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I Never Promised You A Rose Garden


Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

The sentiment “I never promised you a rose garden” made its first appearance in American culture as the title of Joanne Greenberg’s semi-autobiographical novel in 1964. Songwriter Joe South imprinted the phrase permanently in our cultural consciousness composing a song, by the same name that hit the billboard charts in 1970, sung by country singer Lynn Anderson. Today, local artist Craig Frankowski is “promising us a rose garden” in visual renditions with his meticulously rendered floral close-ups. Initial encounters with these lavish specimens sweep the viewer into a world of lush, exquisitely rendered images of our floral world.

Craig was born, raised, and educated in Ohio. He studied at the Toledo Museum of Art in grade school, sticking with the same focus through his high school years. But this was just the beginning of Craig Frankowski’s formal art education that led him to study at Bowling Green State University, Ohio State University, and the Columbus College of Art and Design.  Art was always going to be his profession. Craig recalls when he entered the real world, outside of academia, the advice was to keep art as a hobby if he really loved what he did.  Craig heeded the advice, entering a 30-year career as a lighting designer and vice president of the company. Looking back, Craig thinks this move satisfied his creativity needs and gave him the opportunity to work as a freelance artist on the side.

Twenty-five years ago, Craig was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Although he has managed his symptoms masterfully over time, he noticed a few years ago a loss of muscle control in his arms. He found himself turning to oil painting, a medium that had long interested him. Craig shares that he discovered the process of painting is exceptionally relaxing to him. As a consequence, he has been able to regain reasonable control in his arms, producing a remarkable collection of the most stunning floral studies.

In 2008, Craig’s ever creative and imaginative nature inspired him to experiment with multiple canvases that are “dissected, cut, re-stretched, and made into a single canvas,” then painted. Recently, Craig has been moving “out of the box,” so to speak, away from square and rectangle surfaces into the circular and free form shape canvases. The result has been the difference between a neat squared off backyard garden and the grounds at Vercelli’s, delighting his long-time clients and intriguing his new ones.

Craig has exhibited his work in numerous shows and galleries in the Valley, as well as Tucson. He has enjoyed membership with the Sonoran Art League, Arizona Art Alliance, Arizona Artist Guild, Peoria Fine Art League, WHAM, West Valley Art Council, and the Mountain Artists Guild.

To view a broad selection of Craig Frankowski’s work, keep up with his exhibit schedule, or to promise yourself or another a rose garden, visit his Web site at  

Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield at