Frank Bros. 34th Anniversary Sale Announcement - Courtesy of the Frank Family Collection.
The University Art Museum (UAM) will soon open Frank Bros.: The Store that Modernized Modern, to be on view starting Saturday, January 28 to Sunday, April 9.
The Frank Bros. furniture store was based right here in Long Beach, from 1938 to 1982, and became “Southern California’s largest and most prominent mid-century retailer of modern furniture and design,” a retail outfit that quite often toed the line between art gallery and furniture shop, according to the UAM.
Guest-curated by Cara Mullio and Jennifer Volland, the duo behind two books archiving the city’s architectural landscape, Long Beach Architecture: An Unexpected Metropolis and Edward A. Killingsworth: An Architect’s Life, the exhibition consults the Frank Brothers archives at the Getty Research Institute and the Frank family’s personal collection, according to the museum.
Preparation for Frank Bros.: The Store that Modernized Modern, included a tour showcasing nine mid-20th century modern architectural homes in Long Beach to raise funds in support of the exhibition. Attendees were given a chance to see how the Frank Bros. Furniture family exemplified California modernism.
“He added a lot to the furniture industry because of his knowledge and his enthusiasm and his honesty,” Nancy Frank, Ron Frank’s widow, told the Post during the tour in October. “And it was a great group of people who were developing that kind of art form at that time.”
One such home that was not a part of the tour, known as Case Study House #25 of Arts & Architecture magazine’s Case Study Houses project, was commissioned by bachelor Edward Frank of the Frank Bros. and taken care of for the past 30 years by its fourth set of owners. In March of 2015 the home was put up for sale.
On display will be a Frank Bros. history, where Los Angeles-based designer and Picnic Design co-founder Marci Boudreau’s bright palette, bold typography and dynamic layouts draw attention to an extensive timeline, honoring the brothers described as “masters at presentation, seizing every opportunity to educate their customer and promote the new casual, yet sophisticated California lifestyle,” stated the exhibition announcement.
Also to be showcased are ephemera from the Frank Bros. love of presentation, an installation displaying over 70 ads they placed in Arts & Architecture magazine, photographic documentation showing the numerous exhibitions Frank Bros. curated to showcase the designs of Neal Small, Charles Eames and Phillip Orenstein and lastly, furniture, objects and accessories from the home of Ron and Nancy Frank.
Neal Small exhibition at Frank Bros., 1969, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2009.M.19). Courtesy of the University Art Museum.
Frank Bros.: The Store that Modernized Modern is accompanied by a fully illustrated color publication by Cara Mullio and Jennifer Volland, that can be preordered here.
The exhibition will open with a free public reception on Saturday, January 28 from 6:00PM to 8:00PM. For more information, visit the web page here.
The University Art Museum is located at 1250 North Bellflower Boulevard.