There is an important and symbiotic relationship between art patrons, art collectors and friends of artists. In short, patrons, collectors and friends purchase artworks created by artists, and, in so doing contribute to the local economy and cultural life of a place.

This is the second of a series of articles in which we celebrate and thank Jack Dorsey’s many art patrons, collectors and friends. This story shows how paintings can become symbolic of the friendship with the artist himself or herself.

Sunnyshore Studio: Frank, tell us a little about yourself.

Frank: I grew up in North Seattle and attended Ingraham High School. My family was in the lumber business so when I graduated from high school I started at the UW as forestry major. I eventually transferred to Western Washington University and graduated with a Bachelors of Music from there.

I’d always played music. My grandmother was a pianist and she taught me piano. One of my piano teachers in north Seattle wanted her students to take up a second instrument so I took up string bass. I got music jobs in high school, and have played professionally ever since high school until 2008 when I had a stroke which effected my left side and hand.

Music is like art, never a huge paying profession.  So I’ve always worked in the lumber business too. As I said, I grew up with the lumber business. My grandfather, dad, uncles and sisters were in it and I could always get a job in the lumber yard.

My family had a cabin on Camano. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid in the early 1950’s. My wife Patty and I moved to Camano in 1974.

Sunnyshore Studio: How did you meet Jack Dorsey?

Frank: When I was going to Western I joined the Whatcom county volunteer fire department. When we moved out to Camano your dad and Ed Johnson, who was the fire chief of the Fire Station at the south end of Camano, stopped by our house to recruit me.  I don’t know how they knew that I had been a fireman. That’s how I met Jack.

But I knew of Jack, indirectly, before I even moved to Camano.  As I said, my dad was in the lumber business in Seattle. Chuck Bay, who is Jack’s half-brother,  was a salesman in the lumber industry who often  called on my dad’s lumber yard. He and my dad were good friends. One day Chuck heard that I was moving to Camano and he told me that his brother Jack was a painter on Camano Island. My dad bought a couple of Jack’s paintings in the early 1970’s because of his relationship to Chuck.

Sunnyshore Studio: Tell us about the first painting you purchased from Jack?

Frank: During my college years in Bellingham I became a Volkswagen enthusiast.  In 1968 my college roommate and I started rebuilding Volkswagens. Everyone was driving them in those days and they were always breaking down.

Jack had a Volkswagen van.  He had traded a painting for a short block engine and he asked me to help him install it in the van. We worked several days putting this new engine; I remember the car was parked on the north side of his house, next to this apple tree that I could see from underneath the van.

After we finished Jack said, “I want you to have something.” I told him that that wasn’t necessary, and that I just wanted to help you as a friend. But Jack insisted. He took me to the old chicken coop that he had turned into a studio and brought out this big box full of paintings. He told me to go through the paintings and pick something out that I liked. There were a ton of paintings in there. I leafed through each one and picked out a couple I really liked. One was a tug boat, the other was a painting of an apple tree; it turned out to be the apple tree I had seen from underneath the van.

The painting of the apple tree really struck me. Jack said, “Oh I didn’t know the painting with the apple tree was in there.” I said that it didn’t need to be that painting; but Jack insisted that I take it. It was just coincidence that that tree was right next to when we were working on the apple tree.

GICLEE of Historic wc painting Frank Olsen owns, Cary Cartmill resized (1)

So I didn’t purchase the painting. Jack gifted it to me to thank me for my help.

My dad did buy a couple paintings of your dad. The one my mom has in her bedroom is much larger, it is of a field with a barn from near Warm Beach. My sister has the other one my dad and mom bought. I have a tiny painting your mom did too; a little 4” by 5” painting of a rose bush. We bought that out at the Stanwood Fair.

Sunnyshore Studio: Share a meaningful memory you have of Jack Dorsey.

Frank: A couple of things come to mind. I remember one time working with Jack down at his pump house. It was an old-fashioned well with an old diaphragm down in the bottom of it that went up and down. Your dad told me the story of how some hunter’s bullet went through the pump house. I can’t remember if Jack was in the pump house at the time.

Another time your dad and I went over to his parents property in Plain, WA to rebuild the pole roof over their trailer. We went up into the forest service land and pulled a bunch of logs and hand peeled them. We slept in the Volkswagen. I remember his mom fixed us some food and Jack showed me their old John Deere tractor. I know that we didn’t get the job finished that weekend.

Your dad and I used to go out and fish quite a bit too. We trailered his boat down to Everett and launched there. But most of the time fished off the State Park and Cama Beach. We had a favorite spots, right at the end of the railway that boats went into the water on. We would make a circle right there and catch lots of winter blackmouth.

Sunnyshore Studio: How would you encourage emerging art patrons about the value, importance and meaning of purchasing original artworks?

Frank: Well in my case, I’m not into buying art. I happen to have an original of your dads that he gave me. And I bought two original acrylics of a neighbor of ours named John Mueller. Your dad knew him. I  bought them as gifts for my wife for mother’s day or a birthday. Those are the only original paintings I’ve bought.

I’m not trained in art, but as I see it, art just strikes you.  A good work of art, you really feel that art. Especially the one I got from Jack, the old apple tree. It could have been that we were laying on our backs under the Volkswagon van, looking at the tree. But there was something about it that struck me. I was just drawn to that tree. But it’s more than that. It’s a piece of Jack, my history with your dad. It’s very meaningful piece to me. My kids have grown up with it.

Leave a Reply