Fran, a long-time resident of Port Jefferson, grew up in the small town of Patchogue, New York, on the South Shore of Long Island. She did what was expected of her and her friends in the '50's: after high school, went to college, taught English and French in the public schools, married, and proceeded to raise her son and teach part-time.
As we know, the '60's and '70's brought great changes to our society and culture, and Fran got caught up in the Crafts Revolution of the time. "I never knew, and apparently no one ever noticed, that I had any talent or skill in the arts," she says. However, she learned how to make batiks, taught herself English and Hebrew calligraphy, learned how to guild in 24K gold and platinum leaf, and worked in these media for the next fifteen years.
But as so often happens, life intervenes and conflicts with making art, and in 1984, Fran began a new phase of her teaching career at Stony Brook University, where she worked on the faculties of the English Department and the Writing Program for the next eighteen years, earning her Ph.D. along the way. "I taught full-time all those years," she says, "but always knew that after I retired, I would go back to the art world."
Since retirement, in 2001, she has done just that. After creating several collections of photographs while traveling around the world, she turned her attention to capturing unusual views of our local villages and harbors. These are reflected in her first two published books of her photographs, WATERVIEWS: From West Meadow Beach to Mt. Sinai Harbor, and PORT JEFFERSON: Portrait of a Village.
Fran has spent the last thirteen summers with her partner, novelist Robert DeMaria, in Deia, an artist colony on the island of Mallorca, in Spain. She came to know the village, the residents, the artists and writers. The life of the village and the remarkable beauty of Deia are reflected in her third book of photographs and commentaries, DEIA: Paradise for Artists.
The fourth book, HERE AND THERE: Paintings by Fran Zak, includes her vivid and colorful paintings of both Port Jefferson and Deia and surrounding villages. Fran continues to paint and do photography, and is even now working on a fifth book, which will focus on the Three Villages.
When she was young, no one seemed to notice Fran's artistic talent, but it surely has been made dramatically clear in the body of work she has produced over the years. Her work has received much praise and many awards, and her unique vision enables us to see the everyday in new and often delightfully surprising ways, and renews our appreciation for the beauty and charm of our local environments.