrities, musicians and performers. Individuals we, as the viewer, may feel we know through tabloids, social media or their work. Francie moves these observations into another spectrum of awareness. The marks these people have left on their fans and the world, including her own experience. Her recent portrait of David Bowie, for example showcases the musician in hyper-color. The notion of staring into a person’s eyes allowing you a glimpse into who they are, is ever present in Francie’s portrait. Having spent many hours gazing into Ziggy Stardust’s eyes and listening to his music, Francie felt she had a deeper understanding of Bowie as a person. Though her works are created through reference, the process of studying photographs in great detail yields the same result of a certain level of knowledge of said person.
Francie enjoys painting people that she admires. Many of her subjects are chosen through the music. Growing up in a musically inclined family has given Francie a deep appreciation for it. She feels that visual art and music are intertwined. She often finds her subjects through albums that she and her husband, Dean Klopotic, listen to, Dean is a musician and practices singing and playing his bass guitar in his studio, while Francie paints in hers. Francie jokes that her paintings are creative collaborations with her husband.
One of these collaborations can be found hanging in Art on Broad. It is a portrait of a band: the Police. For several days this year, Dean had been playing their album, Synchronicity. Hearing this music on repeat inspired Francie to create a portrait of the group, with elements of the album cover in the background.
Francie is not only a huge fan of music, but also of the Pop Art movement. The inviting colorful works of Peter Max, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Alex Katz have an influence on her own work. She also draws inspiration from local artists such as Jacki Mayo Van Dyke and Christina Rice, whose intricate details when it comes to portraiture is hard to beat.
One of her personal favorite pieces that she has created is that of the Mexican Folk-inspired Artist, Frida Kahlo. This being one of her first attempts in working with acrylic paints, Francie had understandable nerves about completing such an iconic figure. It was the completion of this work, in her own artistic vision, that solidified her love for painting over pencil work.
In the work on the right, we see Frida in front of a solid backdrop a warm brown. She is dressed in red with red and orange flowers around her neck. She has her hair pulled back, exposing her traditional Mexican earrings. She stares out at the viewer with almost pursed lips. Her gaze soft yet knowing. The lighter shades of yellow-brown that border her figure and the textured background along with the earrings swayed slightly to the right give a sense of movement, as if Frida is alive, breathing and calm. This is a tremendous example of the skill that Francie possesses and is able to translate into her artworks.
After the sale of this work to a private collector, Francie decided to paint Frida again using a different reference and color palette. This piece was selected to be displayed in the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s annual WetPaint Party and Art Sale. You can view this, along with a gallery of her most recent works on her website, here.
In person, you can find her most recent body work, featuring local iconic individuals of the Augusta River Region, in her upcoming solo exhibition in Augusta & Co. Gallery titled Voices of Augusta starting on January 5th t0 March 30th with a reception on Frist Friday, February 3rd from 4-6pm. You can find more on this event, or RSVP on Facebook.
This exhibition celebrates the musical and theatrical contributions of native Augustans, both at the local and international levels. This body of work features celebrities such as the world-renowned operatic singer Jessye Norman and the Godfather of Soul James Brown as well as several hometown heroes such as Coco Rubio and the recently departed Paul Marsh (also known as DJ Codec). Profits from the sale of the portrait of Paul Marsh will be donated to local theatre Le Chat Noir in Paul’s memory.
This showcase is free and open to the public. The Artist’s Reception will feature food, beverages, wine and local music. For more information on this event, please visit https://augustaarts.com/galleries/ .