Frank Bettencourt fine art, design and graphics
Biography: (the early years 1964 - 2004)
biopic.jpgFrank Bettencourt was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1949 and grew up in Santa Barbara, California. During middle school, he began his journey into the world of art along a dual path, fine art and design/graphics/technical art. Although his first love was the former, he followed his father's advice by learning a trade to support his passion. His skills as a designer and graphic artist later carried him through the lean times as a fine artist. This duality of professions ultimately worked to Frank's advantage, all his skills acquired over the years playing an integral part in the body of work he presents on this website.

Working part-time for his father, during middle and high school, he learned model building, paste up and layout, technical drawing, offset printing and other technical arts. Frank's father was a gifted aeronautical engineer, as well as a technical writer and artist. Some of the projects worked on together were the Voyager, Mariner and Mercury spacecrafts. Frank played a very minor role, but he did learn much and it opened his eyes to the wonders of space exploration. At that time there were no computers and all work was completed by hand. Additionally, during his high school and college years, Frank also worked for several art galleries and department stores setting up their exhibits and displays. Through these small jobs, he learned the basics of exhibit design, matting, framing and display carpentry.

While attending high school and subsequently Santa Barbara City College, Frank produced concert posters for rock and roll groups such as Cream, Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull. Those posters are now recognized as classics of the period and have been featured in Paul D. Grushkin's definitive book The Art of Rock, as well as in other books chronicling the late 1960's. As a student, Frank launched his career in fine art with a one-person exhibition at Santa Barbara City College in 1968, the first of many. Throughout the 1970's, the prestigious Esther Bear Gallery in Montecito, California, the Los Angeles Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, among other galleries, exhibited Frank's works.

From 1977 to 1982, Frank served as exhibit designer for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art during which he designed many critically acclaimed exhibits, including the Sidney Janis Collection and the Phillip Hoffer Collection of Japanese Scrolls and Screens. He utilized his architectural design skills for the second stage of the museum's expansion and collaborated with Wright Ludington on Ludington Court, the museum's atrium entrance, featuring Greek, Roman and other ancient statues and bronzes. In addition, he served on the Santa Barbara City Sign Commission, completed restoration work for the Lobero Theatre and worked on the Break Water Flag Project for the City of Santa Barbara. At the same time, Frank continued producing his own fine art and had many successful exhibitions. A 1979 visit to prominent museums in England, France and Italy renewed his love of painting and triggered a metamorphosis in his work that led to the unique art he creates today.

In 1983, he moved to the Clear Lake area in Houston. After spending a few years building and renovating homes, he was hired as the designer/artist for the Houston Museum of Natural Science. During his museum tenure, he produced a 50-foot Dinosaur mural and a 90-foot Space mural. He also designed numerous exhibits such as the original Perkins and Ann Sams Collection of Gems and Minerals, McDannald Hall of the American Indian and the National Geographic Angkor Wat Exhibit. Besides these larger exhibits, he completed smaller projects, which helped expand both his artistic and design skills. His small Toys in Space display, in conjunction with NASA, was very well received. His design and artwork, on space related themes, for the Houston Museum Of Natural Science, added a new dimension to his own fine art. No longer feeling confined to earthly subject matter, he began exploring space themes.

In 1988, he left the Houston Museum of Natural Science to form ARTS (Art Related Technical Services), which has since undertaken a variety of fine art and exhibit design projects. One of the first was to design and build the traveling exhibit, Houston Women, for the City of Houston in 1988. The next major project for ARTS was Frank's participation in the search for the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury capsule, piloted by Gus Grissom. And to celebrate the silver anniversary of Apollo 11 for Spaceweek International, Frank curated, designed and built an exhibit at Space Center Houston, showcasing the work of over 70 artists from around the world. ARTS also designed and built other temporary exhibits for Space Center Houston during that time.

Later, in conjunction with Japanese business interests and with the cooperation of NASA, Frank constructed a 1/100th scale model of the International Space Station for the City of Tokyo. This model and other exhibit design work have been used for the development of theme parks in Japan to promote space exploration and environmental awareness. His work as an expert liaison between Japan and The Smithsonian Institution helped clear the way for several Smithsonian displays in Japan.

All this time, Frank continued exhibiting his paintings and artwork. He also produced computer-generated laser animation programs, on a freelance basis, for numerous laser shows including Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, the Trump Taj Mahal, the Biodome and the 20th Anniversary of Apollo 11.

After four decades of artwork, design and graphics, Frank Bettencourt continues to contribute to both his professions. Recently, he loaned a painting to and completed a large three dimensional ISS Space Station painting for the Hiro Yamagata & NASA exhibit in Yokohama, Japan. As always, his dual artistic abilities have proved not only successful and profitable but personally fulfilling as well, the greatest reward an artist could ever ask for.

His work continues....

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