Art

Frank Strasser Reflects the Light and Fun of Venice

By Greta Cobar

It’s an inescapable magnetic attraction between Venice and those who have answered their calling towards creativity. Sooner or later, in the realms of time and space, they find each other, and then, as in the case of Frank Strasser, his canvas explodes with color.

“I love the challenge of sitting down with a naked, blank canvas and giving birth to another world,” Strasser told the Beachhead.

After visiting nine countries throughout Europe over a few months, Strasser came to Venice in ’79 to “do for the Venice Canals something similar to what Monet did for the French landscape,” he said.

Drawing inspiration from the European museums and nature itself, Strasser’s paintings came to life when he came to Venice. “Venice was and is one of my biggest influences because of its free spirit, the realm of possibilities, the eclectic mix of people, the zest for life, and the fun. Venice is what I exhale as an artist,” Strasser said.

Having lived in the canals since ’79, it’s not surprising that most of his paintings feature the canals with the old-school, small cottages. Some paintings are serene, with just a landscape and maybe a sunset, while others are jam-packed with as many goofy folks as one could fit on a canvas. The Eclectic Avenue piece pictured on the first page, one of his few that does not feature either the canals or the ocean, depicts some of the characters in the mayhem of Venice: hippies and whores, a rollerblader with a snake around her neck, musicians, body-builders, a couple into BDSM, another couple filming porn, Republicans holding a gun, and the ever-present homeless person, amongst many others. The one on the right depicts the serenity of Venice, instead.

“There’s always a homeless guy in my paintings – often I include little details to indicate he is a war veteran. Often people fail to realize that the unkempt street dweller they may mock or despise might be someone who started out with a big dream and ended up in disillusion. When it comes to post traumatic stress syndrome, and other side effects of war, the attitude displayed by the very government which desperately “needs you” suddenly denies that you or your symptoms even exist. The prevailing attitude is ‘take your troubles somewhere else soldier’,” Strasser said.

“I never studied art or painting in any formal way – I have a natural gift for it. I am a student of life, and life is the best art, movie, book, and so on,” Strasser told the Beachhead.

Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in English literature, Strasser guesses that if he wasn’t painting, he would probably be writing more. “I do my best to live without towing the line for the man,” he said.

“Being self-taught set me free, and I had to only live up to my desire to infuse as much color and joy onto a canvas as I could. Life inspires me to create more life – for it to be more expansive and fun – I am addicted to fun,” Strasser affirmed with a smile.

His run of fun extends over decades, continents as well as various other media of self-expression. His travels have included extended visits to Europe as well as Mexico. His creative gifts include music and writing, in addition to painting. “I’ve been singing The Doors in Venice for over thirty years. I’ve always had a strange connection with Jim Morrison – like the first band I ever performed with in high school performed mostly Doors music. I used to hang out at a house where Jim partied. Twice – in two different countries, lead guitarists in bands who had no idea I was a singer approached me and asked me to join them onstage in the next set to sing The Doors,” Strasser said.

Stretching from Venice to Mexico and beyond, his musical career encompasses jams with Slavin David and the second coming of a band called The Canaligators, both of whom Strasser still performs with. He also writes original songs and performs solo acoustic gigs now and again.

One of Strasser’s songs is a parody (or update) of the classic anti Vietnam war anthem “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die,” made famous by Country Joe and the Fish, at Woodstock. Strasser performed the song at one of the first anti war protests against “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” in July 2005. The gig was held at the very house Oliver Stone used to film scenes from his movie The Doors.

Strasser will display a selection of his fine art prints at Hama Sushi during the months of February and March. The Venice Arts Council is sponsoring the exhibit. Proceeds from all art sales will benefit the Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker. Longtime local photographer Margaret Molloy will also exhibit photographs of Venice. A Happy Hour Reception for the artists will be held Sunday, February 9, 4-6pm at Hama Sushi, 213 Windward Avenue, Venice CA 90291, (310) 396-8783.

You may learn more about Frank Strasser on Facebook at: Frank Strasser – Fine Artist, or by visiting his website at: www.frankstrasserfineart.com

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Feel Like I’m Livin’ A Lie

By Frank Strasser

Well come on all you red state lads, there’s trouble down in old Baghdad

Desert storm was child’s play, compared to the middle east today,

We’ve gotta ear up to nail Saddam, Dubya said he’s got an atom bomb.

To find WMDs that’s why we stormed Iraq,

So far we ain’t found jack, but there’s no turning back.

We’ve got a Patriot Act and Homeland Security,

We’ve got Shock and Awe and Abu Ghraib,

Peace and freedom and Democracy.

C’mon Dick Cheney move your ass, if there’ ain’t no nukes, there’s oil and gas.

So folks get killed yeah war’s a bitch, but Halliburton’s gettin’ rich

And it’s worth the risk at any price to name a tanker after Condi Rice.

To find WMDs, that’s why we stormed Iraq,

So far we ain’t found jack, but there’s no turning back.

We’ve got a Patriot Act and Homeland Security,

We’ve got Shock and Awe and Abu Ghraib,

Peace and freedom and Democracy.

C’mon you pundits on Fox News, spew your fair and balanced views,

Shout those Commie peace freaks down, before Terrorists overrun your town,

If you truly love democracy fly Old Glory from your SUV.

To find WMDs that’s why we’ll bomb Iran,

Then on to Syria and Next-In-Line-O-Stan,

We’re the world police and God’s our right hand man,

We’ve got a Patriot Act and Homeland Security,

If you truly love democracy fly Old Glory from your SUV.

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