Since 1990 Frank Turek’s creative flashpoint has been in the medium of the boxed assemblage. Each box consists of arranged collage elements and objects within an architecturally designed boxed space. Sometimes using old drawers and cigar boxes but mostly fabricating the boxes themselves from bookbinder’s board, Turek’s shadowboxes are meticulously thought out from the ground up. With vintage collage material collected over the past 25 years, Turek’s imaginative environments are visual poems composed of images from our collective dreams. Tucked away in his studio in the historic State Theater Building in Portland, Maine, Turek welcomes visitors to come view the collection of boxed assemblages and altered books arranged in his cabinet of curiosities. If you can’t manage a visit to see the actual pieces, a good introduction is the website BoxedAssemblage.com, which gathers together a selection of images of Turek’s work.
In 1991, seeking to elaborate on his boxed assemblage work, Turek composed and created his first altered book assemblage piece. In recent years he has focused his creative energies in this sub-genre of assemblage art establishing a signature style. Turek’s altered books are constructed from the covers of vintage hard cover books and contain hidden compartments and movable objects enticing the viewer to interact with the piece, making these book art pieces simultaneously accessible and complex. This unique variation on the concept of the altered book is typical of Turek’s approach to art; taking something ordinary and familiar and altering it and arranging it in such a way that it creates a poetically contemplative atmosphere. Turek’s substantial body of altered book artwork has warranted a website of its own, which can be found at AlteredBookArt.com.
Frank Turek’s trio Mystic Out-Bop Review has been performing its own brand of improvised free jazz since 2000. Turek on saxophone, along with Chrys Demos on bass and Frank SanFilippo at the drums; the three have chartered these inaccessible fringes of music. Quite contrary to his tightly controlled visual art, Turek’s performances with Outbop explore the sonic textures of sound and weave them into coherent musical pieces which are so well crafted that audiences assume that they were composed in advance. The spontaneous expressions of improvisation may be counterpoint to Turek’s visual art, but like his art, the sounds of the trio are also playful, intense and unique. Outbop.com is the trio’s web presence. Check in here for show announcements and a near complete collection of all of Mystic Out-Bop Review’s recordings available for web listening.
In the late 1990’s, Frank Turek’s enthusiasm for 1920’s jazz led him to pursue musical expression in the guise of the novelty jazz act The Clown School Dropouts. Originally formed as duo with local drummer, Mike Dank, the duo played all the quirky venues in Portland, Maine. Eventually Turek, as Cranky, ventured off as a solo act, busking on the streets of Portland. Cranky’s set-list has grown from the original bag of goofy classic jazz tunes, adding a bucketful of traditional Klezmer tunes. Turek’s regular appearances, wearing his gaudy multi-colored plaid sports jacket, have earned him a local reputation. You can find Turek/Cranky performing regularly out on the streets in the summer months, usually on Friday afternoons near the Portland Museum of Art. You can also check in at Cranky’s Facebook Fan Page and hear the recorded works of the Clown School Dropout duo.
One of my semi-creative sidelines is internet web design. Ever since dabbling in Dreamweaver back in 1999, to build the first site for the Clown School Dropouts, I’ve been teaching myself the various coding scripts and design ideas needed to build websites. Over the past several years, in addition to building websites for my own interests, I’ve also helped out many folks create and maintain their own sites using the Wordpress platform and in the process, I’ve become sort of a Wordpress consultant. I’ve shaped this acquired knowledge of Wordpress into a classroom structure, which I now teach at Portland Adult Education: Build Your Own Website Using Wordpress. The course’s companion site, wpstudent.net, may interest you who wish to follow this class.
The name 'ubu studio' came about as a result of Turek's venture in the the role of art curator when he opened an art gallery in Portland, Maine in the fall of 2004. The name of the gallery, ubu studio, was picked to reflect an affinity for the proto-surreal aesthetics of the French author Alfred Jarry. The name kind of stuck and has since the gallery's demise been the official business name of Turek's personal studio. The art gallery ubu studio showed several outstanding art exhibits in its two year run as well as showcasing avant-garde music concerts. The original website for the gallery has been maintained in homage of that time and in respect for the artists who showed there. You may visit the old site via this link: ubu studio art gallery