Sculptor Frank Rose Promotes Island Arts

Posted in Feature, More Stories, Visual Art

Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
August 20, 2014

Frank Rose constantly seeks to improve his portrait work in clay because, as he noted, “I haven’t figured it out yet.” But to the casual observer, it’s hard to believe there’s a higher level of perfection he can attain.

In his Freeland studio, Rose is surrounded by the paintings, clay sculptures and bronzes he has created in the 29 years since he retired from the military. His passion extends beyond making art to “making the arts flourish on Whidbey.”

Self-portrait of Frank Rose in sculpted in clay. (photo courtesy of the artist)

Self-portrait of Frank Rose in sculpted in clay. (photo courtesy of the artist)

Currently, Rose is directing his energies toward the Summer Whidbey Working Artists (WWA) Tour being held Aug. 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31. He is one of 27 participating artists working in their studios in 18 locations from Oak Harbor to Langley. “This year’s tour has been expanded to two weekends,” he said. “Visitors will have lots of time to see a range of artistic styles.”

Since he arrived on Whidbey Island in 1986, Rose has immersed himself in developing and promoting arts organizations in the community. He joined the board of the Island Arts Council, dedicated to supporting local artists by serving as “an umbrella for start-up organizations in the arts.” As local schools dropped most of their art courses, Rose sought to fill the void. Since 2008, he’s helped the “Artists in Residence” program—local artists paid to present art classes in the schools—to grow. “It’s important to get young people involved with arts,” he said. “Their appreciation and interest in art will stay with them their whole lives.”

Five years ago, he joined with then-Superintendent of South Whidbey Schools Fred McCarthy to develop Whidbey’s Festival of the Arts. Their partnership continued after McCarthy became mayor of Langley; he and Rose are working on a five-year plan to make Whidbey Island the premiere art center in the Puget Sound area.

Because Rose waxes enthusiastically about other artists, it was no small challenge to get him to talk about himself during a visit to the Freeland Art Studios at 1660 Roberta Avenue (off of Harbor Ave. behind Whidbey Island Bank and Waif Thrift). Rose, one of 10 artists sharing space in the airplane-style hangar, commented that he is inspired to pursue his art by observing fellow artists, especially sculptor Sue Taves. “She’s passionate about her work and always working on new ideas. She’s a great role model for me.”

Rose loves working with clay. “You can make things happen quickly. Of course, you can also make things go away, if you’re not careful.” Much of his enjoyment comes from the way clay comes alive for him as he handles it. “I find it fascinating to reproduce a likeness of a human being. It’s about interpreting and translating what I see visually. It gives me a unique perspective into the soul of another human being.”

Portrait of local icon Jim Freeman by Frank Rose. (photo by Carolyn Tamler)

Portrait of local icon Jim Freeman by Frank Rose. (photo by Carolyn Tamler)

He has also trained his own brain to guide him in the sculpting process. “I have to overcome the differences in how my left brain and right brain see things.”

Rose has mastered the technique of painting fired clay with acrylic so that the finished piece resembles a bronze. His portrait of local celebrity Jim Freeman captures the personality as well as the appearance of the man. Rose’s own self-portrait is museum quality. He is currently sculpting a likeness of Kay Parsons, coordinator of the WWA Tour, who is awed by how much this piece not only looks like her but reveals her zippy personality.

While perfecting his art, Frank Rose continues to develop his vision “to motivate and organize artists, community members, businesses and service organizations to promote the exciting and memorable works created by Island artists.”

And for the next two weeks, Frank Rose will be doing just that to make the Summer Whidbey Working Artists Tour a success.

For more information, visit To see more of Frank Rose’s work, stop by the Freeland Art Studios.


The Whidbey Working Artists Summer Tour is on two consecutive weekends: Aug. 23 and 24 and Aug. 29, 30 and 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This self-guided tour features 27 artists at 18 locations from Oak Harbor to Freeland. The participating artists invite the public to see how and where they create their art. Art mediums include pottery wheels, looms, liquid glass, wet paint, wood and clay. For more information visit

Whidbey Working Artists Summer Art Tour poster

Whidbey Working Artists Summer Art Tour poster


(photo at the top: Frank Rose posing by the portrait of local painter Kay Parsons (photo by Carolyn Tamler))

Carolyn Tamler was a marketing research and community involvement consultant in the Seattle Area for many years before moving to Whidbey Island, where she has become known as a writer who enjoys telling the stories about the many businesses, entrepreneurs, events and interesting places on the island.

CLICK HERE to read more entertaining and informative WLM stories and blogs.

WLM stories and blogs are copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Linking is permitted. To request permission to use or reprint content from this site, email


  1. Frank is the only guy I know who has been successful keeping my mouth closed! Frank would not let me smile because my dentist would not allow him to bronze my teeth over the porcelain!

    Thanks Frank!

    Your Fan in Freeland

  2. The work Frank has done to expand art education in the schools through the Arts in Education program of the Whidbey Island Arts Council is phenomenal. Thanks for highlighting his art and community service.

Leave a Reply