The Tragedy: Frank Slide

frank-slide-webThe Tragedy: Frank Slide by Helen Andersen. 1986. Image 17″x20″, airbrushed gouache on Arches paper

In 1903, the small mining town of Frank was crushed by a huge rockfall that killed 70 people out of the population of 600.

Why did Helen choose this subject? As far as I know, she never visited the site. It happened many years before she was born. And why does her picture look so “un-tragic”. The delicate hues and soft forms seem completely at odds with the story. Perhaps there will be clues in her writings and journals, but for now, the painting remains a bit of a mystery.

3 thoughts on “The Tragedy: Frank Slide

  1. Hi ||

    Helen visited me in Sparwood, and Frank is only a half hour from there on the way to Calgary. It has been many years since I lived there. Frank has quite a large display of history on the site. I left prayer ties there. It is not far from Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump near Fort Macleod.
    I was reminded today that it has been 10 years since I left Cranbrook, A friend visited from Australia today, and reminded me of the east kootenays.

    • Thanks, Joni. I guess Helen might have visited Frank, then. Can you say if her visit to you in Sparwood was around 1986? Her painting is dated August, 1986.

  2. Yes, that’s about right for the timing. The story of Frank would have had an impact on her.
    Helen would often have art supplies or a sketchbook on hand.She represented the experiences she saw on her travels. As a child, I would play in the back seat when she and Kit Thorne were drawing.

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