Frank J. Bette
Charcoal and Pastel on Paper
Signed, titled, and dated on reverse
Excellent Condition- Minor wear consistent with age and history
Frank J. Bette (1903-1999) Franz Josef Bette was born in 1903 in Siedlinghausen, Germany, where his father and his uncle had a woodturning and furniture manufacturing shop. While Frank’s schooling and apprenticeship prepared him to continue the family business his personal vision included artistic expression – something impossible in his strict family. Sponsored by his maternal uncle, F.J. Senge, Frank came to the United States in 1927.
Chicago 1927-1942: Frank painted promotional signs for his uncle’s dry goods store and later began working with wood. He attended classes at the American Academy of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago and he joined the Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists. At that time, his work included landscapes and portraits as well as ventures into vividly colored fantasy compositions.
In 1941, his oil painting “Untitled Chicago Landscape” achieved First Mention in the Chicago Daily Times. Frank’s trip to the Grand Canyon in 1941 made a lasting impression. The area’s power and natural beauty became the foundation of his Grand Canyon Dance series. He began in 1942 - the Archaic Grand Canyon Dance painting was first – and, for the next 20 years, he continued painting others.
New Orleans 1945 – 1951: After the war Frank relocated to New Orleans where worked in the French Quarter as a re-finisher of antique furniture. While he continued to study art and hone his skills, concentrating on sculpting plaster, stone, clay, and wood, Frank was never completely comfortable living in the South. As a European, he did not understand nor could he condone segregation. A friend suggested he might be happier living in California and, in 1949, Frank moved to San Francisco.
Alameda, California 1950 – 1999: Frank’s first job was refinishing and repairing antique furniture for Gump’s in downtown San Francisco.
Frank opened his first shop on Central Avenue near Crab Cove. While business was financially tight at first, during 1952-53 he attended figure- and life-drawing classes at California College of Arts and Crafts.
As his business prospered it allowed him the freedom to paint, draw, and sculpt. In the early 1950s he moved to the Victorian at 1601 Paru Street and lived in what is, today, the Signature Gallery while conducting business in the Main Gallery. He spent his free time painting en plein air. He had a particular affinity for trees and for the landscapes of Mount Diablo.
Upon his death in 1999, he bequeathed his house as “a place for meetings, readings, showings, and other creative doings.”