Saturday, December 29, 2007


By Jake Mooney, Source: NYTimes

Writing about Marvin Franklin, the artist whose work is on view at the New York Transit Museum from this week through March, it feels natural to focus on the details of his premature and unsettling death — Mr. Franklin was a 55-year-old subway track worker who was killed by a train in March – and on the profound effect that his passing has had on the friends and family he left behind. (A subsequent review found numerous safety lapses and prompted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to order a series of reforms.)

What can get lost is Mr. Franklin’s art itself, which, by all accounts, was one of the major loves of his life. Friends describe him working at an awe-inspiring pace, filling up a 120-page sketchbook about every two weeks. “It was his life. It was the blood that went through his veins,” Mr. Franklin’s wife, Tenley Jones-Franklin, said at the museum on Wednesday.

On top of that, colleagues at the Art Students League of New York, where Mr. Franklin studied for the last decade, profess admiration for his ability and work ethic. One, Mark Hagan, whose time at the league overlapped with Mr. Franklin’s, called him “a true folk hero.”

For all that, though, the exhibit at the transit museum is the first show ever dedicated to Mr. Franklin’s art. Part of that, no doubt, is the result of his belief, expressed to several people, that he was not ready for such a recognition. But it is also, some of Mr. Franklin’s friends say, a hint at the politics involved in New York’s art scene, and a sign of the difficulties of an artist following his own muse can face getting noticed. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING…

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