By Meagan Clements
It’s not fine art. It’s fun art.
From Disney-themed designs to school mascots filled with pride, artist Marita Frank embarks on a journey, creating challenging murals in chalk that inspire and uplift others.
Frank’s first piece — the animated crocodile from Disney’s “Peter Pan” — came to life on March 31, 2020 in her own driveway. Chalk art showcased on several social media accounts inspired Frank to have a little fun of her own.
“There were people all across the country who were posting that there was chalk on their driveways or on their sidewalks,” Frank said. “I bought a bunch of chalk and tried it. That’s really how it happened.”
Frank worked as the PTA president of Oak Middle School for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. She currently serves as PTA president for Los Alamitos High School where her son Ethan is a freshman and her daughter Paige, an aspiring artist, is a senior.
Frank enjoys making her art interactive. Setting a smile on the faces of young and old alike is one of the many reasons Frank steps into the sunlight, hoping to lighten the darkness of the devastating Coronavirus pandemic.
“I make [my art] so that people can stand in it and take pictures with it,” Frank said.
Frank has no formal training in art, yet realized she had an aptitude for it while designing a cake for her daughter’s birthday several years ago.
She also experiments with acrylic paint. She has painted everything from the windows of her Rossmoor home to the storefront of Bogart’s Coffee on Main St. in Seal Beach. The easy clean-up — acrylic paint scrapes off with a flat razor blade — gives Frank a fresh perspective on creating art in an ever-changing environment.
“The world would be nothing without [art],” Frank said. “It’s what makes a lot of people that I know who they are.”
Frank’s husband and children are her biggest supporters despite her somewhat nit-picky nature as an artist. Described as humble and heartfelt by those closest to her, Frank admits she’s only human, usually finding fault in her own finished product.
“I don’t think you ever get to the point where you go, ‘You know what? I nailed it!’” Frank said.
The inability to preserve much of her artwork is exactly what Frank loves about it. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, enjoying each opportunity to start with a clean slate.
“Powerwashing comes in really handy,” Frank said jokingly. Her most rewarding project came when she was asked to paint a window honoring healthcare heroes. Her desire to serve is one thing she shares with the doctors and nurses laying their lives on the line to help those in need.
“I did a couple of doctors, janitors, and people in scrubs on their front window,” Frank said.
Impressed onlookers acknowledge the difficulty of Frank’s work. Her use of bright colors and ability to feature animated faces unifies communities, whether in Los Alamitos, Rossmoor or downtown Seal Beach.
“People look at it and go, ‘Wait a minute…I couldn’t do that.’ I just assume that everybody can do it,” Frank said. “When other people get to enjoy it, that’s the part I like the best.”
Frank recalls the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic where many outdoor activities were limited. Seeing the joy on the faces of diverse artists, helped ease the stress of the situation at hand.
“You could walk around Rossmoor and see people drawing in chalk all over the place,” Frank said.
Frank, who grew up sketching in her Bible, says faith plays a role in everything she does. The power of prayer helps her push through a tough yet rewarding design.
“I do a lot of praying before I sit down with my chalk,” Frank said.
Frank also helped renovate the teacher’s lounge at Oak Middle School and continues to set a smile on the faces of faculty and staff, especially principal Erin Kominsky.
“When I think about Marita, I think about her kindness and generosity and how she always stops what she’s doing to help someone else,” Kominsky said.
Frank is famous for her rendition of the Oak Middle School mascot. She sketched the ferocious lion accompanied by the words, “Hear us roar” in chalk on the school campus.
“We were trying to come up with something that would bring joy to everyone and lift their spirits,” Kominsky said.
Frank admits the rougher the surface, the harder it is to get chalk into all the crevices. Still, it’s her passion for art that motivates her to push through the pain.
“The day that I did the lion at Oak Middle School, my fingers were bloody by the end of it,” Frank said. “The ground cover at Oak has to be a certain texture because when it rains, they don’t want it to be slippery. It was a lot rougher than the driveway at my house.”
Almost everything decorating the driveway of Frank’s Roosmoor home is inspired by her passion for Disney.
“To be able to put something out there that other people get to see — especially the Disney stuff, because we were all so used to going — [is great],” Frank said.
Kominsky enjoys the fun-filled designs in front of Frank’s home. A child-like innocence nestles within each colorful creation.
“It’s just brought unbelievable joy to people during a time that was very gray,” Kominsky said of Frank’s Disney-themed art.
Those walking in Frank’s neighborhood can expect a good laugh upon passing her house. She invites adults and children to become one with the art, for example, standing in the center of a reptile’s open mouth.
“It was fun to be able to leave something on my driveway,” Frank said. “I could hear kids yelling and screaming about the fact that Peter Pan’s crocodile was on my driveway.”
When Frank hears the word art, the first person who comes to mind is her daughter Paige. Frank credits her daughter with helping her to hone her craft, admitting that she is always available to lend a helping hand.
“My daughter is an amazing artist,” Frank said.
Longtime friend Nancy Matossian was eager to speak on Frank’s behalf. Frank’s flair for art is often set aside to help Paige reach her fullest potential.
“She has set her art aside for the last few years to let her daughter shine,” Matossian said.
Matossian commended Frank for remembering the importance of self-care. Her art-driven Instagram account allows her to hone in on her passion, connecting with a diverse audience.
“She dove back in and got herself going with her Page and Verse [Instagram account],” Matossian said, recalling the unique signs and wall hangings featured there.
Frank avoids the limelight, admitting it was difficult to be interviewed about her art. She would much rather make a difference in someone else’s life.
She wants to better the people around her and share her gifts with them, Matossian said.
Motivational speaker and New York Times Bestselling author Leo Buscagillia once said, “too often we underestimate the power of a smile, a touch, a kind word, an honest compliment or a listening ear…all of which have the power to turn a life around.”
Frank is turning lives around one drawing at a time. Her artwork smiles back at viewers as she looks to the future with an optimistic attitude and an air of artistic independence.
To view Frank’s artwork, visit instagram.com/pageandverse.