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FRANK X MENDEZ

Frank is my favorite photographer who does not print his own work. While in New York his prints were made by Sid Kaplan who was a friend since their school days. We met at Sid's and have remained friends for decades. They each said that they met in the principles office for different offenses.

 

He visited us where ever we have lived after leaving New York City. He would be invited to dinner when we lived in Manhattan's Inwood section. He was always smart, amusing and quick witted.At his invitation Faye and I visited him in Puerto Rico. The family had a house in Bayamon and the step father was a harbor pilot in Ponce and they had a house there too. We traveled around the island photographing and being shown some of Frank's favorite places to see and make pictures. It was a very productive and enjoyable time for us all, I think. We all took pictures that we were proud of.

 

Another time the three of us traveled to Mexico, Frank and Faye for the first time, where we did more of the same.When we were both in New York we went to many gallery and museum shows. Franks insights into the work, photographs or paintings were always insightful and sometimes amusing.

 

Frank is an ex marine who had a medical discharge and is an art school graduate. I think from Parsons. He got into photography later. He is not a gadget freak and uses mostly a 2 ¼ square Twin Lens Rolleiflex and a press camera, I believe 3 ¼ x4 ¼ . Perhaps he later got a 4x5.His photography was direct and free of artifice. Sid was able to execute Frank's ideas as no one else could. They would spend hours in the darkroom, Frank would want something done and Sid would do it or show that it couldn't be done and why.

 

In New York he was part of En Foco an Hispanic photography group that in my opinion Frank was the best photographer. Being a Nuyorican he eventually moved to Puerto Rico and his family made it easy for him to do his work. He had a working area, a room, got a car and traveled the island making photographs of people, mostly portraits, and some nature and a lot of cemetery work.

 

Eventually he became depressed by the lack of an artistic community on the island and slowed down and then stopped.I once said you can't please everybody. He said, “I don't want to please everybody, just the ones that can see.”One time at Sid's, one of the regulars came in, Catherine as I remember, Frank looked up and said, “Hey! You lost weight!” She said, “Go fuck your self!” Frank looked at me with hands out stretched indicating, what was that for?

 

When relating this American women said that he should never say that! Thai women said, they are glad when someone notices! Ah the cultural divide. The gap between men and women.