Frank Norton (American, B. 1956)

Frank Norton, a Georgia-based contemporary artist, uses his art to “[explore] the world’s color and energy.” A graduate of the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Norton is a businessman, philanthropist and artist. Much of his time is spent assisting with the management of his family’s prosperous real estate and insurance firm, and raising funds for charitable organizations in and around Atlanta. But Norton’s passion is his folk art and his contemporary paintings.

Norton always knew he wanted to be an artist. Years before he began studying art and painting professionally, he was doodling in the margins of his homework, scribbling during lectures, and feverishly sketching when he should have been taking notes in his business training classes.

Norton did not, however, immediately adopt an artistic career. He joined his father’s business and thrived as a real estate investment advisor. Eventually, his creative side resurfaced. When his children entered school, Norton began decorating their lunch bags with crayons and markers. Soon, the rabbits, dogs, and birds adorning his children’s lunches became locally famous.

Norton’s doodles evolved into an imaginative, immediately recognizable kind of folk art. His colorful birds – rendered in crayon, colored pencil, chalk, and marker – are bundles of barely-contained energy, bursting with color. The seeming naiveté of these works belies their considerable sophistication. Norton’s birds fuse the simplicity of folk art, the wit and whimsy of cartoons, and the distorted, disorienting compositions of modern art.

Norton often gifts his folk art to charitable organizations, allowing them to sell the works at auction. More than half of his artistic output is reserved for charity. He has given work to the Atlanta Speech and Hearing Center, Challenged Child & Friends, and The Quinlan Children’s Art Center. All told, these and other organizations have been able to raise nearly $200,000 through the sale of Norton’s folk art.

Recently, Norton has established his own non-profit organization, The Wahoo Foundation. The Foundation uses the proceeds from two of Norton’s series: “Under the Cuban Son” and “For All the Glory” to support children’s education and enrichment programs throughout Georgia.

Norton is known throughout the American South for more than just his whimsical folk art, however. He also creates serious contemporary work. His abstract pieces, like his decidedly lighthearted birds, are charged with color and seem to vibrate with uncontained energy. Norton’s abstractions owe much to his upbringing. Norton’s mother is from Cuba, and he credits his talents as a colorist to his extensive travels in Cuba, Central and South America.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *