Frankoma pottery focus of new museum exhibit

NORMAN, Okla. – Works of one of Oklahoma’s favorite potters, John Frank, are featured in a new exhibition, Oklahoma Clay: Frankoma Pottery, which runs through Sept. 16, 2012, at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. The exhibit features a selection of work from Frank’s Oklahoma-based pottery factory that manufactured unique and collectable ceramics for more than 50 years. Highlights include a group of individual pieces made by the potter.

Frankoma pottery wagon wheel set

Frankoma Pottery Wagon Wheel dinnerware was introduced in 1948. It was designed by John Frank (U.S., 1905–1973) from Sapulpa Clay in Prairie Green Glaze (this grouping) Set grouping courtesy President David L. and Molly Shi Boren.

A child of early 20th-century Chicago, Frank honed his ceramics skills at the Art Institute of Chicago under the tutelage of noted ceramicist Myrtle Meritt French. In 1927, Frank founded a ceramics program at OU, where he taught for eight years. While teaching at the university, he established Frankoma Pottery, using local clays with colors and designs symbolic of the Southwest and Great Plains.

His tableware fit the modern mode of living and was well-crafted at affordable prices. “For many Oklahomans, Frankoma Pottery helped define the cultural landscape of the state during the mid-20th century,” said Mark White, Eugene B. Adkins Curator and chief curator at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

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Frank’s stylized symbols not only captured Oklahoma culture, they became synonymous with the pioneering spirit of Frankoma Pottery.Frank died in 1973 and his daughter, Joniece Frank, became the company’s president and lead designer. The company suffered a disastrous fire in 1983 but reopened as a scaled-down plant three months later.

Frankoma continued production under Frank family guidance until it was purchased in 1991 by an outside investor. It was resold numerous times over the next 20 years and, in spring 2011, the remains of Frankoma property were sold at auction.

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